A charming bundle of fluff, the adorable ‘Pekes’, Pekingese dog, is both cute in looks and personality. Dating back to the Tsang Dynasty in ancient China, they became much-loved companions to its imperial family. Today they remain equally as doted on, as the 88th most popular dog, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Given their history, it’s no surprise that this ‘toy dog’ has a regal quality to them, with a gentle swagger and graceful poise!
One of the oldest dog breeds known to man, the Pekingese (also ‘the lion dog’) was bred for religious purposes, eventually finding their way into the hearts and homes of emperors in ancient China. They too were treated as royalty, a charm that is still evident in their self-importance still seen today.
In the 1860s Pekes were introduced to the UK, and remained a royal favorite – this time with Queen Victoria. By 1906 they had landed in America, officially recognized by the AKC.
Unmistakable in their looks, the Pekingese is a small stocky dog with a heavy front and lighter posterior. Their heads are broad with wrinkles, a short muzzle and broad jaw. Their drop ears are heart-shaped, framed alongside the heavy fringing on their face and complementing their large round brown eyes. Due to their short stature, their noses are the reason many of them snore.
They have short bowed legs with outward turned feet, and an upright tail that is curled backwards, and a very distinctive ‘rolling’ gait.
Their mane is long and straight, and usually there’s plenty of it, often seen in; red, fawn, black, tan, or white. It’s double-coated with a thick, soft undercoat, somewhat coarse to touch.
A good-tempered dog, Pekes are calm by nature and develop a strong bond with their owners.
Owing to their ancestral heritage, this is a dog that is fiercely independent, loves pampering and is often stubborn. Some say their regal qualities make them slightly aloof. For these reasons, they do not tolerate children’s rough play or other dogs very well, and are better in homes without them. Sometimes less so, if they are brought up with them.
Known as lovable and playful to their close circle, they can be somewhat hostile to strangers. This can sometimes be seen around other dogs – despite their size, Pekingese think they are bigger than they are!
On the upside, they are suitable to apartment living and double up as good watchdogs! On the downside, Pekes are not afraid to let their voices be heard and are prone to barking.
But this is also a playful type, that enjoys lots of fun and games and certainly needs lots of attention too! Although good with older children, like most toy breeds it does not do particularly well with small children. They also have a slight territorial tendency, making them harder to integrate with other dogs, except those they are brought up with.
Training from a young age is important for this breed, to curb any unwanted behavior. If socialization is neglected, they can display aggressive behavior towards other dogs
The Pekingese needs plenty of positive training from puppyhood to overcome its stubborn tendencies, and socialization to ensure it mixes well with others.
It does not do well in extreme heat and should avoid warmer temperatures, which can cause panting, swelling and breathing difficulties.
Due to its long hair, it also needs daily grooming.
This is a dog that should not live outdoors.
Possible Health Concerns
The Pekingese may be prone to certain conditions, inherit to its breed and small dogs in general:
One of these is brachycephalic syndrome. This is common in dogs with a shortened face and results in; snorting, snoring and snuffling. Similarly, they may also suffer from ‘stenotic nares’ a genetic condition affecting narrow nostrils, which surgery can sometimes correct.
Its prominent eyes make it prone to certain conditions, these include; ‘distichiasis’ affecting their eyelashes, ‘Keratoconjunctivitis sicca’ – otherwise known as dry eyes and ‘corneal ulceration’.
Another condition this breed is known to suffer from is ‘cryptorchidism’ – where one or both testes fail to descend.
Owing to their compact nature, ‘Invertebral disk disease’ is also common in these breeds, which affects their spinal column.
Pekes are also heat sensitive and overheating should be avoided.
A Peke will happily go for a short walk, but is not generally active and is happy to nap and chill! Nonetheless, owners should aim for at least two daily walks – parks will encourage them to socialize with others. However, it’s important not to over-exert this breed, which is not built for vigorous activity and is prone to overheating.
Mental stimulation is also important to this dog, soft toys can provide lots of fun for playtime.
Without high-quality nutrition, the Toy Fox Terrier can suffer from numerous problems such as skin allergies.
Since this is a dog prone to obesity, extra attention also needs to be paid to mealtimes. Official guidelines suggest no more than ¼ to ½ cup of high-quality dry food a day, preferably given in two meals. Treats should be kept to a minimum.
A dog with high-grooming needs that sheds a lot, expect to brush your Pekingese daily. Couple this with baths once or twice a month.
Special attention is required for their face which needs to be cleaned daily with a damp cloth. Clean around their eyes and into any of their folds or wrinkles to prevent infections.
The Pekingese will need to have nails trimmed regularly. Ears need to be kept clean by wiping with a cotton ball or canine wipe, and an ear-cleanser made especially for dogs.
Daily teeth brushing is also advised.
Pekes are lovable breeds that bond close friendships with their owners. They remain wary of strangers and are prone to barking.
Generally low-maintenance, they require little in way of exercise and are happy to nap in the comfort of their home – apartments or palaces, both are fine!
This is however, a dog that requires plenty of socialization and puppy training from a very young age, so that it is people-friendly. Even so, it can still retain some of its stubborn tendencies. It is always therefore a good idea to meet one or both of its parents before adopting this breed.
Overall, the Pekingese is an easy-going dog that you’ll love to pamper!