Dog Breed Group: Companion Dog
Life Span: 13-15 years
Weight: Male: 5-6, Female: 4-5
Height: Male: 7-9, Female: 6-8
Origin of Name: The Pekingese is a breed of toy dog, originating in China.
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A Chinese legend says that the Pekingese was built by the Buddha, who shrunk a lion to the shape of a dog. Ethnicity is such an antiquity that we will never know its true beginnings, but the fictional origin myth has a grain of possible truth. Peke was cut from a large size toy, probably not by the Buddha, but by his earthly servants, the Chinese emperors, and his courtiers. For many centuries, Chinese nobles were hunted with breeding flat-faced lapdogs. PK, Pag, and Shih Tzu are surviving specimens of his handiwork. It is said that stealing one of these dogs was a crime of death.
Peck was unknown in the West until 1860, when British troops invaded Peking (Beijing) during the Opium Wars. As the Brits blew up the Emperor's magnificent summer palace with the intention of plundering and burning it, the royal family killed their Pecks, instead of seeing them coming into the hands of the enemy. A British captain found the Emperor's aunt dead, a suicide, but five of her pecks were still alive, hidden behind a chillman. The dogs were returned to England as a gift for a happy Queen Victoria, and the breed quickly caught on among its subjects.
By the late 1890s, Peck immigrated to the Americas. They were first registered by the AKC in 1906. Six years later, the breed made headlines when a Pekingis was one of only three dogs to survive the sinking of the Titanic.