The Pekingese is a toy breed native to China, where it was the treasured companion of the Chinese Emperor for hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of years. Jealously guarded by the Chinese nobility, this breed was unknown outside of its native land until Franco-British forces captured the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860. The Pekingese was bred to resemble the Lion Dog which features prominently in many Eastern religions and philosophies. Recent genetic tests have indicated that the Pekingese is one of the most ancient of all dog breeds, and this breed has certainly been incredibly influential in the development of other East Asian companion dogs. The Pekingese is also known as the Peking Palasthund, the Pelchie Dog, the Lion Dog, the Chinese Lion Dog, the Chinese Spaniel, the Fo Dog, the Foo Dog, and the Peke.
The Pekingese was created many centuries before organized records were kept of dog breeding, so most of the early history of the breed has been lost in time. However, much can be assumed and interpreted from the evidence that is available. It is helpful to look at the two traditional Chinese myths regarding the origin of the Pekingese. One myth holds that the Pekingese is the result of a marriage between a lion and a monkey, the other holds that the breed is the result of a marriage between a lion and a butterfly. In both myths, a lion and a smaller animal fall in love, but realize that the size difference between them is too great to overcome. The two lovers plead to the Buddha, who shrinks the lion down in size. The resulting offspring were lion-like dogs. Interestingly, lions are not native to China, and did not feature prominently in Chinese religions or philosophies until Buddhism was introduced into China from Tibet sometime between 300 and 200 B.C.E. Lions are; however, native to India, the country where Buddhism originated, and became a prominent part of that religion.
Small companion dogs have been native to China and Tibet for many centuries, and were traditionally the exclusive property of the nobility and the monastic class. Since time immemorial, these dogs have had pushed-in faces. A number of very similar companion breeds can be considered in this group, including the Pekingese, the Pug, the Japanese Chin, the Shih Tzu, and the Lhasa Apso. There is substantial dispute among scholars as to when these dogs were first developed, and whether they originated in China or Tibet. Theories fall into one of three general categories. The most prevalent current theories believe that these dogs were originally developed by Tibetan Monks, who then gave them to the Chinese royalty through trade or proselytizing. Another group of theories suggests that these breeds were originally developed by Chinese royalty as companions, and then they were brought to Tibetan monasteries through trade. A final group of theories combines the two approaches, suggesting that different companion dog breeds were developed in both Tibetan monasteries and Chinese palaces, and that these dogs were mixed during the many centuries of close contact between the two nations.
Each theory posits that a different breed was the ancestral form, and that the development took place at a different date. Unless new historical, archaeological, or genetic evidence can be discovered, it is very likely that these disputes will never be completely resolved. Most experts do; however, agree that for large portion of history, the ancestors of the Pug, the Pekingese, and the Japanese Chin were all one breed.
What almost all theories agree on is that these breeds are very old. Most experts agree that the Pekingese first arrived in China during the Shang Dynasty. If this is the case, then these dogs have been around since before 400 B.C.E. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius described short-faced companion dogs in his writings, which were probably created sometime between 551 and 479 B.C.E. As early as Confucius’ time, these dogs were the companions of the Chinese nobility, and that venerable teacher told how they were carried in the carriages of their masters. These dogs were probably more like the modern Japanese Chin than the Pekingese, as they had not yet been bred to resemble lions. It was initially believed that the short-haired Pug was the original form of this breed, and that the Pekingese was developed by crossing the Pug with a long-haired Tibetan Dog. However, recent genetic evidence has shown that the Pekingese is the older of the two breeds, and that the Pug was developed by either breeding the shortest haired Pekingese or by mixing the Pekingese with a shorter haired dog. This same genetic evidence seems to confirm what had long been suspected, that the Pekingese is one of the oldest of all surviving dog breeds. The definitive answer to which came first, the Pug of the Pekingese, was likely lost forever when Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China and the nation’s namesake, ordered all records of these small dogs destroyed at some point between 221 and 210 B.C.E.
