Despite its name, the Chinese Crested breed probably originated in Africa, not China. However, in was likely brought to China and then bred to be smaller for use as a rodent hunter on Chinese ships. Later on, the breed was brought to South America. The “crested” portion of the name comes from the breed’s crested hairdo, found on the hairless version of the breed. The other version, known as Powderpuff, has a full coat of long, silky hair. Because the Powderpuff gene is recessive, two hairless Chinese Crested parents can produce a litter with some Powderpuff puppies. All hairless Chinese Crested dogs carry the recessive Powderpuff gene because those individuals that are homozygous for the hairless gene die before birth.
Characteristics of the Chinese Crested
Let’s take a look at the typical appearance and personality of the Chinese Crested breed.
The Chinese Crested dog is part of the Toy dog group, meaning that it is very small. Individuals can range from 9 to 13 inches tall, with males at the taller end of the spectrum. Most Chinese Crested dogs weigh between 8 and 12 pounds. There are two types of “build” for the breed- Deer type and Cobby type. The Deer type individuals appear thinner and leaner, whereas Cobby type individuals appear bulkier and more heavily muscled. Those that are Cobby type will be closer to 12 pounds in weight. Most Chinese crested individuals are hairless, except for the crested hairdo on their heads and fur on their socks and tail, which is a good thing for owners desiring a dog that sheds very little. The exposed skin of the hairless Chinese Crested is usually a mixture of pink, black, and grey spots, and the fur can be any color combination.
Known for its sweet and frolicsome temperament, the Chinese Crested is an extremely affectionate breed that is also an alert and lively companion. Chinese Crested dogs are very intelligent and, despite their small size, can make good watchdogs. They are playful, entertaining, and outgoing, making for excellent family pets and therapy dogs. This breed will love to play toys with you and other family members outside or inside because they love socialization and attention. They are also great for cat owners, as the Chinese Crested is not aggressive toward other animals, unless they become jealous.
During play they are tough, competitive, hyperactive, and tireless, but care should be taken when playing with small children, as the Chinese Crested is extremely sensitive and may get jealous of any attention given to children or other dogs. This breed can live for a very long time, between 13 and 18 years. Nicknamed the “Velcro Dog” because they will stick to your side like Velcro, they do suffer from extreme separation anxiety, and will follow your every step. However, the Chinese Crested do make for great travel companions because they are just happy to be with you no matter where you are headed, and are generally fine in small crates, so long as they can see where you are at all times to avoid separation anxiety.
Caring for the Chinese Crested
The Chinese Crested makes a great companion, and it’s important to take care of your companion properly so that he can live a long and happy life.
You will want to feed your Chinese Crested the proper amount of high-quality dog food, preferably a dog food that is made specifically for toy dogs. Your dog’s nutritional needs will also change over the course of his lifespan, so it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s weight to avoid overfeeding and obesity. You should also not feed your Chinese Crested with human table scraps, as this can cause obesity. It should be noted that your dog will likely need increased food rations in the winter months to stay warm.
Your Chinese Crested doesn’t have laborious exercise needs but will require short walks and active play sessions in the home or in the backyard on a daily basis, and preferably more than once per day if possible. The Chinese Crested does not require extensive physical activity, but just enough to get his blood pumping on a daily basis. Because hairless Chinese Crested dogs have a significant amount of exposed skin, it is extremely important to ensure that either sunscreen or protective clothing will protect your pet’s skin when playing outdoors, especially on hot, sunny days.
As far as training goes, owners of the Chinese Crested will likely have an easy time. Chinese Crested dogs like to show off and thus are easy to train and make great therapy dogs. However, while the Chinese Crested excels at obedience training, he will likely have difficulty with house training. Chinese Crested dogs are extremely sensitive, and therefore harsh words can irreparably damage the dog-human relationship. When training, use positive reinforcement to show your pet he has done something right, rather than scolding him harshly when he does something wrong. Additionally, potty pads should not be used with this breed because they will only confuse your dog when it comes to house training. It is also important to train your pet not to bark at everything, as Chinese Crested dogs are known for their incessant barking.
The hairless version of the Chinese Crested is particularly prone to skin irritations, allergies, and sunburn, as you can imagine. Special dog sunscreens and skin medications can help relieve these skin problems. Cream will need to be applied to your pet’s exposed skin every three weeks following a bath. Because of skin concerns, Chinese Crested should never be kenneled outdoors or left outdoors for extended periods of time. For the Powderpuff version of the Chinese Crested, their coat will need to be brushed daily because it is prone to matting, due to the unusual fact that their undercoat is shorter than their long overlay. This does, however, make their coat quite easy to brush.
Chinese Crested dogs are also prone to progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, primary lens luxation, epilepsy and muscle spasms, and patellar luxations (the dislocation of the patella bone in the knee). Because of the myriad of possible health concerns for your Chinese Crested, it is imperative that your companion is taken to the vet for a checkup very frequently.