Pekingese dog hereditary health and health testing

Pekingese dog hereditary health and health testing

Health & Safety

The Pekingese dog is also sometimes known as the Peking lion dog, and is a Chinese breed with a known history going back to ancient times. Originally favoured by the Imperial court’s royalty and the pet of choice for both Buddhist monks and members of the aristocracy, today, the Pekingese dog is a popular lapdog and companion all over the world.

The Pekingese can stand up to 9” tall at the withers and weigh up to 6.4kg, although many dogs of the breed are smaller than this still. They have short, brachycephalic faces, large, prominent eyes, and small, low to the ground bodies.

The Pekingese coat is long and fluffy, and can be found in virtually any viable colour combination, however the most common colours for dogs of the breed is gold, sable or red. The coat of the breed requires a reasonable amount of brushing and grooming to keep it in good condition, including the occasional bath and trip to the grooming salon.

If you are wondering if the Pekingese dog is the right choice of pet for you, it is important to find out as much about the breed as you can before committing to a purchase. This includes researching the hereditary health, longevity and any health testing that is advised for dogs of the breed, which we will examine in more detail within this article.

Pekingese longevity

The average lifespan of the Pekingese dog is 11.4 years, which is slightly lower than the average across the board for all dog breeds of a similar size and build. This reflects the fact that the Pekingese breed as a whole has a slightly elevated predisposition to certain hereditary health problems that may ultimately shorten their lifespans and affect their quality of life.

Genetic diversity

The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the Pekingese dog is 8.1%, which is slightly higher than the ideal for pedigree dog breeds, being 6.25% or lower. This indicates that the Pekingese breed is subjected to a degree of inbreeding in order to keep their breed lines viable, and Pekingese breeders should seek to reduce the coefficient of inbreeding statistic within their own breed lines where possible.

Conformation issues

The shape and build of the Pekingese dog itself is considered to pose a range of challenges for dogs of the breed, which may affect their quality of life or shorten their lifespan. Common issues across the breed include:

  • Issues due to the brachycephalic face of the breed, which can lead to breathing difficulties and problems staying cool enough in hot weather.
  • The risk of damage to the eyes, due to the degree of their protrusion.
  • Stenotic nares, a condition of the nostrils that can also contribute to breathing difficulties.
  • Overheating in hot weather, due to the heavy coat and the short muzzle.
  • Difficulties in delivering a litter without assistance.
  • The potential for deformities of the jaws and mouth.
  • Intertrigo, a condition that affects the skin of the facial folds.
  • Hemivertebrae disc disorders, due to the breed’s curled tail. This condition can cause pain and weakness of the hind limbs.

Health testing for the Pekingese dog

The British Veterinary Association and The Kennel Club class the Pekingese dog as one of their 15 high profile dog breeds, due to the range and severity of problems that can present across the breed as a whole.

Health testing is advised for potential parent dogs of the breed to identify a predisposition to progressive retinal atrophy, a condition of the eyes that leads to blindness. Breed clubs also recommend heart health testing for dogs of the breed.

Other health issues

As well as the known conformation issues within the breed and the hereditary health conditions that can be tested for prior to breeding, the Pekingese breed is also considered to be at risk for a range of other conditions, but for which no pre-breeding screening is currently offered. Conditions include:

  • Pyloric stenosis, which leads to an intolerance for solid food due to a narrowing of the food pipe entering the stomach.
  • Mitral valve disease, a heart problem that can lead to heart failure.
  • Patellar luxation, a condition in which the kneecaps slip and dislocate.
  • Entropion of the eyelids, in which they turn inwards and rub on the cornea.
  • Distichiasis, a condition that causes the eyelashes to grow an additional row, which again rub on the cornea.
  • Dry eye, an underproduction of the lubrication from the tear ducts.
  • Glaucoma of the eyes.
  • Corneal ulcers, which appear under the front of the eyes.
  • Intervertebral disc disease, a spinal condition that can lead to pain, weakness and potential paralysis.
  • Cryptorchidism in male dogs, which causes one or both of the testicles to fail to descend properly.
  • Various types of cancers, with perianal gland tumours being the most common.


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