Breed Group: Toy
Height: not specified in breed standard
Weight: less than 14 pounds
Life Span: 14 to 18 years
The Pekingese has an ego that’s bigger than he is, thanks to his heritage as a favored companion in the imperial Chinese court. Despite that, he’s generally affectionate and affable. The Peke prefers adult company, although he will tolerate older children who respect his dignity.
Did You Know the Pekingese is Bold but Humorous?
A Pekingese named Winnie lived in the Playboy mansion — she belonged to “Girls Next Door” star Bridget Marquardt. Winnie’s proper name is Wednesday, after the daughter from the “Addams Family” series. She shared space in the mansion with Marquardt’s cat, Gizmo.
Admit it. When you think of the Pekingese, the image of Cartman from South Park pops into your head: overweight, spoiled, selfish, and ill-tempered. To the people who dismiss the Peke as a useless fribble, the last living symbol of a decadent and now-dead empire, the Pekingese has one thing to say: “Respect my authority!”
This is a dog with character who thinks he’s much bigger than he is. Self-esteem is his middle name. His vigilant nature makes him a super watchdog, and his size makes him suited to any size home, from an apartment to a palace.
If you don’t mind living with a dog who will run your household with an iron paw, then the Pekingese is your breed. He is affectionate with family members, but independent enough that he doesn’t need constant attention. Toward strangers, his attitude ranges from aloof to affable, depending on the individual dog.
The Pekingese, who is meant to weigh no more than 14 pounds, will stroll regally through the park and play with toys indoors, but he’s essentially a low-activity dog. Exercise is good for him, though, so make sure he gets some activity daily. Resist the impulse to carry a Peke everywhere and pluck him out of trouble — let him be a dog. He’ll be happier and better-behaved for it.
While the bold but humorous nature of the Pekingese can make him a wonderful family companion under the right circumstances, he may not be the right breed for families with young children. Pekingese are small dogs and can be injured if play is too rough, or they may snap at a child if they’re frightened.
Nor are Pekingese the most trainable of dogs. They are stubborn and see little reason to follow arbitrary rules — arbitrary to them, anyway. Because they tend to do as they please — that imperial heritage, no doubt — Pekes can be difficult to housetrain. That said, there are Pekingese who compete successfully in agility, rally and obedience trials. If you have a Peke who loves to show off, and most of them do, these sports can be a way of sneaking in some training and activity. Pekes with outgoing personalities are popular therapy dogs, spreading their special brand of Pekingese cheer to hospital patients and residents of nursing homes.
If you are looking for a dog with an easy-care coat, it’s safe to say that the Pekingese is not the right choice. Those imperious clouds of fur toddling around the show ring are the product of endless hours of grooming. For a pet, expect to spend at least an hour each week brushing the long double coat. Pet Pekingese can be kept clipped short, but that still means frequent professional grooming. Neglected coats become tangled and matted, which is painful and can lead to serious skin infections. Clean the wrinkle above the nose daily and keep it dry to help prevent infection.
It goes without saying that the Pekingese, which was bred exclusively as a companion dog, needs to live in the house and never outdoors. With his flat face, the Pekingese is sensitive to high temperatures and can quickly succumb to heatstroke if he is not kept in air-conditioned surroundings.
One last note: the Peke snores. But if you love the breed, the noise will likely become part of the background.
Quick Facts About the Pekingese
The Peke’s glamorous coat can come in all coat colors and markings, including parti-color (a color, plus white).
The Pekingese is meant to suggest lionlike courage, boldness, and self-esteem.
The Pekingese may look small, but he is solidly built and surprisingly heavy when lifted.
This breed takes its name from Peking, as the capital of China used to be called.