Dog Health & More
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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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.