Chinese Crested

Chinese Crested dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Have you ever wondered if there is a dog without hair? Well this breed is one of them! Hairless and soft skin, the Chinese Crested will attract all the looks and the questions. However, the same character comes in Powderpuff type, for people who don’t like naked dogs. This tiny guy will adore you and will expect the same in return. Even more, you will always be alerted if someone is at the door or if there is danger ahead.

Graceful and elegant, with slender statue, this is the best way to describe the Chinese Crested. Even though he has been voted for the ugliest dog many times, this exotic-looking breed will always have everyone’s attention.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsBelow Average
Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
Height:11 inches to 1 foot, 1 inch tall at the shoulder
Weight: Up to 12 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 14 years

This is the Chinese dog who actually does not originate from China! There are two types:

  • the genetically dominant, Hairless, only with silky hair on the feet, tail and head.
  • the Powderpuff, which is genetically recessive and has full coat.

The interesting thing is that both types can be born in the same litter.

You will hear from many breeders thst this breed is very friendly, but actually they are only friendly with their family. They are suspicious of strangers and not so friendly when it comes to first encounters. The Cresteds are needy dogs, so you should expect some crying and sadness when you leave them alone even for a couple of hours. Also, you will never sleep alone, because this little guy will take over your pillow!

Even though they are Hairless and never look dirty, they need regular bathing. Powderpuffs too! Hairless don’t need anything put on their skin, like sun block or moisturizer; it is best if their skin is left to be natural. Just don’t leave them for too long in the sun and they will be good. Just like lizards, they are incredibly tolerable of heat and can stay in the sun longer than other breeds.

Even after staying in the sun they won’t pant or drink a lot of water like many other breeds would. Contrary to this, they are intolerable of cold. So, if you plan on going out for a walk in winter time, you should put on a sweater on your Crested. They get used to wearing sweaters very easily.

Sometimes you will be surprised of how much hair your Hairless dog has, but that’s normal. However, if you need a hypoallergenic dog, this is not the one. They are just low or nonshedders, and don’t do well with untolerable allergy sufferers.

Sometimes anti flea and tick substances can trigger an allergic reaction, so be careful what you apply. However, the Hairless type is the last resort for fleas and they usually don’t need any prevention.

They are companions for the whole family and do very well with kids. However, they easily become needy and demand attention. They will play with everyone they know, but will think twice about people they haven’t met before.

Separation anxiety can be a problem with this breed. They may turn to destruction and barking if they are left alone for many hours. On the other hand, they will be quiet and calm when you are around and will only bark as an alarm.

Chinese Cresteds will do well in any kind of surroundings, as long as they are not left alone. Thye don’t mind if your apartment is small or if there is no yard for them to play in, as long as they can occupy your pillow and your lap. They are playful and affectionate little dogs, that will fill your life with entertainment, laughter and love.

Main Highlights
  • Small breed, suitable for small homes and apartments.
  • Teeth loss at early age! Don’t be scared, it’s not yours or the breeder’s fault, it has to do with the Hairless genes and usually it happens to all dogs of this breed.
  • Tiny dog! Large dogs can see him as prey, so don’t leave him alone or off the leash. Also, he can escape trough the smallest hole in the fence and even jump over.
  • Stubborn streak, so be patient.
  • Alert dogs! Barkers, but only in order to keep you safe and alert,so keep that in mind and be thankful.
  • Exotic looking breed! If it seems like people pay you a lot of attention, it’s not you, it’s for the dog you are walking. If you don’t want the looks and the questions from people while walking your Crested, consider another breed.
  • Low or non-shedders and clean dogs.
  • Timid breed! They like to be around their people and should not be left outside or alone for longer period.
Breed History

This breed has an interesting history and, even though it is stated in their name that they come from China, they actually originate from the Mexican or African hairless dogs (no one is sure which). All the Chinese did was reduce them in size.

They were best friends with sailors and they accompanied them on their ships where they hunted vermin in the time of plague. There are mentions of them since the 1530s in China, and in the 19th century they appear in paintings and prints in Europe.

Chinese Crested, also called Chinese Ship Dog, Chinese Edible dog or Chinese Royal Hairless, were thought to have magical powers and people used them for healing or as heating pads, since their normal temperature is higher than the human’s.

They were kept by sailors because of their excellent abilities in hunting rats, but also Chinese emperors kept them as pets that keep their feet warm during the night. These days they can be seen in ports as well as accompanying the stars.

The first Chinese Crested club in the US was formed in the 1974.


Both sexes should be between 11-13 inches in height and should weigh approximately 12 pounds.

Personality and Character

Cresteds are adorable! They are happy dogs that will keep you alert for everything and you will be getting a lot of kisses and cuddling. This loving little buddy will capture your heart with his adorable personality. You should be aware that they are wary of strangers and may bark at them and even bite them, if not properly trained. Keep in mind that they are companion dogs and it is the best if you manage to train them yourself because they are not recommended for intensive trainers.

Many people and trainers underestimate their intelligence; however you should know that they are extremely intelligent. Actually, because of their intelligence, they can be sometimes stubborn. As they are very social dogs, they tend to bond to their close family. Sometimes this isn’t considered as a nice trait, because they tend to rely on their owner and immediate family and become needy.

They are good door bells and you’ll be alerted whenever there is someone at the door. Even more, they like to howl or sing. This is their way of protecting their home.

Their temperament depends on many variables and heredity and training play a great role in the character of the dog. Also, socialization and environment. That’s why, when you buy a Crested, you should always meet at least the mother. This will enable you to know approximately what to expect from your puppy, regarding the temperament.

