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Chinese Crested: Temperament, Origins & Care – Guide to the Chinese Lap Dog

All good things come in small packages. At least, this is true for the Chinese Crested. These canines rank among the smallest in the world in terms of height, weight and overall appearance. Despite this, they are prized, loved and appreciated due to their devotion and playful attitude.

Slender, elegant and graceful is how this dog breed is best described, and for good reason too. Given their size, you might assume that the Chinese Crested can only be an obedient lap-dog or a showpiece. Be prepared to be proven wrong, as this canine can surprise you with its sneaky agility.

For all its cuteness, the Chinese Crested always remains alert and vigilant. They can jump over high fences, take part in all family activities and make highly sensitive companions.

A Chinese Crested could be with or without hair. Members with hair go by the name of “Powder Puffs,” whereas those without are known as “Hairless.” Because this difference is attributed to a recessive gene, every litter will comprise of both types.

Furthermore, distinguishing between the two varieties is easy. While the Hairless Crestie resembles a pony with a tuft on its crown, socks and plume, the Powder Puff comes across as a fur-ball.

So, the Chinese Crested is indeed one of the most unusual dog breeds. In fact, they might seem exotic enough to feature in commercials. But there is definitely much more to them than what meets the eye.

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Chinese Crested Basic Profile

Friendliness: With a little socialization, a Chinese Crested can get along with just about anyone. However, they are by nature very wary of strangers. So, it may take some time to get them acquainted with new friends. They’re also very cautious towards small children. And although they probably won’t be able to do much damage, they’re not recommended to be around toddlers.


Trainability: A Chinese Crested is smart and relatively easy to train. If you’ve managed to establish dominance in the family, then they will happy comply. Still, even a novice owner will be able to effectively train a Chinese Crested.


Grooming: One of the biggest misconception of the Crestie is that there is very little grooming involved. After all, no hair means no care, right? No. The hairless Crestie may actually require more care due to their sensitive skin. There should be a daily regimen for their skin care. But always consult with your vet on this matter.


Adaptability: Although they adapt well to environments and living situation, there is one thing they cannot stand. A Chinese Crested will usually be unable to tolerate cold weather. This is partly due to the lack of hair/fur/coat. If you live in an area with cold climate, it may not be the best to keep a Crestie.


Activity: The Chinese Crested needs exercise like with all dogs. However, they certainly don’t need too much. These small dogs will sometimes prefer not to go on their walks, but it’s important they do. As long as you give them moderate walks on a daily basis, they will be fine mentally and physically.

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<strong>Chinese Crested - </strong><strong>Vital Stats</strong>
  • Height: 9 – 13 inches
  • Weight: 5 – 12 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10 – 12 years
  • Dog Breed Group: Toy Group

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Chinese Crested Highlights

The Chinese Crested is quirky, pretty, adorable and much more. There are unique facts that set this dog breed apart from others  –

  • Chinese Crested dogs have missing teeth and a lack of hair. These inherent characteristics are what makes the Chinese Crested unique.
  • Chinese sailors took an immense liking to Cresties when they realized how efficient these were in hunting diseasecausing vermin.
  • Hairless Chinese Crested served a number of purposes, in addition to being a watchdog. For example, they kept beds warm and mitigated aches and pains by being used as a hot compress.
  • The Chinese Crested comes with elongated paws, like a hare or a rabbit. Furthermore, people describe their paw-prints as hare-like due to their elongated shape.
  • This canine can be of any imaginable color, ranging from slate/pale pink to dark chocolate. Owners often say that the Chinese Crested changes its color as per the season, wherein high temperatures cause the skin to darken and vice versa.
  • They can jump over surprisingly high fences, especially if they feel determined to break free. If they succeed, you can consider yourself extremely lucky if they come back to you.
  • Separation anxiety can be an issue with this dog breed. For pet owners, you should never leave the Chinese Crested alone for long durations or confine them away from the family.
  • The Hairless Chinese Crested does not shed at all, which spells good news for sensitive pet lovers. Learn more about other hypoallergenic dog breeds here.
  • A Chinese Crested feels comfortable in high temperatures but cannot stand the cold. During summers, ensure that your Crestie is well-hydrated. In winters, ensure that it remains protected and warm.

