Much debate exists around the origin of the Chinese Crested dog. Some claim the breed to have originated in China, as the name suggests. Others claim they came from Africa. Still others postulate that the breed originated in Mexico or Central America.
No matter where the breed originated, these facts remain the same...
The Chinese Crested comes in two distinct varieties: The Hairless (a dog with the FOXI3 gene, displaying varying amounts of body hair, but in a single coat and likely with altered dentition) and the Powder Puff (a dog without the FOXI3 gene, displaying a full body, double coat and dentition typical of other domestic dogs).
Chinese Cresteds are a toy breed dog. The AKC standard calls for dogs of this breed to be between 11-13 inches at the shoulder. They are fine boned, elegant and graceful, but not to appear breakable. They can come in any color or pattern (besides brindle or merle). A well-bred Chinese Crested is a wonder to behold. Their beauty is surpassed only by their inquisitive and affectionate nature. They are natural athletes and very intelligent, while maintaining the devotion to their humans that is a hallmark of many toy/companion breeds.
Grooming of the Chinese Crested will depend on the variety.
Hairless dogs should have smooth, soft, blemish free skin on the body, accompanied by "furnishings" in the form of a crest (hair on the head and possibly extending down the neck to the shoulders), socks (hair on the feet and possibly extending up to the pastern and hock joints) and a tail plume (hair on the later 2/3 of the tail). Most "hairless" Chinese Cresteds will grow some degree of body hair. This body hair can range from a so-called "True Hairless" to a "Very Hairy Hairless", a dog that grows almost a full body coat of single coated hair. A hairless dog should be shaved smooth (except for the furnishings) for exhibition/show, but a pet dog could be groomed in any style the owner wishes. Shaving the face and/or ears is common, but not required.
Powder Puff dogs should have a straight, soft, double coat over the entire body. As with the hairless variety, shaving of the face and/or ears is common, but not required. A powder puff should be trimmed minimally to maintain a neat appearance if it is shown. However, a pet dog could be groomed in any style the owner wishes.
It is customary that the face of a Chinese Crested be shaved from the outer eye corners forward, leaving some "side burns" on the cheek. Removing the hair directly in front of the ears can make a Chinese Crested dog look too long in the muzzle or sunken in at the cheeks.
Chinese Cresteds can be prone to topical allergies, and care should be taken to avoid harsh fragrances in any coat or skin care products. An allergy to lanolin (a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals that is commonly used in some lotions and cosmetics) is prevalent in some lines of the breed. Hairless dogs can be prone to acne and sunburn. Care should be taken to moisturize the hairless dog's skin, but not to over moisturize and block pores, which will cause acne. A gentle lotion applied after baths or when skin seems dry should be sufficient. Dog safe sunblock should be used whenever the dog has prolonged exposure to UV rays, particularly on areas with white or light colored skin.
Hairless dogs are prone to dental issues, due to the FOXI3 gene which effects the development of teeth as well as hair. All dogs, regardless of breed, should have their teeth brushed regularly and their dental health monitored, but it is especially important in hairless dogs.
Temperamentally, the Chinese Crested is typically a jovial and friendly breed when properly socialized. This breed can tend to be shy or aloof with strangers and "soft", tending to take corrections and harsh handling or words very personally. The breed usually bonds strongly with their immediate family (human and animals) but may be hesitant with strangers. Early, consistent, and positive interactions with novel people and animals is crucial.
Generally speaking, the Chinese Crested dog is a breed that is playful, affectionate, athletic, and utterly devoted to their people. This paired with their unique looks makes them a fun and rewarding companion.
Robin Pitoscia is the owner of Diva Dog Grooming LLC, located in Duluth, MN. She has been a professional dog groomer for 15 years, working in a number of grooming salons across the Midwest. In addition to grooming dogs, she also breeds and exhibits Chinese Cresteds in a variety of AKC dog shows and sports. She is a strong advocate for building respectful relationships between humans and dogs through positive reinforcement and an understanding of canine cognition and behavior.