Pekingese Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Affectionate, sophisticated, loyal, confident, and charming
6-9 inches
Up to 14 pounds
Life Span:
12-14 years
Coat Colors:
Whole range of coat colors
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Families with older children/Keen interest in grooming/Areas with a moderate climate
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Pekingeses
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Pekingeses
Mixed Breeds:

Pekingese Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Pekingese

  • Intelligent but independent breed

  • Loving and affectionate

  • Suitable for apartment living


The Pekingese is all about attitude, from their status in the imperial court of China to the way they’ll rule your home! This is a dog who swaggers as they walk with a total ‘look at me’ approach to life.

They’re an intelligent breed but highly independent, so don’t for one moment think they’ll be at your beck and call. For all that, they’re loving and affectionate with their family, though a little aloof with those that they don’t yet know.

True to their heritage, they still retain a watchdog mentality, and they’ll let you know if a stranger has dared to enter their garden. This can mean they have a bit of a reputation as barkers, but you’ll always know if there’s something that needs your attention. The Peke coat is high maintenance, and they need an owner who is fully aware of grooming needs for this to be a good match.

Do be aware that the breed has been popular with puppy farmers, who will produce pups without care for the health and well-being, it’s highly unlikely that any screening for genetic conditions will have been carried out. Find a responsible breeder through the Pekingese Club of America or American Kennel Club to ensure that your pup is fit, healthy, and ready for a lifetime of fun.

Pekingese Breed History

  • Once in exclusive ownership of the Emperor of China

  • Came to Europe after English troops stormed the Imperial Palace

  • Arrived in the U.S. in the early 1900s

This is one of the oldest of all breeds with a history that dates right back to 800 A.D. At that point, they were in the exclusive ownership of the Emperor of China. They were bred as possessions, fashion accessories, and even guards of the Imperial Court in Beijing.

The dogs were considered to be so precious that you’d be facing the death penalty if caught smuggling one out of the palace. The smallest examples of the breed earned the name ‘Sleeve Pekingese’ as they were carried in the billowing sleeves of the imperial robes.

According to Chinese legend, Buddha created the Pekingese by shrinking a lion down to dog size. With the true origins of the breed being unknown, we like the idea of them being mini lions!

It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the breed became known by the western world. This was when British troops invaded Peking (Beijing) during the Opium Wars in the 1860s. As the soldiers stormed the palace, they found the royal family had killed their Pekes rather than see them fall into enemy hands. However, five Pekingese were found, and they were returned to England as a gift for Queen Victoria, where they quickly grew in popularity.

Pekes arrived in America at the turn of the century, being first registered by the AKC in 1906.

Pekingese Size & Weight

  • 6-8 inches tall

  • Weighs up to 14 pounds

  • Stocky and muscular


The Pekingese is just 6-8 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 14 pounds. The AKC has a strict ruling on the weight, and any dog over the maximum 14 pounds is instantly disqualified when competing in conformation shows.

Still, many people are surprised when they lift a Peke as to just how heavy and muscular they are under all the coat.

Pekingese Personality & Temperament

  • Loyal and protective

  • Best for homes with older children

  • Can quickly overheat in hot weather


Don’t for one moment think that this is a bred who is content to sit on someone’s lap all day. The Pekingese is both tougher and braver than their appearance suggests. The Peke’s self-importance and confidence, come together in a lively, affectionate, good-natured dog who’ll adore you as long as the feeling is mutual.

They are both loyal and protective of their family and are a breed who can adapt to apartment living. They need minimal exercise but do need to get out into the world to ensure that they retain their confidence within new environments.

Originating from the coldest climate within China, they can tolerate the cold much better than the heat. Care needs to be taken on hot days to ensure that they don’t overheat with many owners proving cooling mats and icepacks to help their Peke stay cool.

Pekingese can get on with other dogs, but it is strongly suggested that other family dogs are of a similar size to prevent any accidental injuries. The breed is so attractive to children, but many Pekes lack the tolerance needed to cope with inquisitive youngsters. It’s likely then that this breed is best suited to a home with older children.

