Breed Type: Toy
Country of Origin: China, Africa, or Mexico
Popular Names: Puff, Crested
Height: (At the withers) 30 cm
Weight: Up to 4.5 kg
Best suited as: Pet or show dog with an active owner or family. May be used as a hunting dog
Lifespan: 10-12 years
The Chinese Crested may come in two types: the Hairless and the Powderpuff. Most people are familiar with the Hairless type.
One Chinese Crested dog may give birth to both Hairless and Powderpuff type dogs. The Hairless type has hair only on the top of the head, the tail, and on the lower legs. The Powderpuff has a full coat of silky, fine hair. Otherwise, their bodies are exactly the same.
They have a wedge-shaped, fox-like head with a tapering muzzle. Their dark eyes are almond-shaped and intense. Their triangular-shaped ears are placed at the sides of the head. Sometimes the hairless varieties have missing or crooked teeth. Generally, the more hair the dog has, the more teeth it has, and vice versa.
They have a long, graceful neck, sloping shoulders, and narrow body. The Hairless version’s tail has hair up to 2/3 in silky long hair, and the Powderpuff’s tail is completely covered. Powderpuffs usually get shaved around the muzzle for shows.
Within the Hairless variety, there can be varying amounts of hair on the body. Hairless Crested dogs may have different coloured skin, from black to pale flesh-coloured. They may have any colour hair; some even change colour according to the season. They may be spotted, solid, or parti-colour.
The Chinese are famous for refining this dog to how it appears today, but it’s possible these dogs originated somewhere other than China, like Africa. The Chinese sailors probably chose hairless breeds while in Africa on shipping missions, returned to China using them as ratters on the ships, and then bred them for size and temperament. Another theory suggests they developed when the Aztecs crossed Mexican Hairless dogs with Chihuahuas.
In either case, these little dogs made very effective vermin killers for the Chinese, which helped keep the vermin population down on ships. This, in turn, reduced disease and parasite problems. Dogs resembling the Chinese Crested spread to South and Central America, and Mexico in the 1500s, and they travelled to Portugal, France, and Britain in the 1700s and 1800s. They appeared in American dog shows in the late 1800s. They soon caught the eye of Ida Garrett, who bred, exhibited, and wrote about them for 60 years.
The Chinese Crested Dog Club of England was formed in the 1960s, the breed was admitted to the AKC in 1985 in the Miscellaneous Class, and was fully registered by the American Kennel Association in 1991 in the Toy Group.
Famous Chinese Crested dogs include Giuseppe from the movie Marmaduke, Halston from Ugly Betty, and Fluffy from 102 Dalmations.
These are very energetic, happy, expressive little dogs. They become extremely attached to their owners. They are called “Velcro” dogs since they will literally follow their person around the house and sometimes even physically attach themselves to their owner by hugging him or her around the neck. They are good climbers, like cats, and love to play with adults, children, and other animals. They have fairly low activity requirements.
They can be wilful, but aim to please. This means that positive reinforcement with firm but fair and consistent training works best.
They are very small and delicate so are not always the best choice for homes with very small children. Another issue that may arise is jealousy if the parent pays more attention to a baby or toddler than the dog. When left alone for long periods, they tend to develop separation anxiety that manifests in destructive or otherwise undesirable behaviours like barking and crying.
They are the perfect lap dog and need almost constant human contact. They can be timid around new people or loud noises. Socializing them to different situations, new dogs, and different people really helps.
Care and Grooming
These dogs have different grooming requirements depending on which type they are: Powderpuff dogs need to be brushed once a week, while the Hairless variety should receive regular baths. They are prone to skin problems like acne, dry skin, and blackheads. Use bath and brush time as an opportunity to look for skin irritations like these and treat accordingly.
Otherwise, they need ear and teeth cleaning done once a week, and their nails clipped once a month if necessary. This is a fairly low-activity breed. They will do fine with a couple short walks a day, or some play in the yard. Be careful to avoid walks through brush or over rough terrain that might cut or otherwise injure their skin. You also need to be cautious of their sun exposure since they have very little fur to protect them from sunburn.
They enjoy getting off-leash to run once in a while, as long as they are safe from being trampled or somehow injured. They do tend to become obese if under-exercised, so it’s important to make sure they get daily exercise and monitor food intake.
They can get along fine in apartments and small living areas as long as they get their daily walks.
Chinese Crested dogs are very healthy overall. They don’t live as long as some of the other Toy breeds – only 10 to 12 years, but they suffer from very few health issues. Some health concerns that might arise include dental defects and associated problems, Legg Calve Perthes disease, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, canine multiple system degeneration, patellar luxation, dental problems, autoimmune diseases, and skin problems such as those mentioned already: dryness, acne, blackheads, and allergy.
Suitability As A Pet
These dogs make perfect pets for retired couples or other people who have a lot of time to devote to a dog but don’t necessarily want to spend hours a day exercising. They are good in small living spaces and don’t take up a lot of room, so make a good pet for people in apartments and condos. They can be barky, so socialization and proper bark training is important if you live with neighbours close by who could be bothered by constant barking.
They are best in homes with older children who will be careful not to be too rough. Chinese Crested dogs make good pets for novice dog owners, as long as the person has a commitment to basic training principles and patience to train an occasionally strong-willed dog.
Chinese Crested Dog Organisations in Australia
Oriental Breeds Assoc of Victoria Inc
Chinese Crested Dog Organisations in the UK
Chinese Crested Dog Rescue Service
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