The Pekingese, at first glance, does not seem substantial because of its compact size but when you pick it up, you will discover this dog is no a delicate flower. This stocky dog is solid with a sturdily built frame readily apparent in its broad chest, somewhat atypical for a toy dog breed. The body of the Pekingese narrows as it approaches its hindquarters, mainly because the bones are not as thick as its chest and forequarters. Because of this disparity in size from the front to back, the Pekes (as some people call them) resemble the majestic lion and they walk at a leisurely pace with a distinctive undulating gait.
The head of the Pekingese is quite substantial with a flat, expansive face with eyes set apart yet in proportion to its wide lower jaw and cheekbones. The Peke's face in profile is rather flat with its nose, chin and brow area virtually level. There is a wrinkly fold of skin that stretches from cheek to cheek over the nose area which essentially breaks up the upper and lower half of the face. The muzzle is flat with black skin, regardless of coat color and the nose is wide and squat with large, open nostrils.
The rounded eyes of this regal looking dog are set apart and their dark luminous gaze can melt the hardest of hearts. The ears are shaped like a heart and can lay flat against the head, stopping short of its jaw with a feathery coat. The mouth of the Peke has a bit of an under bite on its lower jaw and is wide set with dark lips that close without tongue or teeth protrusion. Pekingese have solid, short necks with low slung bodies, heavy yet compact. Its tail is carried over the back and has a minor arch but no noticeable bends or twists.
One of the most beautiful characteristics of a Pekingese is its long, fluid coat. Its outer coat is dense and coarsely textured yet soft when you stroke it. The Peke's flowing mane hides an undercoat that is thick and silky. Fur along the ears, forelegs, toes and thighs typically feathers and furry fringe on the tail and ears presents an attractive look. The color of the Pekingese coat varies from dog to dog with tan, black and white hues common.
Not too many dog breeds can claim several thousand years of history yet the Pekingese has endured for many years, with its original origins tracing back to ancient China. The mighty dog breed was believed to be an earth bound materialization of the mythical Buddhist Foo Dogs. Indeed, because the Pekingese looked majestic, they became a revered status symbol among Chinese royalty.
The ancient high society Chinese pampered the Pekes to encourage successful breeding and mainly because they were favored companions, especially to the emperor of the time. During this period, only royalty could own these dogs. However, they eventually found their way to Europe and the western world in the 1860's when the British and French raided the Chinese Imperial Palace and took several dogs back with them. Queen Victoria was the recipient of one of these dogs which boosted the demand for them. Because the Pekingese breed was fairly new to this new world and therefore limited in number, only the very rich could afford them at the time. Today, there are many Pekes and they all can trace their origins back to the dogs that were taken from the Chinese Imperial Palace.
The Pekingese dog breed is an affectionate and intelligent canine companion to their human master, with light emphasis on master as they believe they are top dog at times. By turns majestic and self-assured, the Peke is loyal and sociable with the people they know but cautious with strangers. In fact, they can be great watchdogs because they will quickly sense when company is at the door or someone or something strange is nearby.
When raised with young children from puppyhood, the Pekingese are affectionately tolerant of them but would rather deal with older children and adults. These dogs are stubborn by nature and sometimes would rather tune out instructions from their master than follow them, unless of course, they suit their purposes.
Pekingese dogs sometimes will become attached to one particular human and become jealous if they have to share their human's affections or attention with others. These canines make great companions for the elderly because they enjoy lapdog status and a more sedate lifestyle. Because of this, you have to watch the doling out of treats to motivate them into some activity as they tend to gain weight easily from their life of leisure.
There are a few health problems that can occur with the Pekingese breed such as heart issues and a tendency towards catching a cold. Because of their thick coat, Pekes are susceptible to heat stroke and should spend only limited time outdoors in the heat, particular in physical activities. In addition, their eyes are sensitive due to eyelashes sometimes growing inward as well as ulcers of the cornea.
Minor skin irritations such as dermatitis can bother the dogs as well as breathing problems due to their short flat faces. Occasionally you might hear of a Pekingese with a dislocated knee or herniated disc. This breed, because of their build, needs help during the birth process, usually a c-section performed by the veterinarian.
Due to their dense coat, the Pekingese dog breed requires grooming daily with a comb or special dog brush. The grooming helps eliminate the natural shedding of hair and prevent the formation of matted clumps of fur. Dry shampoo is suggested on a routine schedule with a water-based bath at least once a month. A moist cloth should be used to clean the face and eye area each day and nail trimming should be accomplished at most every three weeks. Gentle swabbing of the ears is necessary to keep the inner ear clear and free of infection. The anal glands should be checked at least once a month and flea treatments from the veterinarian need to be administered to avoid disease. Dedication to the grooming process is a must for Pekingese owners to maintain the dog's beauty and health.
Pekingese enjoy a life of leisure and view exercise beneath them. However, they will tolerate short walks with their favorite human. Because of their thick coats, any physical activity must be restricted to the cooler evening hours and mild temperatures. If you start an exercise program early, the Pekes are more receptive to physical activity. These dogs love their humans and enjoy playing games with them.
Due to their willful natures, training a Pekingese takes patience and consistency. Starting a training program during puppyhood helps with basic commands and obedience and they are less likely to rear their stubborn heads as they mature. Positive reinforcement and praise in a calming voice is the key to convincing Pekes to obey their humans, especially during the housebreaking process. Due to their squat bodies, these dogs are not especially agile but they do enjoy showing off in certain games and tasks.