However the Pekingese was first developed, it quickly became the treasured companion of the Chinese royalty, especially the Emperor. It is likely that the Pekingese originally came in many different colors and patterns, but once Buddhism was introduced into China those dogs which most closely resembled the lion were favored, leading to today’s dogs. The Pekingese became so valued that a number of laws were created to protect this dog. Unlike other companion breeds which were also owned by monks, the Pekingese was the strict property of persons of noble blood. It was illegal for anyone else to own these dogs, and the penalty for stealing or harming one was death. Persons without noble blood actually had to bow down to the Pekingese, which was seen as a heavenly symbol of the Emperor’s power. These dogs were assigned armed guards and hundreds of Eunuchs to protect and care for them. It was believed that these small dogs were able to defend humans from small spirits, and when the Emperor died it was customary to sacrifice his Pekingese dogs to provide him with protection in the afterlife. Although there were definitely distinct varieties of companion dogs, it is likely that all such companions were regularly crossed with each other over the centuries. For centuries, the Pekingese was a jealously guarded secret of the Chinese Emperor, although a few dogs made their way to Korea and Japan where they became the Japanese Chin, and a few others made their way to Holland, where they became the modern Pug.
Eventually, it became a common practice for Chinese nobility to carry small Pekingese in the sleeves of their robes. Such dogs became known as Sleeve Pekingese to the British. Breeding programs were initiated to create smaller dogs, and methods were used to stunt the growth of puppies. Such methods would likely be seen as cruel today, and included feeding puppies wine and keeping them enclosed in very tight spaces. Another favored variety of the Pekingese were all-white dogs. These were both rare and the traditional Chinese color of mourning.
For many centuries after the Mongol invasions initially led by Genghis Kahn, China pursued an isolationist policy, and had little to no contact with the outside world and a few neighboring nations. However, these little dogs never fell out of favor with China’s large royal class. In the period from about 1821 to 1851, Chinese companion dog breeding reached its zenith. Written standards were not kept, but paintings of particularly desirable dogs both real and fictional were created and used as guidelines. Paintings of this time show how the Pekingese, Pug, and other companion breeds were much more varied than today’s animals, coming in many colors, patterns, and coat-types. Once contact resumed, a weakened China was besieged by invading foreign traders, and sometimes armies. In 1860, British and French forces occupied the Forbidden City, ancient palace of the Chinese Emperor, as a result of the Opium Wars. The Emperor and most of his royal family had fled before the Imperial City was captured. They took a number of Pekingese with them, but had to leave many behind. The Emperor ordered his guards to kill these dogs to prevent them from falling into the hands of “foreign devils.”
Several of the royal family’s attendants, as well as possible the emperor’s aunt, had not managed to escape the city. They decided to commit suicide rather than face capture. British forces discovered five Pekingese in the robes of these attendants when they were looting the palace. These five dogs were all taken back to England, where they formed the basis of the modern Pekingese breed. Admiral Lord John Hay gave a pair to his sister, the Duchess of Wellington. These two dogs were subsequently named Hytien and Schloff. Sir George Fitzroy gave another pair to his cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon. The couple gave their dogs the prefix of Goodwood and founded the first major Pekingese kennel in England. Lieutenant Dunne gave the fifth Pekingese to Queen Victoria. The Queen greatly favored her Pekingese which she appropriately named Looty. Looty had his portrait painted, which still hangs in Buckingham Palace. These early dogs were very different from the modern day Pekingese, and more closely resembled the Japanese Chin. The Pekingese earned its English name because it was native to the Forbidden City, located in the Chinese city of Peking (now Beijing).
After these first five dogs, a very small number of other Pekingese made their way out of China over the next several decades, and were added to the small but growing breeding pool already present in the West. Three dogs in particular had a tremendous influence on later Pekingese breeding. Two of these were imported in 1896 by Mrs. Douglas Murray. Her husband had large business interests in China, and used considerable influence to obtain the male Ah Cum and the female Mimosa. Recently, evidence has come to light suggesting that a third dog had an immense influence on later Pekingese breeding. Tajen was not considered a Pekingese at all, but rather a Happa Dog. Happa dog was a generic term for the many varieties of small, brachycephalic dogs favored by Chinese royalty. Tajen was short-haired and had Pug coloration and markings, but he also had the short legs and build of the modern Pekingese. It is now believe that Tajen was mixed with early Pekingese lines to give them these characteristics. Both Tajen and Ah Cum were preserved, and their remains can still be seen in the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, England. In addition to the Pekingese imported to England, the Empress Dowager Cixi gave a number of Pekingese to Americans, including John Pierpont Morgan and Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth. Lee Roosevelt’s dog named her dog Manchu. The first American Pekingese came ashore in 1898. The Irish Doctor Heuston brought the first Pekingese to Ireland when he was given a pair in gratitude for his work establishing vaccination clinics in China. His Chang and Lady Li were the foundation stock of Greystone Kennels.
