Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Pekalier makes a wonderful companion animal as it combines the sweet and trusting temperament of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the loyalty and dedication of the Pekingese. This is a dog that enjoys adult company and can be somewhat intolerant of little ones poking and prodding it.

Small and with short limbs, the Pekalier would never make it as a catwalk model. While some find their large ‘bug eyes’ endearing, others are not as complimentary. Their soft fur is medium in length and often has a little wave to it. This feature is especially prominent on their long ears, which may be crimped or curled.

About & History

The Pekalier is a recent arrival on the hybrid scene and is thought to have been developed within the United States around 20 to 30 years ago. The ‘designer dog’ movement really took off around this time, with breeders eager to explore new breed combinations in the pursuit of the most desirable pet.

The Pekingese

Pekingese dogs enjoy a much longer history than that of the Pekalier, with roots dating back over two thousand years. They are a Chinese breed that were highly revered by royalty and those high up in the social ranking. Indeed, at one stage it was only royalty that were legally allowed to own them.

Thankfully, laws have now relaxed and they are widely available for all to enjoy! Their name comes from the Peking region, which is of course known as Beijing today. It was not until the 1860s that they were first introduced to Britain and they were recognised by the Kennel Club within their Toy Group in 1910. Though once very popular pets, nowadays, Pekingese are relatively rare.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (or simply the ‘Cavie’) is best known for two things. One of which is their beautiful temperaments, as they are incredibly tolerant of young children and make loving and dedicated pets. Sadly, the other thing they are well-known for is their appalling health record. Cavies are prone to a number of significant, genetic health issues, including syringomyelia and mitral valve disease, two conditions which can dramatically reduce both their quality of life and their lifespan.

Though their ancestors were hunting spaniels, Cavies look quite unlike other Spaniels as over time they were crossed with ‘more fashionable’ breeds, such as the Pug and the Pekingese. This caused them to inherit a snubbed nose, shorter limbs and a reduced ability to exercise and work. It was in 1945 that the Cavalier was officially accepted by the Kennel Club within their Toy Group.


Pekaliers are rather unusual looking thanks to their domed skulls, protruding eyes, shortened muzzles and stumpy limbs. While they are not classically ‘beautiful’ they do possess a certain charm. Their round eyes are a dark brown colour and are their most prominent facial feature. Their short muzzle ends in a dark nose, which is often rather small. Their ears are long and flowing, sitting to the side of their head. Their body is long and close to the ground, supported by stubby legs. Their tail is medium in length and may curl in at the tip.

The Pekalier is a small breed that weighs from 4kg to 8kg and measures between 15cm and 25cm. The coat of the Pekalier is medium in length and can be wavy or slightly curled, with longer fur on the ears, tail and feathering on the back of the limbs. While solid coat colours are seen, most individuals are either cream and white, brown and white or black and white. They can have a variety of attractive markings and may have large spots, patches and stripes of colour.

Character & Temperament

The truth is that the Pekingese and the Cavie have quite different personalities, meaning predicting the temperament of the Pekalier can be quite tricky. While these dogs can be good-natured and relaxed, some may inherit the more dominant traits of the Pekingese. With firm and consistent training, most can be taught to live harmoniously within the family.

It is not generally advised for those with very young children to take on a Pekalier. This is not only because they can be snappy and intolerant but also as they are quite small and delicate, making injuries more likely. Good socialisation from a very young age is the best way to integrate the Pekalier with any household children and other pets.


As long as training starts from puppyhood and all of the family members follow the same rules, the Pekalier is usually quite easy to train. While not particularly known for their intelligence, they are biddable. For most, the more bribing used the better and the best success is achieved when plenty of delicious treats are on offer throughout the training session.

Many owners find toilet-training difficult and can become exasperated, especially as some pups seem to take two step forwards and then one step back during the process. This breed is well-suited to crate training and this will usually speed up the house-training process when done correctly.


There are quite a few health issues that the Pekalier can suffer from and while they are a crossbreed, this does not in itself mean they are guaranteed good health. It is essential that they are bred responsibly and that parent dogs are extensively health tested to ensure they will not be passing on bad genes.

In the designer dog world where dogs are not recognised by Kennel Clubs, it is all too common for breeders to forego all health tests – a risky practice that is likely to cause significant health issues in the future.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

The long back of the Pekalier means it is prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease , or IVDD. For some, their symptoms progress slowly over time while others will develop them abruptly.

Symptoms can include stiffness, wobbly walking, limb dragging and pain. The extent of the injury can be established by performing diagnostic studies, such as CT scans. Significant injuries may require emergency surgery to fix them.

Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral Valve Disease, or MVD, is a condition affecting the heart and its ability to pump blood effectively. A faulty valve results in turbulent blood flow and the development of a heart murmur. X-rays and heart scans can diagnose the condition. From an early stage, heart medication can be given to slow down the progress and reduce associated symptoms.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

Those with a shortened skull can suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, or BOAS for short, and have a hard time breathing. They often have noisy breathing and will snort and snore.

These dogs are less able than their peers to exercise and find it hard to cope in warm and humid weather. For many, surgical procedures, such as shortening their soft palate or widening their nostrils, can benefit them. Affected dogs should be walked with a body harness rather than a neck collar and should be kept as lean as possible.

Kerato-Conjunctivitis Sicca

Kerato-conjunctivitis Sicca, or KCS, is colloquially referred to as ‘dry eye’ and can cause long-term discomfort. This syndrome is generally under-diagnosed as symptoms are subtle and can be hard for owners to pick up on. Due to this, it is sensible to check a dog’s tear production during their annual check-up.

This is a simple, painless check that takes a couple of minutes and can be done with the animal conscious on the vet’s table. Dry eyes can lead to chronic infections and ulcers so need to be treated with medicated drops for the duration of an animal’s life.

Otitis Externa

The fluffy, floppy ears of the Pekalier means that they are especially prone to ear infections and may suffer with them on and off throughout their life. Ear infections cause a considerable amount of pain and affected dogs can be seen rubbing their head on the floor, scratching their ears and vocalising in discomfort. Specific drops can be given with the ear canal to treat the infection.

Exercise and Activity Levels

With moderate exercise requirements, Pekaliers need a couple of short walks each day. They enjoy the opportunity to go on varied walks and appreciate a change of scenery now and then. It’s important that they are never over-exercised when the weather is hot as this can lead to difficulty breathing and even heat stroke and collapse.


Owners should aim to brush their Pekalier’s fur at least three times a week. Importantly, their ears should be checked frequently and cleaned out as needed (typically every one to two weeks). Those that are unsure how to clean their dog’s ears should ask their local veterinary staff for a demonstration.

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