Chinese Crested

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: June 25, 2009

This elegant toy dog craves human companionship. It comes in two varieties: Hairless (with hair on its head, tail and feet) and Powderpuff (with hair all over). Curiously, the two types of the Chinese Crested Dog often come from the same litter.

Physical Characteristics

The Hairless variety of the Chinese Crested has silky soft hair only on its crest, feet, lower legs, and tail. Caused by a dominant gene, the hairless areas have smooth and soft skin. Unfortunately, when a Chinese Crested Dog has two of the dominant hairless genes it can often lead to prenatal death. Therefore, every hairless variety has one gene for long hair and another for hairlessness.

Powderpuffs, meanwhile, are completely covered with a moderately long and dense, soft, silky coat. In Powderpuffs there are the two genes responsible for long hair. With an intense and alert expression, the slender and fine-boned Chinese Crested is one of the most graceful and elegant breeds. This dog is slightly long as compared to its height and moves with an agile and lively gait.

Personality and Temperament

This breed of dog is willing to please and shows intense devotion to its family. It is good with pets, other dogs, and strangers. It has a happy and alert appearance. By nature, the Chinese Crested combines qualities of a sensitive companion, a calm lapdog, and playful elf.


As it is a small dog, its exercise requirements can be easily met by vigorous indoor games. Even though the Crested hates cold weather, it enjoys a romp outdoors. The Hairless variety requires a sweater for outings in cold weather. This breed is not suited for outdoor living. The Chinese Crested is a talented jumper and some can climb.

Coat care for the Powderpuff involves brushing every day or on alternate days. In Puffs, the muzzle requires shaving once every two weeks. Stray hair on the Hairless type should be removed. The Hairless requires regular skin care like applying sunblock, moisturizer, or bathing to prevent blackheads.


The Crested Dog, which has an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years, is prone to minor problems like deafness, patellar luxation, and seizures and major health issues like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), lens luxation, and glaucoma. Occasionally Legg-Perthes is noticed in the breed. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may recommend eye, hearing and knee exams for the dog.

The Hairless Variety is prone to sunburn, wool allergy, blackheads, and tooth loss. It also has thinner enamel and irregular dentition.

History and Background

It is not easy to trace the roots of the Chinese Crested Dog. The Hairless variety may have originated by genetic mutation throughout the world, but it is in Central and South America that it has been mainly preserved. As an exception, the Chinese Crested seemed to arise in Africa and it was brought to China in the 13th century. Chinese seamen probably kept the dogs on board ships, in order to sell them to local merchants. Therefore, they were distributed to South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, and even to South and Central America. However, the breed was documented in Europe in the 1800s, through paintings and photographs of the Chinese Crested type.

In the latter part of the same century, Ida Garrett, an American, popularized several strains of hairless dogs. Along with the support of some devoted breeders, the Chinese Crested slowly started drawing admirers in Europe and America.

It took the breed a century to achieve registration with the American Kennel Club. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese Crested gained popularity among dog-showing enthusiasts. With the breed's newfound exposure, it has since become more popular as a pet as well.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?