At the present moment the Pekingese is on the high tide of popularity. Just how long they will continue in that envied position it is impossible to say, as fashions in the pet-dog world fluctuate rapidly, but it is safe to say that their interesting personality will always command a strong following.
The Pekingese share with the Chows the honor of being the national dogs of China. That they are a very old breed is indicated by the fact that at the looting of the summer palace there were found bronze statues of these dogs two thousand years old. It is further claimed that the first dogs brought to England in 186o were taken from within the walls of the sacred city, and that since then few from the Royal Kennels have found their way into the outer world. There is, however, no difficulty in procuring them from other sources, as they are bred extensively in all the towns in China between Peking and the sea.
The Pekingese has been classified among the spaniels by some authorities, which is a mistake, as they are not of spaniel descent and have no spaniel instincts or characteristics. On the contrary, they are very much like the Pugs in disposition and temperament, and undoubtedly there is a relationship between them.
The Pekingese is a much hardier dog than the Jap, easier bred and raised, and able to adapt themselves readily to most climates. There has been a decided movement toward dwarf specimens of late years, and the inbreeding that has been practiced with this object in view has weakened their constitutions, but not to serious extent.
The admirers of the breed are very enthusiastic over their dispositions. They are said to be most affectionate and faithful companions, and lend themselves to domesticity with cat-like love of comfort. They accept gracefully all the luxuries of civilization. They display much of the independence and pugnacity of the Pug and a most amusing self-pride and conscious dignity in the presence of other dogs or strangers.
In the selection of Pekingese puppies at from two to four months old, look for: Diminutiveness compatible with soundness and robustness; shortness and width of foreface; large eyes, deep stop, wellwrinkled forehead, moderately short and compact body, shortness of leg and great bone, with an abundant and dense fur-like coat, tail well feathered, and showing an indication to curl well over body.
The standard and scale of points is as follows:
EXPRESSION.-Must suggest Chinese origin combined with quaintness and individuality, directness and independence, courage, boldness, self-esteem, and combativeness rather than prettiness, daintiness, or delicacy.
HEAD.-Massive, broad skull, wide and flat between the ears (not dome-shaped); wide between the eyes.
NOSE.-Black, broad, very short and flat.
EYES.-Large, dark, prominent, round, lustrous.
EARS.-Heart-shaped, not set too high, leather never long enough to come below the muzzle, not carried erect, but rather drooping, long feather.
MUZZLE.-Very short and broad, not underhung nor pointed, wrinkled.
MANE.-Profuse, extending beyond shoulder blades, forming ruff or frill round front of neck.
SHAPE OF BODY.-Heavy in front, broad chest, falling away lighter behind, lion-like, not too long in the body.
COAT AND FEATHER AND CONDITION.-Long, with thick undercoat, straight and flat, not curly nor wavy, rather coarse, but soft; feather on thighs, legs, tail, and toes, long and profuse.
COLOR.-All colors are allowable-red, fawn, black, black-and-tan, sable, brindle, white and particolored, black masks, and spectacles round eyes, with lines to ears are desirable.
LEGS.-Short, forelegs heavy, bowed out at elbows; hindlegs lighter, but firm and well shaped. FEET.-Flat, not rounded; should stand well up on toes, not on ankles.
TAIL.-Curled and carried well up on loins; long, profuse, straight feather.
SIZE.-Being a toy dog, the smaller the better, provided type and points are not sacrificed. Anything over 18 pounds should disqualify. When divided by weight, classes should be over 10 pounds and under 10 pounds.
ACTION.-Free, strong, and high, crossing feet or throwing them out in running should not take off marks. Weakness of joints should be penalized.