Pekingese dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Are you looking for a loving, devoted friend? Do you want to be treated with respect and dignity like you’re a part of the Chinese imperial palace? A Pekingese will do all of this if you only treat it the same way. They have a very individual personality and you will fall in love with it the moment you meet your Peke.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsBelow Average

Dog Breed Group:Companion Dogs
Height:6 inches to 9 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 7 to 14 pounds
Life Span:12 to 15 years

Don’t be surprised by their self-important attitude, after all they lived in imperial palaces for a very long time, and they still feel like it. They are aware of their very important ancestors and they demand the respect. They never find it difficult to make you aware of their position and their importance, to the people they live with.

Pekes are very intelligent and also very stubborn. So if you begin to train a Peke, be very patient. If you treat them harshly they may even start biting, so be very careful how you treat them.

They are very affectionate  and loving towards their family, however they are wary of strangers. This is why they are good watch dogs, however sometimes they over do it with the barking, even when there is no aparent reason. Pekes really have a lion heart, they are very brave and would protect you even if it means losing their life.

Other dogs and Pekes don’t go well,also it can take a while for them to get used to other pets in the home, so don’t push it. A Peke prefers the company of other Pekingese and they can get along well.

Their coat needs daily to weekly care if you want to keep it long and nice. If you find it as a burden, you can always take it to the groomer’s and cut the coat short. That way it will be easier to take care of.

Main Highlights
  • Snore alert! They have short noses and sometimes snore quite loudly.
  • Possible eye damage! During play or some inadequate activities the eye of the Peke can pop out, although rare, it can happen.
  • Skin folds! This excessive wrinkling on the face can lead to infections can cause irritations if it is not cleaned regularly and kept dry.
  • This breed tends to gain weight if it’s overfed.
  • Stubborn little fellows! They may even go on a hunger strike just to prove their point.
  • Barkers! They bark to alert, but for them everything seems as it needs to be alerted.
  • Don’t do well in heat! They have short noses and thick coat, so make sure to keep them cool.
  • Sometimes difficult to housebreak.
Breed History

There is a legend about the origins of this breed that says that a long time ago, a lion fell in love with a marmoset. The lion begged Buddha to make him smaller, like the marmoset, but to keep his great lion heart and well-known character. Buddha granted that wish and the descendent became an origin if this breed-the lion dogs of China.

Even though this is a very nice story, that is not how these dogs got into the world. It is true that the breed is ancient and there are DNA evidence that confirm that. They have existed for more than 2,000 years in China. They were given the name Pekingese after the capital Peking (Beijing) and they used to accompany nobles, members of the Imperial family and princes. They were so important that the commoners needed to bow down to them.

The Peke was always around people and never let out of sight and it only became popular in the Western world during the Opium War in 1860. During that time the British managed to enter the imperial palace and found five Pekingese dogs. The dogs were guarding their dead mistress, who wouldn’t face capture and committed suicide. The British took the dogs to England as prize and gave them to the dukes, duchesses, and Queen Victoria.

After that they were still rare, but by the 1890s they were smuggled more and more out of China. In 1894, the first Peke was exhibited at a British dog show. At that time the breed was known as Chinese Pug or Pekingese Spaniel. After that, a Pekingese club was established, in 1904.

The first Pekingese was registered in the AKC in 1906. After that, the Pekingese club of America was made in 1909.


The Pekingese is 6 to 9 inches tall and weighs 7 to 15 pounds.

Personality and Character

Don’t let its size and cuteness fool you! This foofy looking dog has a stand-up character and is very tough and brave. They are really confident, self-important and stubborn, but on the other hand they’re lively, good-natured and affectionate dogs. They are protective and loyal to his people and only bark in warning.

They need to be trained, so be firm and kind with him and use rewards and praise as positive reinforcements. The best way to succeed in the training is if you make your Peke think that doing something is his idea.

