Pekingese were dogs bred for centuries to be the prized companions of the imperial family of China. Today they are still cherished family companions and show dogs who greet everyone they meet with dignity and grace.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
The creation myth “The Lion and the Marmoset” provides the origin of the Pekingese: A lion fell in love with a marmoset, but, alas, the lion was too big. Buddha allowed the lion to shrink in size to follow its heart, and the result was the Pekingese.
About this Breed
Pekingese dogs are another very famous breed that originated in China. Their short statures, long flowing coats, and flat faces make them the beloved pets of people all across the world. They are very recognizable and have travelled far to become immensely popular dogs.
Originally the favorite breed of the Chinese Imperial Family, they were bred exclusively to be pets and have enjoyed the lap of luxury for centuries. They were also the breed of choice for Chinese monks. They’ve been around for over 2,000 years, and they have remained quite unchanged. They were exported to Europe in the 1600s or 1700s and quickly became popular with European royal families. By the turn of the century, they enjoyed the same popularity in the United States.
Pekingese are lap dogs. They don’t need a lot of exercise, and they don’t need a lot of space—they only need a lap or a couch. They are exceptionally friendly and loving little dogs who want nothing more than to curl up next to their owners. They are smaller than they look—they are mostly fur—and they make excellent apartment dogs. They would be happy in the suburbs or country as well. They definitely are inside dogs, and they must be kept in a climate-controlled environment.
Like many other dogs with flat faces (pugs, bulldogs, etc.) Pekingese have a hard time in extreme climates, especially heat. When owners exercise their Pekingese, which they might not be fond of to begin with, they’ll want to be sure they don’t overheat. Only take them for short walks in the summer, preferably in the early morning or evening.
Pekingese do well with other dogs and children, provided the children are old enough to handle them carefully. Pekingese tend to have weak backs, so they can’t withstand too much roughhousing. A home with older children who know how to properly handle animals would be best. They require a decent amount of upkeep because of their flat faces and long coats—they may need grooming every day. If prospective owners can’t keep up with the long coat, they can always ask the groomer to give the Pekingese a “puppy cut”.
Pekingese on Embark
Explore some Embark dogs that share Pekingese ancestry.
- California, United States
- Texas, United States
- Florida, United States
- New York, United States
- Georgia, United States
- Tennessee, United States
- Ohio, United States
- North Carolina, United States
- Washington, United States
- Pennsylvania, United States