Pekingese Examination by an Expert
This article recently appeared in the December 2021 edition of TNT
By: Colleen Doolin Skinner
After weeks of anticipation and a nail-biting wait for your veterinarian to finish the C-section, you can finally take the warm, fuzzy puppies and their exhausted dam home to start the process of somehow getting through the critical next two weeks and keeping them all healthy and safe.
Relieved that all the puppies made it and your precious girl’s milk came in, you can now sit back, take a deep breath, and study the tiny, new brood.
You did your homework in honestly evaluating your bitch for virtues and faults, and you found a stud to counter the faults and add his stellar points to what you hope is a superior genetic match.
As the puppies mature and grow, their individual personalities emerge as they eat, play, fight, and interact with each other, their mother, and you.
Many breeders evaluate the puppies at eight weeks old, and for many breeds that’s a good time to cull out the ones that are clearly not show quality. As a Pekingese breeder, I like to take a little longer to see how the puppies are going to develop.
My most recent litter was born April 1, 2021, with two males and two females. The litter was almost four months old when I settled on my personal pick; a well-proportioned, light red sable male with a good topline, a nice head, and a short, heavy body. His brother was a close second, but he was larger and longer.
Neither looked like either of his parents, but the shorter male was built like his maternal grandmother, and the longer male was built like his maternal grandfather, which emphasized the point that it is important to study each dog’s genetics so that you can anticipate what may result from each mating.
It is always smart to get an expert’s advice and observations to help evaluate each puppy and decide on the best plan for each one.
Former Pekingese breeder/exhibitor and All-Breed Judge Dr. Steve Keating was my choice to give a thorough examination of each young dog. He started with Passion Steven Peter, a.k.a. Little Stevie, my personal favorite.
Dr. Keating stood back from the table to assess the overall view of the puppy from the side. He walked around and looked at Stevie from the front. He was doing an assessment of the puppy’s size, make, shape, form, length, and overall balance.
He cupped Stevie’s head with both hands and studied his little face to see how his head was framed, looked at his eyes to see if they were large and lustrous, felt his ears for placement on the head, checked the broadness of the muzzle, and checked for a flat top skull.
He then looked at Stevie’s head from a side view of the facial features, looked at the profile of his head, looked at the angles of the head, and the gentle layback of the skull and head together.
Dr. Keating checked the cushion of Stevie’s muzzle, and ran his thumb gently over the puppy’s closed mouth to feel the bite. He remarked that it is not acceptable to open the mouth on a Pekingese, unless the judge has an issue with the thumb examination, and in that instance, the judge should ask the exhibitor to show the bite by having the exhibitor gently lift the lips only so that the judge can see the bite, which should be slightly undershot.
He wriggled his fingers into Stevie’s lush, full puppy coat and felt the front assembly by making sure the little dog’s front two legs had a tight fit against his body and that the dog’s elbows were correctly situated and the little guy was not out-at-the-elbows. He then felt the gentle bow in both the puppy’s short forearms, and checked to ensure the setting of the front feet, which should be slightly easty-westy in appearance.
Dr. Keating gently raised the hair on Stevie’s bib and looked at the legs to double-check his assessment. He gently slid his fist straight in between Stevie’s legs until his fist met the dog’s little chest. He noted that there was enough space for his fist to slide in without striking either leg.
From there, he shifted to his right to examine the left side of the dog. Keeping his left hand continually placed on Stevie’s shoulder, he moved his right palm down the dog’s back from the neck to the tail set, carefully checking the topline to ensure that it was level.
Dr. Keating remarked that the judge should always have a hand on the exhibit ON EVERY BREED, he emphasized, as it helps the animal know that the judge is still there; in order not to unintentionally startle the dog.
Little four-month-old Stevie still had just a small puff of a puppy tail; however, many older, more mature dogs have heavily coated tails, and the judge may have to pick up the tail with one hand and run the other hand slowly down the back to double-check the topline, which needs to be level and not roached or swayed, he said.
Next, he gently placed both hands across the back on both shoulders of the body to make sure the shoulders were next to the body cavity with no space in between. Dr. Keating said that if there had been too much space, the dog would have been out-at-the-shoulders, a term used to signify too much spacing. This check confirms good and appropriate conformity.
He then continued his examination by sliding both hands down and around Stevie’s sides, checking his rib cage, which should be large, and checking for a narrow waist.
From the waist area, Dr. Keating moved his hands backward to the hip joints and down to the rear legs, checking for muscle tone. He gently raised the hind skirts and looked at how Stevie’s legs were placed, explaining that the rear legs and feet should be parallel and facing straight ahead.
He checked Stevie’s testicles to ensure that there were two normal-sized testicles within the sack, a standard check for examining every breed of dog.
Dr. Keating stepped back to view the overall picture Stevie presented, allowing me to touch up the then mussed-up coat with the brush and rearrange Stevie’s fluffy little tail.
He laughed and said that a Pekingese coat is supposed to be disarranged if the examination is properly conducted!
He stepped forward to do the standard Pekingese lift, which is meant to determine weight balance and to see if the dog is heavier than it appears. He explained that the lift is not done to assess size or weight, but rather the distribution of body weight, as the Pekingese is supposed to have a heavy front, with its weight tapering off in the rear. He remarked that if the judge thinks the dog is over 14 pounds, the scale must be used.
Dr. Keating slipped his left hand under Stevie’s chest from the front and placed his right hand around Stevie’s right shoulder and upper rib cage area. He gently lifted the fluffy little four-month-old a couple of inches off the table.
The whole examination took a little less than two minutes.
Dr. Keating then went over Stevie’s three littermates and gave his assessment of each puppy.
Not everyone knows a local expert who will agree to assess your litter, but it is hoped that the description of Dr. Keating’s examination will be helpful to anyone who needs to know the hands-on method of assessing these wonderful dogs.
If you are interested in learning more about the hands-on examination of the Pekingese dog breed, check out this great video by AKC Canine College