The Chinese Crested Dog: Everything You Need to Know About the Dog Breed

The Chinese Crested Dog is a lively, alert, and affectionate canine with a truly remarkable and captivating appearance. As the name suggests, it hails from China. 

In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the Chinese Crested Dog, including ancient roots, physical traits, temperament, health, and more.

History and Origin of the Chinese Crested Dog

Ancient Roots and Ancestry

The Chinese Crested Dog can trace its roots back thousands of years to ancient China. While the exact origins of the breed are unclear, it is believed that they were originally bred by Chinese mariners to hunt rats on their ships.

Eventually, the breed became popular with Chinese royalty and nobility, who valued their unique appearance and charming personality. They were often kept as lapdogs and were considered a symbol of wealth and status.

In ancient China, Chinese Crested Dogs were believed to have healing powers and were used to treat various ailments. The breed played a significant part in folklore and is mentioned in myths, legends, and stories. 

Some stories suggest that the breed was created by crossbreeding a small dog with a Chinese dragon, while others claim that they were the result of a very peculiar love affair between a cat and a dog.

The Breed’s Introduction to the Western World

The Chinese Crested Dog was first introduced to the Western world in the late 1800s when they were brought to Europe and America by sailors and traders. At first, the breed was used primarily as a circus performer and sideshow attraction.

However, as people began to appreciate their unique appearance and lovable personality, they quickly became popular companion pets. During World War II, the breed’s popularity declined as many people associated them with China, which was an enemy of the Allied powers.

Luckily, a small group of dedicated breeders in the United States worked to preserve the breed, and by the 1950s, they had regained their popularity as beloved household pets.

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

The Chinese Crested Dog is a unique and fascinating breed that is instantly recognizable thanks to its unusual appearance. These dogs come in two distinct varieties: hairless and powderpuff.

Each variety has its own set of physical characteristics that make them stand out from other breeds. Interestingly, a single litter can feature both hairless and powderpuff varieties. 

Hairless vs. Powderpuff Variety

Hairless Chinese Crested Dog

The hairless Chinese Crested Dog is the more well-known of the two varieties. As the name suggests, it is mostly hairless, with soft, smooth, pink skin that is covered with a fine coat only on its

  • Head (called a crest)
  • Tail (called a plume)
  • Feet (called socks)

This gives the dog a distinctive and somewhat exotic appearance that is sure to turn heads wherever it goes. The coat is soft and silky, and the hairless skin areas are soft and smooth. 

Powderpuff Chinese Crested Dog 

The powderpuff variety is fully covered with a soft, silky, and double-layered coat. This gives it a more traditional dog-like appearance, although the fur is still quite unique and eye-catching.

Powderpuff Chinese Crested Dogs are easier to care for than their hairless members of the breed because the coat provides natural protection. In terms of coat coloration, all colors are acceptable. 

Size and Weight

Chinese Crested Dogs are a small breed, typically weighing between 8 and 12 pounds and standing 11 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder. Despite their small size, they are sturdy and athletic, with a lean build that allows them to move quickly and gracefully.

These dogs are often described as “toy” breeds due to their small size, but they are anything but delicate. Chinese Crested Dogs are known for their agility and athleticism, and they excel in a variety of dog sports and activities.

Personality and Temperament

Affectionate and Loyal Companions

Chinese Crested Dogs are playful, affectionate, and loyal. They love attention and thrive on human companionship, making them excellent pets for families with children or seniors looking for a loyal and loving companion.

Chinese Crested Dogs are also known to be good with other pets, including cats and smaller dogs. They are naturally lively and outgoing, meaning they are able to handle a variety of situations and environments. 

Socialization and Training

Like all dogs, Chinese Crested Dogs benefit from early socialization and training. They are intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train with positive reinforcement techniques.

Socialization can help these dogs develop confidence and good manners around other people and pets and prevent them from developing anxiety or aggression issues.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

Despite their small size, Chinese Crested Dogs have a moderate energy level and require daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. This can include short walks around the neighborhood, playtime in the backyard, or even indoor games and activities.

While they don’t need extensive amounts of exercise, it’s important to note that these dogs can become high-strung and destructive if they don’t get enough physical and mental stimulation.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

The Chinese Crested Dog is prone to several health conditions, such as: 

  • Joint Diseases: The breed is at high risk of several joint issues, such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease 
  • Eye Conditions: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and primary lens luxation (PLL) are widespread among members of the breed 
  • Congenital Deafness: Breed members are often born deaf, which can affect one or both ears and be either partial or complete 

It must also be noted that, like all hairless dogs, the breed is sensitive to sunlight and cold. If exposed to the sun, the Chinese Crested Dog must be protected with sunscreen, and in cold weather, it must wear doggy clothes. 

Average Lifespan 

The Chinese Crested Dog is a truly long-lived breed with an average lifespan of between 13 to 18 years. With good genetics and the right care, many breed members can live close to or even more than 18 years. 


If you’re looking for a small, unique, and affectionate companion pet, the Chinese Crested Dog is perfect for you. With its charming personality, moderate energy levels, and long lifespan, this dog makes an excellent addition to any family.

However, it’s important to research and understand its unique needs and characteristics before bringing one home. With the right care and attention, the Chinese Crested Dog can be a loyal and loving companion for many years to come.

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