You won’t mistake this breed for any other. Named for the long, silky fur that grows on top of their head around their ears, or their crest, the Chinese Crested, or just Crested for short is a truly unique-looking breed. Cresteds come in two varieties, the Hairless and the Powderpuff. Hairless Cresteds only have hair on the crest, feet, and tail. Powderpuffs are genetically recessive and have fur all over their bodies.
Bred in China, these dogs made a name for themselves when they were brought aboard Chinese trading vessels to catch the vermin populating the ships. This gave them the name “Chinese Ship Dog.” Though perhaps less dignified, the Crested has also been called the Dr. Seuss Dog in reference to their unique physical characteristics which make them seem like they could have come out of one of the beloved children’s author’s books.
No matter which variation you end up with, when you adopt a Chinese Crested you are adopting a one-of-a-kind dog, not just for their looks, but their personalities too!
- Two variants: the Hairless and the Powderpuff
- Very social dogs who bond closely with their owners
- Cresteds are believed to be descended from African hairless dogs
- Cresteds may have lived aboard Chinese ships to hunt down potential plague-carrying rats
The Chinese Crested, like many breeds coming from China, has a long, foggy history. They originated such a long time ago, it’s not exactly clear when this breed first came to fruition. Chinese Crested enthusiasts theorize that Cresteds are descendants of hairless dogs in Africa, which the Chinese bred down in size.
We do know that Cresteds were commonly found aboard Chinese merchant ships. Sailors used them to hunt down vermin on the ship that could be potentially carrying the plague. Their lives at sea meant that the Crested visited all corners of the world. In fact, when Europeans began exploring the world during the Age of Discovery, they found local variants of the Chinese Crested in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
The Chinese Crested made its way to America in the 1880s. This was thanks to journalist Ida Garrett and a breeder named Debra Woods. Passionate about the breed, Garrett wrote about the Crested while Woods bred the Chinese Crested. In 1991, the Chinese Crested entered the AKC’s studbook.
Appearance and Vital Stats
You’ll never find another dog like the Chinese Crested. These are small dogs with unique fur placement. The Hairless variety is known for its spotted skin paired with the tufts of fur on top of his head, tail, and feet. The Powderpuff is covered head to toe in flowing, silky fur.
Dog Breed Group
Although the Crested made a name for itself as a ratting dog, they are part of the Toy dog breed group rather than the working group. Toy dogs are lively, social dogs bred for companionship. They are very adaptable dogs and are particularly loved by apartment-dwellers. The Crested is no exception to this rule.
As toy dogs, the Chinese Crested is very small. These dogs weigh somewhere between 8 to 12 pounds and stand between 11 to 13 inches tall.
Like most small breeds, the Chinese Crested enjoys a relatively long life span. Your healthy Chinese Crested can expect to live between 13 to 18 years.
Coat and Colors
One of the most unique things about this breed is its coat. Or, in the Hairless variety’s case, their lack thereof.
The Hairless Crested has fur on the top of his head, his “crest,” fur on his feet which are called his “socks” and fur on his tail, or his “plume.” The fur in these areas will be soft and silky and can be any length.
The Powderpuff variety, the rarer of the two, is covered in fur. This variation has a double coat, with long hair covering and protecting a soft, silky undercoat. They do not shed frequently.
You’ll find Cresteds in a variety of colors. Any color or combination of colors is considered acceptable by AKC standards.
The Crested has a long tail that reaches his hocks. The tail will be slender and will taper to a curve. On the Hairless variety, the end of the tail will have long, silky fur, or a “plume.” The Powderpuff’s tail will be completely covered in fur.
The Chinese Crested has large ears in comparison with the rest of its body. The dog’s ears stand erect and straight, instead of flopping over.
If you’re looking for a breed that’s as loyal as a Golden Retriever but tiny enough to pick up effortlessly, the Chinese Crested is for you. These dogs are known for forming tight bonds with their owners, and you might find that your Chinese Crested is somehow always underfoot. These are social little dogs who need to be around people, and won’t do well if left alone for long periods.
While Chinese Cresteds bond very closely with their owners, they tend to be extremely wary of strangers. Cresteds tend to become reactive, so you’ll need to make sure to put in the time to train and socialize him properly.
When it comes to training, you might find that the Crested can be very stubborn. They are very smart dogs, and this can make them headstrong and willful. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are your best friends when it comes to training.
Chinese Cresteds won’t be playful right off the bat, but once they warm up to you they’ll be more than happy to spend a few minutes playing with you. Although it can take some time, once a Crested trusts you, he’s your best friend for life!
Like most toy breeds, the Chinese Crested is an amazing breed for apartment living. These are highly adaptable dogs and will do well in any space.
The Chinese Crested is also not an especially yappy dog. That said, they won’t hesitate to bark at people entering your home. Still, you can train your dog to greet people in a way you find more appropriate.