Chinese Crested Origins

Despite the name, the Chinese Crested did not technically originate from China. Historians believed they evolved from dogs that arrived from Africa, Mexico and/or other countries. But because of the lack of documentation, the timeline of the Chinese Crested remains somewhat a mystery.

Somewhere between the 13th and 15th centuries, Chinese ships travelled to African shores. The sailors, to their surprise, took a liking to the ‘African hairless terrier.’ Having brought them onboard, the Chinese sailors soon realized how effectively these dogs de-ratted the ship.

Because they were such efficient ratters, they became a regular feature on sea-faring Chinese vessels. For this reason, they earned the nickname, ‘Chinese Ship Dogs.’ From this point on, the Chinese Crested travelled all over the world, including: Egypt, Turkey and South Africa.

Chinese Crested in Western Societies

Sometime during the 18th century, the Europeans came across this miniature dog and were immediately fascinated. Writings, paintings and photographs from this era depict this dog breed as loyal companions of Chinese seafarers.

Subsequently, this dog breed lost out on popularity during the next century, only to surface again during the 1900s. This time, two American women – breeder Debra Woods and journalist Ida Garrett – led the crusade to promote the Crestie. Because of their efforts, the Chinese Crested grew in numbers and soon found its way into the official breeds list of the AKC.

Another persona who took an active interest in promoting the Chinese Crested was Gypsy Rose Lee, a stage performer. When her sister gifted her one, she fell head over heels.

In fact, she went on to start a breeding program and even advocated in their favor. Known as the Lee lines, the lineage which she established is one of the most reputable in regards to the Chinese Crested.

Chinese Crested Temperament

Temperament of the Chinese Crested depends on a number of hereditary factors. However, training and socialization also make a difference. Still, your Chinese Crested will display certain traits that are typical of the breed.

Be prepared to be showered with plenty of affection and attention when you bring home a Crestie. This canine loves hanging around with its family and strongly believes clinginess is the ultimate method of expressing devotion.

Hence, expect them to be around you whether you are happy, sad, or just busy. They feel joyous seeing you happy and try their best to cheer you up when you feel under the weather.

Establishing Rules

Begin training your Chinese Crested the moment it steps into your home. Make it amply clear that rules are meant to be observed. Do not make any exceptions in this regard.

A Chinese Crested trained from a very young age can truly be a pleasure to be with. However, loose rules and inconsistency can produce a headstrong and stubborn canine.

The Chinese Crested is inherently sensitive and reacts instantly to the presence of strangers. They emit a bark, a howl or a sing-song yelp to warn the owners of unwanted presence. Although the intruder is not likely to be intimidated by a cute and small canine, you will have been adequately warned of someone’s presence.

With Other Dogs and Children

A friendly Chinese Crested is more of an exception than a rule. In other words, they prefer being wary of strangers, dogs and humans alike. So, you must train the Chinese Crested by helping them develop social skills. Otherwise, there is a good chance they might feel threatened and go for a nip.

It’s best to also keep the Chinese Crested away from bigger dogs, as they can easily be mistaken for prey. Cresties might sustain injuries while playing/interacting with bigger canines, thus requiring a certain degree of protection.

They love children too but prefer to stay out of rough-and-tumble games. Given their sensitive nature, children must learn how to properly handle a Chinese Crested. Likewise, families with toddlers and infants must be alert at all times, as the Crestie is also wary of small children.

Caring for a Chinese Crested

Caring for a Crestie means ensuring the canine gets enough mental exercise. They enjoy some outdoor exercise, but not much. Instead, let the Chinese Crested play with toys, puzzles and other games.


The Chinese Crested requires extra attention in the areas of socialization and housetraining. Begin housetraining your Crestie as soon as it arrives and do not expect quick results. As compared to other dog breeds, this canine takes longer to get the hang of house-rules.

More importantly, you need to use positive reinforcement with a little patience to make it clear that rules ought to be followed. In addition, socialization works best by attending classes or daycare. Expose your Chinese Crested to other small-sized dogs to ensure positive and pleasant experiences.


