The Pekingese dog breed is a well known breed belonging to the Toy Group. They have been the favorites of Chinese royalty since ages. Despite their small size, they are bold and independent, even to the point of being downright stubborn. But their affectionate nature and attachment to their owners make them great companions and family pets.
The Pekingese dog breed originated in China more than 2000 years ago, and is named after the Chinese city of Peking. They were highly valued by the Chinese royalty and were called the “Lion Dogs,” partly because of their long coat around the face that gave the appearance of a Lion’s mane. They also had a bold and fearless demeanor and were used as watch dogs in the royal palace. Only the royalty were allowed to own these dogs, and they lived a pampered life with special servants appointed to take care of them. Highly respected by all, they enjoyed a demi-god status that required commoners to bow before them.
This breed was not known outside the country for a long time since the Chinese jealously guarded it from outsiders. They were selectively bred to produce extremely small dogs referred to as ‘sleeve dogs’ that used to be carried around in the sleeve of their coat.
In 1860, the British entered the Imperial Palace, and were struck by the distinctive appearance of these tiny dogs. But many were killed by the Chinese guards to prevent them from falling into enemy hands, but the British forcefully took away five dogs and sent them to England. Everyone who saw these dogs were immediately impressed by them, including Queen Victoria who received a Pekingese as a gift.
In England too, these dogs remained a prerogative of the wealthy initially, but later became popular in the show circles and as family pets. They eventually reached the United States, and AKC recognized the breed in 1909.
The Pekingese dog breed measures 6 to 9 inches at the withers and weigh under 14 pounds. They have a long body relative to their height, and a flat face with short nose and large eyes. The floppy ears and the tail are covered in long hair as is the entire body. Their double coat comes in solid white, cream, gold, red, tan and black and in combinations of these colors.
The Pekingese get along well with other household pets, but may be wary of strangers that come to the house. These bold and fearless dogs do not go looking for trouble, but they never back down from fights initiated by other dogs, no matter the size of their opponent.
These dogs are affectionate and devoted to their owner, but may become dominant if they sense their owners are weak. They are not exactly easy to train, but it is worth giving them some obedience training early on. Handling them firmly and lovingly, while keeping them physically and mentally stimulated, should avoid undesirable behaviors.
Grooming and exercise
The long coat of the Pekingese dog breed obviously requires extensive grooming. Thorough brushing every day is ideal, but once every two days is a must. Care should be taken to keep the coat tangle-free. Professional grooming is recommended every 2 months. Frequent dry shampooing is also recommended. Many owners find a puppy-cut easier to maintain than their natural long coat. Their face should be cleaned well with special attention given to eyes.
The Pekingese dogs are relatively low on energy level, and usually get all the exercise they need by running around in the house, making them ideal pets for people living in apartments. However, a daily walk round the block or a romp in the park will do them good.
Since these dogs have a dense double coat, they are sensitive to heat. In fact, too much exposure to hot weather can severely stress the dog and may prove to be fatal. These dogs are happy to have some in the yard, but they have to live indoors at all times.
Common health issues of Pekingese dog breed
The Pekingese dog breed has been around for a long time, and is known to be free of major medical problems. However, a few minor issues are occasionally seen in these dogs. Eye problems such as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, commonly called ‘dry eyes,’ and eyelashes growing back into the eyes referred to as trichiasis, are common. Structural problems such as elongated soft palate and stenotic nares commonly found in brachycephalic dogs occur in Pekingese dogs too. They are also prone to patellar luxation and skin fold dermatitis. This toy breed has an average life expectancy of 13 to 15 years, but many healthy dogs live longer.