Health and Potential Problems

Chinese Crested dogs, like all breeds are prone to some health conditions and you should be aware of them if you’re buying a puppy of this breed.

  • Dental Issues: there is a theory that there is a link between the hairlessness and the loss of teeth. The Hairless type very often may lose their teeth by the age of 2 or 3 and because of this, they may need to eat canned food. Powderpuffs on the other hand have normal dentition as all toy breeds and they are able to eat kibble.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): the early stage of this disease causes night blindness and as the disease progresses, it happens during the day too. The disease has to do with deterioration of the retina. Most of the dogs will adapt to the loss of vision with no problem.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: this disease has to do with decreased blood supply to the head of the femur. Because of this, it starts to disintegrate and hurts a lot. If your dog ia affected, first you will notice him limping and the leg muscle will be in atrophy. This can occur at early age, at 4 or 6 months and it can be corrected by surgery, so the pain will be relieved.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: also known as «dry eye», this condition occurs when there is not enough water or tears in the eye. The eye is therefore dry and is easily inflamed and irritated. Because there is no water, there is only mucus and oil left in the eye and it looks like a gooey yellow discharge, which can also be a sign of conjunctivitis. It can be treated with eyedrops and some ointment.
Care Features

This breed doesn’t need a lot of exercise, so don’t plan on taking a Crested jogging. However, they need to be entertained, this means you will have toys all around the home for them. Another thing they enjoy is puzzles for dogs, which you can find on the market.

They are pretty easy to train, but sometimes they can be stubborn, so patience is needed. Nonetheless, always use positive attitude while training, and you need to be sensitive when you correct them, because they are a naturally timid breed.

Every dog needs socialization, and the earlier the better. However, if you sign up your dog for puppy classes, make sure that there are small breeds only, because a large breed puppy can hurt the Crested while playing, since they are  pretty small.

Consider crate training your Crested. This can ensure you that there will be no accidents or injuries while you’re not at home, if you just leave your dog in the crate. Nevertheless, a crate shouldn’t be a jail for your dog, they should have a positive attitude towards it, so you shouldn’t leave it in a crate for a whole day. Cresteds are people dogs, and thry don’t like being left alone for a longer period.

Housetraining can be a bit more difficult, and you’ll need to be persistent to achieve that.

Feeding Schedule

Usually the daily amount is written on every food package but the general rule is 1/4 to 1 cup of high-quality food approximately. The daily amount should be split in two meals a day.

The breed is small in size and not very active, so they won’t eat much. However, the amount they eat on daily basis depends on their metabolism, build, age, and activity. Don’t let your dog overeat or become overweight, because this can cause health problems.

Make sure that you give your Crested the right amount of food so he is not thin or overweight. If you are not sure about it, you can ask your vet.

Coat, Color and Grooming

First of all there are two types of Chinese Crested, the Hairless and the Powderpuff. Powderpuffs can be seen in all colors of coat, they can be spotted or solid, or in combinations of colors like blue, copper, mahogany or lavender. Their skin tone is pink and black.

The Hairless type is bald, except the parts on the head, the tail and feet, which are covered with soft hair. Hair usually protects the skin from the sun and the cold, however these dogs have developed to have higher temperature than the normal and their skin is not as sensitive as it looks. You should leave the skin to be natural, so avoid using moisturizer or sun block. They need to be bathed frequently, with shampoo for everyday use,because they are prone to skin conditions, like blackheads and acne.

Powderpuffs have a double coat, which can be a bit difficult to take care of. Until they change their hair into adult hair, they should be brushed daily, to avoid matting. An adult Powderpuff needs weekly brushing with a bristle brush or a pin brush. Their face can be shaved, as well as their paws. When it comes to bathing, they should be bathed regularly, but not as often as the Hairless type. They also need a gentle, daily use shampoo. If you do the bathing yourself, you should know that they need to be towelled off and then dried with blow dryer on low temperature.

Grooming should be a positive experience for your dog, so make sure that you start to accustom it from an early age. This is a good opportunity for you to bond with your dog but, if you are unfit to do the grooming yourself you should take your dog to a groomer, especially for shaving.

This breed has dental problems and both types are prone to tartar build up, so brush their teeth 2-3 times a week. If you can do it daily, that’s even better.

Nails need trimming, because this breed is not particularly active one and they don’t wear them down themselves. Make sure you do it properly, otherwise it can be painful. If you don’t know how to do it,you can always take the Crested to the vet or the groomer’s.

Ears need to be checked frequently, for bad odor or redness. If you notice something out of the normal, it can be indication for infection, and you should take your dog to the vet. You can also clean the ears with a cotton ball with ear cleaner.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Children generally adore them! But they need to be taught how to interact with them, because they are pretty small and gentle dogs. Children need to be taught to be careful with every breed, especially small breeds as this one. Cresteds are naturally timid, so they would rather hide in a corner, than be molested by young kids.

They can be a very good playmate for kids, however they should never be left alone and you should always supervise. If you have kids, the Crested would probably steal their toys and play with them.

This exotic breed may take some time of getting used to the feel of their skin and the look of the Hairless type. After that, your heart will be melted by their unique character and how adorable they are. You wouldn’t consider owning any other breed! You will always be in the center of attention; ok, not you but your dog!

They don’t take up a lot of space and you can take them everywhere. If you want a dog that will keep you company and alert, this is the dog for you!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.