- The hairless variety of the Chinese Crested has hair on his head — called a crest — from which he takes his name. He also has hair on his tail, giving it a plumed look, and on his feet, from the toes to the hock. The hair on the feet makes it look as if he’s wearing socks.
- The Chinese Crested can be any color or combination of colors.
- The hairless Crested needs protection from temperature extremes. If you’re cold and need a sweater or coat, your Crested does too. On sunny days, he needs a coating of sunscreen so he doesn’t get sunburned.
AKC group: Toy Group
UKC group: Companion Dog
Average lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Coat appearance: Hairless, thin, silky
Other identifiers: Slender-bodied; fine bone structure; smooth or spotted skin; large erect ears
Possible alterations: Non-hairless types are referred to as “Powderpuff” and come from the same litterComparable Breeds: Chihuahua, Pug
Chinese Crested dogs don’t really come from China. They evolved from African or Mexican hairless dogs who were reduced in size by the Chinese.
The Crested is believed to have accompanied Chinese sailors on the high seas as early as 1530, hunting vermin during and between times of plague. By the middle of the 19th century, Cresteds began to appear in numerous European paintings and prints.
Earlier names of the Crested include Chinese Hairless, the Chinese Edible Dog, the Chinese Ship Dog, and the Chinese Royal Hairless.
The Chinese bred the dog for its excellent ratting abilities aboard their ships, and sailors traded them at different ports. Documentation by Europeans of a hairless dog who closely resembled the Chinese Crested appears as early as the 1700s, when European travelers visited Chinese seaports and boarded Chinese trading vessels.
The Chinese apparently viewed the Chinese Crested as having magical healing powers; they also used them as living heating pads. They were kept by Chinese emperors as well as by sailors.
It’s unclear when the breed officially arrived in North America, but the first breed club here was founded in 1974. In China, the breed has become rare.
Chinese Cresteds are expressive dogs who can smile and even hug. Always happy and energetic, this breed loves people and can become quite attached to their primary caregiver. Often called “velcro” dogs, they will physically attach themselves to their favorite person, and will use their paws to hug that person around the neck. This toy breed loves to climb like a cat, and never tires of playing with children, adults, or other animals. Their size, desire to please, and low activity requirements make them a good choice for first time dog owners, and an even better choice for retirees who have lot time to devote to their dog. The Chinese Crested loves to be the center of attention, soaks up affection and does not like to be left alone for long periods of time.
The Crested Dog, which has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years, is prone to minor problems like deafness, patellar luxation, and seizures and major health issues like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), lens luxation, and glaucoma. Occasionally Legg-Perthes is noticed in the breed. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may recommend eye, hearing and knee exams for the dog.
The Hairless Variety is prone to sunburn, wool allergy, blackheads, and tooth loss. It also has thinner enamel and irregular dentition.
As it is a small dog, its exercise requirements can be easily met by vigorous indoor games. Even though the Crested hates cold weather, it enjoys a romp outdoors. The Hairless variety requires a sweater for outings in cold weather. This breed is not suited for outdoor living. The Chinese Crested is a talented jumper and some can climb.
Coat care for the Powderpuff involves brushing every day or on alternate days. In Puffs, the muzzle requires shaving once every two weeks. Stray hair on the Hairless type should be removed. The Hairless requires regular skin care like applying sunblock, moisturizer, or bathing to prevent blackheads.
Good for apartment life. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard. They should wear a sweater in cold weather.
Like all toy breeds, the Chinese Crested has a willful streak, but is generally a breed who loves to please people. Training requires lots of positive reinforcement and treats – harsh treatment will cause them to develop avoidance behaviors. Many Cresteds can be taught tricks and enjoy the attention that comes with being a showman.
This tiny breed can live easily in apartments or condominiums, and require one or two walks per day and the opportunity to run once in a while. Chinese Cresteds have a lot of energy, and even though they are typically not destructive, keeping them calm requires daily exercise. Toy breeds are prone to obesity, as people tend to overfeed and under exercise them. Make no mistake, these dogs are not cats and do require a commitment to daily walking to keep them healthy. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display a wide array of behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off-lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard. Don’t think that just because he is small he should be confined to a small space.
The hair on the Chinese Crested is soft and silky. The hairless variety has soft, smooth skin, with hair on the ears and face, the top of the head and down the neck, the feet and the tail. The Powderpuff is born with hair. He has a short, silky undercoat topped with long, thin guard hairs.
Just because the Crested is hairless doesn’t mean there’s no grooming involved. Both the hairless and the Powderpuff have special grooming needs. Just as you wash your face and body daily, you must also clean the Crested with a mild cleanser and moisturize his skin with a gentle lotion or coat oil to keep it from drying out.
The hairless Crested can experience problems with his skin, from dry skin to sunburn to acne. Apply sunscreen to his skin before he goes outdoors. Use a dog-safe brand recommended by your veterinarian in case he tries to lick it off.
The silky Powderpuff coat should be brushed or combed daily. Give him a bath every few of weeks using a mild shampoo made for dogs.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Brush the teeth for good overall health and fresh breath.
Children And Other Pets
Sweet, gentle children are adored by Chinese Crested. Children need to be old enough to understand that they must be careful with these small dogs.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Cresteds love other pets and are playful with them.
Is this breed right for you?
If you’re looking for a best buddy that’s always by your side, this is the breed for you. Recommended for all environments, this breed requires little exercise and does well with apartment living. Due to their affectionate nature, Chinese Cresteds excel with a wide range of owners from young pet lovers to seniors looking for companionship. If the Hairless variety proves to be too risqué for your liking, the Powderpuff variety provides the same loving disposition and is an equally dander-free option for allergy sufferers. Owners of the Hairless Chinese Crested must be willing to dedicate proper care to this breed’s delicate skin, as exposure to the elements can make them prone to sunburn as well as skin allergies.
Did You Know?
Both varieties of the Chinese Crested can be born in the same litter.
In popular culture
One famous Chinese crested dog was the hairless purebred named Sam. He was the winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest from 2003 to 2005; he died before he could compete in 2006. Other Chinese cresteds, either purebreds or mixes, have finished high in the event as well.Some Chinese crested dog have also appeared as a characters in movies and TV shows such as,
- Peek from Cats & Dogs and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
- Fluffy from 102 Dalmatians
- Romeo from Hotel for Dogs
- Giuseppe from Marmaduke
- Halston from Ugly Betty
- Reinaldo from New York Minute
- Krull the Warrior King from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
- Lackey from Good Boy!
- Bobby from The Young and the Restless
A dream day in the life of a Chinese Crested
A cozy day spent curled up in blankets is what this breed’s dreams are made of. For fun in the sun, the Chinese Crested will enjoy and appreciate a thick layer of sunscreen to protect its sensitive coat and on cool winter days, he’ll gladly wear any sweater you’ve picked out for him. It doesn’t take much to make this pup happy: just a warm lap, a comfortable household and lots of love will keep this breed smiling.