When the first Pekingese arrived in Europe, they still closely resembled the Japanese Chin. In fact, early breed clubs and organizations often represented both breeds. However, careful breeding quickly resulted in two substantially different dogs. In 1898, a standard of points was written up for the Pekingese, and the Pekingese Club of England was founded six years later. Around this time the Alderbourne Kennel was founded by Mrs. Clarice Ashton-Cross and her four daughters, eventually becoming the premiere English Pekingese kennel. The breed began to rapidly increase in popularity due to its exotic appearance and good nature. In 1911, the Chinese Empress died, and most of her Pekingese were euthanized, ending a relationship between the Pekingese breed and the Chinese Imperial Family that had lasted for over two thousand years. By 1921, the Pekingese had become so well-established in the West that imports were actually sent back to China, although the breed again became extinct in that nation in the aftermath of World War II and the Communist Revolution.
The Pekingese was seen as very fashionable in both England and America, and rapidly rose in popularity. In 1901, a Pekingese in Philadelphia made the breed’s first appearance in an American dog show by Mrs. George Thomas. This began a great tradition in American shows, where Pekingese have captured three Westminster Best-In-Shows, and five best dog all breed titles. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first granted official recognition to the Pekingese in 1906, less than a decade after the breed first arrived in this country. In the breed’s early years in America, it was most popular in the New York City Metropolitan Area. In 1909, the Pekingese Club of America (PCA) was founded by a group of New York socialites led by Mrs. Mabel Mandy, an English immigrant who owned the first AKC champion Pekingese, Tsang of Downshire. The club was founded in the law offices of another founding member, Mr. M.E. Harby, Esq. The 16 founding members were all from New York, except for Margaret Barron of San Francisco. J.P. Morgan, who had acquired Pekingese directly from the Chinese Empress, was not a founding member, although was heavily involved with the club from an early time, and eventually became the club’s president. The original standard adopted by the PCA was a verbatim transcript of that of the English breed club. This standard was later revised in 1933, 1956, 1995, and 2004. In addition to its founding members, perhaps the most influential member of the PCA was Mrs. Michael Van Beuren, who served as the PCA’s president for 40 years beginning in 1913.
Because so few Pekingese were exported to the West, initial clubs put an emphasis on creating as many dogs as possible. This led to initially allowing dogs up to 18 pounds. However, the first Pekingese in the West were of the Sleeve variety and only weighed between 3 and 9 pounds. This led to some followers breaking off to form clubs which only allowed dogs of less than 10 pounds. A compromise was eventually set at 14 pounds, with American organizations disqualifying dogs of larger weights. 11 pounds is now considered the ideal weight for males, and 12 pounds is considered the ideal weight for females. Breeding trends and preferences of American and British breeders have dramatically altered the appearance of the Pekingese over the last century. This breed was originally almost identical in appearance to the Japanese Chin, and had a mid-length, Spaniel-like coat. Additionally, these dogs were taller, longer-legged, and shorter in length from head to tail. Gradually the modern Pekingese was created over the decades. The coloration and patterns of the Pekingese have also been changed. Initially the breed was found in virtually every color and combination possible, but now only a few are still found.
The Pekingese continued to grow in popularity in the United States, and was first recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1948. For a number of years, the Pekingese was one of the most popular and fashionable dogs in America. Since its introduction to America, the Pekingese has been one of the most popular competitors in the show ring. However, in recent years, the breed has begun to fall out of favor, and population numbers are dropping rapidly. In terms of AKC registration numbers, the Pekingese ranked 29th in 2000, but had slipped to 61st by 2010. There are likely several reasons for this decline. The primary reason is likely that this breed simply is the victim of the latest trends and fashions. Other small breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Havanese are now currently in vogue, and breeds such as the Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, and Miniature Pinscher have fallen out of fashion.
