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Breed overview

  • Breed group — Toy
  • Height — 6-9 inches
  • Weight — up to 14 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Long, course, and double-coated
  • Coat color — Pekingese come in various colors, including white, fawn, cream, black, and different combinations. Black mask, parti-colors, and white are all acceptable markings.
  • Exercise needs — Low
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Lifespan — 12-14 years
  • Breed temperament — Confident, alert, and loving
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — China

Pekingese temperament and characteristics 

The Pekingese may be small, but these dogs have big personalities. They’re charming, affectionate, and loyal until the end. These dogs often grow very attached to one person. If that’s you, consider yourself lucky. You’ll be on the receiving end of all-day cuddles and excited greetings when you get home. Pekingese dogs are alert, making them good watchdog material despite their size. They’ll accept strangers, but may not want to be their new best friend—a role that’s reserved for you.

The Pekingese is a pretty playful breed, so get ready for games of fetch and romps around a dog park or backyard. These dogs typically tolerate other animals and children, but they don’t have a ton of patience for roughhousing. It’s always a good idea to monitor every interaction between your Pekingese and small children or strange animals.


The Pekingese is a small, sturdy dog with a beautiful flowing coat. According to the AKC breed standard, the most remarkable feature of this breed is its luxurious coat, which can come in a wide variety of colors, including black, black and tan, cream, fawn, gray, red, and white. All coat colors and markings are allowable and of equal merit. A black mask or a self-colored face is equally acceptable. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, the common coat color for the Pekingese is (73%) white.

Pekingese fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Pekingeses Gizmo; Charlie is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Pekingeses love Bella, then Coco.

  • These small dogs have a big name—and it can be difficult to say! It’s pronounced pee-kuh-neez.
  • The Pekingese’s signature coat is longest around the neck and shoulders. It resembles mane, giving the breed the nickname “lion dogs.”
  • Bred to live as royalty,  Pekingese dogs are fiercely loyal to the kings or queens of the castle (you).
Pekingnese outside

Common Pekingese health problems 

Pekingese are adorable little dogs, but they are prone to several health conditions, particularly eye and breathing issues, because of their appearance. Not every health problem can be prevented, but knowing the signs and symptoms can ensure your pup gets prompt care, increasing the odds for positive health outcomes.

  • Progressive retinal atrophy . This condition affects the eyes and can eventually lead to blindness. There is currently no treatment for this hereditary disease.
  • Skin allergies. Skin allergies are common among this breed. If you notice excessive scratching, licking, or hotspots, talk to your Peke’s veterinarian.
  • Heatstroke. Tons of fur and a short face make the Pekingese more prone to heatstroke. Keep them indoors as much as possible with plenty of water and air conditioning on hot days.
  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). Because of their short snouts, Pekingese dogs have a higher chance of developing BOAS. BOAS is a series of upper airway issues that can affect a dog’s breathing.

👉 Some health conditions are genetic. If you’re looking at Pekingese puppies, a reputable breeder should be able to alert you to any conditions that run in the litter’s bloodline. AKC Marketplace is a good place to find reputable breeders. 

Cost of caring for Pekingese

Because Pekingese are prone to several health conditions, the cost of care can add up. There currently is no treatment for progressive retinal atrophy, and the best way to treat heatstroke is to prevent it. Monitoring your Pekingese in the heat and limiting time outdoors to short walks at cooler points during the day can reduce the risk of heatstroke in dogs.

Additionally, allergies may be a common condition, but ongoing treatment can get pricey. Diagnostic testing can cost $350 or more, and medications can cost around $150 for four months. Depending on the severity of a dog’s BOAS, treatment or procedures to fix the issue can cost anywhere between $200 to $1,500.

Health insurance can be a good way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Pet owners who sign their dogs up early typically see the most benefits. Other alternatives, like a pet savings account, may also be available to you.

Pekingnese tongue out

History of the Pekingese

The exact origins of the Pekingese aren’t currently known. It’s thought that the earliest members of the breed developed in 200 BC in China. According to Chinese mythology, the Pekingese is a cross between a lion and a monkey. But in all likelihood, these toy dogs with lion-like manes descended from the early Maltese. When the Manchurians ruled Peking (now Beijing) from 1644-1911, Pekingese dogs were part of trades between China and Europe. The Europeans were particularly fond of Pekingese with black-spotted tongues.

In 1860, Anglo-French forces set the Old Summer Palace in Beijing on fire during the Second Opium War. But a Pekingese apparently survived, and a British soldier gifted it to Queen Victoria, the dog-loving monarch who named the pup Looty.

