Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Pekingese
Average Cost to keep/care for a Pekingese

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #84 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Pekingese breed is also commonly known by the names Peke, Peking lion dog, Peking Palasthund, Lion Dog, Chinese Spaniel, Pelchie Dog, Peking Palasthund.
11 - 13 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Toy Group
Males 15 - 23 cm
Females 15 - 23 cm at the withers
Males 3.5 - 6.5 kg
Females 3.5 - 6.5 kg
Health Tests Available
Breed Club - Heart Testing
Average Price (More Info)
£873 for KC Registered
£628 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


The Pekingese is a charming little dog and one that boasts a fascinating history. Over the years they have become a popular choice both here in the UK not only because of their adorable looks, but also for their kind, loyal and affectionate natures. The Pekingese of today is very much the same as the dogs of days long past and they have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people the world over.


Although the true origins of the Pekingese have been lost in the sands of time, it is likely that these little dogs have not altered that much over centuries. Chinese legend tells of a lion that fell in love with a marmoset and in order to marry to her, the lion begged the patron saint of the animals, Ah Chu, to reduce him to the size of a pigmy while at the same time retaining his large lion heart and character. The offspring of this union was the Fu Lin or Lion Dog of China which paved the way for the Pekingese to make its mark on the whole of China. Whatever the breed’s true origin recent DNA tests have revealed the Peke to be one of the most ancient of all dog breeds, along with 13 others.

The charming Pekingese's ancestry is an illustrious one that can be traced back to China's Tang Dynasty with similar little dogs having been popular in China even before that particular time in Chinese history. However, it was during the Tang Dynasty that these little lion dogs became a firm favourite around the Imperial Courts. They were so highly prized that a decree was passed stating that only royals and nobles could own a Pekingese and that no commoners were allowed to purchase or own a Pekingese dog and if they did, it was at their own peril.

It was only in 1860 that common people were allowed to buy one of these charming little, lion-like dogs which was when the British took over the city of Peking. It was at this time that four Pekes were taken back to England where they were quite an immediate hit. Later more dogs were taken back to the UK and the breed was finally recognised by The Kennel Club in 1910, although the Pekingese was accepted by the American Kennel Club the previous year. Today, the Pekingese remains one of the most popular choices both as a companion dog and family pet thanks to their charming looks and endearing natures.


Height at the withers: Males 15 - 23 cm, Females 15 - 23 cm

Average weight: Males 3.5 - 6.5 kg, Females 3.5 - 6.5 kg

The Pekingese boasts having very lion-like looks with long silky hair that reaches the ground and lovely manes around their necks. They have very distinct, wrinkled flat faces which although adorable, often causes breathing and eye problems for the breed. A Peke's head is large in relation to their body and it's wider than it is deep with dogs having moderately broad skulls that are flat in between their ears. They have a nicely defined stop and although flat faced, their muzzles should be relatively wide while at the same time not being too short. Their noses are short and have broad, wide open nostrils. They have some wrinkling on their faces that goes from their cheeks to the bridge of the nose which forms an inverted "V". The pigment on their nose, eye rims and lips is always black in colour which accentuates nicely a dog’s expressive eyes.

Their eyes are round, clear and have a lovely dark lustre in them. Their ears are heart shaped and set level with a dog's skull which they carry close to their heads. Their ears boast having a profuse amount of feathering that adds to a Peke's charming appeal. Their lips are level with dogs having a firm under-jaw. Necks are quite thick and relatively short, their front legs are heavily boned and thick which are often slightly bowed. Their shoulders are well laid back blending nicely into a dog's body.

The Pekingese has quite a short body and a very distinct waist. Their chests are broad and ribs are well sprung with a nice level topline. Back legs are well muscled and strong although slightly lighter than their front legs. A Peke's feet are quite flat and large with their front feet often turning out slightly whereas their back feet point straight to the front. Their tails are set high which dogs carry slightly curved over their backs or sometimes a Peke will carry their tail to one side. Tails are nicely feathered.

When it comes to their coat, the Pekingese has longish, straight hair with a very distinct mane around their necks that does not go any further back than a dog's shoulders. Their top coat is quite thick and coarse whereas the undercoat is that much softer. Dogs have lots of feathering on their ears, on the back of their legs, tails and toes. The accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • Black and white
  • Brindle with black face mask
  • Cream with or without black face mask
  • Fawn
  • Fawn and black
  • Fawn with black face mask
  • Fawn brindle with or without black face mask
  • Grey brindle
  • Light red
  • Particolour
  • Red with or without black face mask
  • Red brindle with or without black face mask
  • Red fawn with or without black face mask
  • Silver
  • Silver brindle
  • Silver fawn with or without black face mask
  • White


The Pekingese is known to have a real sense of humour, but with this comes a whole lot of dignity. They are playful, mischievous and yet quite sensitive little dogs by nature. They are a large dog in a small dog's body when it comes to personality. They can be a little protective of their toys which is a natural "guarding" trait that's deeply embedded in a Peke's pysche.