The Pekingese may also be the victim of its own popularity. Because there has been such a high demand for the Pekingese for so long, it has long been one of the most popular dogs among unscrupulous breeders who create puppies simply for money without any regard for health, temperament, or quality. Such so-called puppy mills create dogs with poor health, temperament issues, and a general lack of conformation to breed standards. Such poorly bred dogs have likely negatively impacted the Pekingese’s reputation. The Pekingese as a whole has also begun to draw the wrath of various animal welfare organizations who claim that excessive inbreeding has created breeds with numerous health issues. Many such groups use the greatly exaggerated characteristics of the modern show Pekingese as evidence of animal cruelty. Such groups also regularly target the Pug, the English Bulldog, and the German Shepherd Dog.
In recent years, the Pekingese has become one of the most popular breeds used in the creation of so-called “designer dogs.” These dogs are crosses of two different purebred dogs. While most of these crosses are one-time matings, it is generally believed that some will eventually breed true and become breeds in their own right. Among the most popular of these Pekingese crosses are the Peak-a-Poo (Pekingese/Poodle), the Shinese (Pekingese/Shih Tzu), and the Yorkingese (Yorkshire Terrier/Pekingese).
Despite recent drops in popularity, the Pekingese’s future in America is likely quite secure. This breed continues to have a large number of admirers who are incredibly dedicated to this unique and ancient breed. It is hoped that responsible breeding will be able to reduce problems caused by generations of poor breeding. Unlike many dogs which have only recently become companion animals, the Pekingese has only had one purpose for thousands of years, companionship. Essentially every Pekingese in the world today is either a companion animal or a show dog, tasks which this breed is both thoroughly enjoys and is well-suited for.
The Pekingese has undergone a more dramatic change in appearance over the last century and a half than perhaps any other breed. Originally very similar in appearance to the Japanese Chin, a modern Pekingese would never be mistaken for any other breed. Although some breed examples were initially substantially larger, the modern Pekingese is a very small breed. These dogs should not weigh more than 14 pounds, although many dogs are significantly smaller. Despite this small weight, the Pekingese is actually quite stout and is known for being rather muscular and heavy for its height, although the entire body is obscured underneath hair. Although breed standards do not call for an ideal height, most Pekingese are between 6 and 9 inches tall at the shoulder.
The Pekingese’s short height is generally a result of the breed’s short legs, which are often bent or crooked. This breed is longer than it is tall, with the ideal height/length ration being about 3 to 5. (This means that an ideal 6 inch tall Pekinese would be 10 inches long, and an ideal 9 inch tall Pekingese would be 15 inches long.) At the end of the Pekinese’s body, is a high set tail, which hangs tightly to one side or other of the body. The smallest Pekingese are often referred to as Sleeve Pekingese after the traditional Chinese practice of carrying these dogs in robe sleeves. However, the Sleeve Pekingese is not a separate breed, and there is no precise definition of what size a Pekingese must be to be considered a Sleeve Pekingese.
Similar to most East Asian companion breeds, the Pekingese has a brachycephalic or pushed-in face. This breed has a short, slightly upturned muzzle, and flat face. Many Pekingese have a pronounced under bite. The Pekingese is not quite as brachycephalic as an English Bulldog or Pug, and is more similar to a Japanese Chin or Boxer. The Pekingese has a wrinkly face and muzzle, but is not anywhere near as wrinkly as a Pug. Most Pekingese have one especially pronounced wrinkle that extends from the cheek to the nose, and forms an inverted V. This face sits at the end of a head which is quite large for the size of the dog and a short, thick neck. One of the most distinctive features of this breed is its flat head, which looks almost level from ear to ear. The Pekingese has some of the largest eyes in proportion to body size of any breed. These eyes are set quite far apart, and when combined with their size, give the breed the appearance of having great wisdom. The ears of this breed are short and heart-shaped, and should always rest close to the side of the head.