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1906, and four Pekingese have won the Westminster Dog Show. Most recently, a Pekingese named Wasabi took best in show in 2021.

Caring for your Pekingese 

Caring for a new Pekingese—or any new dog—can feel overwhelming. You likely have plenty on your to-do list. Some of the first orders of business will be to take your dog for their first trip to the vet and schedule their vaccinations. You’ll also want to consider puppy-proofing your home and prepare for the inevitable teething phase.

Pekingese are loyal, but any dog can get separated from their owner. No one likes to think about it, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re ready— just in case. Here are some other basics specific to caring for your Pekingese.


Because of their smaller size, Pekingese have modest exercise needs. As companion animals, they were bred to spend lots of time with their owner rather than for sport. Still, all dogs need physical activity to stay healthy, and the Pekingese loves to play.

Schedule short daily walks. The Pekingese is prone to breathing problems and heatstroke, so keep an eye on your pup and be sure to take it easy on hot days. If possible, play games indoors, followed by long cuddle sessions. Pekingese love attention and plenty of quality time.

Pekingese dogs don’t bark much. This trait, combined with their low exercise needs, makes this breed a good fit for apartments.

Two Pekingnese dogs


The Pekingese’s long, thick double coat requires frequent grooming. Prepare to be on a first-name basis with the groomer, particularly during the warmer months. You’ll also want to brush your Peke’s coat daily with a slicker or bristle brush. Most Pekingese enjoy pampering, but plenty of praise and pets will help yours warm up to the idea if they are hesitant at first.

Regular nail trimming ensures your Peke can strut down the sidewalk without issues like hangnails. And, regular teeth brushing (daily) can prevent gum disease, a sometimes overlooked problem for dogs. Finally, clean your dog’s ears once every two weeks, and after dips in the water (including baths) to prevent build-up and infection.

Diet and nutrition

A healthy Pekingese within the normal weight range for the breed should consume dog food with the AAFCO seal that signals the food contains the essential nutrients a pup needs. Pekingese are small, so they don’t need to eat as much as other, larger breeds. Their diet should consist of 90% dog food. Low-calorie dog treats can be given in moderation.

Your vet can provide you with the best information on portioning. Generally, adult Pekingese should eat two meals per day. The number of calories your Pekingese needs will depend on their weight. The breed can grow up to 14 pounds, so there’s some nuance. A 10-pound neutered adult should take in 349 calories per day, while a 13-pound neutered dog should consume 424 calories .

👉 Your vet can give you the best advice on how much and what to feed your Pekingese

Training your Pekingese

Pekingese are smart but can be a bit opinionated and stubborn. They take to training and benefit from receiving it from an early age, but they may require a little patience and consistency to become the best dog they can be.

The Humane Society suggests using positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, rather than scolding and punishments. Use short commands like “sit” and “stay.”  Pekingese may be smart, but they can’t follow long-winded sentences or lectures. Even during training, dogs should only consume treats in moderation. Break them up into tiny bits to feed your Peke.

Pekingnese lounging on grass

Breeds similar to the Pekingese

Not quite sure that a Pekingese is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to look into and consider other breeds to ensure you find the perfect fit. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Shih tzu. These loving small dogs have the nickname “little lions.”
  • Pomeranians. Like the Pekingese, Pomeranians are tiny but full of life and personality.
  • Maltese. Maltese are Pekingese ancestors, and have a playful spirit and modest exercise needs.

Frequently asked questions

Are Pekingese high-maintenance dogs?

High maintenance is relative. From a grooming perspective, Pekes need frequent trips to the groomers and daily brushing. Personality-wise, Pekingese dogs are affectionate and loving, but can be a bit opinionated.

Are Pekingese good family dogs?

Pekingese can make great family dogs for homes with adults and older children. They typically tolerate younger children and other dogs. Pekingese can get very close to one person in particular.

Can the Pekingese be left alone?

The Pekingese can safely be left home for short intervals. However, these dogs thrive on love and affection, particularly from their favorite humans. They do best in a home that can give them the attention they need.

Are Pekingese hard to train?

Pekingese can be a bit stubborn, which can affect training. But they aren’t typically extremely difficult to train, either. This breed benefits from consistent and positive training from a young age.

What two breeds make a Pekingese?

Legend has it that the Pekingese descended from a lion and money. More likely, this breed descended from the Maltese.