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Little Lion Dogs: All About the Pekingese
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Little Lion Dogs: All About the Pekingese

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Apr 29, 2022

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The Pekingese is one of the few breeds that can actually boast about its royal connections. These elegant dogs originated in China around 2000 years ago. Only members of the Chinese Imperial Palace could own them, and the imperial family revered them. Their lion-like, regal appearance and bravery brought about centuries-old legends surrounding their creation. One story claims that this breed was a miniature lion that the Buddha himself shrunk down. While this origin story may not be true, the charming characteristics of this breed are indisputable. Pekingese dogs are fiercely loyal to those they love, plus they’re intelligent and overflowing with personality.

1

They’re stouter than they look

Pekingese breed dog Gwenvidig / Getty Images

Although the breed may have a reputation for being a fancy lap dog, don’t expect the Pekingese to be frail or delicate. Despite their miniature stature, they’re startlingly compact and muscular, with bodies that are heavier in the front, lighter in the hindquarters, and low to the ground. The breed’s flat, squashed muzzle, heart-shaped ears, and wide-set eyes add to their adorability factor. They have a long, luxurious coat that’s fuller around the neck and shoulders, forming a lion-like mane.

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2

It has a unique walk

Pekingese dog walking on sand beach

Pekingese move in a dignified, unhurried manner, and their walk sets them apart from other breeds. It’s almost as if they’re walking on air. This is what breeders call a “rolling gait.” When they move, their bodies sway from side to side, unlike other canines. This unusual characteristic is due to the breed’s build — bowed forelegs, broad chest, strong shoulders, and light rear.

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3

Small dog, big personality

Pekingese Portrait vitranc / Getty Images

Pekingese dogs are well-aware of their importance to the world, and they show it through their feisty, often stubborn, demeanor. And, though they tend to be a bit grumpy sometimes, they’re playful, outgoing, comical, and love affection. This breed was bred to be a companion dog. They thrive on attention and bond deeply with their humans, often choosing one person to latch on to. Yet, these dogs also have an independent streak, which, if not kept in check, can become a problem. They’ll quickly take over the household as if they are the leader instead of their owner.

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4

Pekes are fearless watchdogs

Golden Pekingese dog at window, waiting his owner, adoption concept

Don’t tell this brave miniature lion they’re not fierce enough to protect their home from intruders. They won’t believe you. If an unfamiliar person or animal shows up in their territory or knocks on your door, you’ll hear your Pekingese barking loudly and frantically to let you know there’s danger afoot.

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5

They like the cold, but not heat and humidity

woman gives treats to dog in the snow urbazon / Getty Images

Their full and ample fur protects them during colder times of the year, and they like the feeling of something cool or even downright cold against their skin. Many Peke owners consider ice pillows a “must-have." Heat and humidity, on the other hand, make these dogs miserable, and they don’t handle these conditions well. Leaving them outdoors during hot weather could lead to heatstroke and an emergency trip to the veterinarian. Plus, their smushed-in noses make it hard for them to pant enough to cool their body heat.

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6

They’re strollers, not distance runners

Pekingese dog during a walk SVPhilon / Getty Images

Pekingese dogs aren’t couch potatoes. But despite their energy levels, they aren’t good jogging partners or long-distance hikers, either. They much prefer a relaxing saunter through the park, an investigative stroll around the neighborhood, or a couple of quick romps around the yard. In between their strolls, they love playing with all types of toys.

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7

Pekes can be good family dogs

Pekingese dog sleeps on its owner lap Anita Kot / Getty Images

This breed gets along with older children, but they’re not great with younger humans who haven’t yet grasped the basics of how to treat a pet. Their size makes them vulnerable to roughhousing and could lead to serious injury. These dogs make great companions for adults living alone, as well. And, because of their small size, they are a fantastic pet for apartment dwellers.

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8

A trained Pekingese is a happy Pekingese

Young woman with Pekingese dog urbazon / Getty Images

Like most breeds, pleasing their humans ranks high on this lovable dog’s list. But they need to be trained to have good manners, starting when they are a puppy. The Pekingese is well known for their stubbornness; however, with effective, consistent, and loving training, they learn how to be good housemates. These furballs don’t respond well to punishment. It can lead to aggression in the form of nips and snaps. Instead, positive reinforcement and socialization with other dogs and humans outside the household help them learn how to be affectionate, well-behaved canine citizens.

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9

There are a few health concerns

Senior Pekingese dog Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography / Getty Images

Most dog breeds have some type of health issue to be on the lookout for, and the Pekingese breed is no exception. Their flat noses can cause breathing difficulties. They often gulp air when eating, which exits the body in the form of flatulence. Additionally, their short muzzle doesn’t shield or protect their eyes, making them more susceptible to injury or irritation. Pekes also love to eat. But too many snacks or meals with not enough physical activity in-between can lead to obesity. If you’re hearing strange noises coming from your fluffy friend, don’t worry. Snoring, snuffling, grunting, and wheezing sounds are natural for the Peke.

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10

Grooming is essential

dog Pekingese red in grooming salon

If you decide to share your home with one of these delightful pooches, make sure you have the time needed for extensive grooming. Daily brushing removes dirt and debris they pick up during outdoor adventures and prevents mats and tangles. They also need some attention to their facial folds each day to prevent skin infections. And because of the shape of the snout and their small mouth, the Peke’s teeth tend to be pushed together. Dental care at least three times a week will help ward off decay.

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