AKC Toy Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Pekingese was the favorite dog of the Chinese Emperor’s Court until 1860. They were called “lion dogs” because of their large chests, full manes, and strong personalities. Small specimens of this fluffy little dog were called “sleeve dogs” because they fit neatly into the sleeves of Chinese courtiers’ robes. Pekingese were thought to be miniature versions of Chinese Foo Dogs, able to stave off evil spirits. They were often put to death when their masters died to protect the owners in the afterlife. British soldiers discovered the breed when the soldiers overran the Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860. They brought some of these animals to the Western world. The Pekingese caught on quickly with dog fanciers in the West and is now one of the most popular breeds.


The Pekingese is a small, but sturdy dog with a long straight coat, thick mane, and plenty of feathering on the tail, underside, legs, and ears. The Pekingese is surprisingly heavy for his size. The top of the skull is flat, not domed. The face is wide and flattened—breeders describe a “brick-shaped” head as being most desirable. The large, round eyes are dark and luminous, set wide apart. The nose is black with open nostrils. A wrinkle separates the upper and lower parts of the face. The heart-shaped ears hang down. Any color is allowable. The Pekingese has a unique rolling gait due to his short bowed legs, heavy front body, and lighter hindquarters.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Averages 8 in.
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  Up to 14 lbs.
  • Availability:  Widely available
  • Talents:  Watchdog


Some bloodlines are prone to eye, spine, and respiratory problems. Like many short-faced breeds, the Pekingese may wheeze and snore and is sensitive to hot weather. Can be a picky eater. He does not tolerate rough handling, and can be injured easily-not recommended for children. The coat requires much constant attention. Usually gets along well with other animals. Likes to bark, but the bark usually is not loud. Whelping often requires Caesarean section.


Very loving and sweet with his master, but wary of strangers. Brave even when such behavior is unwise. Loyal and dignified. Self-important and confident. Calm, pleasant company. Can be quite willful; a big dog in a small body. Demanding lapdog, but not high-strung. Naturally well-behaved. Tends to be possessive of toys and food.


  • Children:  Not recommended for children
  • Friendliness:  Moderately protective
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:   Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Extensive grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Long coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Very little exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  Does all right without a yard
  • Climate:  Prefers cool climates
  • Longevity:  Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Pekingese Breed Standard

Pekingese Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Pekingese

Pekingese Gifts