The Chinese Crested:  Naked Beauty

By Janice Jones   |Last Updated 07-22-2021

Some people not familiar with the Chinese Crested call it ugly and can hardly stand to look at this hairless breed. 

Those that know and love it have an entirely different opinion. They describe the breed as expressive, happy, energetic and very attached to their caregiver. 

Some even go so far as to call them a “velcro” dog because they like to physically attach themselves to their person and will hug with their paws.   

The Chinese Crested DogHairless Crested

The Breed Traits At a Glance

Playfulness Paws Ratings
Affection Level Paws Ratings
Friendliness Towards Strangers Paws Ratings
Good with Children Paws Ratings
Good with Other Dogs Paws Ratings
Good for First Time Owners Paws Ratings
Exercise Needed Paws Ratings
Ease of Training Paws Ratings
Watch Dog Ability Paws Ratings
Grooming Requirements Paws Ratings
Shedding Paws Ratings
Cold Tolerant Paws Ratings
Heat Tolerant Paws Ratings

*Grooming:  Grooming requirements will vary depending on whether you have a Powderpuff or Hairless.  

Explanations for At a Glance Ratings 

  • Playfulness:  Most=5   Less=1
  • Affection:  Most=5   Least=1
  • Friendliness Towards Strangers:  Most=5  Least=1
  • Good with Children:  Good=5   Not Good=1
  • Good with Other Dogs:   Good=5   Not Good=1
  • Good for First Time Owners:  Good=5  Not Good=1
  • Amount of Exercise Required:  Much=5  Minimal=1
  • Ease of Training:   Easy=5   Difficult=1
  • Watch Dog Ability:   Excellent=5   Poor=1
  • Grooming Needs:   Extensive=5  Minimal=1
  • Shedding:   Heavy Shedding=5   Minimal Shedding=1
  • Cold Tolerance:   Cold Well Tolerated=5    Poorly Tolerated=1
  • Heat Tolerance:   Heat Well Tolerated=5   Poorly Tolerated=1
A Chinese Crested is standing on a stump in the middle of winter.The Chinese Crested Hairless Dogs will need a warm coat in the wintertime because they don't tolerate the cold. A lightweight T-shirt will protect them from the sun's hot rays in the summer.

These dogs might be athletic and very agile, but when it comes right down to it, this breed is fiercely loyal, bond easily to their owners and will spend the entire day in bed with you if you are sick.

They enjoy getting outdoors for daily exercise, but they are not a high energy breed. They are very social, but not your outgoing gregarious type and once they decide to own you, you’ll have a shadow by your side wherever you go. 

There are two varieties found in this breed: 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. They are slender and elegant, but beauty seems to be in the eyes of the beholder. 

They tend to win lots of “ugly dog contests.” Beyond their looks, they make very stable companions and keep their owners laughing and entertained,   

Quick Facts

A Chinese Crested Puppy is snuggled in some blankets.Chinese Crested Puppy

Other Names Used:  Chinese Hairless, Chinese Edible Dog, the Chinese Ship Dog and the Chinese Royal Hairless.

Affiliation: UKC: Companion; AKC, ANKC, CKC, KC, NZKC Toy, FCI

Height:  Ideally 11 to 13 inches.

Weight :  Up to 12 pounds

Coat Type:  Two Types: Hairless and Powderpuff which has a thick double coat

Colors:  Apricot, Black, Blue, Chocolate, Cream, Palomino, Slate, White, Pink, Red, Sable, Silver and combinations

Country of Origin: China

Activity Level: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 13-18 years

Litter Size:  2-6 puppies

Good with Children:  Yes as long as the children are taught how to handle these little dogs

Good with other pets:  Yes


Eight Week Old Chinese Crested PuppiesEight Week Old Chinese Crested Puppies

Their name suggests that they originated in China, but it is more likely that they came from Africa or Mexico.

As with other ancient breeds, there is little in the way of written records, so historians can only speculate. 

Some have theorized that the Chinese Crested is the result of the cross breeding of the Mexican Hairless and the Chihuahua which means they would have originated in Mexico. 

Others have speculated that the Chinese Crested had evolved from African Hairless Dogs which were reduced in size by the Chinese. 

Little is known of their ancient history, but it has been suggested that they accompanied Chinese sailors in 1530 and used to hunt vermin during the times of the plague. 

The sailors would also trade them at different ports. The Chinese looked at these dogs as having magical healing powers, but they also had a more mundane purpose:  A Living Heating Pad. They began to appear in European paintings by the 19th century. 

Originally these dogs were called the Chinese Hairless, Chinese Edible Dog, the Chinese Ship Dog and the Chinese Royal Hairless.

It's unclear when the breed arrived in North America, but the first breed club was founded in 1974 in the United States.

It was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1985 as part of its Miscellaneous class, and was accepted for full registration in 1991. Thus, this ancient breed is relatively new to America.


