Chinese Crested

Stereotyped as an "ugly dog," the Chinese Crested is an elegant, beautiful pooch who is worth a closer look.

Chinese Crested Breed Photo

The Chinese Crested dog breed was created to be an invalid's companion. In that setting, you won't find a better dog. They can almost read your mind and will lie in bed for hours without moving a muscle. They have almost no desire to go out and run around like regular dogs, although they are athletic enough to jump surprisingly tall fences and compete in agility. Chinese Cresteds are not gregarious, but they are intensely social and bond quickly within their pack. They don't accept strangers easily. Once it falls in love with you, you'll have a little stalker on your hands — he'll be eternally, thoroughly devoted.

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Breed Characteristics

    • Almost always

      Adapt Well To Apartment Living

      Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
    • Sometimes

      Good For Novice Owners

      Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
    • Very high

      Sensitivity Level

      Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
    • Very poorly

      Tolerates Being Alone

      Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
    • Very poorly

      Tolerates Cold Weather

      Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
    • Not so well

      Tolerates Hot Weather

      Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
    • Very

      Easy To Train

      Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
    • Medium

      Intelligence

      Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
    • Low

      Potential For Mouthiness

      Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
    • Moderate

      Prey Drive

      Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
    • Moderate

      Tendency To Bark Or Howl

      Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
    • Very low

      Wanderlust Potential

      Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
    • Minimal

      Amount Of Shedding

      If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
    • Very low

      Drooling Potential

      Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
    • Very

      Easy To Groom

      Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
    • Fair

      General Health

      Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
    • Low

      Potential For Weight Gain

      Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
    • Miniature

      Size

      Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
    • Very

      Affectionate With Family

      Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
    • Very

      Dog Friendly

      Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
    • Usually

      Friendly Toward Strangers

      Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
    • Very

      Kid Friendly

      Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
    • Low

      Energy Level

      High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
    • Low

      Exercise Needs

      Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
    • Very low

      Intensity

      A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
    • Moderate

      Potential For Playfulness

      Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

Vital Stats

  • Dog Breed Group: Companion Dogs
  • Height: Generally 11 inches to 1 foot, 1 inch tall at the shoulder
  • Weight: Generally Up to 12 pounds
  • Life Span: 10 to 14 years

The Chinese Crested is an exotic-looking small dog who does not actually hail from China. He's found in two variants: the Hairless, with silky hair on the head (the crest), tail (plume), and feet (socks); and the genetically recessive Powderpuff, who has a full coat. Both variants can be found in a single litter.

Regardless of variation, the Crested is a slender, finely boned dog who is elegant and graceful. He's a beauty, although he tends to win Ugly Dog Contests more often than other competitors. He's your basic big dog in a small, sometimes naked-looking body.

Dog books often describe the Chinese Crested as highly friendly, but that's actually the exception rather than the rule. Yes, he's highly likely to smile at you when he's been naughty, but that's not quite the same thing. He's likely to be extremely sensitive and reactive, and he has a high social drive, all of which makes him needy. (Expect yours to sleep under the covers with you.) He can be wonderful with familiar people, but he's likely to bite strangers unless he's been well socialized and trained to refrain from this impulse.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Hairless does not need to wear sun block, moisturizing lotion, or any other substance applied to the skin at any time; often that just causes problems. The skin has a better chance of staying healthy if nothing is put on it. Cresteds do need to be bathed regularly, however, every one or two weeks.

Many of the Hairless types actually have a lot of body hair. Unsurprisingly, most people aren't prepared for how hairy a Hairless can be, and it can be an issue for allergy sufferers. These dogs aren't hypoallergenic; they're just low shedders compared to other breeds — but still, they shed more than you'd think a "hairless" dog would. And even the Hairless has noticeable hair on his head, legs, and tail. Some allergic people are fine with the Hairless variety, while others have no tolerance.

This body hair must be kept shaved to keep the skin healthy. Letting it grow out is often excused as a way to keep the dog warm, but the long coat doesn't perform this function and instead triggers skin problems (sweaters are a better option for warmth). The Crested doesn't sweat through his skin, and he has the same body temperature as any other breed. Some are prone to a canine equivalent of acne, however.

The Hairless Crested is incredibly, unbelievably tolerant of heat. He can lie in 100-degree sun for hours, like a lounge lizard, with no problems. He rarely pants and drinks very little water, which is pretty disconcerting for experienced dog owners who leave lots of water out.

Conversely, he has absolutely no tolerance for cold. Some people try to "harden" their Crested by exposing him to cold, as though he were a seedling. This is not only cruel, it doesn't work. Cold will kill this dog a lot faster than heat will.

Take a cautious approach to vaccinations, cortisone drugs, and topical applications with this dog. Rabies shots often trigger reactions. Some Cresteds can have a terrible reaction to medications, including topical flea preventives. A conservative approach to drug therapy is safest, so don't use anything that is not actually necessary. Normally, they don't need any flea or tick preventives — they are a last resort for fleas.

Cresteds are wonderful family dogs who love to be with the people in their lives. They do well with children, although you should consider the age of the children and how they interact with dogs before bringing this small creature into your heart and home. They can be hurt easily and shouldn't be left unsupervised with children, or even alone out in the yard. With family members of any age who know how to handle dogs, however, they'll play games, affectionately cuddle up on the couch, and enjoy an active life.

Because they're so social and needy, Cresteds can suffer from separation anxiety, which can lead to barking and destructive habits. They'll climb and dig to escape confinement if left on their own for too long. When you're around, they're comparatively quiet dogs, but they will alarm bark.

They do well in apartments and any other type of dwelling. The Chinese Crested is a wonderful family dog who is playful, affectionate, and endearing. He's a stable companion who fills his owners' lives with love, laughter, and entertainment.

Chinese Cresteds are adept at jumping, digging, and climbing. Don't make the common mistake of underestimating their athletic abilities just because they're small. They are Houdini Hounds who can escape from virtually any enclosure. A six-foot fence around the yard is a good idea; if they can get a grip on a fence, they're over it. They have absolutely no fear of climbing or jumping, and they can clear four feet from a standing position.

Once they're out, they move fast and are — how shall we say this — averse to recapture. They are more stubborn than you are. Their athletic abilities are why many Chinese Cresteds are taking the conformation, obedience, and agility worlds by storm.

Chinese traders once used the Chinese Crested as ratters on their ships, and they may have served this function in agricultural settings as well. Today they enjoy life as beloved family pets, but they also have the personality to excel at being more than just pampered pooches.