pekingese lying on table


A Complete Breed Guide for Pekingese Dogs


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Maree Monaghan BVSc (Hons)

The Pekingese graced the palaces of Chinese nobility for centuries as treasured companion dogs and used to be small enough to fit in the capacious sleeves of their owners' robes. True to their royal background, these little "lion dogs" can be aloof and opinionated, however, they are loyal and faithful companions and form tight bonds with their favourite humans.


Facts About the Pekingese



Best Toys for Pekingese

Best Food for Pekingese

Health Concerns

Related Breeds

Further reading

Facts About the Pekingese

pekingese exhibiting at dog show
Breed size: Place of origin: Intelligence:
Small China High
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Toy Low 3 - 6kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
13 - 15 years High Up to 20cm
Drool factor: Coat type: Colours:
Low Long straight double coat All colours and markings are acceptable except albino, liver or merle
Shedding factor: Easy of training: Overall grooming needs:
Medium Moderate Very high

How big do Pekingese get?

The Pekingese averages 3 to 6kg and stands up to 20 cm high at the shoulder.

How much does a Pekingese cost?

Pekingese pups in Australia may cost anywhere from $2,000 - $4,000. Of course, as with any breed, it is cheaper to adopt an adult dog from a rescue.

Are Pekingese good pets?

Pekingese thrive on attention and make ideal companions for less active owners as they do not require much exercise. If properly socialised when they are young, Pekingese will be fine with children, however, they won't tolerate rough play.

How long do Pekingese live?

Like most small breed dogs, Pekingese are relatively long lived although they are prone to a number of health problems due to their short faces and prominent eyes. As long as you ensure your Pekingese has a complete and balanced diet, appropriate exercise, does not become overweight or develop dental disease, you can expect to have your companion for up to 15 years.

Do Pekingese shed?

Pekingese shed twice a year like most dogs, however, their long luxurious coats need daily grooming with a good quality pin brush or metal comb. Extra attention should be paid to keeping their faces and bottoms clean.

How much exercise do Pekingese need?

Pekingese do not require a lot of exercise and a short walk or play session of around 20 minutes per day is sufficient. Care must be taken during hot weather as Pekingese are prone to overheating due to their short faces and long coats. Walking early in the morning or at night is recommended.

Do Pekingese bark much?

Pekingese are very alert and believe one of their duties is to protect their family, so they may bark if anything unusual happens. If your Pekingese is barking excessively, providing appropriate training and distractions will help to curb this unwanted behaviour.

How do I choose a Pekingese breeder?

When looking for a Pekingese, your options are to: a) adopt from a rescue (this is our top recommendation!) b) buy from an or online marketplace or pet store (NOT recommended!), or c) Research a reputable breeder. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions first. Good breeders socialise their animals, house them humanely, allow you to inspect their premises, and selectively breed healthy traits and good temperaments. Read our Guide to Finding a Good Breeder for more tips.

Pekingese History

The origins of the Pekingese are shrouded in the mists of time and the mysteries of the Chinese imperial court where for centuries, dogs were bred to look like miniature versions of the lion that Buddha was said to have tamed.

The Dowager Empress Cixi bred Pekingese, Pugs and Shih Tzus in the Imperial Palace and her dogs were said to have the luxury of marble kennels with silk cushions and a team of servants dedicated to looking after them.

When the Summer Palace in Beijing was stormed by British soldiers in 1860, five Pekingese were found in the Dowager Empress' apartments. These dogs were taken back to Britain with one of them being given to Queen Victoria. The remaining four dogs were given in pairs to the Duchess of Wellington and the Duchess of Richmond. More Pekingese came to the West as either gifts from the Dowager Empress to wealthy Americans or smuggled out of China to Europe. The Pekingese went on to become a favoured show dog and companion in both Europe and America in the twentieth century.

Pekingese Personality

pekingese being held by owner

These regal little dogs' charm, intelligence and undying loyalty to their favourite human make them delightful companion dogs. Pekingese do not require a lot of exercise and are quite happy living indoors so they make ideal apartment and townhouse dogs. Although Pekingese are tolerant of strangers and other pets, they don't appreciate rough play and may not be suitable for households with small children.

The Pekingese is always on the lookout for anything or anyone that may disturb the serenity of their kingdom and make excellent guard dogs. They can be stubborn and become possessive of their toys and belongings, however, appropriate training from an early age will curb these inappropriate behaviours.

Best Toys and Accessories for Pekingese

Dental disease is a common problem for Pekingese and teaching your Pekingese to chew from an early age is essential. Pekingese are also prone to weight gain and puzzle feeders are ideal for turning meal times into fun times and slowing down greedy Pekingese.

Due to their short noses and long coats, Pekingese are at risk of heat stress, so a cooling bed is a must in Summer.

Nylabone Variety Puppy Twin Pack

Get your Pekingese puppy off to a good start and encourage positive chewing and playtime habits from a young age.

Scream Interactive Treat Barrel

This puzzle feeder has three different elements each with their own levels of difficulty to keep your Pekingese's clever brain occupied.

AFP Chill Out Mat

It may not be a silk cushion in a marble kennel, but the special springy noodle-like filling in this bed helps to encourage airflow to keep your Pekingese cool and comfortable.

Kong Toy Wobbler

If your Pekingese tends to eat too fast, you can use the KONG Wobbler as an alternative to a dog bowl to help extend mealtime while providing exercise.

Can't decide? Why not let us pick for you with the Curious Box? Each Curious Box contains a selection of two to three engaging toys (and treats!) Even better, the theme changes every 6 weeks, making it the perfect way to keep your pet's supply of toys and treats fresh, fun, and varied for mental stimulation!

