- AKC recognized in 1991
- Lifespan: 13 – 18 years
- Size: Small
- Energy level: Medium
- Recommended Crate Size: 24” dog crate*
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Table of Contents
Meet the Chinese Crested. This dog has cat-like qualities, sports a very interesting poofy hair-do, and is even available in the color pink, but don’t let him fool you. He’s far from a foo-foo, sissy. This guy is an avid athlete in disguise. Oh, and...he’s not from China at all.
Full of surprises, the hairless Chinese Crested can be found with or without hair. And, speaking of the hare, their feet are unique from any other dog breed because they are elongated and hare-like. If you are looking for an eccentric dog who will make an excellent loving companion and family dog, read on to find out if this friendly dog with the fashion-backward 80’s hair-do might do the trick. By the way, he does plenty of those too!
The Chinese Crested comes in your choice of two types: with or without hair. Powderpuff is the name for the version with hair. Hairless variety is...without. A single litter can produce both hairy and hairless Cresteds.
With all the unusual facts and features about the Chinese Crested dog, you wouldn’t expect him to have a cut-and-dry history. Everything about him is a bit on the odd side and his background is no exception.
It is believed that the Chinese Crested has roots in Africa (well...of course!). He most likely got his name because he was wildly popular among Chinese sailors in the 13th century. Originally bred to be a ratter, this dog kept ships clear of rodents which, at that time, were responsible for carrying the Black Plague and had the capability to wipe out the population on a ship with the deadly disease.
The excellent ratting skills of the Crested earned him much love and respect. Being hairless, the dogs didn’t spread Black Plague like other breeds sometimes did. The sailors felt they owed their very lives to the amazing Crested dog and in fact, they probably did.
As the theory of the Chinese Crested goes, they were most likely traded with local merchants at port cities. Proof of dogs closely resembling the breed has been found, dating back to the early 1500s in Mexico. They share a lot in common with the Mexican Hairless.
Evidence also supports them being in South and Central America. France, Portugal, Britain, Africa, and Asia in the 1700s and 1800s. They may have been called the African Hairless at one time.
What is for sure as that by the mid-19th century, the CC was featured in a number of European paintings. Photographs reveal that in the 1850s and 1860s, they were shown at an English exhibition.
Referred to as “naked dogs” European explorers and travelers thought Chinese Cresteds to be “curious”. They considered them novelties. They were also said to be “Fever Dogs” because supposedly, just the touch of their skin miraculously healed people from fever.
This toy breed made his way to the United States in the late 1800s. A New York reporter, Ida Garrett, fell in love with them and wrote about them quite frequently.
It was during this time that Garrett met up with another CC fan, Debora Wood. Together, they became very diligent in recording and documenting the breed. With helpful information and records from Garrett, Wood created the Crest Haven kennel where she bred Chinese Cresteds and recorded their lineages as well.
Wood wasn’t the only one who took on such a mission for the breed. Gypsy Rose Lee, the world-renown burlesque dancer, also bred CCs. When she passed away, the remainder of her dogs were placed into Crest Haven, making two distinct lines from which this breed was firmly planted. It is said that every CC in existence today stems back to those two lines.
Wood was also the founder of the American Hairless Dog Club which she started in 1959. It later became the American Chinese Crested Club in 1978. Finally, thirteen years later in 1991, the CC was formally recognized into the American Kennel Club. He is a proud member of the Australian National kennel Council, The Kennel Club, and the Federation Cynologique Internationale as well.
The CC is recognized for his service in helping the intellectually impaired. He is a smart, quick and agile dog who excels athletically. Perhaps the thing this unique dog does best though is being a loving and loyal trusted companion to his beloved family.
Unusual! Maybe even odd! That seems to sum up the appearance of this breed. There are so many unique features about the dog, one seems to find his quirky physical attributes either appealing or appalling. There is little middle ground.
Small, yet sturdy, the CC typically weighs in between 10 and 13 pounds. He stands in the neighborhood of 9 to 13 inches tall with females being on the smaller and shorter side.
The head of the CC is round with a slightly pronounced stop. His muzzle is somewhat long and his eyes are dark and set apart widely. His shoulders are proud and well-laid-back while is back is straight. His ears are humorously erect and come with or without the fringe of hair. His feet have a tuft of hair on them.
There are two kinds of Chinese Cresteds - Hairless (HL) and Powderpuff (PP). While they each have their own individual look, they are classified as the same breed. The HL does have hair, or fuzz, but not on the bulk of his body and what he does have can vary greatly. He is likely to have some fur on his muzzle that looks like a beard and some atop his head too, although not as much as its counterpart will sport.
