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The Pekingese is a compact dog with a pear-shaped body, heavy forequarters and lighter hindquarters. It is slightly longer than it is tall, with a stocky, heavy build. Its image is lionlike. It should imply courage, boldness and self-esteem rather than prettiness, daintiness or delicacy. Its gait is dignified and unhurried, with a slight roll resulting from its wider, heavier forequarters. It has a thick undercoat, and its outer coat is long, coarse and straight, and stands off. It forms a mane around the shoulders. The Pekingese must suggest its Chinese origins in its lionlike appearance, bold and direct character, and distinctive expression.
The Pekingese is decidedly not a sissy lap dog. It is a courageous character that will not start a fight but will not back down from one either. It tends to be aloof around strangers. It is extremely devoted to its family, but it is independent and not overly demonstrative. Its stubbornness is legendary. Although playful around family members, it may not be athletic or playful enough to satisfy many children.
AKC RANKING 24
AREA OF ORIGIN China
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION lap dog
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 6-9 Weight: <14
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 6-9 Weight: <14
OTHER NAME lion dog, Peking palasthund
Energy level Low energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Not very playful
Affection level Somewhat affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs High maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
The Pekingese enjoys a leisurely walk outdoors, but it is equally happy to romp inside. It can easily die of heat prostration. It must be kept in air conditioning in warm weather. It can spend time outside in cool weather, but it should sleep inside. It is an ideal apartment dog. The coat will mat unless combed at the very least weekly, preferably more often. The over-nose wrinkle should be cleaned daily to avoid infection. The coat around the anus must be inspected daily for soiling. Pekingese tend to snore! Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, KCS, patellar luxation, disticiasis, trichiasis, skin fold dermatitis
Occasionally seen: urolithiasis
Suggested tests: knee, (eye)
Life span: 13 15 years
Note: The breed is sensitive to anesthesia and does not tolerate heat well. It is also prone to corneal abrasions. Puppies must often be delivered by Caesarian.
The Pekingese owes its existence to the Lamaist form of Buddhism in China, in which the lion was an exalted symbol of Buddha, sometimes appearing in miniaturized form. The Foo dogs then in existence bore some resemblance to a lion and were carefully bred to accentuate this similarity. In fact, these dogs eventually came to be known as lion dogs. Extensive breeding programs fell under the auspices of palace eunuchs, with no expense spared. At the height of their favor (during the T'ang Dynasty from A.D. 700 to A.D. 1000) many of these lion dogs were literally treated as royalty, pampered by personal servants. Smaller Pekingese were called sleeve dogs because they could be carried in the large sleeves of their Chinese masters. In 1860, the British looted the Imperial Summer. Among their loot were five royal lion dogs, which were taken back to England. One was presented to Queen Victoria, and it, along with the other four, caused such interest among dog fanciers that there arose great demand for more of these dogs. Still, their numbers rose slowly, and for decades the Pekingese remained a dog only for the wealthiest of owners. With time, the breed became more readily available and has since suffered from over-popularity. Today its main role is as a companion and show dog.