Peekapoo

Stuart Fitzgerald
Dr Stuart Fitzgerald (MVB MANZCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Peekapoo
Photo thanks to PekepooPark.com

The Pekingese-cross-Poodle hybrid known as the Peekapoo was one of the very first of the designer dogs, and has been bred in the United States for at least the last 50 years. Like many other hybrids, it was selected for its low-shedding coat, but it is for its personality that it has continued to be bred for so long. This is a spunky little dog that was bred for companionship, and is extremely affectionate, but it is also a vigilant watchdog and a fearless guardian. It needs constant companionship, but will reward this with unfailing loyalty.

Hybrid dogs, by their nature, range in appearance and behaviour between the two extremes of their parents, and so the Peekapoo can be more Poodle- or Peke-like, but the two breeds do endow most of their offspring with certain fairly predictable traits. The Pekingese is a headstrong dog that is naturally suspicious of strangers, as are its crossbred puppies, which is what makes them particularly good watchdogs. In addition, the Peekapoo can exhibit this parent’s sensitivity and tendency to snap when distressed, so it doesn’t always appreciate the attention of young children.

The Poodle, on the other hand, lends its intelligence, and Peekapoos are certainly easier to train than Pekingese, though they can be a little stubborn and may need coaxing to perform at their best. They are energetic dogs that require a surprising amount of exercise, but those that inherit the Pekingese’s flat face are prone to respiratory distress and overheating, and may need special consideration in warm weather. Most are healthy, but an unfortunate minority can develop some of the genetic conditions seen in the parent breeds, and Peekapoo puppies should be chosen at least as carefully as one would choose a pedigree dog. Unscrupulous breeding practices are not uncommon in the designer dog world, and prospective owners must satisfy themselves that both parents are good examples of their respective breed. Because of the Peekapoo’s long history, it can be said, with confidence, to have a life expectancy of 13–15 years.

About & History

Although the Cockapoo probably preceded it, the Peekapoo was one of the very first hybrids to gain widespread recognition and to be sought after, as opposed to being the result of unplanned matings. While it has always primarily been a companion dog, it is renowned for its faintly ridiculous ferocity in the face of danger, and is an excellent guard dog. As can be also be said of many other dogs with this trait, it can be excessively vocal, and will certainly bark loudly and incessantly if left unattended. This is a dog that needs to be brought everywhere with the owner, as it pines and can develop problem behaviours if lonely or otherwise distressed.

Somewhat unusually, there does not appear to be any desire on the part of Peekapoo breeders to ever establish this as a breed in its own right, for almost all pups are first-generation crosses; Peekapoo to Peekapoo breeding is very rare. For this reason, Peekapoo pups are a very mixed bunch with different temperaments and appearance throughout individual litters being the norm. While both parent breeds contribute positively to the Peekapoo’s characteristics, the facial conformation of the Pekingese causes significant lifelong problems, with the shortened and often narrowed airways restricting airflow, and the protruding eyes being poorly protected and therefor prone to injury. For this reason, anyone choosing from a litter of Peekapoo puppies would be well advised to avoid those with foreshortening of the face, despite the fact that these are often the cutest and most endearing at first glance.

Appearance

Peekapoo Large Photo
Dredger / Wikipedia.org

As stated above, Peekapoos vary widely in appearance, and there is nothing even approximating a breed standard for this hybrid. All are small dogs, averaging between 4 and 9 kg (9–20 lb) in weight, and 22–27 cm (9–11 in) in height. Either one of the Toy or Miniature Poodle can be used to produce a litter of Peekapoos, which is why the weight range is relatively wide.

It is quite a fine-boned dog, with good length of leg in contrast to the Peke. The muzzle is usually considerably shorter than the Poodle’s, but should still be at least one-third of the total length of the head to minimise the likelihood of airway disorders. The coat is soft in texture and moderately long if left unclipped, and can be wavy or curled. The most common colour patterns seen in the Peekapoo are:

  • Silver
  • White
  • Cream
  • Apricot
  • Red
  • Chocolate
  • Black

Character & Temperament

The Peekapoo is a gentle and affectionate companion that likes to be with its owner at all times. Energetic and alert, it is always aware of its surroundings and is very quick to investigate and sound the alarm if anything seems out of the ordinary. It is also an extremely loyal dog, very attuned to the mood of its people, and willing to defend them in all situations. It is naturally distrustful of strangers, and does need to be well socialised from puppyhood to prevent it being unduly defensive or sensitive when approached by people outside the family circle.

