Choosing a Pekingese

As legend has it, the Pekingese is the offspring of a marmoset and a lion. Despite this whimsical myth, the Pekingese is known for his long flowing coat and has an air of courage, boldness and self-esteem.

History and Origin

The Pekingese, also known as the Lion-Dog, was held sacred in China during the Tang Dynasty. Chinese myth states that a lion fell in love with a marmoset. Because of this love, the lion asked the gods to reduce his size and allow him to live harmoniously with his beloved marmoset. His request was granted and the result of their union was the Pekingese.

More likely, the Pekingese is the result of interbreeding of various types of dogs from China. Over the years, the Peke has had several affectionate names. He has been called the lion-dog because of his long fluffy hair coat, and the sun dog because of the golden red color. And finally, the Pekingese has also been called the sleeve dog since the breed was often carried in the voluminous sleeves of the Imperial household.

Prior to the British invasion of the Imperial Palace in 1860, the Pekingese was only known and coveted in the royal palaces. Pekes were so loved that anyone who tried to smuggle one out of China was risking his life.

During their invasion, the British found five Pekingese in the apartment of the Chinese Emperor's aunt. These dogs were brought to England, thus introducing this special dog to the world. One of the dogs was presented to Queen Victoria. In 1893, the Pekingese was exhibited in England for the first time. Soon, the Pekingese took hold of the American fancy and in 1906 the breed was admitted to the American Kennel Club.

Appearance and Size

The head of the Pekingese is large and the face is flat with a black wrinkled muzzle and droopy heart-shaped ears. The body is heavy-boned and well-built. Pekes come in a variety of colors, including cream, white, fawn, red, black, parti-colored, and black or red with white. The Pekingese has a long coat with a profuse mane and feathering on the ears, legs, tail and toes. Black pigment is essential on the nose, lips and the rim of the eyes. From the top of the shoulder, the Pekingese stands between six to nine inches, weighing from eleven to fourteen pounds.

Personality Traits

The Pekingese is a courageous and loyal dog but can be a little independent and stubborn. As with many dogs bred as royal companions, the Pekingese likes to have his own way. Despite this tendency, the Peke is a sensitive, affectionate and loving member of the family.

Home and Family Relations

Pekes have sharp intelligence and are loyal companions. They are excellent watch dogs and fit well into family routines. The Pekingese can become stubborn if not trained well and this has earned him a reputation of being bad-tempered.


The Pekingese needs daily combing and brushing of his long, double coat to keep it from matting. The face and eyes need regular cleaning to prevent moisture accumulation and facial fold dermatitis.


The Pekingese is not easily trained but with obedience classes he can become an enjoyable family member, destined to spend his life snoozing in his owner's lap.

Special Care

The Pekingese is not very tolerant of hot, humid weather due to his short muzzle and extremely long hair coat. Daily grooming is necessary to prevent mats and tangles.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Disorders that may be seen in this breed may include:

  • Urolithiasis is a condition affecting the urinary tract resulting in the formation of bladder stones.
  • Cataracts cause a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. The problem can occur in one or both eyes and can lead to blindness.
  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a disorder of the eye that results when tear production is decreased.
  • Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.
  • Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is a disorder that affects the spinal disks resulting in pain, difficulty walking and possibly paralysis.
  • Atlantoaxial subluxation is a condition in which the first two cervical (neck) vertebrae are not firmly attached. Dogs are born without ligament support to their atlantoaxial joint.
  • Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum.
  • Chronic valvular heart disease (VHD) is a condition characterized by degeneration and thickening of the heart valves.
  • Interdigital dermatitis, also known as pododermatitis, is an inflammation of the paws involving the feet and nails.
  • Congenital elbow luxation – is a dislocation of the elbow joint.
  • Hydrocephalus is a neurological disease in which there is excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricular system of the brain.

    In addition, the Pekingese is prone to difficulty delivering puppies, dwarfism, facial fold dermatitis, and Sertoli cell tumors.

    Life Span

    The Pekingese has a life span of approximately 13 to 15 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.

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