With their spotted pink skin, spiky ‘crested’ hairdo, furry socks and feathery tail, you can’t mistake the sweet and slender Chinese Crested for any other breed. This frolicsome, ultra-affectionate companion dog is truly a breed apart.
The Chinese Crested, a lively and alert toy breed standing between 11 and 13 inches high, can be hairless or coated. The hairless variety has smooth, soft skin and tufts of hair on the head, tail, and ankles. The coated variety, called the ‘powderpuff,’ is covered by a soft, silky coat. Besides the coat, there’s very little difference between the powderpuff and his undressed brother. Both varieties are characterized by fine-boned elegance and graceful movement. Cresteds are as fun as they look: playful, loving, and devoted to their humans. The hairless has its advantages: there is no doggy odor, and for obvious reasons shedding isn’t much of a problem. Both varieties are attentive housemates, totally in tune with their family.
Chinese Crested origins go so far back in time, we can make only educated assumptions about how the breed was created. It is thought that in ancient times large hairless dogs from Africa were brought to China, where after generations of breeding they were reduced in size. (The Chinese were the master miniaturizers of the ancient world; the Shi Tzu and Pekingese are two further examples of breeds born of Chinese mini-mania.)
Chinese trading vessels traveled the high seas with Cresteds onboard. The dogs became famous as shipboard exterminators, expert at catching disease-bearing rats. They were traded among sailors in seaports around the world and, along the way, acquired the name Chinese Ship Dog.
Their far-flung travels brought Cresteds to exotic ports of call—Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, among them—where local variations of the breed were cultivated. So thoroughly was the small hairless ratter disseminated around the world that, during the Age of Discovery, European explorers recorded sightings of Crested-type dogs in port towns of Central and South America, Asia, and Africa.
The Crested took root in the United States through the efforts of two women, journalist Ida Garrett and breeder Debra Woods. For several decades beginning in the 1880s, they promoted the Crested in America—Garrett through her prolific writing and speaking, and Woods through her breeding program and scrupulously kept studbooks. The American Chinese Crested Club was formed in 1979, and in 1991 the breed entered the AKC Stud Book.
Among the many nicknames this unusual breed has acquired over the years is the “Dr. Seuss Dog,” a reference to the hairless Crested’s resemblance to fanciful creatures who populate the books of the beloved author-illustrator.
Temperament: Lively / Alert / Affectionate
Height: 11-13 inches
Weight: 8-12 pounds
Life expectancy: 13-18 years
Responsible breeders consistently screen their breeding stock for inherited eye problems that are known to occur in the Chinese Crested, including progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, and primary lens luxation. Epilepsy occurs in the breed occasionally. Patellar luxation (slipped stifles) affects Cresteds, as it does most small breeds. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease has no DNA test to screen parents, but it does sometimes show up on X-ray.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
- Patella Evaluation
- Cardiac Exam
- PRA-RCD3 DNA Test
- PLL DNA Test