Crate training serves as an essential routine for the Chinese Crested. Assign your small-sized dog a crate, which is meant to be a private space. However, the crate should only serve the purpose of a bed and shelter against any mishaps.

The Chinese Crested should not spend more than a few hours in the crate at a stretch. Doing so will give the canine the feeling of imprisonment and potentially trigger destructive behavior.  

Diet Guide

Feed your Chinese Crested high-quality dry food at least twice a day. While serving food, never leave out a large quantity all at once. Portion it out into 2-3 equal servings, given in fixed intervals. As obvious as it sounds, the better the food quality, the better their health.

To check whether or not your Chinese Crested is overweight, here’s a little trick. Look downwards at your dog and see if you can clearly make out the waist. Next, place your thumb along the spine and spread your fingers downward.

If you feel the ribs without them being visible through the skin, your Chinese Crested is absolutely fit. On the other hand, clearly discernible ribs must be met with an increase in diet. Additionally, ribs buried in flesh imply the canine needs more physical exercise.   

Treats serve as a good incentive while training the Chinese Crested. However, be sure to use these sparingly. Table scraps make a good meal but avoid dishing out food with high fat content. Bear in mind that all human foods may not be safe for your dog. You should always seek dietary guidance from your vet.

Chinese Crested Grooming

No hair means no grooming, right? Wrong, this is a common misconception. Whether Hairless or Powder Puff, a Chinese Crested needs to be groomed to look good, feel good and enjoy good health.

Skin Care

While the Hairless Chinese Crested requires an elaborate skincare routine, the Powder Puff needs to be brushed and combed every day. The hairless Chinese Crested is prone to sunburns, blisters, dry skin and so on. To protect its skin, you must devise a skin-care routine using sun-blocks, moisturizers and creams. At the same time, be careful not to load the Crestie’s skin with too many products. Whatever products you use, these must nourish the canine’s skin. If you’re not sure what products, consult with your local vet.

Grooming Essentials

Bathing forms an important role in this dog’s grooming routine. Always use a mild high-quality dog shampoo to preserve the skin’s natural oils. Follow with toweling off and blow-drying at low temperatures to prevent the outer skin from becoming flaky.

The Chinese Crested is vulnerable to gum disease, so teeth brushing should be a daily regimen. Check their ears every week for any kind of infection or inflammation. Also, wipe the outer ears with a cotton ball dipped in ear cleaning solution.

Trim nails twice a month, or maybe once, depending on the rate of growth. Every time the Chinese Crested makes clicking noise while roaming around the house, it means it’s time to trim nails. Be mindful of their skin when nail trimming, as you might run the risk of severing a blood vessel.

It’s essential to get your Chinese Crested adjusted to grooming at an early age. It’s a great opportunity to bond with your pup. Additionally, the Chinese Crested will learn to accept it as part of a routine.

Chinese Crested Health

The Chinese Crested could develop the following medical conditions –

Dental problems – By the time the Hairless Cresties are 2-3 years old, they lose several teeth and look spooky enough to compete in scary-dogs contests. Teeth in Cresties resemble small pointed pegs that slope outward and cause dental problems. That being said, these issues do not deter the Chinese Crested from relishing a hearty meal.

Eye-related problems – Some Cresties might suffer from retinal deterioration wherein they tend to gradually lose their vision. Being congenital in nature, this disease does not have a cure and tends to worsen as the canine grows older. It starts as night blindness and leads to total loss of vision. In such a situation, the canine usually adjusts to the loss of vision provided its surroundings remain unchanged.

Chinese Crested may also suffer from dry-eye. In this condition, the canine’s eye becomes dry and inflamed. Due to the absence of mucus, the eye membrane discharges oil and mucus, like conjunctivitis. Administer eye-drops and ointment to restore ophthalmic health when you notice this condition. t

Joint pain – Hip joints of the Chinese Crested can develop pain if the blood supply to the region is hampered. The pup suffers the first stab of pain when it is about 4-6 months old. If ignored, it can aggravate and progressively get worse. Surgery is the only solution to overcome this condition.   

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