Both have hair on their paws and on their tails but the PP tends to have more of it. What hair the HL does have is single coated where the Powderpuff variety has a long, soft, double coat of thick hair. The skin on the HL comes in an array of colors ranging from a fleshy pale shade to black.
The Powder’s appearance can vary due to the manner in which he is groomed. He can have a full beard which makes him look a lot like a Terrier, or, he can be shaved around the snout and have more of a standard cut. The PCC tends to have a more regal look about him with large erect ears and his silky long hair.
The looks of an HL, however, seems to be more along the lines of an acquired taste, appreciated by a select group. They often are missing some of the premolar teeth which is considered the norm for them. True HL dog breeds have little to no hair but there are Hairy Hairlesses (not a typo!) who are ironically capable of growing an almost full coat of hair.
You might say it’s been a hairy ride for the HL. He’s had a rough go of it. On top of him being stark naked with the exception of a couple of tufts of hair on his feet, tail, and head, he’s been called a freak by some and has suffered through cruelty with irresponsible, greedy breeders who are intent on making a profit off him regardless of anything.
Nothing about these lap dogs is traditional, not even the wide variety of their odd looks. That is just one of the many things CC lovers find so fascinating about them. But wait...there’s more!
It is recommended to provide feed this small dog food that is specially formulated to smaller breeds. In addition, it is highly recommended to discuss your dog’s feeding regime with your veterinarian and/or breeder in order to determine the size and frequency of meals in order to ensure the best chance at a healthy, long life.
This medium energy dog can certainly burn off the calories but, since he’s given to like to lounge around rather than exert his energy, he can become obese. For this reason, you’ll want to limit his treats and make sure he fills up on high-quality, nutritious food and also see to it that he exercises daily. Obesity in canines is equally as dangerous as it is in humans. He will be susceptible to Diabetes, heart disease, thyroid problems, and a number of other medical conditions if he is allowed to become overweight.
You’ll want to pay attention when you feed him anything new because this breed is susceptible to food allergies.
As with any and all animals, it is also important to ensure that clean, fresh water is always available. This breed tends to not drink a lot but you will want to be sure he is hydrated. If you are concerned about that, gently press your finger into his skin and make sure it comes back into form relatively quickly. If not, coax him to drink or, if he still won’t, speak with his veterinarian about the situation.
The specific grooming needs of the Chinese Crested depend upon which type you have. The HL will, of course, need little to no fussing over his hair because, well, he really doesn’t have any. You might run a brush through his little tufts from time to time though to keep them nice and shiny.
Skin care is where the HL can become a bit high maintenance. You’ll want to bathe him rather frequently (once or twice a week) with a hypoallergenic dog shampoo for sensitive skin. He is prone to skin irritations, acne, dry skin, and blackheads. The combination of his skin woes make him a challenge to keep in good shape. After his bath, moisturize him with a non-perfumed, dog-friendly, hypo-allergenic dog skin conditioner. Extra care will need to be taken in the sunny months to keep his skin from sun burning. Many owners use sun screen on their HLs.
The PP requires a little more care in the grooming department although they don’t need to be bathed as often. A bath every two or three weeks is usually sufficient. But, he will need his hair brushed every day or two so it doesn’t mat or tangle. Although his hair is long, it doesn’t grow on a continual basis like most other dogs’ hair does so it doesn’t have to be trimmed often but most pet parents do get their Powders’ hair trimmed occasionally. Others, however, chose not to at all. A good compromise is keeping his hair in a “Pony Cut” which is low maintenance where the facial and body hair is kept short but the tail plume and crest feathers are allowed to be at their full length.
In addition to grooming of their coat and skin, CCs need dental care, especially the HL as he is apt to get dental and gum diseases. You’ll want to brush either type’s teeth at least once per week (preferably twice) with a good doggie toothpaste and toothbrush. They are prone to bad breath so this routine will help prevent all day morning breath too.
It would be unusual for a Crested to be outdoors long enough to keep his toenails worn down naturally so you’ll want to trim them as needed. Watch for chips, cracks, and splits and tend to them immediately.
The CC’s ears are erect which means they easily get dirt and debris in them. Keep them clean and dry and watch for any signs of ear infections.
The Chinese Crested does not require a lot of exercise since they typically do not like outdoor activities. That being said, they will still love (and benefit from) having a daily walk with you. They are medium energy so a brisk 30 minute walk each day is usually adequate. If you have a HL, you’ll want to time your walks where he’s not exposed to extreme cold or to the sun much. Protective doggie fashion attire is perfect for both the HL and the PP.
