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Pekingese Dog Breed Information

Pekingese DogPekingese is an ancient toy breed of dog, originating in China. They were the favoured imperial pet. Good-natured and happy, these dogs enjoy family environments, but require regular cleaning if in outdoor environments. Their eyes are very delicate as they sit above the socket rather than within the socket.

These dogs are also called Dogs of Foo (or Fu) by the Chinese, and how much they are revered can be seen in the number of Chinese artworks depicting them. They were considered a guardian spirit as they resembled Chinese lions (see Lion dance).

Appearance

The Pekingese breed is over 2000 years old and has hardly changed in all that time. One exception is that modern breeders and dog-show judges seem to prefer the long-haired type over the more-traditional spaniel-type coat.

All breed standards allow all sorts of color combinations. The most common is red sable; this is the color of the majority of Westminster Pekes. Black and tan is popular as well, but the dog show people seem to prefer blondes over the black and tans. The solid white (except face) or solid black Pekingese is quite striking. The face is usually black with deep brown eyes. There was, supposedly, in a British Pekingese line, a blue (gray) pekingese. Albino dogs are not within the standard.

The Pekingese gait is like no other in the dog world. Because the Chinese originally bred them to be companions to the Emperor and his ladies and eunuchs, they are bowlegged to discourage wandering. However, they can and will keep up with the big dogs when allowed. The bowleggedness makes their walk, run, or trot quite striking.

Pekes weigh from 7 to 14 pounds (3-6 kg) and stand about 6-9 inches (15-23 cm) at the withers.

Temperament

These dogs can be stubborn and jealous. This is not a dog for someone who wants a dog that always comes when it is called. Pekes are sometimes aggressive, especially to other dogs. It may take a long time for Pekes to get used any other dogs except puppies, mates, and siblings. However, Pekes can be properly socialized with dogs and other types of pets and can become fast friends. It is easy to believe that Pekes know that they are royalty and expect you to know it, too. This might make them unsuitable for the first-time dog owner. The Pekingese personality has been compared to a cat, although this isn't quite right. Where a cat can be trained, a Pekingese needs to be convinced that the training is beneficial to him as well as to you. But, if they love you, they will do anything for you, even fight to the death to protect you.

The Pekingese is generally a one-person dog. They decide who they like best, and it might surprise you. They more than tolerate the others in their person's life, but that person might have to withhold some attention from the Peke if there is a danger that the Peke sees a child as a rival. Most healthy and well-trained Pekes are fine with children. Unfortunately, because they are among the 'cute and I know it' breeds, many people don't properly train their dogs and end up with difficult jealousy problems.

Health

Pekes' main problems are eye issues and breathing problems, resulting from its tiny skull and flattened face, and skin allergies (and hotspots). Pekes should never be kept outside as their flattened faces and noses can develop breathing problems, this makes it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature in overly hot or cold weather.

Care

Keeping the Peke coat healthy and presentable requires brushing once a day. If you do this, they will need to see a groomer only once every 3 months. If a Peke becomes dirty, it is important to take it to a groomer as soon as possible, as it is difficult to remove dirt from its coat once it has dried.

History

The breed originated in China in antiquity, most likely from Asian wolves. Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dog. For centuries, they could be owned only by members of the Chinese Imperial Palace.

During the Second Opium War, in 1860, the Forbidden City was invaded by Allied troops. The Emperor Xianfeng had fled with all of his court. However an elderly aunt of the emperor remained. When the ‘foreign devils’ entered, she committed suicide. She was found with her five Pekingese mourning her passing.

They were removed by the Allies before the Old Summer Palace was burnt. Lord John Hay took a pair, later called ‘Schloff’, and ‘Hytien’ and gave them to his sister, the Duchess of Wellington, wife of Henry Wellesley, 3rd Duke of Wellington. Sir George Fitzroy took another pair, and gave them to his cousins, the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon. Lieutenant Dunne presented the fifth Pekingese to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who named it Looty.

The Empress Dowager Cixi presented Pekingese to several Americans, including John Pierpont Morgan and Alice Roosevelt, wife of Theodore Roosevelt.

The first Pekingese in Ireland was introduced by Dr. Heuston. He established smallpox vaccination clinics in China. The effect was dramatic. In gratitude, the Chinese minister, Li Hung Chang presented him with a pair of Pekingese. They were named Chang and Lady Li. Dr. Heuston founded the Greystones kennel.

Miscellaneous

Peke legends

There are two origination stories for the Pekingese. The first is the most common, The Lion and the Marmoset:

A lion and a marmoset fell in love. But the lion was too large. The lion went to the Buddha and told him of his woes. The Buddha allowed the lion to shrink down to the size of the marmoset. And the Pekingese was the result.

The second, less-common, originating story is The Butterfly Lions:

A lion fell in love with a butterfly. But the butterfly and lion knew the difference in size was too much to overcome. Together they went to see the Buddha, who allowed their size to meet in the middle. From this, the Pekingese came.

Another legend says that the Peke resulted from the mating of a lion and a monkey, getting its nobleness and coat from the former and its ungainly walk from the latter.

Because the Pekingese was believed to have originated from the Buddha, he was a temple dog. As such, he was not a mere toy. He was made small so that he could go after and destroy little demons that might infest the palace or temple. But his heart was big so that he could destroy even the largest and fiercest. (A book was written from this premise, although the author denies knowledge of the legends: Bride of the Rat God.)

 

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