Children and Other Pets
While the Chinese Crested is standoffish at first, especially with strangers, once they get to know someone they are very friendly dogs. Cresteds are especially good with other animals. If you work or are out of the home often, having another pet around to be a companion for your Crested is a good idea, since these are such highly social dogs.
Cresteds also tend to do well with kids, though children should be taught to be gentle with the Crested. These dogs won’t take well to rough handling, so teach your kids not to pull on a dog’s body parts or to approach him when eating.
These are small dogs and won’t require much to keep them full. You should feed your Chinese Crested ¼ cup to 1 cup of high-quality dog food every day. It’s best to split this up into two separate meals to keep your dog feeling full throughout the day.
This is not a breed prone to obesity, but you should still make sure you’re not overfeeding him.
You’ll need a different grooming regimen depending on the variety of Chinese Crested you have.
The Hairless Chinese Crested will still require a fair amount of grooming, despite their lack of hair. Cresteds are prone to skin issues, as their skin is exposed. You’ll need to make sure to apply vet-recommended skin treatments, which can differ based on your dog’s skin type. They should be bathed weekly with a good quality shampoo to keep the skin healthy.
A Powderpuff Crested will require less bathing, but you’ll need to brush the fur daily to prevent tangles and matting, as well as to keep the coat fluffy and clean.
The Crested only needs a moderate amount of exercise, which is one of the reasons they are such adaptable dogs. A daily walk and a play session inside or in your yard should be enough to satisfy his exercise needs.
If you’re bringing your Hairless Crested outside for his exercise, make sure to apply either a vet-recommended sunscreen that’s gentle on his skin or protective clothing to prevent sunburns.
Cresteds are generally very healthy breeds. There are some conditions, however, that the Crested can be prone to.
Hairless Cresteds are particularly prone to skin problems. This is because they don’t have fur protecting their skin. Acne, skin infections, and sunburns are all issues many Hairless Cresteds experience. It’s important to take proper grooming measures to keep your dog’s skin healthy and check him daily for rashes, acne, or signs of any other skin problems.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This is a disease of the eye that Cresteds can be prone to getting. As the name implies, progressive retinal atrophy occurs when the dog’s retina slowly begins to deteriorate. In the early stages of the disease, a dog might become night blind. As it progresses, the dog will lose sight in his eye entirely.
There is no cure for Progressive Retinal Atrophy, but dogs who get this disease are usually able to adapt very well and live fulfilling lives despite their loss of sight.
This is a disease many toy breeds are affected by, including the Chinese Crested. This is a genetic condition that occurs when a dog’s knee joints are too shallow, and the kneecaps pop out of place.
Depending on the severity of the problem, your vet might recommend corrective surgery. If the problem is mild, they may recommend methods of management.
The Xoloitzcuintli, or the Xolo, is another unique looking breed. These dogs come in a range of sizes and can be either hairless or coated. The variety most similar to the Chinese Crested is the toy variety. These dogs stand 10 to 14 inches tall and weigh between 10 to 15 pounds.
The Xolo originates from Mexico. Like the Crested, they have a long, slightly mysterious history. You’ll find these dogs extremely similar in other ways too. Both breeds require special grooming measures if you get ones of the hairless variety, as they can be prone to skin conditions. Neither breed tends to be especially yappy either, though both the Crested and the Xolo will bark to greet visitors.
The Xolo is, however, generally more active than the Crested. Expect to get more exercise yourself with a Xolo!
In French, the Papillon’s name translates to “butterfly.” This is in reference to the Pap’s large, winglike ears that look similar to a big, hairy butterfly. As a fellow toy breed, the Papillon stands even shorter than the Chinese Crested, at 8 to 11 inches tall. These tiny dogs weigh only 5 to 10 pounds and tend to live slightly shorter lives, usually living around 14 to 16 years.
Of course, the trait that makes the Papillon and the Crested the most similar is their long, silky fur. Both breeds have especially long fur around the head and tail, though the Papillon has no hairless variety.
Paps are happy, playful dogs who love a good romp. They’ll keep you busy with their athletic natures and upbeat attitudes.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
This is another breed that you’ll find either coated or hairless. They come in three sizes, the most similar to the Crested being the smallest. These dogs can vary greatly in height, the small size standing anywhere between 9.75 to 15.75 inches tall. Accordingly, they also range in weight, with the smallest size ranging between 8.5 to 17.5 pounds.
Originating from Peru, this breeds history dates all the way back to 750, where it appeared on a piece of Moche pottery. The dogs were eventually interbred with other breeds, resulting in their vast range of sizes as well as their hairy variations.
Even the hairless dogs, however, will sometimes have a small patch of wiry hair on the tops of their heads. The Peruvian Inca Orchid is a very loyal and affectionate breed that will follow you wherever you go.