Dating back to the Tang Dynasty of the eighth century, the Pekingese was originally the dog of China's royalty in the ancient city of Peking, which is the origin of the name. With their lush, flowing coats and independent personalities, today's Pekingese, affectionately called Pekes, continue to exude a royal demeanor. More than most breeds, these sturdy, muscular little dogs need special attention and care to keep them healthy and happy.
Pekingese dogs generally bond strongly with their owners and tend to be wary of strangers unless they are properly socialized. It's important to socialize your Pekingese puppy to a variety of people and other pets and animals so that your little dog will feel confident around strangers and new situations and will know how to behave. Make these encounters positive with plenty of praise and treats for wanted behavior. Include children in your Pekingese puppy’s socialization. Instruct children to be gentle with your little dog. Generally weighing less than 14 pounds as adults, Pekingese can easily be injured by a small child's thoughtless handling.
Pekingese tend to guard their toys and food. Give your dog some space during mealtimes, or provide a place to eat where your Pekingese can feel secure, such as a crate. Keep small children away from your dog during meals to prevent your Pekingese from nipping them.
Development of food-guarding behavior may be avoided by hand-feeding your Pekingese puppy, holding the dish in your lap. This has the added benefit of quietly informing your Pekingese from the start that the human, not the dog, is in charge. You can also place delicious treats like cheese or chicken in the dish while your Pekingese is eating, so that the dog sees your presence near the dish as positive.
Pekingese are well-suited for indoor living, requiring only short leash walks outdoors. The flattened face of the Pekingese causes breathing difficulties, especially in warm, humid weather. Keep your Pekingese in a temperature-controlled environment to prevent heatstroke in warmer climates and during the summer. Use a harness rather than a collar when walking your Peke, to avoid impairing the dog's breathing. Bred to be a lapdog, with thousands of years of lapdogs in their background, Pekingese typically are not very active. Regular games indoors with chew toys or puzzle toys can engage your dog's attention and prevent obesity.
Pekingese dogs can suffer from hereditary intervertebral disc disease, a condition that causes degeneration and damage of the spinal cord, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. It's a good idea to teach your Pekingese not to jump on and off of furniture. Instead, give your dog special pet stairs, available in pet supply stores, to provide access to high couches or beds.
Because they have a stubborn, independent nature, Pekingese dogs need obedience training to prevent behavioral problems. Potty training with this breed typically takes at least six months and requires use of a crate to prevent accidents in the home. You can train your Pekingese to potty indoors on a dog litter box covered in artificial grass or on pads. Pekingese are highly motivated by food, but avoid giving your dog so many treats during training that they become overweight.
Most dogs do not do well in isolation. Bred to be a companion, your Pekingese is apt to develop separation anxiety if left alone in your house for an extended time. A lonely Pekingese may bark incessantly, break house training, and engage in other unwanted behaviors. It is best to crate-train your Pekingese for those occasions when you must be away. Accustom your pet to stay quietly in the crate by placing the dog in the crate for brief intervals at first, gradually increasing the time, and rewarding the dog for being quiet until being quiet is a habit.
Pekingese have small bladders. It's a good idea to arrange for visits by a dog walker if your Pekingese must be at home alone for more than a few hours or to train them to go in a litter box or pads.
Because of the problems caused by their flattened faces, Pekingese dogs don't tolerate anesthesia well. Before any surgery, ask your veterinarian if they have experience anesthetizing a Pekingese.
Pekingese can suffer from hereditary eye problems, including severe dryness and corneal abrasions. Regular eye and physical exams help prevent and diagnose any potential health problems with your peke.