The Chinese Crested is a small, active and elegant breed classified under the toy group. It typically weighs between 4.5 to 5.9 kg and stands at just 23 to 33 cm. This small dog comes in two varieties: Hairless and Powderpuff. Both varieties are born in the same litter. The Hairless variety has a soft skin similar to that of a human with clumps of fur on its paws that form “socks”, a plume on the tail and long hair on the head that forms a crest. However, there are true Hairless Chinese Cresteds that do not have as much hair furnishings on the head, tail, and paws. There are also very hairy Hairless that sports a single coat with hairless parts on the body. The skin of the Hairless variety ranges from pale flesh to black. As a complete opposite, the Powderpuff variety has a long, soft coat and the way it looks depend on how it is groomed. When the hair on the muzzle grows and left untrimmed, it closely resembles a terrier, but most owners prefer to shave the hair around the snout as a standard cut. The ears of the Chinese Crested are large and erect except for the Powderpuff where there are drop ears. The highly set tail is long, straight and tapering, carried up when the dog is in motion, falling naturally when the dog is in repose.
There are some who believe that the origin of the Chinese Crested can be traced to the time of the Han Dynasty in China, when larger versions of the breed were used for hunting. However, it is unlikely that this breed originated in China because recent genetic evidence shows that it shares the same ancestral origin with the Mexican hairless dog, Xoloitzcuintli. It is believed however, that the name might have been adopted because this breed was once used on Chinese ships as a rat hunter. It is also widely believed that the Chinese Crested was bred as a companion to people suffering from intellectual disability.
The Chinese Crested dog is alert, friendly, lively, playful and sweet. It is intensely social and can form a quick bond with its owner and the entire family. Although it can be a great companion to people it is familiar with, it is likely to bite strangers unless it is socialised and trained at an early age to get along well with other people and animals. This breed can tolerate hot weather condition but will suffer when exposed to extremely cold temperatures. It does not tolerate being left alone for long periods of time and may suffer separation anxiety, which leads to excessive barking and/or destructive behaviour. It is typically quiet inside the house when the owner is at home.
Training of the Chinese Crested should begin at an early age, preferably during puppyhood – just like any other dog. Socialisation to different situations and places should also begin early in order to raise a stable breed. This agile little breed is a high jumper, a climber, and a very fast runner. It can be trained and can excel in different dog sports including conformation, obedience, and agility. It is an adaptable breed and can live perfectly in any type of dwellings, including small apartments, condominiums, a small suburban home or a large countryside farmhouse.
There is an ongoing popular opinion that the Hairless variety needs to wear sun block or other lotion to combat the sun’s rays. On the contrary, applying any type of sun block lotion or cream will only cause major problems to the dog’s skin. However, the Chinese Crested needs to be bathed once a week because the coat does not get rid of dirt readily. The body hair on Hairless should be shaved to prevent the onset of skin allergies. It has no purpose regarding insulation but would actually trigger skin problems if left unshaved.
There are inherited diseases that are known to affect the Chinese Crested including dental issues (missing teeth), primary lens luxation, progressive retinal atrophy and dry eyes syndrome. It is also prone to develop canine multiple system degeneration which affects the overall movement of the dog which starts between 10-14 weeks of age. This breed is also prone to patellar luxation, allergy and autoimmune diseases. Care should also be taken when giving the dog vaccination shots, cortisone drugs, and topical medicines. Some Chinese Cresteds are allergic to anti-rabies medicines while others suffer severe reactions from topical flea medications. The average lifespan of the Chinese Crested is 12 – 14 years with some living much longer.
The Chinese Crested was developed to be a companion dog and has almost no craving to go outside and run like other breeds so it is not a good jogging companion nor a good biking escort. Exercise requirement is at a minimum. It will get plenty of its exercise needs even inside the house with a game of fetch or an easy walk around the yard. Mental exercise is also important for this dog. Toys and puzzles designed for canines are must haves.
This sociable breed loves to be with every member of the family including children. However, like most breeds, adults should always supervise when the dog and the children are playing together, especially if it involves small children. This dog hurts easily and may become defensive when startled or stepped on. It will do best to a family with children who know how to handle such a delicate breed.