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Originally bred as companion dogs to the ancient Chinese imperial family, Pekingese have historically been revered as sacred in China—according to one legend, they’re lions shrunk to miniature size by the Buddha. They were unknown in the Western world until the 1860s, when British invaders brought them from China back to England. To this day, they’re known for their lion-like qualities of dignity and strong-mindedness. 

Thinking about bringing a Pekingese into your life? Here’s what you need to know.

1. Pekingese Are Very Loyal and Affectionate

Bred to be close companions to Chinese royalty, this ancient breed bonds very closely with their humans, making them wonderful house pets. They’re especially well-suited to loving families where they can avoid any rough play.

2. Pekingese Are Very Intelligent and Strong-Willed

Pekingese owners often describe their pets as “opinionated.” Maybe this comes down to their royal heritage, too. These dogs are smart, they know their own minds, and they’re not afraid to communicate their feelings. Obedience classes are a good way to make sure these lion-like qualities don’t spill over into stubbornness.

3. They Can Make Good Guard Dogs

In ancient China, the smallest Pekingese with fierce personalities were kept in royals’ sleeves and used as miniature guard dogs. These traits haven’t been lost. In fact, Pekingese owners often report that their pets are vocal about intruders or other suspected dangers.

Pekingese sitting in the garden outdoors.
©Mariia -

4. Those Beautiful Coats Require Serious Maintenance

The Pekingese needs to be brushed several times a week and requires occasional baths—if not cared for properly, the fur can become matted. Some Pekingese owners also trim the fur above the eyes, to help the dog see, and clip the coat in hot weather, for the dog’s comfort. Pekingese also shed seasonally.

5. They Need Daily Exercise, But They Won’t Wear You Out

All dogs should get enough activity to stay physically and mentally healthy, but since Pekingese were bred for companionship, not sport, you won’t need to take them running for miles every day. A couple of moderately long walks per day should be enough.

6. Pekingese Enjoy Cold Temperatures

Bred to thrive in the long, cold winters of Beijing (formerly known as Peking), the Pekingese does well when the temperature drops. Some Pekingese owners travel with ice packs to keep their pups comfy.

7. Pekingese Are Known For Their Distinctive Walk

The Pekingese has a rolling gait, in which the body sways gently from one side to the other. It’s a distinctive walk that contributes to the dog’s dignified disposition.

Reserve Best in Show, Best Bred By Exhibitor in Show, Toy Group First, BBE Toy Group First, Best of Breed, Best Bred By in Breed/Variety: GCHS CH Pequest Wasabi, Pekingese, bred by and handled by David Fitzpatrick; Best Bred By Exhibitor in Show lineup at the 2020 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin, Orlando, FL.
David Woo/American Kennel Club

8. Pekingese Are Surprisingly Heavy

They might look small and fluffy, but Pekingese have a surprisingly stocky and muscular bodies beneath their fur. The breed standard weight is up to 14 pounds.

9. They Should Have Wide, Open Nostrils on a Moderately-Sized Nose

The Pekingese Club of America notes that, like all flat-nosed breeds, Pekingese can have trouble breathing. Reputable breeders will select their breeding dogs with this in mind, producing dogs with the best chances of respiratory health.

10. Pekingese Perform Well in Dog Shows

Thanks to their looks and intelligence, Pekingese have become famous for their performances at dog shows, particularly in Conformation. The Pekingese is one of the winningest breeds in Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show history.

Related article: How Wasabi the Pekingese Went From Unknown to History-Making
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