Chinese Crested (Powderpuff)

Alert, happy and highly intelligent, the Crested adores his owners. They love to kiss and snuggle and make excellent lap dogs. 

They are considered to be friendly, but can be wary of strangers.  But to their favorite person, they will devote their entire existence.   

They need frequent socialization and training because they are naturally suspicious of strangers, even to the point of biting them.   

Expect kisses and lots of snuggle time in your lap from this happy, loving little guy once he comes to accept you as his pack.  The breed has been labeled “needy” due to his high social drive to bond to his people and his distrust of strangers, but each Crested is different and shows a range of personality traits.

These dogs don't have the same tendency to show separation anxiety when being left alone as some small breed dogs do. 

According to Dr. Wendy Ryan, DVM, from Cloud9ChineseCresteds,

"they are the least destructive dogs I've ever had and tend to be very loving and easy to live with. They are not needy by any measure. They lie all over my home and don't need to be in my lap. But if I go upstairs, they will all follow, as have ALL of the dogs I've ever owned. If not socialized, I have seen some that are fearful and timid, but that is true of most breeds. (unless you speak of Labs and Goldens, who tend to love EVERYBODY.)"

They are capable of climbing and digging if need be to escape their confinement.  But when you are near, they are fine, relatively quiet and content.  They do bark if they hear something and as such make good watch dogs, just not good guard dogs. 

These dogs do well in apartments, urban, suburban and rural locales.  They cannot tolerate the cold but do surprisingly well in hot temperatures. 

Most owners will protect the Crested from the cold with sweaters and coats as needed.  As far as heat is concerned, high temperatures don’t seem to bother them and they seem to love a good sunbath.

Another surprising fact about these guys is they rarely pant and don’t drink water the way you would expect them to on a hot summer day. 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.

These dogs should not be left alone in a fenced enclosure because they might disappear on you. 

They are very agile, can scale six foot fences or even dig under them. Once they manage to sample the grass on the other side of the fence, they’re gone.  They are fast and stubborn making it hard to recapture them. 

Chinese Cresteds are popular in conformation, obedience and agility competitions due to their athletic nature. 

Remember that temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, early experiences, training, and socialization. This is true for all breeds, so the information on this breed found on this pge, can vary from one dog to the next.

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.

Chinese Crested (Powderpuff)Chinese Crested (Powderpuff)


Even hairless dogs need groomingGrooming the Chinese Crested Hairless Dog

Chinese Crested are relatively low shedders but not necessarily hypoallergenic as one might expect. 

Since there are two versions of this breed, the hairless and the Powderpuff, each requiring different grooming, we will address each separately. 

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. The Hairless should be bathed frequently with a high-quality shampoo, at least every week or two.  

Because he can be prone to minor skin problems, such as acne, check for any blackheads while grooming. There is some debate as to whether this breed needs sunscreen or moisturizers on their skin. 

Some say it is necessary to prevent them from getting sunburned and others say it lead to skin problems. If you do decide to use sunscreen, purchase the ones specifically designed for dogs.

Powderpuff coats come 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. The Powderpuff requires much more work. 

They have a silky double coat with an soft undercoat that will mat easily if not brushed and combed regularly. 

The best type of brush to use is a pin or bristle brush and the use of a metal comb will help with removing mats.  The hair between the food pads also needs to be removed.  Some people will shave the face.

Both varieties will need to have regular dental care, nail clips, and ear checks.  Brushing his teeth two or three times a week can reduce the number of times he will need professional cleaning under anesthesia. 

His nails should be trimmed once or twice a month if he does not wear them down naturally.  His ears should be checked for redness and bad odor, which would indicate an infection and usually a trip to the vet. 

You can help prevent infections by keeping them clean with a gentle ear cleaner and a cotton ball

Health Concerns

Chinese Crested (Hairless)Chinese Crested (Hairless)

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.

Just in case you have read the descriptions on other small breed dogs, you might see a pattern emerging.  Most small breed dogs are prone to similar aliments. 

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Dental Issues

Pros of Owning a Chinese Crested

  • Great for apartment dwellers and seniors
  • Fierce loyal and loving
  • Wonderful lap dogs and companions
  • Hairless variety require little grooming
  • Exercise requires are minimal
  • Relatively healthy breed
  • Good with other animals

Cons of Owning a Chinese Crested

  • Powderpuff variety requires much grooming
  • Have dental problems
  • Can be suspicious of strangers
  • Great athletic ability can have its drawbacks

Please Pin for Future Reference

The Chinese Crested Dog Breed Profile

National Breed Clubs

American Chinese Crested Club

Need More Information?

These books can be purchased from your neighborhood bookstore or through Amazon (usually much cheaper).  Do check them out if you are serious about owning a Chinese Crested Dog.

Related Breeds To Investigate

About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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