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Pekingese History goes back over 2000 years!

‘Looty’ the Pekingese. Chambers Encyclopedia 1874

The Pekingese Breed Has A Rich History


Pekingese were a special breed in ancient China.


The Pekingese breed originated in China and lived within the Chinese Imperial Palace, known as the Forbidden City and one of the world's most ancient breeds. The Pekingese date back to the Han dynasty 2,000 years ago. These old Pekingese were pampered by eunuchs and lived-in royal pavilions and slept on silk cushions. These dogs were so prized they were given Official Royal rankings.



Are Pekingese Spoils of War?


When the British and French invaded the city of Beijing (Peking), China, in 1860, they ransacked the city and stole many of its treasures. The Chinese broke the truce, and the English delegation was tortured and killed. Upon hearing this news, the British returned to the city and destroyed the imperial gardens and palaces, known as the Old Summer Palace. While searching the grounds, they discovered five Pekingese in the home of the emperor's aunt. She had committed suicide and has left the dogs to fend for themselves.

Top of a Chinese pavilion

Mabe the Royal Pekingese had this kind of roof over their cute little heads.

The First Pekingese to Travel to England


The five Pekingese were transported back to England, where one of the pups was given to Queen Victoria. She named her pup Looty. Looty was the smallest of the five.


Back in China, Looty ate "sharks fins and curlew livers and the breasts of quails," as well as "the milk of the antelopes that pasture in the Imperial parks." –AKC  These types of food were not as available in England, which caused problems at feeding time. 


The other four Pekingese were also given to British royal members. The Duchess of Wellington was given a pair and named Schlorff and Hyten. Richmond's Duchess, Lady Algernon Gordon-Lennox, was given the second pair of dogs. She began breeding Pekingese at Goodwood kennel, where she helped generate standards.

The Beginning of Breeding Pekingese


More Pekingese were needed for breeding. To keep from inbreeding, England needed to procure more dogs. Getting these dogs was difficult because most lived with China's Royal Court members. Stealing these dogs had become a way to get the dogs out of China by servants. However, there was a heavy price to pay if the servant was caught; severe torture and death were possible.


Examples of smuggling include Ah Cum, a famous Pekingese, one of the founding sires for the breeding, smuggled out of China to Britain in a crate of Japanese deer in 1896.


Other Pekingese were gifted from the dowager empress as a sign of favor for setting up vaccine clinics to combat smallpox. Some of the famous recipients were 

  • John Pierpont Morgan

  • President Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice

  • Dr. Frederick Samuel Heuston




What is a sleeve Pekingese?


A version of the breed liked by royal families; the Sleeve Pekingese were miniature Pekingese that could be carried in the rob sleeves of members of the Royal Court in China and later in Italy's royal Court.


The sleeve Pekingese is a long-haired dog with a full mane and heavily-haired thighs, forelegs, tails, and toes. The head is broad and flat, with hanging ears and a short, wrinkled muzzle. The coat can be solid or variegated in color, and some have a black mask spanning the face.


The English made the Pekingese the country's most popular dog, and Americans became very interested also.


The Pekingese know they are a breed of royalty, dignity, and independence, unconcerned with others around them. You are not their master; they are your master. You will become their servant, and they will be masters of your heart.




Keep Calm
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