The winner of Crufts 2003 – The Pekingese
This little dog comes from the ancient city of Peking, (now called Beijing) two thousand years ago. Only royalty and noblemen were allowed to own the dog, and people without noble rank were required to bow to the dog when in its presence or passing in the street. It was believed the dogs chased away evil spirits. Anyone caught kidnapping or inflicting harm on a Pekingese was sentenced to death.
The dog had the official status as being semi-divine. In 1860, the Imperial Palace fell to the British invasion and the guards were ordered to kill all the sacred dogs to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy. Five survivors were given to Queen Victoria and from these five all modern day Pekingese are descended. The first breed in Britain was shown in 1893 and was recognized by the AKC in 1909.
Pekingese are a small, compact dog with a flat face, flat muzzle and large round eyes. Legs are short and heavy boned. The tail is high set and arched over the back. The coat is usually long haired, (there is a short- medium coat variety that is not favoured by breeders), double layered and available in all colours. Pekes tend to weigh anywhere from 3.2 to 6.4 kilograms and stand around 15 to 23 centimetres at the withers. They are defined as toy dogs and can be even smaller than that above, smaller dogs are referred to a Sleeve Pekingese.
Pekes can be prone to heart conditions such as heart murmurs and congestive heart failure, eye issues including ulcers and Progressive Retinal Apathy, and breathing disorders. A lot of the conditions and problems these dogs are prone to result from their tiny skulls and compact muzzles. Because of their flattened faces and inability to regulate their temperature effectively, these dogs are very sensitive to extreme temperatures and can develop breathing problems if left outside.
Pekes are very affectionate, sensitive and independent. They may be hard to housebreak and if not given rules to follow and clearly lead by a consistent master, can develop various behavioural problems.
These dogs do well in apartment life and are pretty inactive while indoors. Daily walks and exercise is essential in order to have a calm and well adjusted animal. Daily brushing is needed particularly in the hind quarters to prevent matting from the dogs own faeces and urine.