Pekingese Diet and Nutrition

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Pekingese puppies

Some points to note about Pekingese puppy ownership include:

What to feed a Pekingese Puppy

Pekingese puppies need to eat a premium, small breed diet that is nutritionally formulated to meet AAFCO Guidelines until they are around 10 months of age. You may consider a Rotation Diet to provide exposure to different proteins and reduce the risk of food sensitivities.

Raw diets for Pekingese puppies? Raw diets are not suitable or safe for puppies due to the risk of bacterial contamination upsetting their tummies, and an unbalanced diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Read more about Raw Diets: The Risks and Benefits.

When should you transition a Pekingese from puppy to adult food?

As a general guide, Pekingese can usually be transitioned from a 'puppy' food to an 'adult' food at around 10 months of age. This does, however, vary depending on your dog's body condition score - if your pup is underweight, they may require puppy food for a little longer. Likewise, if they're starting to show a bit of 'pudge', it may be time for a lower-in-calories 'Adult' diet.

Best Food for Pekingese Puppies

Best food for adult Pekingese

Pekingese adults are prone to a number of health conditions including dental disease and obesity so the following diets have been recommended to help support healthy teeth and maintain an ideal body condition.

Royal Canin Mini Lightweight Adult

This premium quality dry dog food contains reduced energy and fat levels (11%) to limit calorie intake while maintaining lean muscle mass with higher levels of quality protein (30%).

Hills Oral Care

With its unique kibble containing interlocking fibre technology, this high quality dry food is clinically proven to reduce plaque and tartar build up on your Pekingese's teeth, promoting oral health and fresher breath.

Wellness Petite Entrees

This all natural, grain free diet is made from the highest quality Turkey, Chicken and Vegetables in a mouth-watering sauce. Made from wholesome ingredients with no artificial colours or flavours, meat by products or wheat fillers, your Pekingese will simply love it!

K9 Hoki and Beef

Nourish your Pekingese with an all natural, grain free canned dog food, packed with the goodness of high quality meat, seafood, and produce including sustainably caught hoki fish and grass fed beef, as well as fresh fruits and vegetable.

Pekingese Health Issues

Pekingese are unfortunately prone to a wide variety of diseases and this can make them one of the more expensive breeds to insure.

Eye Problems

Short faces and large eyes make the Pekingese susceptible to prolapse of the eye, dry eyes, conjunctivitis and eye ulcers. Other eye diseases that Pekingese can suffer from include cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and retinal detachment. It is important to ensure that your Pekingese's hair is kept out of their eyes and, if you notice any abnormalities in their eyes, take them straight to your vet for a check up.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic means short nosed and brachycephalic airway syndrome is a combination of anatomical defects that combine to cause obstructed breathing. These anatomical defects are a result of years of selective breeding of the Pekingese for the brachycephalic appearance. Aside from being pretty uncomfortable, brachycephalic airway syndrome makes affected dogs particularly susceptible to heat stress. Dogs are unable to sweat except on the footpads and nose, instead they use panting as their main means of cooling down. When the airways are compromised and the animal is unable to breathe properly, panting becomes much less effective and leaves them at risk of overheating which can be fatal.

Patellar Luxation

The patella is the kneecap and luxation is where the patella dislocates out of place to one side, usually momentarily. This can be very uncomfortable, and the severity is assessed in stages based on degree of luxation and how easily the kneecap slips back into place. Advanced stage luxation often requires surgery.

Dental Problems

Pekingese very commonly have protruding or "undershot" lower jaws which makes them very prone to dental disease. Even without an undershot jaw, the Pekingese, like many small breed lap dogs, are often reluctant to chew which leads to plaque build up, dental infections and tooth loss. Starting a home care dental regime at an early age is the best way to avoid dental problems for your Pekingese.


Lounging around on comfy pillows all day being adored certainly sounds like the ideal lifestyle for a dog, however, lack of exercise and overfeeding lead to weight gain and all the diseases that obesity brings with it.

Best Supplements for Pekingese

K9 Natural Brain and Eye Omega Oil

Made from a premium blend of New Zealand cold-pressed Flaxseed and Hoki Oil, rich in Omega 3, with the addition of Avocado and Blackcurrant Seed Oil, high in antioxidants, for healthy brain and eye development.

Troy Plaqueoff

This easy to administer powder contains the North Atlantic alga, Ascophyllum nodosum, to help fight the bacteria which cause dental plaque. Simply sprinkle the powder over wet or dry food daily.

Paw Osteocare Chews

Supplementing with glucosamine and chondroitin provides nutrition for joint cartilage to help maintain healthy joints and are a great option for young active Pekingese as well as older dogs at risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Related Breeds

Shih Tzu

shih tzu sitting and looking up

Hard to spell but easy to love, the Shih Tzu is a whole lot of happiness in a cute fluffy package. These lively, friendly little dogs were also developed as companion dogs for the Chinese nobility and love being around humans young and old.

Lhasa Apso

Lhasa apso dog

The Lhasa Apso originated in Tibet where they were used as guard dogs in monasteries. Despite their small size and deceptive long flowing locks, the Lhasa Apso is still a fiercely independent guard dog.

Chow Chow

black chow chow looking at camera

Chow Chow are an ancient Chinese breed that were developed as hard working farm dogs rather than pampered palace pooches.

Further reading

dog paws on book

How to Groom a Dog

Eye Discharge in Dogs and Cats

Luxating Patella in Dogs

Your Guide to Pet Supplements

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