Raising a Pekingese

Raising a Pekingese

The Pekingese was originally the dog of China's royalty, so they require tons of love, affection and attention. Learn more about raising this breed here.

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 puppyโ€™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.

Resource Guarding

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.

Stubborn Behavior

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.

Separation Anxiety

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.

Pekingese Health

As its name might suggest, the Pekingese originated in China in the city of Peking, now known as Beijing. These brave, loyal dogs are a brachycephalic breed, referring to their flat faces. Such a face can cause the Pekingese breathing problems, particularly in the heat and cold, and these dogs can also be prone to heart murmurs, dry eye, and patellar luxation. Like many small dogs, the Pekingese can be quite long lived, with typical ages ranging from 12 to 15 years.

Primary Health Conditions of the Pekingese

The flat face of the Pekingese can at times restrict the breathing of this dog, especially during high activity and when it is cold or hot outside. For this reason, the owner of a Pekingese should avoid allowing the dog to overexert itself, and time spent outdoors during temperature extremes kept short. This dog is also prone to heart problems, including heart murmurs, caused by turbulent flow of blood through the heart. These murmurs can indicate a serious heart problem that will require veterinary attention, although they can be largely asymptomatic and minor as well.

Secondary Health Conditions of the Pekingese

The Pekingese can be subject to hot spots, or the appearance of lesions on the skin, caused continuous licking or chewing of its coat. Such hot spots can be brought on by allergic reactions to fleas or other skin irritants and are usually treated with shampoos and ointments. This breedโ€™s long back can make it subject to spinal injuries so care should be taken in handling the dog. Patellar luxationโ€”slippage of the kneecapโ€”can cause pain or discomfort for the dog, which is sometimes treated through surgery. The Pekingese is prone to dry eyes, for which the owner may apply artificial tears.

Pekingese Exercise and Walking Needs

Because of its relatively low activity level, the Pekingese is favored as a house and apartment dog. Some believe that the dogโ€™s rolling gate was bred into the Pekingese to discourage it from wandering away from the temple grounds in Pekingโ€”a reference underscoring this dogโ€™s lower exercise requirements. However, like all dogs, the Pekingese does require short daily walks and some lively play time with its owner. The dog can be prone to obesity, for which exercise and proper diet are the best preventatives.

Pekingese Nutritional Needs

Like many toy breeds, the Pekingese can be prone to obesity, especially when fed table scraps and when the dog does not get sufficient exercise. Thus, this breed should be given a high quality dog food in proportion to its size and activity levels. In consideration of the dogโ€™s long, thick coat, a food that is high in vitamins A and E as well as the Omega fatty acids may be appropriate.

Was this article helpful?
Intervertebral disk disease Separation Anxiety Overweight Pekingese

You May Also Like

Image for Trimming Pekingese Coats
Trimming Pekingese Coats

You can give your Pekingese a haircut yourself with these tips.

Read More
Image for AKC Recognized Breeds
AKC Recognized Breeds

Dog Breeds Accepted in the American Kennel Club

Read More