About the breed

Notes on the Standard

The Pekingese is a member of the AKC’s toy group. His body can best be described as having a wide chest, short, bowed forelegs, thick short neck, a wide ribcage tapering to a narrow waist and loin. His head should be large, rectangular and flat across the skull. The face, when viewed in profile, should be flat with the nose well up between large round dark eyes. The lower jaw should be undershot – neither teeth nor tongue should show.

His coat, all colors of which are acceptable, should be profuse, especially the “cape” over the shoulders, long feathering on the back of his legs and on his tail. The Peke moves with a distinctive rolling or swagger motion. His weight should not exceed 14 pounds.

Physical Characteristics

The Pekingese is characterized as a brachycephalic (flat-nosed) breed. As such, he is one of the breeds considered to be heat-sensitive. Great care must be taken in warm weather to provide a cool environment for him. A Peke is a house dog and should not be expected to live out of doors.

Because of his very flat face, his eyes are very susceptible to injury. His play or exercise area should be free of thorned or barbed shrubs. His low, heavy body is not built for jumping, and he should not be encouraged to do so.

The brachycephalic breeds present an anesthetic challenge, due in part to abnormal airways, soft palates, and narrow tracheas. Before any surgical procedures are scheduled, a discussion of anesthetic administration should be held with your veterinarian.

Being a toy dog, a well-cared for Peke can live well into the teen years. His need for exercise is minimal – some enjoy leisurely walks – many prefer the freedom of a fenced area for safe exercise.

Regardless of show- or pet-quality, in the right circumstances, the Peke is a wonderful companion. Without careful, selective breeding, those characteristics important to the show dog, i.e., length of coat, bulldog-type conformation, etc., are normally not seen in the many Pekes entering rescue. The pet-quality Peke frequently will possess longer and straighter legs, and a longer, lean body which is reminiscent of his ancient spaniel-type ancestors. These Pekes often exceed the 14-lb. limit, and sometimes will exceed 20 pounds.

The large round eyes and undershot jaw are usually evident, but the face lacks the total flatness with the nose extending beyond the profile of the face. The coat will be varying in length, but mostly short-to-medium in length. Despite his lack of resemblance to his show-quality cousin, the wonderful Peke character still remains.


Because of his natural aloofness with strangers and his stubbornness, he definitely will own you as opposed to your owning him. Once he has chosen you, however, he can be very protective to a point of being possessive, which requires assertiveness by his owner so that his natural tendency to guard doesn’t turn into aggression. Like most animals, a Peke never forgets an unkindness – so only with much patience and an extremely kind hand can an abused Peke be convinced to trust again.

Pekes can be successfully obedience trained. But, again with a lot of patience and kindness. His independent nature makes him easy to live with as he can amuse himself for hours with a favorite toy or another Peke companion. A true Peke enthusiast looks at Peke ownership with the passion of ownership of fine artwork, and many have more than one Peke at a time.

Notes on Grooming

The Pekingese is a double-coated dog, which sheds his undercoat one to two times a year. He requires consistent brushing one to two times weekly to keep him looking his best and to prevent matting. The only area in need of trimming is between the pads of his feet if the toe feather becomes too profuse. The feathering on the front of his feet is another distinctive feature. The coat is the Peke’s “crown and glory” and, as individuals considering adopting, therefore, who expect to shave the coat back are encouraged to pursue another breed. The over-nose wrinkle should be cleaned regularly to prevent moisture-related problems in that area of the face, and eyes should be checked daily for foreign matter – usually hair, to prevent irritation, which can lead to more serious eye problems.