Pekingese Malachy, winner of Best in Show
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty
02/15/2012 at 02:00 PM EST
A dog that didn't look much like a dog at all, but more like an animatronic dustball, won Westminster's biggest prize, Best in Show
, at Madison Square Garden Tuesday. There's more to this champion toy breed than great hair and wobbly walks – here's what you need to know about the Pekingese.
1. It's an ancient breed that was once believed to be sacred.
The Pekingese gets its name from the former name of China's capital, Beijing, which used to be known as Peking. In ancient China, going back as far as the 800 A.D., Pekingese dogs were so prized that they were only owned by royalty. They made their way to England after the British invaded the Chinese Imperial Palace in 1860.
2. They're small – and they have a Napoleon complex.
Weighing in at less than 14 lbs., the Pekingese is a good option for those seeking a companion animal that can fit in small spaces. But the Pekingese still manages to make itself known through its personality. They can be self-important and opinionated, but they're also smart, affectionate and good-natured, according to the American Kennel Club
3. Their coats make them high-maintenance.
Most pet Pekingese won't look like Tuesday's Westminster champ, Malachy, because the grooming process is too time-consuming. Modern pet owners without time for hourly brushing sessions can keep a close crop instead.
4. Call them couch potatoes – they don't mind.
The Pekingese is a decidedly indoor dog and does not need much activity. They enjoy walks but don't need lots of vigorous exercise to stay stimulated.
5. They wobble for a reason.
The Peke's distinctive gait might be attributed to its breeding in ancient China. Slow movements would have prevented the dogs from wandering too far from the palace grounds.