They love human company and thrive in an environment where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house so they don't have to spend too much time on their own. If not given enough exercise or having someone around for long periods of time, a Peke can quickly develop separation anxiety and this can lead to a dog becoming depressed and destructive around the home. Pekes tend to form extremely strong bonds with one person in a household, although they always show a lot of affection towards everyone else too.

They are known to be extremely social little dogs, although they can be a little wary around strangers. However, a Peke would just bark and keep their distance until they get to know someone, rarely would one of these little dogs show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a person they first meet unless they felt threatened in any way.

Because they are quite independent dogs, they need to know their place in the pack and who they can look to for guidance and direction. It's important for these dogs to know what is expected of them which means their socialisation and training has to start early and it has to involve introducing a Peke to as many new situations, people, animals and other dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. When Pekes are allowed to get away with too much, they can start displaying "small dog syndrome" which sees dogs becoming a lot more demanding and harder to live with. Dogs get very possessive over their toys, food and it's when separation anxiety can become a real issue which is why it's important not to "spoil" a Peke and let them get away with things a larger dog would never be allowed to do.

The Pekingese makes an ideal companion for the older person and prefers to be in a household where there is just one adult rather than in a home where there are lots of young children. Having said, this in the right environment, the Pekingese is a good choice for first time owners although anyone wishing to share their home with one of these charming little dogs would need to be willing to dedicate a lot of time to keeping their coats in good condition because they are high maintenance in the grooming department.

Intelligence / Trainability

Pekes are known to be intelligent little dogs and they do like to please. However, they boast a bit of a stubborn streak in them and are quite independent characters by nature which often means training them can prove a little challenging to say the least. The key to successfully training a Pekingese is not to rush things because these little dogs tend to do things in their "own time". In short, it takes a lot of patience and understanding to successfully train a Peke.

Their training has to start early, it has to be consistent and always fair so that a Peke understands what their owner expects of them. Socialising a dog early enough pays dividends because it helps these little dogs grow up to be more relaxed mature dogs that are a pleasure to have around and take anywhere. When they have not been well socialised, a Pekingese can be a bit of a handful even though they are such small dogs.

Children and Other Pets

Pekes tend to thrive in a quieter home environment where the children are older because they can be snappy around smaller kids which can often be put down to the fact toddlers just don’t understand how to behave around dogs and as a result it makes a Peke nervous. As such they are not the best choice for families with young children.

They are not generally aggressive dogs by nature and will rarely pick a fight with another dog, but if they feel threatened in any way, a Peke would not think twice about standing their ground. They are much more relaxed around other dogs when they have been socialised from a young enough age and they do usually get on well with a family cat they have grown up with, but would happily chase off a neighbour's cat whenever they get the chance. Care should be taken when a Peke is around smaller animals and pets, just in case.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.

Pekingese Health

The average life expectancy of a Pekingese is between 11 and 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like so many other breeds, the Peke is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these energetic, little dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Breathing problems - due to their flat faces
  • Eye problems - in particular dry eye
  • Birthing issues - puppies are often born by Caesarean Section

Caring for a Pekingese

As with any other breed, Pekes need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


The Pekingese has a long coat and one that needs to be brushed daily to prevent any matts or tangles from forming. Particular attention has to be paid to the hair on a dogs' legs and their bellies where tangles tend to form the most. It's also important to wipe their faces every day so there is no build up dirt or grease in the creases. As such, they are high maintenance in the grooming department, but a twice yearly visit to a professional groomer would make it easier to keep their coats tidy and their skin in good condition.

Like other breeds, the Pekingese sheds throughout the year although more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is generally necessary to remove any dead and shed hair. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections. Pekes often get a bit dirty around their mouths after they have eaten, so it’s always a good idea to wipe their faces when they’ve finished their food.


Although not high-energy dogs, the Pekingese does need to be given at least 30 minutes exercise a day. It's all too easy for these little dogs to turn into couch potatoes which can lead to them ploughing on the pounds and this could seriously impact their overall health and well-being. These little dogs like to do things at their own pace which means they never like to be rushed when out on a walk which is why they make such great companions for the more mature person.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these inquisitive little dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, Peke puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing a few problems later on in their lives.


If you get a Peke puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are known to be finicky eaters, but it's important not to give into them by feeding them "human food" which could just make matters worse because it could lead to dogs becoming even fussier about their food. It's best to feed a mature Peke twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Pekingese

If you are looking to buy a Pekingese, you would need to pay anything from £250 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Peke in northern England would be £22.18 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £49.73 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry to feed your dog making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Peke and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Pekingese would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.

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