FIRST AIRED: February 23, 2018

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00:00:01
>> For centuries these dogs were Chinese royalty's companion of choice. But those days are long gone. And in the year of the dog, the Pekingese is a rare sight in China. When the Ch'ing Dynasty ended more than hundred years ago, the imperial canine was no longer out of reach for commoners.
00:00:17
The dog was immediately popular both in China and in the West as an exotic luxury. But by the 1990s, Pekingese puppies were far more often found as strays in the alleys of Beijing, the city they were named after. Reuters' Joseph Campbell explains the breed's fall from grace.>> At one time, although there were hoards of stray Pekingese on Chinese streets, the communist government really didn't encourage pet ownership because they believed it to be a bourgeois associated activity.
00:00:46
So the pet boom really didn't take off until quite recently. Of course, this was middle class driven when pet owners, who have money in their pockets, are given the option of buying a sub par breed back home or a more exotic animal, such as poodles and Corgis. They probably would go for the latter.
00:01:04
>> While a locally bred Pekingese can cost about $400, a foreign one can go for more than 15,000. Chinese pet owners opt for the overseas version for its supposed purity. Due to years of inbreeding, local Pekingese have gained a bad reputation as unintelligent animals with numerous health issues.
00:01:23
Still, some breeders continue to raise them, at least as a hobby, hoping someday they'll rise in popularity again, and reclaim their imperial dignity.