Pekingese were bred in China for royal palaces; even the colour of their coat was supposed to match the Emperor’s robes. The Chinese rulers gave them very high status and honour and they were referred to as the Lion Dog, because of their strong noble character, courage and dignity and because of their mane of hair.

The breed was then not owned by commoners at all, especially since their removal from the palace was forbidden and severely punishable. These days, the breed is widely owned, even if Pekingese do retain some of their regal demeanour. It is only relatively recently that their existence became known in the Western world. They were discovered in 1860 during the War of the Arrows, and five of the dogs were taken back to the British Palace.

Since the 1949 revolution they have become almost extinct in China. Pekingese were introduced into Australia in 1903, with the first one (a dog called ‘Yum Yum’) shown at the Sydney Show in 1904.