Introduction to the Breed
The Pekingese is maybe one of the most emblematic dogs of all China. They are small dogs with sweet appearance but strong character. During a long time, they were considered as the jewels of the high Chinese nobility, the imperial family worshiped them so much that they applied special laws to protect them, and they severely punished anyone who would harm them. Besides, they were considered religious symbols of Buddhism.
Although their distribution was strictly regulated for many centuries, currently, they are a popular breed, spread all around the world. Their sweet aspect attracts uncountable fans that want to breed them. However, they are not easy dogs and it is convenient to know well about them before coexist with them. For that, we have written this summary for you to get familiarized with these nice little dogs.
We must know many aspects of the Pekingese before deciding to adopt one, such aspects are:
- DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT: Something is interesting about the size of this breed, the males are smaller than the females. Usually, the male weighs only 5 kg, while the females can weigh 5,5 kg. Their longitude is from 15 to 23 cm.
- PHYSICAL ASPECT: They are small dogs, with wide and low head, short snout, short but robust paws, and especially small but deep eyes, which accentuate their sweet aspect.
- NECESSARY SPACE FOR LIVING: It is an ideal dog for life in apartments. It has always been bred to adequate to live in interiors, so it will not be a problem to have it in a reduced space. Nevertheless, you still have to take it out for walks frequently to prevent a sedentary lifestyle.
- NECESSARY EXERCISE: As an interior breed, it does not need much physical activity, and it does not stand out for its love to walks out either. However, the owners must do this mild daily physical activity. The best thing would be short walks out to keep it balanced.
- LIFE EXPECTANCY: They can get to live between 12 to 15 years, however, they suffer from many common diseases. Therefore, it will be necessary to keep a strict veterinarian control to ensure a healthy life.
- ALIMENTATION: It must be balanced according to the needs of a dog of this size. Overweight is a very severe problem for these dogs, it could cause them respiratory and cardiac problems, therefore their alimentation must be measured and preventing the excesses.
- FUR: Its fur is very pretty. This covers the whole body with a thick cloak. The hairs are long and silky, except for the face where they tend to be shorter. The color can vary between black, reddish, brown, white and other less common colors. The presence of spots of different distribution is also possible.
- ADEQUATE CLIMATE: The Pekingese dogs have a thick fur that protects them very well from cold. Therefore, winter is not so worrying for them (although it is not recommended that they sleep outside during that period).
Their fur, along with their squared snout, makes the warm climates affect them very much. For that, it is better to keep them in environments with air conditioning if our country’s climate is very hot.
The personality of the Pekingese
It is a very affable dog and it gets very fond of a member of the family. Chinese people believed that the Pekingese dogs came from the cross between a lion king and a female small monkey. The heritage of the father would explain its brave personality and its great pride, while it also possesses the love and intelligence of the mother.
Pekingese dogs are hard to classify. They are perfect for life in a family. They get very fond of their master and enjoy lying in their lap. However, they do not get along so well with strangers, with whom they might be distrusting or even furious in worst cases.
These dogs are used to coddles and to luxuries too. Nevertheless, many people compare them more to a cat than to a dog. They are self-sufficient, they have great self-esteem and a lot of dominance even though they have a small size. They do not tend to share their toys readily.
They are not aggressive dogs, but they can bark a lot. They might not get along so well with children, let’s remember that this dog was bred for emperors so they might lack the patience to deal with someone who does not respect it, including kids. However, it can get used to them if it is familiarized to them since is a pup. In that case, it will be much more tolerant of kids.
With other Pekingese dogs, it can create a great fellowship, but with other dogs, it might get temperamental, even if they are bigger dogs than him. You have to be careful and socialize the Pekingese adequately to prevent that problem.
In general, their behavior problems can be solved easily following adequate training, for them to know their role in the family and the treatment they must have to other people.
History and Origin
The Pekingese dog is closely linked to Chinese history. A country with such a rich history and so ancient produced this dog which accompanied the imperial family for so long, living in royal palaces and being worshipped with respect.
