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About this dog

Welcome to the Pekingese dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other Pekingese pages.

- Kitt Killion

Pekingese Breed Information

Alternative names - Foo (or Fu) dog, Peking Palasthund

Country of origin - China

Common nicknames - Peke

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 9 Section 8 #207|Stds
AKC:|Toy|Stds
ANKC:|Group 1 (Toys)|Stds
CKC:|Group 5 - Toys|Stds
KC (UK):|Toy|Stds
NZKC:|Toy|Stds
UKC:|Companion Breeds|Stds
Pekingese or Pekinese is an ancient breed of toy dog, originating in China. They were the favored pet of the Chinese Imperial court, and the name relates to the city of Beijing where the Forbidden City resides. The breed has several characteristics and health issues related to its unique appearance.

These dogs are also called Dogs of Foo (or Fu) by the Chinese, and how much they are revered can be seen in the number of Chinese artworks depicting them. They were considered a guardian spirit as they resembled Chinese lions (see Lion dance).

1. Breed standards

The only tournament requirements for pekingese dogs are basic standards (such as being purebred) and cannot weigh over 14 pounds.

2. Appearance

The Pekingese breed is over 2000 years old and has hardly changed in all that time. One exception is that modern breeders and dog-show judges seem to prefer the long-haired type over the more-traditional spaniel-type coat.

All breed standards allow all sorts of color combinations. The most common is gold; this is the color of the majority of Pekingese exhibited. Although the breed once came in a variety of colours, the majority of Pekingese are gold, red or sable. Light gold, cream, black, white, sables, black and tan and occasionally 'blue' or slate grey have appeared in the breed. The latter often has poor pigment and light eyes. Albino Pekingese (white with pink eyes) should be bred cautiously due to health problems that have been associated with albinism.

The Chinese bred them to be companions to the Emperor of China and his ladies and eunuchs. They have short legs that are bowed. It is said that this was done to discourage wandering. However, they can and will keep up with the big dogs when allowed. The bowed legs makes their walk, run, or trot quite striking. The juvenile appearance of the Pekingese has been attributed to the artificial, perhaps inadvertent, paedomorphosis of an "ancestral" form of the dog through breeding.

Pekes weigh from 7 to 14 pounds (3-6 kg) and stand about 6-9 inches (15-23 cm) at the withers.

3. Temperament

These dogs can be stubborn and jealous. Do not expect this dog to come when it is called. Pekes are sometimes aggressive, especially to other dogs. It may take a long time for Pekes to get used to any other dogs except puppies, mates, and siblings. However, Pekes can be properly socialized with dogs and other types of pets and can become fast friends. It is easy to believe that Pekes know that they are royalty and expect you to know it too. The Pekingese personality has been compared to a cat, although this isn't quite right. Where a cat can be trained, a Pekingese needs to be convinced that the training is beneficial to him as well as to you. But, if they love you they will do anything for you, even fight to the death to protect you.

The Pekingese is generally a one-person dog. Many breeders will not place the breed in households with young or boisterous children as the Breed simply does not enjoy being mauled or expected to tear around in a manner that would be more befitting an agile Poodle or other small breeds.

The Pekingese is a large dog in a small body. It expects to be respected and will not tolerate being treated otherwise.

4. Health

The leading cause of death for Pekes, as for many other Toy breeds, is congestive heart failure. When diagnosed early and successfully treated with medication, a Peke with this problem can expect to live many years. A heart murmur is a potential sign of a problem, and must be evaluated by a veterinary cardiologist. Very often, the problem does not surface until the dog is 6 or more years old, so it is very difficult to screen the problem in a pup. Pekes' other main problems are eye issues and breathing problems, resulting from its tiny skull and flattened face, and skin allergies (and hotspots). An especially common problem is eye ulcers, which may develop spontaneously. Pekes should never be kept outside as their flattened faces and noses can develop breathing problems, which makes it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature in overly hot or cold weather. Their long backs, relative to their legs, make them vulnerable to back injuries. Care should be taken, when picking them up, to give Pekes adequate back support: one hand under the chest, the other under the abdomen. Short legs give some Pekes difficulty with stairs; older dogs may not be able to go up or down stairs alone.

5. Care

Keeping the Peke coat healthy and presentable requires brushing once a day. If you do this, they will need to see a groomer only once every 3 months. If a Peke becomes dirty, it is important to take it to a groomer as soon as possible, as it is difficult to remove dirt from its coat once it has dried, but this can be avoided if by brushing regularly, especially the belly, and between the front and hind legs. One important thing for new owners to remember is that dogs intended as a house pet may be kept in a puppy cut which is much more low maintenance than a show cut. It is also important to remove dirt from the eye pores daily, and from the creases on the face to prevent sores (hotspots).

6. History

The breed originated in China in antiquity, in the city of Peking most likely from Asian wolves. Another theory proposed by Professor Ludvic von Schulmuth is that the "Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog", a scavenger, evolved into the "Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog". From this dog evolved the Pekingese, Tibetan Spaniel, and Japanese Chin. The Professor studied canine origins by studying the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago and believed different branches of this "Kitchen Midden Dog" also gave rise to the Papillon and Long haired Chihuahua, as well as the Shih Tzu and the Pug. Recent DNA analysis confirms that the Pekingese breed is one of the oldest breeds of dog. For centuries, they could be owned only by members of the Chinese Imperial Palace.

