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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

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Companion Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
10 to 14 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

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.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    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.

  • Highlights

    • Chinese Cresteds are a small breed suitable for many kinds of dwellings, including apartments.
    • A genetic link exists between dominant hairlessness and missing teeth. It is not a sign of "bad breeding" but simply goes along with the breed.
    • A Chinese Crested should not be left out in the yard alone or be left off-leash on walks. Tiny as he is, large dogs could view him as prey. He can easily escape through fences, and he can jump even high ones.
    • Although Chinese Cresteds do well with children, the age and personality of the children should be taken under consideration before getting a one of these dogs. They can be hurt easily because of their tiny size.
    • The fact that he's an exotic-looking dog might draw you to a Chinese Crested, but understand that they can be as temperamental as the next dog — and more so than some breeds.
    • They have a stubborn streak.
    • Chinese Cresteds will bark and behave like miniature guard dogs. If you want a quieter breed, look elsewhere.
    • Chinese Cresteds are companion dogs and prefer to be with their owners and families. They cannot be left outside alone and will climb and dig to escape confinement if separated from their owners. They can also suffer from separation anxiety, which may make them destructive when they're left alone for too long.
    • Proper socialization is necessary for the Chinese Crested since they can become timid and fearful of people.
    • Chinese Cresteds are relatively clean and are low- to nonshedders.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    Chinese Crested dogs don't really come from China. They evolved from African or Mexican (no one is certain which) hairless dogs who were reduced in size by the Chinese.

    The Crested is believed to have accompanied Chinese sailors on the high seas as early as 1530, hunting vermin during and between times of plague (today they can still be found in port cities worldwide). By the middle of the 19th century, Cresteds began to appear in numerous European paintings and prints.

    Earlier names of the Crested include Chinese Hairless, the Chinese Edible Dog, the Chinese Ship Dog, and the Chinese Royal Hairless.

    The Chinese bred the dog for its excellent ratting abilities aboard their ships, and sailors traded them at different ports. Documentation by Europeans of a hairless dog who closely resembled the Chinese Crested appears as early as the 1700s, when European travelers visited Chinese seaports and boarded Chinese trading vessels.

    The Chinese apparently viewed the Chinese Crested as having magical healing powers; they also used them as living heating pads. They were kept by Chinese emperors as well as by sailors.

    It's unclear when the breed officially arrived in North America, but the first breed club here was founded in 1974. In China, the breed has become rare.

  • Size

    The average height for a Chinese Crested is between 11 to 13 inches for both sexes. They generally weigh up to 12 pounds.

  • Personality

    Alert and happy, the Crested adores and dotes on his people. Expect kisses and lots of snuggle time in your lap from this happy, loving little guy. Understand that he doesn't accept strangers easily — but once he comes to love you, you become his world.

    He makes an excellent companion and is extremely intelligent. Be aware, however, that many dog trainers unfairly rate them low on the intelligence scale because they don't fit the typical dog personality profile. The Crested is not a good breed for insensitive trainers.

    The Chinese Crested can be stubborn. Intensely social, he bonds tightly to his immediate pack. Really friendly Cresteds are the exception rather than the rule, as most are naturally suspicious of strangers. He can be reactive, and that trait combined with his high social drive tends to make him needy. He's wonderful with familiar people but likely to bite strangers unless socialized and trained out of that impulse.

    He'll alert bark to protect his home (not that the burglar is going to be terrified). He isn't particularly yappy, but he is adamant about his guard duty and will do his job. Some also like to howl or sing.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

    Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, the Crested needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Crested puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

    Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Cresteds are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Cresteds will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Cresteds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Dental Issues: These tend to crop up due to a genetic link that exists between dominant hairlessness and missing teeth. The Hairless Crested has small, peglike teeth that can slope toward the front of the mouth and cause problems; the Powderpuff has normal toy breed dentition. The Hairless often lose many teeth by the tender age of two or three. Some Hairless require canned food, while others eat kibble with no problem, as does the Powderpuff.
    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
    • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: This condition involves the hip joint. If your Crested has Legg-Perthes, the blood supply to the head of the femur (the large rear leg bone) is decreased, and the head of the femur that connects to the pelvis begins to disintegrate. The first symptoms, limping and atrophy of the leg muscle, usually occur when puppies are four to six months old. Surgery can correct the condition, usually resulting in a pain-free puppy.
    • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: Known as "dry eye," it's exactly what the name implies: an inflammation and dry eye. It occurs when there's a deficiency in the water portion of the tear film. The eye becomes dry and the membranes are left with only oil and mucus. The symptoms can be mistaken for conjunctivitis, which also has a gooey yellow discharge. Diagnosis is done with a Schirmer Tear Test. Treatment usually consists of eyedrops and ointment.
  • Care

    A Chinese Crested needs only minimal exercise — he is not a good jogging companion — but mental stimulation is important. There are many toys and puzzles designed for dogs on the market, and he can enjoy many of them.

    Chinese Cresteds are generally easy to train but they have a stubborn streak, which means you need patience. Positive reinforcement is the only route, and correction needs to be handled sensitively, because the breed can be naturally timid.

    Socialization is necessary, so if possible find a place that offers separate small-dog puppy classes, so your Crested can socialize with similarly sized dogs. He could be injured while playing with a larger puppy.

    Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Crested doesn't have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn't. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your Crested accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.

    Never stick your Chinese Crested in a crate all day long, however. It's not a jail, and he shouldn't spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he's sleeping at night. He's a people dog, and he isn't meant to spend his life locked up in a crate or kennel.

    Crate training is also helpful for housetraining, which can be one difficult area of training for the Chinese Crested (as a group, toy breeds can be tough to housetrain) — but it will all click into place eventually.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1/4 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    Keep your Crested in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Crested, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    Powderpuff coats are seen in all colors and in combinations of mahogany, blue, lavender, or copper. They can be solid or spotted. The skin tones of the Hairless are pink and black. Perhaps it's the Hairless's essential nakedness that made stripper Gypsy Rose Lee a breeder.

    The Hairless Chinese Crested is bald except for soft, flowing hair on the head, feet, and tail. Hair on the body should be shaved to protect the skin. Don't use sun block or moisturizers; let the skin remain natural. The Hairless should be bathed frequently with a high-quality shampoo. Because he can be prone to minor skin problems, such as acne, check for any blackheads while grooming.

    Powderpuff Cresteds are a lot of work to groom. They have a silky double coat, and the undercoat is copious and will mat if the dog isn't groomed regularly. Shaving the face is an option. The Powderpuff needs to be brushed weekly, except when the puppy hair is changing into adult hair, during which brushing is best done on a daily basis. A pin or bristle brush is best. All mats should be worked out and any "felting" between the pads on the feet should be removed.

    Powderpuffs should be bathed regularly but not as frequently as the Hairless, and they need a high-quality shampoo to avoid stripping necessary oils from the hair and skin. The dog should be towelled off and blow-dried (on a very low temperature) to prevent him from getting chilled or his coat from getting over dried.

    Start grooming your Crested at a young age. Grooming allows you the opportunity to bond with your puppy as well as check for any signs of illness that your dog may be showing. Make grooming a positive experience and you will find that veterinary checkups and grooming sessions when the dog has reached maturity will be easy and enjoyable tasks.

    Most grooming services are available at the local pet groomer's, and if you're unsure or wary about doing any of it yourself, especially shaving, you should seek the help of a professional.

    Both varieties can have dental issues, but the Hairless is particularly prone. Brush his teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Begin accustoming your Crested to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    Sweet, gentle children are adored by Chinese Crested. Children need to be old enough to understand that they must be careful with these small dogs.

    As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Cresteds love other pets and are playful with them.

  • Rescue Groups

    Chinese Cresteds are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Chinese Cresteds in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Crested rescue.

  • Breed Organizations

    Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Chinese Crested.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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 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.

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