Perhaps the most defining feature of the modern Pekingese is the breed’s coat. This breed has a thick double coat, with a soft, dense undercoat and a long, coarse outer coat. The outer coat should always be straight, and never curly or wavy. The Pekingese has one of the longest coats of any breed comparative to size. This coat will grow so long that it will drag on the floor. A Pekingese in full-show coat is so hairy that it looks like a box of fur with a face. Almost no other features of the dog are visible. There is heavy feathering on the thighs, legs, tail, ears, and toes. The hair is longest on the head and neck, forming a distinctive mane which is reminiscent of a lion. The only part of a Pekingese with short hair is on the face. For show purposes, it is highly undesirable to trim the coat of a Pekingese. Most owners of pet dogs prefer to keep their dogs trimmed to either a puppy coat or a mid-length coat reminiscent of that of a Spaniel.
Breed standards allow for the Pekingese to come in any color or pattern, and all are equally valued. In practice the vast majority of Pekingese are of a few select colors and patterns, and almost all show dogs are very similar in appearance. The most common colors of the Pekingese are those that make the breed most closely resemble a lion, tan, gold, red, or sable, although white dogs with patches of color are also frequently found. Occasional Pekingese are black, blue, slate, or black and tan. It is very common for Pekingese to have a black mask on their faces, and almost all show Pekingese have this mask. However, it is equally acceptable for a dog to be maskless in the show ring.
Unfortunately, the Pekingese has been subjected to years of poor breeding practices. As a result, the Pekingese is somewhat unstable in terms of temperament. Well-bred Pekingese from responsible and respectable breeders create dogs that are generally stable and predictable in temperament. Breeders whose only desire is to profit from the puppies which they breed have created Pekingese with unstable temperaments, and which are often nervous, timid, shy, aggressive, or moody. Since poorly bred dogs have such uncertain temperaments, prospective owners should seek out a responsible and well-regarded breeder in order to obtain a dog with a true Pekingese temperament.
The Pekingese was bred to be the loving and gentle companion of the Chinese Emperor, as well as to entertain him. This breed has exactly the temperament one would expect of a dog with thousands of years of royal heritage; loyalty, politeness, independence, confidence, dignity, a regal bearing, and an occasional silly streak.
The Pekingese is a born companion dog; they can be incredibly affectionate with their masters, to whom they show great loyalty. However, the Pekingese is far from clingy, and is regarded as one of the most, if not the most, independent of all toy breeds. A Pekingese is a breed that would prefer to be in the room with its owner, but not necessarily on top of him or her. While no dog likes to be left home alone for long hours, a Pekingese will adapt better to this schedule than most toy breeds. When well-socialized, the Pekingese is generally polite with strangers, if also quite aloof. The Pekingese is not a breed which will warmly greet strangers, and takes some time to make a new friend. The Pekingese does require early and proper socialization. Breed members which have not been properly socialized have been known to develop aggression issues with strangers.
The Pekingese is also probably not the best breed to have around young children. While not as fragile as most toy breeds, the Pekingese can still be injured accidentally by children, who are likely to poke its big eyes or pull on its soft fur. Additionally, this breed does not enjoy rough play of any kind, and will not tolerate it in any way. A Pekingese will bite or snap to protect itself if it feels the need. With proper socialization and children who know how to act properly around dogs, a Pekingese will probably be fine. However, breed members who have not been carefully socialized with children should probably be removed from potential contact with them. On the other hand, this is an exceptionally gentle breed with the elderly, and can make an excellent companion for senior citizens. The Pekingese tends to be quite dominant and stubborn, and is probably a better choice for an experienced dog owner than someone who has never trained a dog before.
The Pekingese is generally tolerant of other animals. This breed was traditionally kept alongside dozens of other Pekingese and other animals of the Imperial Menagerie. A Pekingese will generally accept the presence of other dogs, and some greatly enjoy it. However, this is definitely a breed which prefers the company of people to other dogs, and does not crave canine companionship. As is the case with humans, Pekingese need to be socialized to accept the presence of strange dogs. Additionally, some breed members develop dominance and/or possessiveness issues. It is probably not advisable to keep Pekingese with significantly larger dogs, as they do not enjoy rough play and they are likely to be injured accidentally. While all dogs that have not been introduced to other animals have a natural predatory instinct, the Pekingese has been strictly a companion animal for possible 2500 years. This breed has a very low prey drive. Small pets will be safer around a Pekingese than almost any other breed. In particular, the Pekingese is less likely to bother household cats than other breeds.
