The lion-faced Pekingese is unique among small dogs. Bred specifically as a lap dog for Ancient Chinese royalty, these unique pups - who one Chinese legend says are descended from shrunken lions - have been kept as pets all over the world for hundreds of years.
But are Pekingese dogs good pets? That is something we are going to take a closer look at here, along with the basics anyone considering a Pekingese dog as a pet should know.
What Were Pekingese Dogs Bred For?
The Pekingese does indeed date back to Ancient China, but the rest of the world knew very little about them until the aftermath of the Second Opium War when a small number of them were discovered by French and British soldiers, and eventually brought back to Europe as 'the spoils of war'.
Various historical accounts do shed some light on their lives and place in Chinese society before that though. One legend claims that Budhha shrunk a lion so it might serve as a guard for the Imperial family and that 'shrunken lion' then lived as a pampered dog. It's also known that a very small version of the Pekingese was known as the 'sleeve Pekingese' and carried in the long sleeves of Buddhist monks' robes.
In China, right up until they were discovered by those soldiers, only the noblest families were permitted to own them, and they, by all accounts, lived a life that was as luxurious as the humans they shared a home with, something that, as any Pekingese pet parent can tell you, the modern versions certainly seem to remember.
Are Pekingese Dogs Friendly?
Pekingese dogs are good-natured dogs with a friendly disposition. Early socialization from puppyhood plays a big part into making a Pekingese dog into a responsible, friendly and well-behaved pup!
This time will shape them and determine what kind of friendly dog they will turn out to be with people, other dogs and animals.
What Are Pekingese Dogs Like?
The first thing that most people think about a Pekingese dog is how cute they look, and how charmingly small. What they may not know is how loyal, intelligent and sometimes very stubborn a Pekingese dog can be.
The old legends state that the Pekingese was used as a guard dog, and this is, indeed, a role a modern Pekingese often decides to play. They are very loyal to their pack - the humans they live with, children included, - but may be very wary of strangers, and most would certainly attempt to defend their human pack members if they felt they were under attack.
This can seem, to outsiders, like aggressive behavior, but it is usually more about these little dogs feeling a need to protect everything that is theirs, which is exactly what their ancestors were bred to do.
They can also be very stubborn, preferring that things be done their way as often as possible as well as very smart. The good news is that the Pekingese is a pup that usually responds well to formal dog training, so well that you'll often find lots of them getting the best scores in the obedience portions of dog shows and competitions.
What Do Pekingese Dogs Look Like?
As they were specifically bred to be lap dogs - long before lap dogs were a 'thing' - the Pekingese is naturally a small dog. They average between 10 and 14 pounds when fully grown, and rarely stand taller than nine inches.
Although it is hard to tell, as their bodies are covered in a dense, long coat, these little pups are not wimps, and are in fact rather stocky and muscular. Their easily recognizable flat faces are undeniably cute, and their dark eyes - which really are black if you look closely - often give away just how smart - and sometimes cunning - these precious pups can be.
A Pekingese dog's crowning glory is his luxuriant coat, which is long and fluffy, and a little on the wiry side. Heavy shedders, the most common Pekingese color is a warm gold, but they can also be found boasting black, cream, red, or even silver-blue coats.
The most common Pekingese color is a warm gold, but they can also be found boasting black, cream, red, or even silver-blue coats.
As you might imagine, their coats do mean that pet parents must be willing to undertake lots of grooming, as their frizz-prone fur - summer humidity can do as big a number of their hair as it might your own - needs very regular brushing to avoid developing unattractive - and painful for them - tangles and knots.
Health Problems To Be Aware Of With Pekingese
Like many small dogs, the Pekingese has an average life expectancy of 12-14 years. And like many other brachycephalic - short-faced - dog breeds their snub noses and flat faces can cause them health problems, especially respiratory ones.
This smushed face and shortened air passages often also lead to lots of snuffling and sometimes very marked snoring, but Pekingnese pet parents often find that to be one of their charms.
Unfortunately, the Pekingese's brachycephaly makes them more susceptible to some eye diseases.
As the face shortens, the eye sockets become shallower, causing the eyes to bulge forward, and they're less protected. Sometimes this is enough to stop their eyelids from fully closing, preventing the tear film from spreading over the cornea's forwardmost spot. This increases the risk of corneal ulcers, which can be both painful and lead to eventual blindness.
Who Should Get a Pekingese Dog?
As is the case for any breed, a Pekingese dog is not always the right pet choice for everyone, but the best choice for some.
Anyone who loves dogs can consider one as a pet, but the following are factors that may make them better suited as companions for some.
Anyone Who Lives in a Smaller Space
Pekingese dogs are lively dogs, and not always the quietest, but the one thing they don't need is a lot of space to roam.
Given that their favorite spots are likely to be the living room, kitchen, and wherever else the rest of the family is, they take to smaller space living very well. This means that if you live in an apartment and dogs are allowed, a Pekingese dog might make the perfect pet.
Anyone Who Needs a Smart Companion
Pekingese dogs were bred as companion dogs, and this is the role they are the happiest playing. If you want a smart dog who will follow you everywhere but is smart enough to understand, with a little training, where they should not go, then a Pekingese might be right for you.
Anyone Who is NOT Allergic to Dogs
Dog allergies tend to be very misunderstood, but if you are looking for a hypoallergenic dog a Pekingese is not the right choice for you. It's not the length of their coat that's the problem, as it is a dog's saliva, not their fur, that carries the allergens that can affect those sensitive to them, but the fact that they are heavy shedders.
The fur they shed is usually coated with saliva deposited as a pup grooms themselves, and that can become a problem. A Pekingese dog is also one who craves cuddles and attention from their pet parents, and won't be happy to be consigned to a floor or shut out of family activities because an allergic reaction is feared.
Anyone Who Does Not Have Time for Long Walks
Pekingese dogs have plenty of energy, and will usually be happy to play with toys, but they are not big on the idea of long walks and formal exercise. Fifteen minutes walk around the block and then back to their spot in front of the TV/fire/running around the living room is enough for most Pekingese dogs.
So, if you don't have time for long dog walks or a lot of huge open spaces nearby, a Pekingese dog will not suffer as a result!