Surely, the ancestors of the Pekingese were bred all around China as commoner’s dogs but some special specimens were selected to the breeding that resulted in the actual Pekingese.
The dog that would accompany the emperor had notoriously different characteristics to the commoner counterparts. They had a very delicate general aspect and their size was considerably smaller, besides, their character reflected the dignity that this almost sacred dog had to possess. After the breed was created, no one was allowed to produce a similar dog.
The small size of these dogs allowed them to be introduced inside the sleeves of the ladies of the court. The methods used for the size reduction included in some cases mechanic methods that would be unlikely nowadays. These methods would be abolished thanks to the empress Tsu His (known for her love to animals and her great care to the Pekingese dogs), she established that the selective breeding was only allowed as a method of reduction.
Some say that the Pekingese dogs were a central part of the imperial court. Only the most powerful ones were right to have one. Therefore, the Pekingese was not a common dog, it was a dog that had to be treated with the same respect that the emperor was treated.
Just like the commoners were not allowed to observe the sovereign, they could not direct their eyes to a Pekingese either. Breaching this rule, or showing another kind of disrespect was something that ensured severe punishments and even death was an option.
They also spared no expense for their food. The diet of the imperial dog could include delicacies such as shark fin, quail breasts and fermented tea from spring buds.
Even when the emperors and their families were the ones that had the right of having these dogs, they were commonly presented as gifts to other royal houses in Asia. That was how many oriental breeds received the influence of the specimens given by the monarchs. Some, for example, are the Japanese Chin, the Pug, the Tibetan spaniel, and the Happa dog.
The small Pekingese would appear in many artworks throughout the Chinese empire since times before Christianity. The representations included paintings and bronze statues.
A very particular representation is the use of Pekingese dogs as the personification of the Buddhism lion, thus these dogs would become a sacred symbol.
Many of the paintings that show the legendary lion dog are part of the current exhibitions of the current historical museums. However, other pieces are part of private collections.
The Pekingese in the West
How did these proud dogs arrive at the West? Naturally, no Chinese emperor would hand their beloved pets and taking them as war trophies would not be easy either. Nevertheless, in a war during the decade of 1860, the British managed to invade China and they got to the Forbidden City. There, they found 5 Pekingese dogs than belonged to an emperor’s aunt who chose to suicide instead of running away. These 5 dogs would be the first to arrive in the United Kingdom.
These dogs would arrive in the United Kingdom as gifts for Queen Victoria and other important noblemen. The queen received a particularly small female and kept her until the animal died in 1872.
The fate of the other Pekingese dogs of the Forbidden City was varied, many ran away with their masters, others were eliminated because it was most likely killing them than giving them to the “foreign demons”, some would be taken out of the palace and sold by the eunuchs to important Chinese noblemen. With this event, the exclusiveness these dogs had for centuries ended.
Since the dogs arrived in England, many litters would be bred that will after being the base of this breed in the West. To the improvement of the breed, other Pekingese dogs were imported after the relationship between the West and China was established.
The Pekingese in the United States and its current popularity
The history of the Pekingese dogs in the United States is tightly related to the specimens of the United Kingdom, however, some specimens arrived in the country after being taken out of China as contraband. A particular case was a puppy given to the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt by the Chinese empress of the time.
The American Kennel Club, AKC, acknowledged the breed in 1906. Since then, its popularity started growing exponentially. This caused the creation of the American Pekingese Club in 1909.
Currently, the Pekingese is a very popular dog, there are hundreds of specimens registered each year in dog shows and they have received important titles, including many championships. We would have to ask the ancient Chinese people if they would have been agreeing that their dogs are loved by so many people around the world, but probably, the empress Tzu Hsi would be very proud.
Behavior with other dogs
The Pekingese is an independent dog and can also show a bit of arrogance in its attitude, maybe because for years it was spoiled by royalty in the Chinese Empire. If well this dog barely reaches the 30 cm of height, this does not prevent them from being an excellent guardian dog. Although it is not a loud dog or barks in excess, the Pekingese dog emits alert sounds and immediately grunts when it notices the presence of some stranger invading its territory. Even if there is a bigger dog than him, the Pekingese will attack it if necessary, if it feels threatened, in danger or invade.
This small dog is a brave, loyal and loving friend only with its family. With other people, it tends to be elusive, distant and indifferent. It is very territorial when we talk about other dogs or pets. It does not like when someone invades its place nor that other pets take the attention of its owners. This could bring coexistent and behavior problems, especially with other dogs that have that same leader and territorial attitude that the Pekingese has.
This breed’s dog has a strong and dominant temperament. It likes being the center of attention and enjoys the pampers and love of its owner. It is not so given to affection even though it is jealous and capricious on occasions. It does not like to be alone for long periods although it is not so active and it prefers to be lying in its home in a comfortable place without being disturbed instead of going to the park or going out for a walk.
Therefore, its relation with other dogs and pets is very particular. If it is not aggressive to them, the Pekingese will try to impose dominantly as the leader. Even with dogs twice as big as him, the Pekingese will have no problem in manifesting as the leader of the group and rejects the others, drives them off from its territory and even being aggressive to them since it is a jealous dog who likes being the center of attention.
In this sense, it is not recommendable that the Pekingese lives with other dogs, and if this happens, it is better to make sure that each dog has its own space to prevent conflicts. Equally, the other dog should be a breed with a peaceful, tolerant, sociable and friendly character, which has an adequate temperament for the life with a dog of such bad temper as the little Pekingese.
Diet and Alimentation
Regarding the Pekingese’s alimentation, we have to say that is a bit glutton. Although its small size, it can eat portions as big as the ones that any large size dog eats. They can eat in excess, which can result in overweight problems or obesity if the owner does not put limits on the alimentation of this dog.
We recommend that the Pekingese’s diet is the more balanced as possible, made of a high content of proteins, especially when the dog is still a puppy to make its growth and development adequate and that the Pekingese can be a healthy and strong adult. Equally, the food products rich in necessary nutrients are important for the Pekingese to enjoy of a brilliant and silky hair. Therefore, you may have to try many brands before finding the ideal food that will maintain the health and beauty of the Pekingese.
Among the options of food for this small dog, the dry food stands out, which is highly recommended for all pets, however, the Pekingese might reject this type of food for its texture and it might prefer wet or half damp food. The Pekingese is a little capricious and exigent with its diet, if it always eats the same, it might get boring, so it is recommendable to vary a little the menus with canned food, rich in texture and flavors that will provoke this dog’s appetite.
Nevertheless, we have to remember that wet and half damp food has a high content of sugars and fats, so the excessive consume would contribute to overweight, a condition that Pekingese dogs tend to have. Therefore, it is advisable that you put limits on the administration of these foods and to vary the meals with dry food. Dry food not only offers the advantage of having fewer sugars and fats, but it also stimulates the chewing, which is an essential process for good digestion. It also helps to keep and maintain oral health.
You can give snacks to the Pekingese, but you must not abuse them either. Therefore, cookies are snacks rich in sugars and calories that improve the innate tendency of the Pekingese to gain weight. For that reason, you must not give cookies to the Pekingese as a common practice, but as an occasional reward.
The food of the day will be distributed during the day in two principal foods, one of them early in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Some days you can incorporate some awards or snacks between each food, but you must not turn this into a daily routine. These foods can get enrich vitamin supplements and other nutrients that will help to improve the health of the dog and will give it a more beautiful appearance. If you have any doubt or need other recommendations for the feeding of the Pekingese dog, consult the veterinarian for adequate counseling in the subject
Health and General Care
Taking care of a Pekingese dog is a really easy task, by fortune, this dog does not need too many specific attention, so it is enough to pay attention to its alimentation, taking care of its cleanliness and hygiene and check its health regularly.
Starting with the Pekingese’s hygiene, taking care of this dog’s cleanliness requires a set of regular cleaning practices that are not only important for the dog’s health but also to the hygiene of the rest of the family. With frequency, people tend to carry these small dogs and hold them in their arms.
Concerning the care and oral hygiene, it is prudent to mention that this breed, due to its flat snout, tends to accumulate more easily bacterial plaque and tartar, developing consequently bad breath. For such reason, it is recommendable to brush the Pekingese’s teeth from two to three times a week, starting early when it is a puppy so the dog gets used to and put no resistance to this procedure when it is an adult. Similarly, in pet shops, you can get bones that are appropriate to keep your dog’s teeth clean, strong and healthy.
When you decide to bathe your Pekingese dog, remember to do it carefully and moderately. You can practice a bath with shampoo and conditioner for dogs once a month or every two months, starting when the dog is 5 or 6 months of life.
You start doing it at this age because is the moment when the Pekingese starts to change its puppy fur to the adult fur. After the bath, the Pekingese must dry very well. For its fur to look the best possible, it is recommendable to dry it with a hairdryer to prevent burns.
Brushing is key to good capillary health. You must brush all the fur in every area of this dog’s body, especially in the chest and armpits that is where the most entangles are formed. We recommend you to use a metal bristle brush.
The grooming of the eyes and ears is fundamental to prevent infections. You can use gauze or clean cotton, impregnated in a physiological solution to clean softly the ears and eyes once a week.
When we talk about Pekingese’s health, we can say that is a strong and healthy dog. It has a life expectancy of around 12 years, although some specimens have lived longer. It is advisable to go to the veterinarian at least twice a year, to check its health state and to keep its vaccinations and deworming up to date.
Some common diseases on this breed are ocular disorders as trichiasis, cataracts, retinal atrophy, and blindness. Due to their face flat features, with frequency the Pekingese dogs suffer from respiratory problems such as rhinitis, breathing difficulty and annoying snorts. They can also present joint luxation, especially if the dog is overweight.
How to train or educate a Pekingese
When we talk about physical activity, the Pekingese is a breed with a low grade of activity. It does not require much time in daily games, even one or two quick walks out are more than enough for this dog, and if you do some exercise or sport, the Pekingese will prefer that is of low intensity. These dog’s behavior characteristics, make the training of the Pekingese a relatively easy task.
It is important to start when the dog is a pup, so it incorporates the walks out and some games to play with its owner to its routine. The Pekingese needs an owner with a firm character, but attentive and loving who dedicates the necessary time to its education and that correct its whims during the training. The owner has to also teach it the modals to live in a family.
A Pekingese will enjoy very much of a short walk out with its owner. Going to the park or to a square offer this dog the chance of practicing the socialization, relating to other people and pets and practicing modals of coexistence.
As an exercise, you can make your Pekingese practice a quick turn around the block of your building or your garden so it starts developing the ability that they have in their paws, which even when they are short, they can be very fast and agile if he wants to. You must determine what hour of the day the dog is going to relieve itself, and the walks out should be at these hours for the Pekingese to relate the walks with relieving itself outside the house.
Another aspect to keep in mind during the training is to teach the Pekingese basic tricks as sitting, lying down, bringing or chasing some object. This may be a complicated job since the Pekingese dogs are a bit stubborn besides lazy, but they are clever and very smart dogs who are always alert.
You can stimulate its learning and interest in training with the method of positive reinforcement. Every time the dog obeys some order, reward it with some cookie or snack. That way, the Pekingese will quickly associate obedience with a reward. You do not have to base only on the food reinforcement since you would be propitiating its obesity. You can also fill it with compliments or use the clicker. If the dog does not perform the order adequately, correct it without screaming or penalize it until it does it and then, award the dog with a compliment.
For its training and distraction, you can buy it many interactive toys that keep your Pekingese busy and distracted while it is at home alone during your hours of work. That way you will mitigate its anxieties and feelings of unrest. The Pekingese is a dog that demands a lot of attention even though it is not so given to pamper and coddles. This dog likes to be always close to its loved ones. If you leave it alone at home, it could present behavior disorders like stress and anxiety and it could become noisy and excessively bark.
The goal of the training must be to achieve an adequate behavior in the Pekingese dog, keeping its temperament and dominant character controlled, and turning it into a friendly pet.
Behavior with humans
The behavior and character of the Pekingese represent the most representative aspect of these peculiar dogs. It is a dog with a lot of qualities, it is brave, observing, alert and vigilant, which makes it an excellent guardian dog, even when it has a small size. It can be a little noisy and bark on occasions, but in general, it is easy to educate it to be a quiet dog in that matter. If it is not used to bark it will emit a series of sounds that will call the attention of its owners to warn when a stranger is rounding its territory.
The Pekingese is the low-physical-activity type of dog and it prefers a lot more being lying in a corner of the house before going to the garden or the yard. Its need for exercise is low and one or two short daily walks out are enough for it.
As a family companion, the Pekingese is a particular pet, it is not so affective nor craves for coddles and pampering, although sometimes it enjoys its master’s coddles. The Pekingese tends to be elusive and reserved in that aspect. However, it requires a company most of the time and it does not like to be alone for long periods.
It is brave and a little bit dared, shyness is not a characteristic that identifies a Pekingese dog. It is capable of facing any threat without caring for the size of it. A Pekingese is a dog with a, particularly funny attitude. Many people enjoy of its indifference and their great style and mien. It is a pretty, striking and spoiled breed and it seems that this dog knows that with its appearance captivates people since, on occasions, its attitude is a bit haughty and pretentious. Besides, it is very funny to see a Pekingese with a bad temper but on determined occasions, you can see it acting stubborn and denying to obey orders, especially if it does not please it.
The Pekingese is also a jealous and capricious dog. It likes being the center of the attention at its home and outside of it too. It does not like to share its space, family and even less its food. Therefore, it is not so adequate for homes where there are many pets.
Since this breed’s birth, at its beginnings, the Pekingese was a distinguished companion dog, it was a member of the most outstanding royal families of the Chinese Empire and it was treated as a complete “highness”. With the pass of the years, the Pekingese has become a spoiled pet of many homes, performing the job of a companion dog and a pet for small families or for lonely people who live in the city.
This little dog of such a particular character has not so many exigencies over the environment where it lives. The Pekingese will quickly look for its comfort and it will adapt with no problem to live in small spaces, such as city apartments. It will only need a corner to put a pillow on and lie down to sleep on it and rest all day without disturbs or interruptions.
The Pekingese is a dog of low activity. It does not like long exercises or outdoor activities, it prefers to lie down inside the house in front of the TV than going out to run and play in the garden. It is a dog a bit lazy and its activity need is low.
It requires an emotional environment where is accompanied by its loved ones most of the time since it does not manage very well the loneliness and can develop behavior disorders. It feels better in a small house where all the family is closed and around it, and where it is the only pet and center of all attention. It is not very affective, but it is jealous of the pamper and coddles of its owners. It does not like to share and for that, it rejects the company of other dogs and pets.
The Pekingese dog is adequate to live with single and lonely people who have a lot of time to invest in the dog. It is also a good idea for a couple who are just starting a family and for families with grown-up kids who understand that the Pekingese dog is quiet and does not look to play roughly with it. It is a great company for senior people, it will sit next to the grandmother or the grandfather at the foot of their chair for long hours, to take a nap or to read the paper. This small dog is a loyal, guardian and protector partner.
The external temperatures do not represent a great problem for this dog since the Pekingese is not a dog that finds it attractive to be playing outside the house. Therefore, if it is a cold winter day, the dog will be at home enjoying the calefaction, lying at the foot of the sofa, and if you take it out for a walk, its lion hair coat will protect it from the cold weather. When the hot summer days arrive, inside the house the dog will enjoy a conditioned environment to rest lying on the fresh floor, and the walks out will be shorter than usual.