Chinese Crested Dogs: Unknown Legacy

Chinese Crested Dogs: Unknown Legacy

Author WDF Staff


Although very well known around the world, they're still a mystery when noticed on the city streets. These dogs are full of elegance and happiness, rarely nervous and shy. They are easily approachable and open for cuddles.

I've been working with the breed for 10 years now, about as long as the age of my oldest Chinese Crested Dog. One thing I can say for sure, which can be confirmed by all other Chinese Crested owners is „once a Chinese Crested, always a Chinese crested“.


Chinese crested dogs are so ancient that their origin is unknown, although using genome research it was proven they are in close kinship with the Xoloitzcuintle. So who's legacy are they? There are not a lot of answers to the question, but it is believed that a long time ago Africa was inhabited by a large hairless dog, which the Chinese sailors would use as a pest removers on their ships, skilled at hunting down infected mice and rats. Merchants would trade them for various pricey goods, hence the nickname „Chinese Ship Dogs“. Entire breed history is fascinating and there isn't much clear and correct data on it, what's impressive was the Chinese who adjusted and shaped the breed to closely resemble what it is today: they selectively made the dogs smaller. European researchers noted the breed appearing in various parts of the world such as South America, Asia, and Africa. Here lies the answer to the question „are they naturally hairless?“ - They are, one of the oldest breeds in the world are hairless dogs: Xoloitzcuintle, Peruvian Hairless Dog, and Chinese Crested Dog. These are ancient breeds. We really can't say for sure if it's the same breed which later split into three different ones differentiated by size, shape, and builds, even temper.

Chinese crested dogs' population wouldn't be what it is today without the help of two persistent American women. Journalist Ida Garrett, and breeder Debra Woods. Ida Garrett wrote newspaper articles about the breed, while Debra Woods had already kept her pedigrees. American Chinese Crested Cub was founded in 1979, in 1991 the breed was recognized, standardized, and has its pedigrees. Data about the dogs are being kept since the 1960s.

chinese crested

Chinese Crested Dogs characteristics

These are small dogs, elegantly build, weighing in at 4,4-11 inches (2-5 kilograms). It's important to emphasize that there are two varieties of the breed. The most well known is the hairless variety, which you'll recognize as soon as you see it.

Powderpuff variety

I'll start with „Powderpuff“ – the coated variety. Name „Powderpuff“ itself describes nothing more than a dog's coat. The coat is so soft and gentle like a „puff“ which you use to apply powder. Unlike all the other ancient hairless breeds, Powderpuff's coat grows for their entire lifetime. Thereby the Powderpuff's coat is long and straight, which falls out naturally, but it's airy enough. Powderpuff has two-layered hair, but they do not shed like a typical dog. Hair can fall out, but they'll never lose their complete undercoat during a shedding season because most of their coat is the undercoat itself.

Hairless variety

The hairless variety is more popular because it represents the breed. You'll rarely come across a Chinese Crested that's completely hairless. Awns which grow on this variety are distributed on precisely defined body parts: on the dog's head, ears, on its paws, pasterns, and at least two-thirds of the dog's tail. It's defined by the standard. In reality, the hair on „the real Chinese crested Dogs“ grows on these specific places, with the occasional hair along the body. Other extremeness is that the hairless dog can have hair growing all across his body, so sometimes you can't tell the difference between the two varieties without a genetic test. In-between the two extremes there are different variations of body hair growth.

Hairless dogs

Hairless dogs appeared because of the hair follicular dysplasia, which appeared as a natural mutation. Nature is perfect in many ways, thereby every hairless dog carries a powderpuff gene as well, which is very interesting for the breeders because they don't know what variety of puppies are until they are born. There's a lot of prejudices regarding the hairless dog's skin. Skin is not wet, as the dogs don't sweat (like horses for example) and the skin is not uncomfortable to touch, it shouldn't smell bad, and it's not rough. I get questions from people all the time about skincare, my answer is: as natural as possible. During baths, unlike coated dogs, on the hairless breeds, you use a peeling or a scrub. Mostly based on minced coffee, sugar, honey and olive oil, or a combination of sugar and a mild shampoo. It's important to wash the dogs at least once a week. Sun cream is necessary for white and light skin if the dog is exposed to the sun but darker skin tones will not get burnt during a shorter exposure. They like to sunbath so it's important to watch over them. During winter time going outside for long periods is a big no, they also need proper warm clothing if they go out shortly.

Just like humans, hairless dog breeds can get sunburns. It is vital that you protect your dog from the sun, and the Emmy's Best Dog Sun Skin Protector is a great way to do that.

chinese crested dog

Dental care

Whoever owns a dog knows that teeth are very important, but do you know that the hairless Chinese Crested doesn't have the same teeth, for example, a Labrador? Gene FOXI3 is to „blame“ for a hairless gene to be connected with a primitive dentition. Under primitive I mean that the lack of teeth is allowed, canines are often not symmetrical and pretty like in the other breeds. Canines are sometimes front pointing, be wider or tighter, not symmetrical, sometimes not even grow out, or remain as baby teeth for the rest of their lives. Dental care does matter in the hairless variety, and it has to be at the top level. Powderpuff has a complete set of teeth, with symmetrical canines like all the other dog breeds.

Most dogs hate having their teeth brushed, so getting them toys that help with teeth cleaning is a great idea. The ANROD Dog Talking Toothbrush Chew Toy is a great way to clean your dog’s teeth and entertain them at the same time. 

Why might this dog be the perfect choice for you?

Skin and hair care is really simple when u take into consideration a big advantage – they are perfect for coexistence. I got a Chinese crested Dog myself because my late grandmother didn't want a dog with a coat in the house, because of shedding. By inquiring I understood they are very interesting not only with their looks but also their temper. They can do everything – sleep through the entire day with you or walk 15 kilometers in one go. Agility, obedience, and tricks - everything is possible! As long as they're around you they're happy, as the owner means the world to them.

Although they love people, early socialization is very essential. The puppy's parents must have a good temper, and a little bit of effort will be enough for complete socialization. Of course, that's not always the case, the breed is very primitive and they must encounter as many different noises, objects, and situations as possible.

This article was made in collaboration with Mrs. Kristina Korpar who is the owner of the Gold Toradora kennel.

World Dog Finder team