In between walks, you can engage in activities with your CC, even indoors. Toss the ball to him or a toy and teach him to bring it back. He also loves Hide-and-Go-Seek and is smart enough to find you.
Brain exercises are imperative for this breed because they’re intelligent and can easily become bored. A search for books or websites with brain games will usually turn up plenty. You can even get the best of both types of exercise, physical and mental, when you incorporate the two together. This dog will shock you with his smarts and his athletic skills and will eat it up when you praise his efforts.
Pet Crates Direct recommends 24” dog crates for most adult Chinese Crested dogs.
There are a number of cat-like characteristics this breed has. He loves to perch on window sills and can be quite lazy too. A tad on the needy side, he’s likely to follow you from room to room. He’s not given to like to be alone.
This guy is a merry little clown too. He’ll readily entertain all who are willing to watch. Many families find themselves spending evenings doing nothing but enjoying this dog’s endless entertainment performances.
The CC makes the perfect family member. He’s gentle and loving, never aggressive, with children or other pets. He’s not a barker either except to let you know someone is at the door or if he hears a noise outdoors. If not socialized, however, he can be timid and reserved, especially around strangers. Even at best, he’s not overly social.
While this breed is not overly independent or stubborn, he can be if he feels the situation is warranted. Usually, it’s out of self-defense, protecting himself from being emotionally hurt or heaven forbid, left when his beloved pet parent leaves without him.
He tends to show his naughty side by shredding sofas, chewing slippers, or indirect acts of bad behavior rather than doing anything outright in the open which could get him in trouble. He does not like to be in trouble. He is far too much of a people pleaser for that.
Another cat characteristic he possesses is that he is likely to bond closely to one or two of the family members. He’ll do fine with any others be will tend to be especially close to a single few. Those he does bond to though, he’ll want to be with every single minute of every single day.
This dog must be an inside dog. He can, of course, go out with you or a trusted family member but he’ll need to come back in, especially at night. The HL varieties can get cold very easily or, in the summer months, tend to sunburn. The PPs fare better but are sensitive to heat and cold all the same just to a lesser extent. Even though the HL is sun sensitive, many like indirect heat and can be quite warm and toasty and still not require much water, much to the chagrin of their worried pet parents.
Be aware that the CC can jump very high. He can usually climb or jump a backyard fence so keep a close eye on him or get a very tall fence. This is certainly not a dog you want to lose.
All in all, the CC is a wonderful dog, personality-wise. He loves deeply and wears his heart on his paw. He thrives with a family who understands his individual needs and is willing to provide those things for him.
Chinese Crested dogs aren’t difficult to train if you approach them correctly. They are extremely bright and eager to please so those are two things in your favor right off. One thing you don’t want to do is talk to them in a negative or harsh tone of voice or scold them in the least. Hurt feelings make for poor students in this case. They will be too nervous to even try anything new.
As with any dog, really, you’ll want to establish yourself as the pack leader, the parent. It doesn’t take much to do so with a Chinese Crested as they are mild-mannered and don’t tend to be rebellious or overly independent. Plenty of pats and praise and occasional yummy treats should get the job done.
Do keep treats to a minimum though. Often times this breed leans to the lazy side and doesn’t burn all the calories off that he should be so to avoid him becoming obese or overweight, in between meal snacking should be monitored. In addition, if you always give him a treat for a job well done when he is in training, it is he rather than you, who is ultimately in charge. Think about it...
Housebreaking the CC is fairly easy. The biggest challenge will probably be his going outside. If it’s too hot or too cold, he’ll not want to be out long enough to do his business. Creating an optional potty spot like a puppy potty pad or kitty litter box is helpful.
Crate training the Chinese Crested is a wise idea. And, it’s actually kind, not mean, if you are worried about that. Dogs are den animals and most of them feel very secure in a crate. Because this breed suffers from extreme separation anxiety, if you do have to be away for a while, it’s best for his safety if you crate him. Crate training comes in handy for other situations too, like housebreaking.
Obedience training is imperative. Since the Crested is small and also a bit bare of hair, he has the potential to get hurt. He will need to be responsive when you tell him to sit, stay, come, etc. He is smart enough to take lessons much further than there but learning at least the basics is not optional, it’s a must.
Trick training is a barrel of fun with this comedian. He can dance, play dead, and may even create some of his own original tricks to perform for you. Yup, even his tricks are unique. He can walk up ladders, walk on his hind legs, jump through hoops or over objects, and many other interesting tricks. When your CC is on the same page as you, the sky is the limit.
