With over 3000 years of history, the Pekingese is one of the worlds oldest breeds. The Pekingese is a ancient temple dog originating in China, where they were the favored pet of the Chinese Imperial court. The Pekingese was a guardian spirit as they resembled Chinese lions, who protected the temple against evil spirits. The rules for having a Pekingese was very strict, and for hundreds of years there was a death penalty for owning a Pekingese outside the Imperial court.
The breed originated in China in antiquity, in the city of Peking most likely from Asian wolves. During the Second Opium War, in 1860, the Forbidden City was invaded by allied troops. The Emperor Xianfeng had fled with all of his court. However an elderly aunt of the emperor remained. When the "foreign devils" entered, she committed suicide. She was found with her five Pekingese mourning her passing. The dogs were removed by the Allies before the palace was burnt, and presented as gifts to high members of English society. One of them was a gift to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who named it Looty.
Empress Dowager Cixi eventually presented the Pekingese to several Americans (including the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt), with the words:
Let the Lion Dog be small; let it wear the swelling cape of dignity around its neck; let it display the billowing standard of pomp above its back.
Let its body be shaped like that of a hunting lion spying for its prey.
These dogs have a big influence in our breeding. As much as we miss them, we admire their offspring, who honor the memory of these wonderful dogs.