Health and Potential Problems
  • Patellar Luxation: this is a problem that happens often in small dogs, also known as slipped stifles. Literally, it means that the patella (knee cap) is not properly lined up with the other parts. The symptoms that you can notice in a dog which suffers from this condition are, lameness, abnormal gait and pain. Sometimes this problem is dealt with by surgery.
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome: this is probably the biggest health problem in this breed. The full name of it is brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome and it occurs in dogs that have shortened face. Dogs like this have problems breathing. They also have elongated and fleshy soft palate, small trachea, narrowed nostrils and changes in the larynx. Mist of the dogs with this syndrome snort and snuffle, breath heavily, cough, gag, and can sometimes faint or collapse.
    It is very dangerous for this kind of dogs to be exposed to very hot and humid environment, or do a lot if exercise, because it can lead to collapse. For treatment and prevention you should keep your dog fit and not overweight and if it’s necessary a surgical procedure should be done for shortening the soft palate.
  • Fold Dermatitis: this is common condition for this breed and often it is the owners fault. If you don’t clean and dry the folds on the face of your Peke, they can become infected and dermatitis can occur. The symptoms of this are sores, redness and odor. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it only happens on the folds on the face, but also in all the other folds, like the tail or vulva. The best way to prevent it is to take good care of the hygiene of your dog. If it comes to it, consult a vet for some antibiotic ointments.
  • Distichiasis: this is a condition in which an additional row of eyelashes (distichia) grows on the oil gland in the eye of the dog. The eyelashes protrude along the edge of the eyelid. The eye is irritated by this and you can notice the dog rubbing his eyes. The condition is treated with a type of surgery called cryoepilation, which means freezing the additional eyelashes with liquid nitrogen and removing them. The surgery is done under general anesthesia.
  • Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome: this is a syndrome that occurs on the eye and can be caused by many factors like macroblepharon-large eyelid opening, exophthalmos — protrusion of the eye, lagophthalmos — inability to completely close the eyelid.
    All of these can cause the cornea to be exposed and get dried. It can lead to vision impairment and corneal ulcers. Symptoms that can suggest that your dog is affected are increased tears, red eyes and pawing at the eyes. Treatment for this syndrome includes various surgeries; however, temporary treatment can be tear substitutes.
  • Ectopic Cilia: this condition may sound gross to you, but it happens. When an eyelash decides to change the way of growth and grows trough the eyelid on the inside, it starts to irritate the eye. It can cause corneal ulcers and pain. It is treated with antibiotics for the ulcers and surgery for removing the aberrant follicle.
  • Hydrocephalus: this health problem occurs when cerebrospinal fluid is accumulated as a result of a congenital defect, perinatal trauma or some obstruction placing pressure on the brain. Affected dogs are younger than 18 months or older than 6 years. This condition must be treated, otherwise it will end up un death. The treatment is surgery and medical treatment.
  • Cryptorchidism: This is a common condition for small breeds and it occurs when one or both of the testicles fail to descend properly. The descending should be done by the age of two months; however, it is not always obvious and can be dubious. If they don’t descend, the retained testicles are usually nonfunctional and should be removed. It is suggested by vets that the best thing to do is neuter your dog so it won’t have any problems in the future.
  • Cataracts: A cataract is an opacity on the lens of the eye makes seeing difficult and blurry. This means that your dog’s eyes or eye will look cloudy. This usually happens in old dogs and sometimes it can be surgically treated.
  • Entropion: this condition becomes obvious by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. It presents itself as rolling inward of the eyelid, which causes irritation and injury to the eyeball. You will notice the affected dog to paw his eyes, the eyes would be red and sore. It can be corrected surgically, however sometimes the dog outgrows the problem.
Care Features

They have a royal background, so they would for sure prefer living in a mansion, just like all of us. They are goodfor an apartment, but they love to run, so make some space around your home. If you let them out in the yard, make sure it is fenced, because they might wander off while exploring. They would love to go out for walks in the neighborhood with you or even for morning jogging. They are not suited for living outdoors, even though they have thick, heavy coat. They are a brahicephalic breed and they are sensitive to heat, so it’s much better for them to live in an air conditioned environment.

Because of their stubbornness, thy can be difficult to train. Don’t use harsh corrections or training methods, instead reward them every time they do the right thing.

Feeding Schedule

The daily amount of food should be divided into two meals.

The amount of food you give to your dog depends on the type of food, the size of the dog, the activity, and other things. Pekes are muscular dogs, and feel heavy when lifted, but that doesn’t mean they are fat. They need to be kept in a good shape, so don’t leave the food around and be strict about the daily amount. Choose your dog’s food carefully, and if you are not sure about something, ask your vet.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The coat really reminds the one of a lion with a mane on the neck and the shoulders. It is straight, coarse, and long and it stands away from the body like a furry halo. He has two layers of coat, a thick topcoat and soft undercoat. Longer hair is found on the back of the legs, the toes, and the tail.

The Pekes vary in color; they can be with or without markings. Colors can be from black and tan, white, red and brindle. Sometimes they have a black mask or some markings on the body.  It is interesting to know that solid white Pekes were very highly prized by the Chinese.

The nose, lips, eye rims and the exposed skin of the muzzle should be black.

Your Peke needs brushing at least once a week (for dogs that are not for showing) with a small bristle brush, shedding comb or curry brush. It is good to mist the coat with water or some anti-breakage product, to prevent the hair from breaking. Brushing needs to be all the way down to the skin, otherwise, you are not taking the dead hairs out and mats and tangles can be formed. The areas behind the legs, behind ears, the neck and the tail tangle easier than other parts, so it would be nice to comb those areas at least once a day.

Because they are a brahicephalic breed and have skin folds on the face, you should wipe those areas to prevent bacteria build up and infections. Also, never leave the skin folds wet, you should dry them until no dampness remains.

A Peke needs baths once os twice a month, depending on how dirty it gets. It would be nice of you to use shampoos that are made for Pekes in order not to dry his coat. Also, it is possible to use dry dog shampoo sometimes.

The hair on the feet grows long, so you need to trim it. If you don’t trim it, mats would form there and then foreign objects can tangle there. The nails need regular trimming, every two-three weeks.  Also, teeth need brushing at least weekly, if you don’t have the time to do it daily, in order to prevent teeth and gums disease.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Because of its cuteness and small size, everybody would like to cuddle a Peke. However, toddlers that don’t really know how to act with a dog should not be left alone with them. That’s why they are not recommended for homes with young children. The Peke is not as tolerable and would defend hiself.

If you really want to have a Peke and you have a young child, you should first teach the child how to treat a dog and you should find a way to raise them together.

In addition, Pekes need early socialization, so they learn to get along with other dogs

They sure look imperial! That beautiful mane around the neck and the shoulders and their great heart, certainly gives the impression that you have a lion as a pet. Caring about a Peke will make you more patient and calm, also respectful. The Peke will show you how it is to be treated as a Chinese royal and will demand the same from you. Don’t get discouraged because of his stubbornness, you will teach him everything you want in the right time. Now, prepare your brushes and bring your new Peke to your lovely home.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.