Although it is playful and active enough to get along with older children, it often has very clear boundaries as to how much poking it will tolerate before snapping, and rarely likes to be left in the company of younger, less considerate children. It will generally get along well with other small pets if raised with them, but smaller Peekapoos (Toy Poodle crosses) are easily injured, and may not be the right choice for homes with other, larger pet dogs.

Trainability

Photo of Peekapoo puppy
Photo thanks to PekepooPark.com

Peekapoos are generally very intelligent, but can be stubborn, which is a throwback to one of the Pekingese’s less desirable traits. Generally speaking, they like to please their owner, and so can be trained to a fairly high standard, but may need incentivising during training sessions with low-calorie treats in addition to the praise and affection required by all dogs. Raised voices or physical correction do not pay off when training these little dogs, who can become resentful or sullen if they feel they are being pushed too hard.

Health

The random nature of cross-breeding means that although most Peekapoos are healthy, some will be born with or develop problems seen in either the Poodle or Pekingese, or both. The more common of these are listed below:

  • Brachycephalic airway syndrome – A combination of anatomic defects that limit airflow. Narrowed nostrils, a shortened muzzle, elongated soft palate, everted laryngeal saccules, and an underdeveloped trachea combine to varying degrees to cause symptoms of respiratory distress with exercise or overheating.
  • Collapsing trachea – A defect in the structure of the main airway, causing it collapse under negative pressure when the dog is breathing rapidly (e.g. during exercise). Distinct from the abnormalities seen in the brachycephalic airway syndrome described above.
  • Dental disease – Those Peekapoos with very fine jaws are particularly prone to tooth overcrowding, periodontal disease, and other dental problems. Daily tooth brushing is essential.
  • Haemolytic anaemia – An autoimmune condition in which red blood cells are attacked and broken down, reducing oxygen-carrying capacity. Depending on the rapidity with which this develops, may cause vague signs of lethargy and increased respiratory rate, or acute signs of collapse or even sudden death.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca – Another autoimmune condition, resulting in decreased tear production in one or both eyes. This manifests as ocular discomfort, crusting, and recurrent infections. If left untreated, can cause severe scarring and damage to the surface of the eye.
  • Patellar luxation – Movement of the kneecap outside its normal position in a groove above the knee joint. Causes intermittent skipping on one or both hindlimbs.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy – Sight loss in adult dogs caused by degeneration of the nerve cells of the eye. A blood test is available to detect carrier status for this inherited disorder and is recommended for all breeding Poodles, in whom this is particularly common.
  • von Willebrand’s disease – Tendency to bleed heavily and controllably due to subnormal platelet function. May go undetected until young dogs are neutered, when sustained postoperative bleeding may occur.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Although this is a very adaptable hybrid, and can adjust to indoor living, most Peekapoos are very active, and will enjoy long walks or even accompanying their owner while jogging. However, those afflicted with brachycephalic airway syndrome will not be capable of such exertion, and may be forced to live more sedentary lives.

Grooming

The light, wavy coat needs daily grooming with a brush or comb, and most Peekapoos need a monthly bath to keep it free of dirt. This home routine can be greatly aided by regular clipping, which may need to be done every six to eight weeks, depending on how quickly the hair grows. Many Peekapoos will develop tear staining with overflow from the eyes creating a dark streak down each side of the face.

This may need to be dried several times a day to prevent the underlying skin from becoming sore, and although the associated discolouration of the hair is purely a cosmetic issue, it may be reversed or prevented by the use of a tear stain removing fluid or wipes. Dental hygiene is particularly important in the Peekapoo, and daily brushing should be performed from puppyhood to establish this as a stress-free and routine procedure.

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