The Pekingese (Peke) is a small dog breed that was beloved by the imperial family of China for centuries. Highly adaptable with a very loving personality, this dog is intelligent and independent. Suitable for both experienced and new dog owners, the Pekingese is a loving and loyal companion.


A Chinese legend tells a story of a lion that was in love with a monkey called a marmoset. The lion pleaded with Buddha to shrink him to allow him to wed the marmoset. Their union produced the Pekingese, also known as the lion dogs of China. 

Scientific research shows that the Pekingese is an ancient breed that has existed for thousands of years. The breed got his name from the capital city of China which is now known as Beijing. 

The Pekingese was closely guarded and never allowed to leave the palace where he lived with nobles, princes and members of the Chinese royal family. During the Opium War, British troops took five Pekingese as spoils of war and gave them to members of the British royal family.

Known previously as Chinese Pug and Pekingese Spaniel, the rare breed had his first public showing in 1894 and the Pekingese club was formed in 1904. The American Kennel Club registered the breed in 1906 and the Pekingese Club of America was formed in 1909.

Physical Characteristics

The Peke has excessive wrinkling on his face, soft round brown eyes, a mane and a tail carried over his back. He has a double coat that is profusely long, coarse and straight. The undercoat has thick soft hair. 

There is feathering on the backs of his legs and toes, and even longer feathering on the ears and tail. The mane is longer than the rest of the body and covers the neck and shoulder area. 

Coat colors include:

  • Black and tan
  • Fawn/red brindle
  • White with any other color (parti-colored)
  • Solid white

No matter the coat color, all Pekingese have black exposed skin on the muzzle, nose, lips and rims of the eyes. 


Though the Pekingese is stocky and heavy, his muscular body grows to a height of 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23cm) at the shoulder. The average weight is 7 to 14 pounds (3 to 6kg). 

Sleeve dog is the name given to Pekingese that weighs less than 6 pounds (3kg) and he got that name because he rode in the sleeve cuffs of robes belonging to members of the Chinese imperial court. 

Character & abilities

The Pekingese is dignified and confident. He is affectionate, loyal and protective. He is alert and will bark when a stranger approaches. 

Though this brave pup is good-natured, he can be stubborn because he has a sense of self-importance. Intelligent with an independent mind, the Peke has a natural swagger and carries himself with grace.

Sometimes this dog can bark too much and appropriate training can be used to curb the habit. He tends to be a one-person dog and might get overprotective to the point of getting into an altercation. 

This small dog is not ideal for families with toddlers. When mishandled, the Peke can become defensive and possibly bite. Any interaction with small children should be supervised.

When raised together, the Peke will get along brilliantly with other Pekes. It would take him much longer to get used to other animals in the home. 

Trainability & Intelligence

Because of his stubborn nature, training this dog can be difficult. It is best to let the Pekingese think something is his idea so he can do it without too much of a fuss. He doesn’t respond to harsh training methods. 

Training this small dog breed involves being firm, kind and consistent. Positive reinforcement techniques like yummy dog treats and words of praise will produce better results.

Early socialization should begin when the Peke is a puppy. This involves exposing him to different situations, people and sounds. Signing up for obedience classes is also helpful towards making him a well-rounded dog. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

The Peke loves to run and play. He is an excellent walking companion. He needs regular physical activities to stay healthy and maintain an appropriate weight. 

Although this breed is heavy when lifted, he should still not be allowed to overeat and get fat. To stay in good form, an adult Peke needs two meals a day and food shouldn’t be left in the bowl all the time.

Some Pekes can go on a hunger strike to make a point. 


The Peke’s coat needs daily to weekly care especially if he is a show dog. Trimming the coat short makes it easier to maintain. 

The coat needs to be slightly damp before brushing to avoid hair breakage. Misting the coat and brushing it to the skin should help to completely detangle the fur. 

The folds on his wrinkled face should be kept dry and clean to prevent problems like skin fold dermatitis, irritations and infections. 

The hair on the feet can easily get matted and tangled with foreign objects. It is advisable to trim this hair.

Regular brushing of the teeth will prevent the development of dental disease. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

This small dog will thrive in a big house or apartment. He should be allowed to get as much activity in a fenced area so he doesn’t wander off. 

If the home has other dogs, he will enjoy running around the home. Keep the hallways clear of any breakable valuable items. 

Even though this breed has a heavy coat, he should not live in a kennel or outdoors. This housedog is also sensitive to heat, should not be walked on hot days and needs air-conditioning in the house. 


This small dog has round bulged eyes that can be easily injured. He has a short nose that makes him snore quite loudly. 

The Peke is a generally healthy breed but is prone to certain conditions that some dogs might develop:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Cataracts
  • Cleft palate
  • Intervertebral disk disease
  • Obesity 
  • Brachycephalic syndrome
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Ectopic cilia
  • Distichiasis
  • Fold dermatitis
  • Entropion
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
  • Exposure keratopathy syndrome

The Pekingese has a life span of 12 to 15 years. 


Well aware of his royal ancestry, the Pekingese carries himself pride and dignity. This breed makes a wonderful companion dog because he is loving and devoted. He treats his family with dignity and respect and expects the same in return. 

Adopting a new dog is a wonderfully rewarding journey and one that should not be taken lightly. Our team at All The Small Dog Breeds has compiled small dog breed descriptions with details to help in the search for a companion that is the ideal fit. 


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Energy Level

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