Her Majesty, The Pekingese

The Pekingese is an affectionate pet and a compact toy companion. It is one of several breeds that were created for the ruling classes of ancient China. They are known to be sophisticated dogs with undying loyalty and regal in manner. Let us know more about the Pekingese breed.


Based on a Chinese legend, there was a lion who fell in love with a marmoset, which is a type of monkey. The lion begged Buddha to reduce him in size but his great lion hair and character should remain. Buddha consented his request and when the two united, they became the descendants of the dogs of Fu Lin, which are the lion dogs of China.

Though the Pekingese is known to be an ancient breed of Chinese origin, it’s certain that they did not spring from the union of a lion and a marmoset, as what the legend states. They were believed to have existed in China for as long as 2,000 years. They were named for the capital city of Peking which is now Beijing.

There were carvings and pictures of dogs that look very similar to the Pekingese that dates as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They have a large head, flat face, short legs, a feathery tail, and a lion-like mane of fur. Owning the breed was limited to members of the imperial family and stealing them was punishable by death. They served as companions to princes, nobles and members of the imperial family.

Before, the Pekingese was known by a number of names such as sun dog, sleeve dog, and lion dog. They first came to the attention of the Western world in 1860 as a result of the Opium War. It was when five of them were taken as booty by British officers during an argument between Britain and China.

One of the little dogs was presented to Queen Victoria and she named it Looty. They also served as tiny guard dogs, barking at any perceived threat to the royal family.

In the 1890s, more of the Pekingese breed have found their way to the West, either given as gifts to high-ranking Westerners or smuggled out of imperial households.

In 1983, there was a dog named Pekin Peter which was imported to England. He was exhibited at a dog show in Chester the following year, in the Foreign Dog Class.

In 1906, the American Kennel Club recognized the Pekingese and in 1909, the Pekingese Club of America was formed. In the present time, it ranks 61st among the breeds registered by the AKC. It is still popular but no longer the object of desire, unlike back in the days they were still an icon of the mysterious East.

Characteristics of the Pekingese


The Pekingese belongs to the companion dogs breed group. They can grow from 6 to 9 inches tall and can weigh from 7 to 14 pounds. Those that weighed less than six pounds were called “sleeve dogs” in imperial China. It’s because they rode in the sleeve cuffs of the robes of the members of the imperial court. The Pekingese has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

It has a long coat that is coarse and straight, which stands away from the body like a furry halo. Beneath its topcoat is a thick and soft undercoat. It also has a noticeable mane on the neck and shoulder area that’s why they are also called lion dogs. Their coats can be any colors or have any markings such as black and tan or white with another color. Solid white Pekingese are more expensive. But no matter what their color is, their nose, lips, and eye rims are always black.

The Pekingese is a cute little dog but it also has a tough and brave character. They are lively, affectionate, and good-natured dogs. They will respect you if you respect them as well. You will be able to train them well using positive reinforcements like praises and food rewards.

Caring for the Pekingese

Pekingese are good apartment dogs or indoor dogs but they will also enjoy playing and exploring in the backyard. You should take them for walks around the neighborhood or let them play with other dogs. But no matter how much they enjoy outdoors and even though they have a heavy coat, they are still house dogs and you should not let them live outdoors. And because they have short noses, they are sensitive to heat, meaning they need to live in an air-conditioned place.

To keep their coats and fur beautiful, you can brush them weekly using a small bristle brush or shedding comb. It will also help if you mist the coat first with water before brushing to prevent hair breakage. Their face should also be cleaned daily with a damp cotton ball. You can bathe them once or twice a month as needed. Keep their hair and nails trimmed regularly to keep them looking clean and fresh.

The recommended daily amount of food for the Pekingese is ½ cup to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day which is divided into two meals. But this depends on your dog’s size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. However, they should not get fat that’s why you need to keep them in good shape by measuring their food well.

The Pekingese is certainly a very special dog and it’s amazing to know that they have served as companions to the imperial family in China thousands of years ago. With this, we can say that they are perfect household pets.