Chinese Crested

Breed At A Glance


Sweet, playful and cuddly

Life Expectancy
10-12 years

Average Height
12 inches

Average Weight
Under 10 lbs

Coat Color

Coat Length/Texture
Two varieties: hairless, with tufts of hair on the head, paws and tail; and “powderpuff” with hair all over it’s body

Shedding Propensity
Little or not at all (both varieties)

Also known as Crested, Puff

General Temperament

The Chinese Crested is a happy and loving breed, a gentle family companion. Their loyalty and desire for affection are unending. Playful and cuddly, they enjoy basking in attention from their owners and make excellent lap dogs. Cresteds have even been known to smile when they are happy. They are patient and love children, although kids should be taught to be careful with the breed as the hairless variety does not have the protective outer layer of fur and are therefore more prone to injury.

Some Chinese Crested owners have a tendency to baby their dogs, which unfortunately can result in shyness or timidness. In order to avoid this, be sure to expose the breed to loud noises and a variety of strangers and other dogs during puppyhood. With proper socialization, the Chinese Crested can be a well-adjusted dog with a happy disposition and an entertaining personality.

This breed is easily trained as long as the training is gentle, yet firm. Chinese Cresteds want to please their owners and can be sensitive to harsh tones. But with consistency and patient training, they can excel in obedience sports, and can even enjoy performing tricks.

Chinese Cresteds are well-suited for apartment life, as they are relatively active indoors and do not require a yard. If the breed is exposed to cold temperatures or climates, they will likely benefit from wearing a sweater.

Breed History

The Chinese Crested was actually developed from the African Hairless Terrier. It is believed that Chinese ships stopped in ports along the coast of Africa, picking up specimens of the dog along the way as they were excellent at controlling the rat population on the ship. These ships allowed for the dispersion of the breed, and the name was changed to “Chinese Crested.” By the 16th century, these dogs could be found in ports around the world, including Central and South America and Asia. Chinese Cresteds are also depicted in European art and architecture from the 1800’s. Although most Cresteds are of the hairless variety, a powderpuff (an individual with full, flowing fur all over it’s body) can be born into the same litter, regardless of the parentage. (See “Medical and Maintenance Issues” below.)

The Chinese Crested was accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1991.

Body Structure and Composition

The Chinese Crested is a fine-boned and elegant breed with a lively gait. The most distinctive feature, at least of the most popular variety, is it’s hairless body with extensive feathering on the forehead, ears, lower legs and tail. The large ears are held erect at the corners of the skull, and the tapering muzzle is lean and taut. Full dentition is often absent in the hairless variety, although the powderpuff version usually possesses a full set of teeth. The dog is slightly longer than it is tall and has a deep chest. The medium-long tail is carried gaily when the dog is in motion, sometimes curling up slightly over the back.

Medical Information

The Chinese Crested is a suprisingly healthy member of the toy group, although all Chinese Cresteds (both hairless and powderpuff) are prone to Patellar Luxation. This condition occurs when the kneelike joint above the hock slips out of place and may require surgery. They have also been known to experience Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a degenerative eye disease that leads to blindness.

The skin of a hairless Chinese Crested requires significant attention to prevent allergies, infections or injuries. Without an outer layer of fur they are also prone to both sunburn and frostbite if not properly protected. Be sure to use sunblock with a significant SPF factor if the hairless is to be outdoors for extended periods, or give the dog a sweater to wear if they will be exposed to cold temperatures.

The powderpuff variety cannot be bred out of Chinese Crested lines, because the allele for this trait is carried by all Chinese Cresteds. In order to become a full-furred version of the Crested, a pup must receive the recessive powderpuff gene from both parents. So, a powderpuff puppy can be born into a litter full of hairless ones. As long as an embryo receives one dominant hairless gene from one parent and one recessive powderpuff gene from the other, it will form into a hairless pup. But if it receives two dominant hairless genes, it will not even form into a fetus.

The coat of the Powderpuff Chinese Crested requires extensive grooming, but the hairless variety does not shed and has virtually no odor. Be careful not to overfeed this breed, as even those without a full set of teeth can be big eaters and are prone to obesity.

Anecdotal Information

Legendary burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee became a champion and breeder of the Chinese Crested after having received one from her sister.

The Chinese Crested’s distinctive appearance has provided it with numerous film and television roles. The breed has been featured in recent films including How to Lose a Guy in Ten DaysNew York MinuteCats and DogsUnderdog, and 102 Dalmatians.

More Chinese Cresteds (either pure breeds or mixes) have won the top spot in the “World’s Ugliest Dog” Competition than any other breed.

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