- Activity Level: low
- Grooming Level: high
- Trainability: moderate
- Adaptability: high
- Kid/Pet Friendly: sometimes
- Average Size: Small
- Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
- Prey Drive: low
- Watchdog: aware
- Registered?: aca, akc
Pekingese Breed Profile
Did You Know?
The Pekingese, also affectionately referred to as a Peke, is an ancient dog breed and one of the dogs specifically bred by the noble ruling classes of China. Their origins seem to stretch so many centuries back that it is hard to say how old the Pekingese breed actually is, but the earliest records show them appearing during the 8th century to the Tang dynasty. They are known for the longer fur around their neck that forms a “lion’s mane”.
Chinese legends even say that Buddha created this dog breed by shrinking a lion down to small dog size. Because the Peke was created by Chinese emperors and their court, they were prized noble and royal companions. They were often called Sun Dogs, Lion Dogs, or Sleeve Dogs as they were small enough to be carried within the large sleeves common to those living in the imperial household. It is even said that stealing one of these royal dogs was considered a crime and it was punishable by death.
The Pekingese didn’t come to the West until the Second Opium War of 1860 when British troops stormed the emperor’s summer palace in what is now considered Beijing. These British troops brought a few Pekes back to England and presented them to Queen Victoria and other English nobility as a gift. The Pekingese came to the United States in the late 1890s. The AKC recognized the Pekingese in 1906 and they are a member of the Toy Group.
Pekingese are tiny, compact dogs with big personalities and even bigger hearts. They are affectionate and loyal with a regal, sophisticated look. They are charming and confident dogs that get along well with children. They tend to be a better fit for families with older children as they can be easily injured by accidental falls and they usually don’t tolerate rough play.
Although they are small, Pekes are confident dogs that are very alert and make great watchdogs. Because of this, they can be prone to barking, but socialization and training early on can help curb this habit. Although they make great watchdogs that can be wary of strangers, their small size and outgoing, friendly personality do not make them a good guard dog as they will be more interested in seeing how well they can charm their new friends.
The Pekingese is a highly adaptable dog breed. They do well in apartments as well as larger homes and can thrive in most climates. As a brachycephalic dog with a thick coat, they tend to be sensitive to heat and prefer colder temperatures. They can be independent, but they are also companions, so they do not like to be left alone for long periods of time.
The Pekingese is a relatively healthy dog breed. Because they are a toy breed and are brachycephalic, meaning they have a small skull and flat face, they do have some health issues to be aware of. Small dogs, in general, tend to be more prone to heart issues, eye issues, and dental disease. Brachycephalic dogs are more prone to eye issues and breathing problems.
In the Pekingese, you will want to also be aware of progressive retinal atrophy, skin allergies, dry eye, and glaucoma. Reputable breeders will screen their dogs to avoid passing genetic conditions on to puppies, so don’t be afraid to ask about the history of the parents. Pekes are also longer than they are tall, so, much like the Dachshund, they can develop back issues as they age.
A Pekingese is an intelligent dog that is close to their family. They tend to develop strong connections and are eager to please when it suits them. This dog breed spent centuries serving as a noble companion and it could be argued that they haven’t forgotten it.
Pekes can be independent and can have a stubborn streak. This can sometimes be difficult for first-time dog owners to navigate successfully on their own, so puppy training and obedience classes are highly recommended.
The Pekingese has a thick double coat that requires a lot of grooming. They will shed moderately amount year-round with heavier shedding sessions as the seasons change. Their coat only requires an occasional bath, but will require at least an hour of brushing per week. Their long fur tends to tangle and form mats, but brushing them weekly or a few times a week can help remove loose fur, work out tangles, and prevent matting.
In addition to coat care, your Peke’s nails, ears, and teeth also need care. Monthly nail trimming is usually sufficient to keep your dog’s nails from growing too long and causing discomfort. Your Peke’s nails may grow quickly or wear down more slowly, so they may need nail trims more often. If you hear their nails clicking on the floor when they walk, they’re getting too long and it’s time for a trim!
Your dog’s ears are important and they can be prone to ear infections. Floppy ears tend to be more prone to ear infections because they are more likely to trap dirt, debris, and moisture. By checking your Peke’s ears weekly and carefully cleaning them as needed, you can make sure their ears are clean, dry, and free of debris, which can help prevent ear infections. Plus, if anything is going on, you’ll be able to catch it early.
All dogs can develop dental disease. In fact, gum disease is one of the most common health issues in dogs. As a toy breed with a small mouth, your Pekingese is more prone to developing dental disease, so good dental care for dogs is especially important. Brushing your dog’s teeth or using an enzyme toothpaste every day is ideal. In addition to regular checkups and cleanings at the vet, you can also supplement your efforts with vet-approved dental hygiene chews and a specially-formulated “dental care diet”.
A Pekingese generally has a low activity level. They develop close bonds with their family and tend to be quite calm. Daily walks plus some playtime will be plenty for this dog breed. Although they’ll be happy to cuddle with you on the couch and are built to be lapdogs, this small dog will often be up for more activity if you are. They can even be found competing in some dog sports!
A fully-grown Pekingese usually stands 6-9 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 7-14 pounds.
A Pekingese generally lives 12-14 years.
The Titanic sank in 1912 with great loss of life. Among the survivors were three dogs and one of them was a Pekingese.