Unlike many toy breeds which are quite responsive and eager to please, the Pekingese is generally very stubborn. This breed provides a number of training difficulties. A Pekingese is a noble breed, and it seems to know it. If you are accustomed to training dogs such as a Poodle or Bichon Frise, working with a Pekingese will likely prove incredibly frustrating. A Pekingese will use selective listening, or outright defiance. This breed often obeys a command only when it chooses to. This does not mean that it is impossible to train a Pekingese, but it does mean that you will have to spend a significantly greater amount of time and effort training one of these dogs than you would most other breeds. This breed will constantly challenge its owner’s dominant position, and requires a firm hand during training. If you don’t care about training a dog beyond basic manners and simple commands like come or sit, a Pekingese may suit you. If you are looking for a dog that will compete in obedience competitions or perform complex tricks, you should probably consider a different breed.
One area where the Pekingese provides special training difficulties is in housebreaking. All toy breeds are difficult to housebreak, as they have small bladders which cannot wait as long. Additionally, they are small enough to sneak behind a couch to urinate, and such puddles are small enough that they avoid detection. This means that many toys avoid the necessary housebreaking corrections. When these inherent problems are added to the willfulness of the Pekingese, housebreaking becomes even more difficult. Expect many months of crate training, as well as frequent accidents and relapses when housebreaking a Pekingese.
It is safe to say that the Pekingese is a relatively low energy breed. This breed will generally be satisfied with a daily walk. This breed is quite active indoors and will take care of most of its exercise needs on its own. However, these dogs definitely do need exercise. A Pekingese which has not been properly exercised will begin to develop behavior problems, most likely destructiveness, marking, excessive barking, and aggression. Although most definitely an indoor dog, the Pekingese is substantially hardier outside than most toy breeds. Their double coat provides them much greater protection from cold temperatures than most dogs of their size. Additionally, the Pekingese is capable of greater periods of exercise than most similar dogs, and many can walk up to four miles a day. The Pekingese is not a breed which requires a job, such as herding sheep or running through an agility course. In fact, most Pekingese would probably prefer to not have a job, other than companionship.
The Pekingese is susceptible to a number of behavioral problems common to most toy breeds. This breed can become yappy, overly excitable, dominant, and show signs of aggression towards strangers. Most of these problems are the result of owners treating their small dogs in a manner which is substantially different from how they would treat a small dog. This treatment creates a behavioral problem known as Small Dog Syndrome. Owners can prevent Small Dog Syndrome by remembering that their toy dog is still a dog, and not a toy or a person. Although a five pound Pekingese puppy who tries to bite may seem cuter, funnier, and less-threatening than a thirty pound German Shepherd Dog puppy that does the same thing, the result of not correcting this behavior is the same: a dog that is dangerous to itself, other dogs, human beings, and especially children. The Pekingese is especially susceptible to three symptoms of small dog syndrome, dominance, aggression, and excessive barking.
Like most brachycephalic breeds, the Pekingese has a number of behaviors that are the result of its pushed-in face. Some owners find these behaviors unsettling, disturbing, or even embarrassing; other owners may find them cute, funny, or endearing. The Pekingese is regularly making a variety of snorts and wheezes, although not quite as constantly as a Pug or English Bulldog. This breed also snores, sometimes quite loudly. What most owners find the most distasteful is the Pekingese’s gassiness. This is a flatulent breed, which is regularly gassy and more than capable of clearing an entire room. That being said, this breed is not as gassy as breeds with a more pushed-in face, such as a French Bulldog.
Many companion breeds are described as catlike; such is not the case with the Pekingese. This is a more “doggy” dog than is the case with most toy breeds. While undoubtedly refined and dignified, the Pekingese can also be quite playful, and will joyfully bounce around the house. This breed barks, runs around in the dirt, and may even chase after a ball for you. The Pekingese makes an excellent watchdog, and were it not for their small size would probably make a more-than-capable guard-dog as well. The Pekingese is definitely happier on a leash walking by your side than it would be in a hand bag. If you are looking for either a cat or a dog which will calmly and passively spend hours being carried around town, you should consider a different breed. If you are looking for a breed that is dignified, beautiful, and refined, but still definitely a dog, than the Pekingese may be an excellent choice for you.