Pekingese Health & Grooming

  • Some health concerns with the breed

  • Check with the breeder on the health of the parents

  • May need professional clipping for the coat to be manageable


Sadly, the conformation of the Pekingese can result in some health problems. These come from their flat-face (brachycephalic) and the combination of a long back and short legs. Some of the issues which can occur include –

  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – This happens when the dog’s nostrils are narrow, and they have an elongated soft palate. This then causes problems in breathing, particularly when exercising.
  • Eyelid problems. Because of the excessive skin over the Pekes face and eyes, the eyelids droop towards the eye. This then causes the skin to rub and irritate the eye.
  • Eye Infections and Corneal Ulcers. These happen because of the Pekes eye position and larger eyeballs, meaning that they may not be able to totally close their eyes when blinking.
  • Back Problems – Due to the length of their back in proportion to the length of leg, Pekes can suffer disc disease, which then causes back pain and paralysis.

The Pekingese coat is one of the breed’s best-known features. A few minutes of brushing several times a week is generally a quicker and easier job than leaving it and then having to manage mats and tangles.

Many pet owners do have their Pekingese trimmed into what’s called a ‘lion clip.’ This is where the hair around the chest is left longer to resemble a lion’s mane, but the rest of the body is trimmed shorter. This means maintaining the coat is much easier, and it keeps your Peke cooler in the summer.

Pekingese Training

  • Very capable of learning basic obedience

  • Classes also provide essential socialization opportunities

  • Prey drive very variable between individual dogs


The Pekingese is probably not going to be your first choice if you’re interested in advance training or competing in canine performance sports. However, they are very capable of learning all the basic obedience behaviors to be a well-mannered member of the family. Attending well-run puppy classes also provides excellent socialization opportunities for your young Peke.

There are very different opinions on whether the Peke has a high prey drive or not. Some groups are adamant that’s it’s very strong, while others state that it’s non-existent within the breed. So, if this is a concern, perhaps because you have cats living in the house, do speak to the breeder to find out about your pup’s parents and whether they have a strong desire to chase.

Pekingese can be a vocal breed, and this goes back to their watchdog days. So do expect to be told about every person, dog, or cat which goes past your gate!

Pekingese Exercise Requirements

  • Very capable of learning basic obedience

  • Classes also provide essential socialization opportunities

  • Prey drive very variable between individual dogs


While the Peke is not going to need to be walked for long, every dog needs the opportunity to get out into the world every day. Walks aren’t just about physical exercise; they’re also about providing mental enrichment. All dogs like to sniff, and the Pekingese is no exception.

Because of the potential for breathing problems, care is needed to only walk a Pekingese in the cool of the day.

The Peke can be quite a playful breed, especially when they’re younger. Pick toys that are designed for smaller breeds so that they can easily pick them up and enjoy a game.

Pekingese Diet & Feeding

  • Seek professional advice for help with your dog's nutritional needs

  • Select food based on the age, size and exercise level of your dog

  • Avoid feeding too many treats to avoid weight problems


For advice on the feeding needs of your individual dog, do chat with your veterinarian or pet nutritionist.

Most dogs are fed a specially formulated puppy food until they’re around 6 months of age. This ensures they receive all the nutritional requirements needed to support their growth. After this, then they generally move on to adult dog food, which needs to be selected according to the dog’s size, age, and exercise intensity.

Pekes can be prone to quickly becoming overweight. So, this means that you need to keep a tight rein on extra treats and look out for those which are low in calories.

You may also be interested in:

Pekingese Rescue Groups

There will be times when a Pekingese finds itself in need of a new home. If you’re interested in rehoming a dog in need, do contact a breed rescue club for further help and advice. There are many such organizations around the US including –

Pekingese Rescue –

Peke Rescue Network –

Potomac Pekingese Rescue Club –

For more information on the Pekingese, do check out the website for the Pekingese Club of America –