As one of the oldest breeds of dogs in the world, the Pekingese can trace its history back to Peking, China, which is now known as Beijing. These little dogs were believed to have the ability to ward off and drive away evil spirits and were called Foo Dogs because of these abilities. The only people that were allowed to have Pekingese were royalty since they were seen as being of divine nature. The penalty for stealing or owning a Pekingese if you weren’t of the royal class was death.
The Chinese so valued these dogs that people on the street had to bow to the dogs as they walked by. When the British invaded the Imperial Palace in 1860 the ruling class ordered all the Pekingese dogs destroyed to prevent them from being captured. The surviving dogs, which were just five in number, were taken to Queen Victoria in England where the breed was established and continued. Honestly, I doubt this story is fully true; it has the air an exaggeration.
As a small dog the typically Pekingese is about 9 inches at the shoulder and weighs less than 10 pounds. There is also a smaller version of the breed, known as a Sleeve Pekingese, which is less than 6 pounds. Many breeders are now breeding for smaller sizes, but these dogs often have serious health conditions that may significantly shorten the dog’s life span.
A well bred Pekingese will live to be up to 15 years of age and typically will have few health conditions other than respiratory issues. These dogs are very sensitive to temperature changes, particularly cold weather, and can develop coughs and respiratory infections. Your vet can provide information on treatment options for these types of seasonal health issues.
The long, silky straight coat of the Pekingese will require grooming every other day. Since this breed has a double coat it is essential to remove all mats from the inner coat, which is not usually an issue if routine grooming practices are used. These dogs love attention so grooming is a wonderful time to spend with the pet. Follow up with a walk or a bit of play time to really make it a rewarding time for both you and the dog.
Highly intelligent, the Pekingese loves to please. They are very good watchdogs and may try to protect their family against threats, particularly from other dogs. Early socialization is important to prevent dog aggression from becoming an issue. These are true companion dogs and need to be with people much more than they are alone. This is a perfect pet for someone that works from home or that has a lot of time to spend just being around their pet and interacting with it. The small size of the Pekingese makes it a perfect pet to travel with and one that is very content in new places provided their master is there too.