During the Second Opium War, in 1860, the Forbidden City was invaded by Allied troops. The Emperor Xianfeng had fled with all of his court. However an elderly aunt of the emperor remained. When the foreign devils entered, she committed suicide. She was found with her five Pekingese mourning her passing.

They were removed by the Allies before the Old Summer Palace was burnt. Lord John Hay took a pair, later called Schloff and Hytien and gave them to his sister, the Duchess of Wellington, wife of Henry Wellesley, 3rd Duke of Wellington. Sir George Fitzroy took another pair, and gave them to his cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon. Lieutenant Dunne presented the fifth Pekingese to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who named it Looty.

The Empress Dowager Cixi presented Pekingese to several Americans, including John Pierpont Morgan and Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, who named it Manchu.

The first Pekingese in Ireland was introduced by Dr. Heuston. He established smallpox vaccination clinics in China. The effect was dramatic. In gratitude, the Chinese minister, Li Hung Chang presented him with a pair of Pekingese. They were named Chang and Lady Li. Dr. Heuston founded the Greystones kennel.

7. Miscellaneous

Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Dowager Cixi, said:

Let the Lion Dog be small; let it wear the swelling cape of dignity around its neck; let it display the billowing standard of pomp above its back.

Let its face be black; let its forefront be shaggy; let its forehead be straight and low.

Let its eyes be large and luminous; let its ears be set like the sails of war junk; let its nose be like that of the monkey god of the Hindus.

Let its forelegs be bent; so that it shall not desire to wander far, or leave the Imperial precincts.

Let its body be shaped like that of a hunting lion spying for its prey.

Let its feet be tufted with plentiful hair that its footfall may be soundless and for its standard of pomp let it rival the whick of the Tibetans' yak, which is flourished to protect the imperial litter from flying insects.

Let it be lively that it may afford entertainment by its gambols; let it be timid that it may not involve itself in danger; let it be domestic in its habits that it may live in amity with the other beasts, fishes or birds that find protection in the Imperial Palace.

And for its colour, let it be that of the lion - a golden sable, to be carried in the sleeve of a yellow robe; or the colour of a red bear, or a black and white bear, or striped like a dragon, so that there may be dogs appropriate to every costume in the Imperial wardrobe.

Let it venerate its ancestors and deposit offerings in the canine cemetery of the Forbidden City on each new moon.

Let it comport itself with dignity; let it learn to bite the foreign devils instantly.

Let it be dainty in its food so that it shall be known as an Imperial dog by its fastidiousness; sharks fins and curlew livers and the beasts of quails, on these may it be fed; and for drink give it the tea that is brewed from the spring buds of the shrub that groweth in the province of Hankow, or the milk of the antelopes that pasture in the Imperial parks.

Thus shall it preserve its integrity and self-respect; and for the day of sickness let it be anointed with the clarified fat of the legs of a sacred leopard, and give it to drink a throstle's eggshell full of the juice of the custard apple in which has been dissolved three pinches of shredded rhinoceros horn, and apply it to piebald leeches.

So shall it remain - but if it dies, remember thou too art mortal.

8. Peke legends

There are two origination stories for the Pekingese. The first is the most common, The Lion and the Marmoset:

A lion and a marmoset fell in love. But the lion was too large. The lion went to the Buddha and told him of his woes. The Buddha allowed the lion to shrink down to the size of the marmoset. And the Pekingese was the result.

The second, less-common, originating story is The Butterfly Lions:

A lion fell in love with a butterfly. But the butterfly and lion knew the difference in size was too much to overcome. Together they went to see the Buddha, who allowed their size to meet in the middle. From this, the Pekingese came.

Another legend says that the Peke resulted from the mating of a lion and a monkey, getting its nobleness and coat from the former and its ungainly walk from the latter.

Because the Pekingese was believed to have originated from the Buddha, he was a temple dog. As such, he was not a mere toy. He was made small so that he could go after and destroy little demons that might infest the palace or temple. But his heart was big so that he could destroy even the largest and fiercest. (A book was written from this premise, although the author denies knowledge of the legends: Bride of the Rat God.)

9. Famous Pekes

* Bambi, pet of Miss Marjory Warner, upon whom James Herriot based his characters Mrs. Pumphrey and Triki Woo
* Chu-Chu from Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
* Fifi the Peke, the girlfriend of Pluto, Mickey Mouse's pet.
* Manchu, pet of Theodore Roosevelt's daughter, Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth.
* Winnie/Wednesday, pet of Bridget Marquardt, Hugh Hefner's girlfriend, as seen on E! Channel's "The Girls Next Door"
* Barbara Cartland famously owned a snow-white Peke, which was sadly killed by a car.
* Sun Yat owned by Henry Sleeper Harper - Harper Brothers Publishing - was a survivor on the Titanic


Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".


Taken or modified, in whole or part, from Wikipedia.org