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The legend of the lion that fell in love with a marmoset is at the foundation of Pekingese lore. In order for him to be wedded to his lady-love, the lion begged the patron saint of the animals, Ah Chu, to reduce him to the size of a pigmy, but to let him retain his great lion heart and character. The offspring of this union are said to be the dog of Fu Lin, or the Lion Dog of China.

The earliest known record of the Lion Dog is traceable to the Tang Dynasty of the 8th century. Breeding of these little dogs, now called Pekingese, reached a zenith during the Tao Kuang period (1821-1851). However, the oldest strains were kept amazingly pure. Imperial Dog Books, illustrated with pictures of the most admired dogs, were used as the standards. Though records of pedigrees were not kept, breeding was the subject of much thought and many elaborate theories. Prenatal impression was the method most in vogue: mothers were taken several times daily to see pictures and sculpture of the most beautiful dogs. The desired colors for their coats were hung in their sleeping quarters, where they slept on sheepskins to suggest a profuse coat. The characteristics we seek to retain and perfect today were in evidence in these earliest dogs.

The Dowager Empress is in large part responsible for the appearance of the Pekingese in the United States by giving many of the little dogs as gifts to influential Americans. At one time Americans could probably claim the largest population of authentic palace dogs. The AKC first registered the Pekingese in 1906. This dog has but one purpose in life, to give understanding companionship and loyalty to his owners.

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