One way to assure your dog will be on the same page is to train him in areas of his interest. This breed loves to dig. Why not have him learn to dig for toys in a designated spot of the yard? Be sure to train him not to dig in the rest of the yard or garden too though.
Brain training is good for the CC. He is intelligent and is excellent with solving problems, much to do with his ratting background, most likely. He really gets into hunting for toys or chasing them so make it a brain experience by challenging him to figure things out like where they are. You can also teach him the names of his toys and he will probably learn them all in just a day or so. Yes...he’s that smart!
Agility is a skill that comes naturally to this breed. He’s very fast and able to do amazing athletic feats. But, getting him to want to might be your biggest problem. It’s best not to push him but if he enjoys jumping through some hoops or sprinting to the finish line, by all means, encourage him to do so.
This breed usually enjoys a healthy life expectancy of around 13 to 18 years. Their sketchy breeding history does leave them open to be apt to acquire some hereditary and non-hereditary medical conditions though.
Making sure you get your dog from a responsible breeder with an impeccable reputation will help ensure your pup has the best chance at a healthy, happy life. Taking immediate action if you notice anything suspicious medically will also help. Here are some conditions to watch for:
Skin allergies are common in Cresteds. They tend to have an overreaction from their immune system to allergens which are substances that have the capability of causing a reaction of some form.
You may notice that laundry soap residue in his bedding irritates his skin, or that grass breaks him out, or he may even be sensitive to the wind and his skin might get chapped and bumpy from it. His veterinarian can recommend or prescribe an ointment or another measure of treatment so be sure to mention it at his visit to the clinic.
Other skin ailments are widespread with the CC too like parasites, bacteria issues, fungus, food allergies that cause skin conditions, and sun and wind burns. His vet will be able to help with ointments or creams most likely.
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is a degeneration of the hip joint which is called the coxofemoral. It entails the degeneration of the femur bone head that’s in the hind leg. The blood supply isn’t adequate and therefore the head of the femur bone begins to die off, causing malfunction and pain.
The cause of the condition is not known but it is known that it is a hereditary disease which is most common in small breed dogs. It generally surfaces when pups are five to eight months old. Lameness, pain when moving the joint, carrying the affected limb or limbs, and wasting away of thigh muscles are some of the symptoms to watch for. And of course, a trip to the vet clinic is in order if you note any of the signs.
Patellar Luxation is the same thing as “slipped knee cap”. It is present when the patella is not properly placed inside the joint and can come loose and slip out. It is a painful and debilitating problem which can hinder or prevent your dog from being able to walk sometimes or even all the time. Be sure to have him checked if you see he is having problems in this area.
Dental and gum issues plague this breed. Regularly brushing his teeth can help prevent both dental and gum problems but may not entirely. Routine dental check-ups are highly recommended. If your dog has any such problem, his vet will make a recommendation as to the treatment thereof.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is also a health problem to watch out for, in which their eye health deteriorates.
There is no indication that this dog breed will get any of the above health conditions. They are simply listed because they are not uncommon to the breed as so you can keep a watchful eye out for any signs your CC might have any of them. In general, despite his sordid breeding past, he’s a fairly healthy dog.
Is the Chinese Crested the Right Dog for Me?
So after finding all about the quirky and curious attributes of the Chinese Crested, you are still sure that he is the perfectly unique doggie soul mate you’ve been looking for. If that is true, there are still some things you really need to examine your heart about.
Are you willing and able to accommodate all the special needs this dog has? While the HL requires more attention for his bare and sensitive skin, the Powderpuff has needs all his own with the hair he does have. This type of dog cannot be put in the backyard to fend for himself and neither would he tolerate it anyway. He must be inside most of the time.
Can you handle a dog that will cling to you and follow you around the house like a shadow? If not, scratch this one out. He’s got to be with you all the time...and must even accompany you to the restroom.
Do you have small children or other animals in the household? If so, this dog is a bit fragile so you’ll want to make sure he’s not going to get hurt. Doubtfully will he be the threat though.
Are you fond of cats? The Chinese Crested is somewhat like a cat in some of his mannerisms. He is likely to lounge on the back of the sofa or on the window sill. If you don’t care for cats, this dog might be just a little too cat-like for you.
Can you use a little cheering up sometimes? The CC is given to perform for his family and is an upbeat personality, sure to bring a smile.
If you do, indeed, believe that this one-of-a-kind loving soul is the dog for you, you are in for a real treat. Hair or no hair, for some, this breed can’t be beaten.
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