21 May, 2016
- The Pekingese according to Chinese legend, a lion once fell in love with a marmoset, a type of monkey. To wed his love, the lion begged Buddha to reduce him in size but let him retain his great lion heart and character. Buddha consented, and from the union of the two descended the dogs of Fu Lin, the lion dogs of China.Perhaps that’s not quite how the Pekingese came into being, but it’s a good story. The breed is indeed ancient, with DNA evidence confirming it as one of the oldest of dog breeds. The Peke is believed to have existed in China for as long as 2,000 years. Named for the capital city of Peking (now Beijing), they were companions to nobles, princes, and members of the imperial family. Commoners bowed down to them, treatment they still expect today.
- The Pekingese was closely guarded and never allowed to leave the palace let alone the country, but he came to the attention of the Western world as a result of the Opium War in 1860. When British troops entered the imperial palace after invading Peking, one of their discoveries was five Pekingese dogs guarding the body of their mistress, who had committed suicide rather than face capture. The dogs became prizes of war and were taken to England where two were presented to the Duchess of Wellington, two to the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon, and one to Queen Victoria, who named it “Looty.”They remained rare, although by the 1890s, more Pekingese were being smuggled out of China. A dog named Pekin Peter was reportedly the first Pekingese to be exhibited at a British dog show, in 1894. The breed at the time was known variously as a Chinese Pug and a Pekingese Spaniel. A Pekingese club was established in 1904.Naturally, the Peke’s popularity spread across the Atlantic to the United States. The first Pekingese registered by the American Kennel Club was Rascal, in 1906, and the Pekingese Club of America was formed in 1909. Today the breed ranks 49th among the 155 breeds and varieties registered by the AKC.
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