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Country/Date of Origin: China/Tang Dynasty/5th Century

Pekingese were originally considered sacred, the living symbols of the lion that was Buddha's guardian. They were the exclusive property of the Emperor and Empress of China. Theft of a Pekingese was punishable by death. The Chinese Royal Family often used Pekingese for hunting rabbits because of their excellent retriever abilities. The first Pekingese dogs to leave the Imperial Palace were dognapped by the British when they looted the Forbidden City after the Boxer Rebellion in 1860. One of the dogs was presented to Queen Victoria, who named him Looty. The tiny oriental dogs were an immediate sensation in Europe. Soon they were also in the United States and the breed was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1909.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Little Lion Dog, Sleeve Dog, Sun Dog, Imperial Dog of China, Peke

AKC Group: Toy

Breed Club: Pekingese Club of America

Rescue Club: Dr. Thomas Graves, DVM, 605 Eliot Dr., Urbana, Illinois 61801: (217)-384-4418.

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Body Type:

  • A stocky, heavily coated dog that was bred to resemble a lion
  • Height 8-9 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: up to 14 pounds (Teacup toy version is several pounds smaller and several inches shorter)
  • Face is extremely short with very large, round eyes
  • Head is oversized and flat between the ears
  • Short legs are bowed in front giving the Pekingese a distinctive sideways roll when moving
  • Feathered ears hang down and are not altered
  • Tail forms a plumed curl over the back and is not altered


  • Pekingese are courageous and bold all out of proportion to their size
  • Dignified, independent and aloof to the point of being snobbish
  • Prefers the company of adults


  • Long, thick double coat has soft undercoat with a longer top coat (guard hairs) that give the coat a plush, stand-offish effect
  • Hair is extra long on toes and tail with neck ruff forming a lion's mane
  • All colors allowable with black masks and spectacle markings highly prized

Health Concerns:

  • As with other short faced breeds, Pekingese often have problems breathing
  • Wrinkled face is prone to fungal infections
  • Ears must be cleaned on a daily basis
  • Large, shallow-set eyes are easily damaged. Some can even pop out of sockets
  • Kidney stones and herniated discs are frequent ailments
  • Bitches often have difficulty delivering puppies; litters are usually small
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Extremely long lived breed
  • Note that Pekingese is spelled with a "g". It is commonly misspelled as Pekinese
  • There are two sizes of Pekingese: the small versions are known as "sleeve dogs" or "teacup toys"
  • The larger version, however, is more commonly seen and has a sturdier constitution
  • White teacup toy Pekingese are highly prized, fetching astronomical prices. One was recently sold for $50,000

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