As one would expect, the Pekingese’s tremendous amount of hair requires a tremendous amount of work. Keeping a Pekingese in full show coat will require hours of work every week. This breed requires a thorough daily brushing and combing. Both of the breed’s coats must be worked on. Additional time must be taken to carefully and gently work out any mats. Owners must carefully inspect the skin of their dogs on a near daily basis as this breed’s fur can easily obscure injuries, skin irritations, and parasites such as fleas and ticks. Most owners choose to avoid these problems by having their Pekingese professionally groomed on a regular basis. These owners generally choose to have their dogs’ coats trimmed into more easily managed puppy or mid-length cuts. In recent years, it has become fashionable to trim the Pekingese in a manner that it looks like a lion. Owners must also regularly bathe the Pekingese, as well as checking the breed’s eyes for injuries. Pekingese owners must regularly clean the breed’s facial wrinkles and ears to prevent buildup of food, water, and dirt.
The Pekingese is a shedding breed. This dog will leave hair on your furniture, carpets, and clothes. Most Pekingese are average to heavy shedders for most of the year, although females are believed to shed more than males. Most female Pekingese and some males will shed their undercoats once or twice a year. During this period, a Pekingese will leave a trail of hair behind them wherever they go. If you or a family member is either an allergy sufferer or merely someone who cannot stand the thought of cleaning up dog hair, a Pekingese may not be the ideal breed for you.
Unfortunately, the Pekingese suffers from a number of health problems. This breed suffers from most health conditions common to other toy breeds, other brachycephalic breeds, dogs with large, protruding eyes, breeds with small gene pools, and dogs which have been subjected to poor breeding practices. As a rule, Pekingese who have been bred by responsible breeders have significantly better health than those which are the result of breeding for profit. However, there are a number of health problems to which all Pekingese are susceptible. Despite these many problems, the Pekingese is a generally long-lived breed, with many reaching ages of 10 to 15 years.
While hard to get a true estimate on the breed’s health due to such variability among poorly bred dogs, it is probably safe to say that the Pekingese generally lives longer than most breeds but generally has shorter lives than most other toy breeds. In response to these health issues, the PCA and other breed groups are working to eliminate health defects, as well as changing breed standards to lengthen the neck, diminish the size and protruding nature of the eyes, and create a somewhat less pushed-in face. However, few if any of these changes are being made by irresponsible breeders.
The pushed-in face of the Pekingese means that this breed has poor ventilation and suffers from a number of respiratory difficulties. Many Pekingese suffer from chronic shortness of breath. This breed cannot handle extended periods of vigorous exercise and may collapse from lack of breath. The Pekingese has even greater difficulties breathing in the heat, as it cannot bring in enough air to cool its body. When combined with the breed’s long and dense coat, this means that owners must use extreme caution when allowing the Pekingese outside in hot weather as this breed both develops and dies of heat stroke faster than other breeds, and in lower temperatures. The large head and face of the Pekingese means that this breed often has difficulty whelping. Many Pekingese must be delivered via Caesarian Section.
The large and protruding eyes are susceptible to a number of problems. These eyes are very easily injured, and a large number of Pekingese lose an eye at some point during their lives. Additionally, the Pekingese frequently develops cataracts, which are often severe. The Pekingese also frequently suffers from eye ulcers, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and dry eyes.
The Pekingese’s unique body shape causes a number of skeletal and development problems. This breed commonly suffers from luxating patellas, or kneecaps which are out-of-place. The Pekingese also suffers from a variety of back problems, the most common of which is Intervertebral Disc Disease, which can result in extreme pain. Additionally, Pekingese are highly likely to suffer from back injuries which the breed can develop from such seemingly innocuous events as jumping off of a bed.
It is always advisable to get your pets tested by either the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and/or the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, particularly if you intend to breed. The OFA and CERF test for various genetically inherited disorders such as blindness and hip dysplasia that may impact either your dog or its descendants.
A list of health problems commonly experienced by the Pekingese must include: