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Pekingese Dog Breed Information: Facts, Traits, Pictures & More

Thinking of adopting a small dog, and narrowing your search to the Pekingese? These little canines are full of life, but also have a laid-back demeanor. In this article, you'll learn all about the breed, including its history, temperament, breed facts, and plenty of pictures.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: March 16, 2021 | 15 min read

Pekingese

The Pekingese, affectionately known as the Peke, is a relatively rare dog in America. He is unique in more ways than one! He might be small in stature, but he is a loud and proud dog who likes to think of himself as the boss. And unless you take the reign, he will become the boss of the family.

This feisty furball needs an experienced dog owner who can transform him into a well-behaved pooch rather than an unbearable doggy diva. If you are considering welcoming one of these rare dogs into your life, you’ve come to the right place. Many people take these dogs on without knowing what goes into looking after one.

Here in this guide, we’ll cover every inch of his breed resume and help you to discover whether he is the right breed for your lifestyle. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but you could make the wrong decision if you don’t do the research! So, let’s get started.

Breed Overview
    • weight iconWeightup to 14 Pounds
    • height iconHeight6-9 Inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan14-18 years
    • color iconColorsBlack, Cream, Fawn, Gray, Red, and White
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

History

Super Fluffy Fawn Dog With Black Mask
The ancient Chinese legend says the Pekingese dog came from a lion and marmoset monkey.

The Pekingese has a fruitful history, full of legend, secrecy, and sacrifice. DNA evidence shows that this pooch is one of the oldest dog breeds in history.

It is believed that he has been around for 2,000 years and originates from China. The capital of Peking, to be exact, is now known as Beijing. His breed purpose has always been for companionship, and he was the top canine choice for royalty.

If you’ve ever heard someone refer to them as the sleeve dog, it’s because they used to sit in the draping sleeves of his imperial master.

Chinese legend has it that a lion fell in love with a marmoset (a type of monkey). The lion begged Buddha to reduce his size but to keep his courageous personality so he could wed the smaller monkey. Budha granted his wish, and from their union, the Pekingese pup was born.

Although this probably isn’t true, the Peke does look a lot like a lion and marmoset mix! It is unknown how the Peke came to be, but the Chinese nation was fascinated with creating flat-faced breeds.

The Peke was a well-preserved secret of the royal family. To steal one was punishable by death, and commoners were expected to bow to them. He was discovered by outsiders in 1860 when the British stormed Peking’s imperial palace during the Opium War.

The family is said to have killed most of their Pekes to prevent them from being captured by the enemy. But five of them were found alive guarding their mistress, who had also committed suicide to prevent capture.

The five Pekes were taken back to England and presented as a prize to Queen Victoria and her family. Although the Peke was extremely rare, the rest of the world became fascinated with this exotic breed. The first Peke to be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), named Rascal, was in 1906.

The Pekingese Club of America was created in 1909, and as they say, the rest is history. He is now consistently placed between the 90th and 100th most popular dog breed in America.

Temperament

Small Blond Dog on an Autumn Day
This bougie breed has a lot of spunk and sass for such a small dog.

The Pekingese has enjoyed an incredible history, and that shows in his personality. He knows just how special he is, and his self-importance is easy to see. He is the center of attention at any party. While this is great for those who love big personality dogs, his personality needs handling.

The Pekingese needs an experienced dog owner who can accept his independent ways. And ensure that the Peke knows his humans are the leaders here, not him.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discover what else he is like. For starters, he adores his humans. Being bred for companionship, you can be sure that he craves it. If you are after a little canine hot water to keep you company, this dog could be a top choice for you.

He is affectionate and adorable. But it can be a problem for families who don’t spend a lot of time at home. He will become a nervous wreck after a few hours on his own.

His utmost loyalty also means that no one will come to any harm with this little pup around. He makes an incredible watchdog. His loud bark and feisty demeanor are enough to scare any intruder off. If you were thinking this breed is quiet and amiable with strangers, you are mistaken.

He tends to pick a favorite person in the family and stick to them like glue. This is usually his main caregiver or the one who spoils him the most.

He doesn’t take rubbish from anyone and will put people in their place if they cross the line. The same goes for overexcited young children who do not know how to handle dogs yet. For this reason, he is best suited to a family with older children.

Although the Peke is not aggressive, he is intolerant and can be a little grumpy. Thankfully, he’s more fun than he is grumpy. He loves to play with his favorite humans. This energetic furry footstool is a comical little character.

Size & Appearance

Three Very Fluffy White Dogs on a Red Bench
Pekes are very small, weighing only about 14 pounds at peak weight, but look bigger thanks to their thick fur.

The Pekingese is a small-sized dog that weighs up to 14 pounds. He measures between 6 and 9 inches tall, from paw to shoulder. He is part of the toy dog group, and it’s easy to see why when you see a Peke. But he is not delicate in any way. He is lion-like, complete with a courageous and bold aura.

The Pekingese looks heavier on the front than he does at the back, but that has a lot to do with his profuse coat. His effortless gait makes him appear as though he is floating on air. Their tail is set high on his rear and lays up his spine in a slight arch.

His skull is wider than it is long, giving his head a rectangular shape, and his flat muzzle adds to the envelope-shaped face. He is a brachycephalic breed, with many wrinkles above his nose up to his forehead.

His ears are long and flat but do not go past his jaw. It is the hair on his ears that make them look much longer than they are. His eyes are large, bold, and cheeky.

Coat & Colors

Regal Dog During a Light Breeze
Keeping the fur of a Peke long and fluffy is common for those participating in shows.

The Pekingese’s coat is a distinctive feature of his. You can see why many people think he is part lion! He has a double-coat that is thick and dense. The undercoat is soft and wooly. His outercoat is long, straight, and coarse in texture. It is longer and particularly thick around his neck and shoulders compared to the rest of his body.

Overall, his coat touches the floor. Feathering fur is found around the ears and the tail. If you want to show your Pekingese for confirmation, you should not overly trim your Peke.

Many owners who do not show their Peke will trim the hair shorter to make his coat more manageable. The Peke has many coat colors to choose from. Officially recognized colors are biscuit, black, black and tan, cream, fawn, fawn sable, gray, red, red sable, and white.

Many Pekes will have darker hair around the face, also known as a mask, and the ends of the ears. His features, such as nose and paw pads, will always be black.

Exercise Requirements

Fawn Dog Running in the Grass
Playtime and walks totaling about 30 minutes are all this tiny pooch needs to meet its exercise requirements to stay healthy.

The Pekingese is a moderately active pooch who only needs up to 30 minutes of exercise every day. If you’re looking for a small energetic dog to keep you company on hikes, or a jogging partner, this pooch is not the breed for you. Instead, he prefers sophisticated strolls around the park and neighborhood.

He doesn’t see the need to tear it around a park; he’s far too posh for that, darling! He’ll also enjoy playing in between exercise sessions, and toy time will become part of his daily exercise. But he isn’t a couch potato either! If you do not take him out on daily paw patrols, he will quickly become agitated.

As long as you can commit to his basic exercise needs, he will be a happy bunny indeed. It’s important to take him out of the confines of his home and socialize him to prevent him from becoming set in his ways and overprotective of his home. Take him down to the dog park, and everyone will want to play with him. Both dogs and people alike.

Living Conditions

Small Dog Looking Out the Window
A Peke is happy to live in small apartments up to large homes.

The Peke is an adaptable dog when it comes to his living conditions. As long as it’s cozy and warm, he is happy to park his royal butt up anywhere.

A yard is not a requirement either, which is why he makes a great option like an apartment doggo. If he does have access to a yard, make sure it is Peke proof and that he cannot get out. Because he will if he can!

We have already mentioned that he is best suited to a family with older children only. Mainly due to his small size and intolerant nature. When it comes to other dogs, it all depends on how well he was socialized as a pup.

Generally speaking, the Peke likes the company of other small-sized dogs. He can live with other larger dogs, but he will tell them off when they get in his face. If he is raised as a pup with them, he should do fine. If not, like most dogs, a slow and steady introduction will be required.

Training

Very Fluffy Black Dog With His Tongue Out
It is good to start very early as it takes a little more time and patience to train the testy Peke.

The Pekingese is a law unto himself and very difficult to train. So, those looking for an ultra-trainable pooch to win obedience competitions will be extremely disappointed. He is independent and completely stubborn, evening with top training. This has led to him being classified as a less intelligent dog breed when you can truly just attribute that to being very independent.

But, he needs to be put through his paces and trained from an early age if you want a chance of teaching him basic manners. Take him to a puppy obedience class, and this will show him who the boss is from day one.

You might be thinking, ‘really – this little dog?’ Yes, this little pup needs an experienced owner who is willing to put effort into early training. If you don’t, you risk that he becomes unruly and spoiled, developing something known as ‘small dog syndrome.’ He still thinks that us mere mortals should bow to him.

Fair but firm training is the best way to train the Peke. Use the positive reinforcement training method, and he will learn that if he wants a treat, he needs to earn it.

It’s also important to socialize him from a young age too. His dominant and protective character can make a handful if not taught how to be polite with other humans and animals. Expose him to as many other dogs and people as you can to build his confidence. Doggy parks are fab for this reason!

Crate training your Peke is another training aspect that you’ll want to take up. He hates to be left alone. And if you do it too often, he’ll teach you a lesson by destroying your favorite things. Using a crate will not only keep him out of trouble, but research shows that crates go a long way to reduce anxiety.

Health

Happy Senior Dog Smiles at the Sun
With proper exercise and a good diet, this breed can live as long as 14 years.

The Pekingese enjoys a relatively healthy lifespan of 12 to 14 years. But he isn’t the healthiest of dog breeds. As mom and dad, it’s your responsibility to do everything you can to take care of him.

Some of the simplest ways to keep him healthy are to exercise him regularly, feed him high-quality nutrition, and keep up to date with vet check-ups and vaccinations. Working with a responsible breeder increases the chances of your Peke being a healthy pup.

Like all dog breeds, the Peke is susceptible to certain health conditions more so than others. It doesn’t mean that your Peke will suffer from any or all of them. But it’s important to make yourself aware of them and understand the symptoms.

Patella Luxation

This is also commonly known as ‘slipped stifles.’ And it is essentially where the knee cap becomes dislocated out of place and floats. This is a common issue in small dog breeds, and there are four stages of it. Eventually, it can become very painful for the pup, and severe stages of it require surgery. If you notice lameness in a limb or an abnormal gait, it’s best to get it looked at.

Eye Conditions

The Pekingese is prone to quite a few eye conditions. His flat face means that his eyes are prone to injury, as the muzzle doesn’t protect them. Make sure his living environment is safe with no sticky-out furniture. Entropion is where the eyelid rolls inwards, and distichiasis is where extra eyelashes grow inwards, irritating the eye. Dry eye and corneal ulcers are common eye concerns too. All conditions can lead to complete blindness if left untreated, so it’s important to act on any concerns fast.

Brachycephalic Syndrom

This is the term given to flat-faced breeds and the related health concerns that it causes. It causes severe breathing problems because the nostrils are narrow, the palate is soft, and the trachea is small. He’ll snuffle a lot, and you’ll notice that he’ll wear out quickly during exercise. He will struggle to regulate his body temperature, too, so care should always be taken during exercise. Exercising in cooler periods of the day and keeping his weight down is important.

Skin-fold Dermatitis

The rolls around his flat muzzle and nose often become infected because they rub and hold in moisture. If you notice sores, redness, or a foul odor, you need to take him to the vet. Topical treatments can solve the issue, but in extreme cases, surgery might be required. Regular cleaning is required to keep infections at bay.

Mitral Valve Disease

This is where the heart’s mitral valve becomes defective and leaves it unable to pump blood as it should. This is a common heart condition in older dogs. Unfortunately, the Peke is one of a few dog breeds that develop this condition at a young age. It will usually be detected by the vet who detects a heart murmur, which is why it is important to keep up with regular health visits.

Nutrition

Small Fawn Dog With Black Mask Nibbling on a Bone
A posh pooch tends to prefer a posh diet, so offer your Peke high-quality dog food formulated for small breed dogs.

The Pekingese is a small canine that will only need between half a cup of food and one cup every day, split into at least two sittings. The amount you feed him will depend on his size, age, and energy levels.

He would happily eat more if you let him, so it’s important not to let him become overweight. Not only will this lead to other health concerns, but it will also worsen his breathing problems.

Always feed your Peke the best quality nutrition that you can afford, and one that is age-appropriate (i.e., puppy, adult, and senior). A kibble designed for small breeds will be required because he will probably struggle to eat standard-sized kibbles. Look for a kibble that is high in omega fats to keep his skin healthy and coat nourished.

You might find that your Peke is a fussy eater. He will only eat the best! If this is the case, try adding a little water or low-sodium broth to the biscuits to entice him. Don’t spoil him with human food, because he will never eat dog food again!

Grooming

Fluffy Dog Getting Fur Trimmed
Consistent grooming is vital for the aesthetic of your Peke’s thick and luscious fur.

The Pekingese’s coat requires a fair bit of maintenance, but we’re assuming you already guessed that! If you keep his coat long, he will require daily brushing to remove dirt and debris that he sweeps up from his travels. You’ll often find leaves, twigs, and other objects in there, and gum is the worst! And to prevent his coat from matting.

If you choose to keep his style shorter, you can brush him twice weekly. He will shed a little more during the shedding seasons, so longer brushing sessions will be required. The best brush for the Peke is a slicker brush all year-round.

The Pekingese needs bathing once every month. Try not to bathe him more than this because you’ll damage his natural coat oils and damage his skin. Use a gentle formula made from natural ingredients, such as oatmeal.

The skin folds around his face will need cleaning daily with a doggy wrinkle cleaner to keep skin infections at bay. If he is prescribed a medicated shampoo for his skin-fold dermatitis, be sure to use this.

The Peke’s nails will need regular trimming as they grow quickly, and he doesn’t wear them down naturally through exercise. Peke’s tend to have black nails, so you need to be careful of the blood vessel inside their nails. If in doubt, ask a groomer to do it or show you how it’s done.

His small mouth and cramped teeth will also require dental cleaning at least three times a week. Use a doggy toothpaste, and it will go a long way to prevent periodontal diseases common in toy breeds.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Very Small and Cute Puppy Running Through the Grass
Expect to pay a pretty penny for these rare pups, starting at about $1,000 and up.

The Pekingese is a rare dog breed in America. Depending on where you live, you will probably have to travel to find a good quality breeder. Plus, you’ll also likely be placed on a waiting list.

It’s important to work with a good breeder because they will do everything they can to produce healthy puppies. The AKC has a list of Pekingese breeders, which is a great place to start your search.

The average price of a Peke puppy from a responsible breeder is between $1,000 and $1,500. Anything much less than this is a sign that they aren’t the best breeders around. And if you are after a show pup from an award-winning bloodline, you can expect to pay several thousand dollars. Always ask for health certificates, and be sure to meet the pups and their mom in person.

A poor quality breeder will lure you in with a low price. If they pressurize you, are cagey about details, or ask to meet you somewhere conspicuous, walk away.

Welcoming a pup into your life is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so it’s best to do it the right way. Irresponsible breeders and puppy mills are more than likely to produce sick puppies. So please don’t keep them in business.

You also need to factor in the costs of raising a puppy and taking care of him for the rest of his life. Although he only needs everything in miniature, you still need to factor in the costs. Vet bills, insurance, and regular grooming, to name just a few things, all add up. Plus, this breed only wears the best of the best!

Rescues & Shelters

Small Fawn and Black Dog
There is a chance you can find a rescue Peke, you just need to look at your local shelter and breed rescue services.

Of course, getting a Pekingese puppy is not the only option you have. Instead, why not consider adopting a Peke pooch from a rescue shelter. Sure, because he is rare, he is even rarer in rescue shelters.

There are always Peke’s in need of their forever homes. You just have to find them. Not only will you be saving a life, but the cost of adopting is often much lower in cost compared to buying a puppy.

Try heading out to your local rescue shelter and speak to the staff there. They may be in the know about a nearby Peke in need of some loving. Don’t expect to find a Peke straight away; all good things take time.

Alternatively, there are dedicated breed rescue organizations out there, such as the Pekingese Charitable Foundation. This foundation dedicates their time and efforts to just this breed.

As Family Pets

  • The Pekingese is very small but very feisty!
  • He is independent and stubborn.
  • Don’t expect him to be an obedient family pet right away.
  • He adores his human family and loves spending time with them.
  • They don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time.
  • The Peke only needs around 30 minutes of exercise a day.
  • This can consist of walks and outdoor playtime.
  • He is a great watchdog, but barks frequently.
  • The Pekingese is very protective of his home and family.
  • He needs to be socialized regularly if you want him to be polite with other dogs.
  • This is a lifelong training need with this breed.
  • He needs to be homed with a family who has older children.
  • The breed can be slightly intolerant of toddlers or those that play rough.
  • His coat needs daily maintenance if you want to manage his lion coat and mane.

Final Thoughts

The Pekingese is a uniquely quirky pup who is anything but a dainty and delicate toy pooch. It’s safe to say that he is not the ideal breed for everyone. But those who can offer him everything that he needs will find the best sidekick in him.

He has the personality of a lion, the bark of a Rottweiler, and the diva demeanor of your favorite pop star. But with all that loyalty and love he showers his favorite humans in return, they wouldn’t have it any other way. Don’t leave him alone for too long, or mistake him for a footrest, and you will live happily ever after!

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