The Pekingese is an ancient toy breed of dog, originating in China. They were the favoured imperial pets. Good-natured and happy, these dogs are a pleasure to keep.
They enjoy family environments, but require regular cleaning if in outdoor environments. Their eyes are very delicate as they sit above the socket rather than within the socket.
These dogs are also called, Dogs of Foo (or Fu) by the Chinese, and how much they are revered can be seen in the number of Chinese artworks depicting them. They were considered a guardian spirit, as they resembled Chinese lions.
This breed is well over 2000 years old and has hardly changed in all that time. One exception is that modern breeders and dog-show judges seem to prefer the longhaired type to the more-traditional spaniel-type coat.
The most common colour is red sable; this is the colour of the majority of Pekingese’s. Black and tan is popular as well, but the dog show people seem to prefer blondes to the black and tans. The solid white (except face) or solid black Pekingese is quite striking. The face is usually black with deep brown eyes. There was, supposedly, in a British Pekingese line, a blue (grey) Pekingese.
The Pekingese is like no other in the dog world. Because the Chinese originally bred them to be companions to the Emperor and his ladies and eunuchs, they are bowlegged to discourage wandering. However, they can and will keep up with the big dogs when allowed. The bowlegged ness makes their walk, run, or trot quite striking. Pekingese’s weigh from 7 to 14 pounds and stand about 6-9 inches (15-23 cm).
These dogs can be stubborn and jealous. This is not a dog for someone who wants a dog that always comes when it is called. It is easy to believe that Pekingese know that they are royalty and expect you to know it, too. This might make them unsuitable for the first-time dog owner. Where as a cat can be trained, a Pekingese needs to be convinced that the training is beneficial to him as well as to you. But, if they love you, they will do anything for you, even fight to the death to protect you.
The Pekingese is generally a one-person dog. They decide whom they like best, and it might surprise you. They more than tolerate the others in their person's life, but that person might have to withhold some attention from the Pekingese if there is a danger that this dog sees a child as a rival. Most healthy and well-trained Pekingese are fine with children.
Once this remarkable little breed for, unlike the Pomeranian, owns you he is no tyrant, nor a clown you might be spoiled for any other breed.
The breed originated in China in antiquity, most likely from Asian wolves. Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dog. For centuries, only members of the Chinese Imperial Palace could own them.
During the Second Opium War, in 1860, the Forbidden City was invaded by Allied troops. The Emperor Xianfeng had fled with all of his court. However an elderly aunt of the emperor remained. When the ‘foreign devils’ entered, she committed suicide. She was found with her five Pekingese mourning her passing.
The Allies removed them before the Old Summer Palace was burnt. Lord John Hay took a pair, later called ‘Schloff’, and ‘Hytien’ and gave them to his sister, the Duchess of Wellington.
Sir George Fitzroy took another pair, and gave them to his cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon. Lieutenant Dunne presented the fifth Pekingese to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who named it Looty.
The Empress Dowager Cixi presented Pekingese to several Americans, including John Pierpont Morgan and Alice Roosevelt, wife of Theodore Roosevelt.