Chinese Crested Dog

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Breed: Chinese Crested dog
Temperament: Lively, intelligent, affectionate
Cost: From $600, Powderpuffs from $400
Lifespan: Up to 15 years
Maintenance: Medium
Recommended for: Families, retirees, anyone with a sense of humour


The exact origins of the Chinese Crested dog are unknown though it is almost certain it did not originate in China as the name suggests. Opinions are divided as to the dog’s history and none can be readily substantiated.

The hound-like appearance of this and other hairless dogs, with small light bones, lean appearance and upright ears (all physical adaptations to warmer climates) suggest that these dogs may have originated from the pariah dogs of the hot arid regions of Asia. Hairless mutations occurred either prior to or after early domestication, and appear to have been developed by these early fanciers.

These dogs remained a novelty even through to the 20th century, reportedly coming close to dying out prior to the 1950s. The first Chinese crested dogs were brought to Australia in 1973 and became recognised nationally two years later.

Chinese Crested Dog

Chinese Crested Dog

Appearance and temperament

Small and finely built. Chinese crested dogs are so called because they have a smooth, hairless body with a crest of hair on the head and plumes of hair on the feet and tail. The skin of the Chinese Crested is warm to touch due to a lack of insulation normally provided by hair. The breed comes in all colours and spotting is common. A darker skin colour is desirable as the darker pigment is better suited to exposure from the sun. The Chinese Crested also comes in a hairy form, called the Powderpuff. Due to the genetic makeup of the breed, there is usually a mix of hairless and haired dogs in each litter. Powderpuffs have a soft undercoat with a fine veil of long soft hair. Their coat grows to 20cm long and can take two to three years before it fully matures.

Active, graceful and affectionate with their owners, the Chinese Crested can be aloof with strangers but should never be vicious. They do make good watchdogs, though are not yappy and are receptive to training.

Breeding and cost

The hairless characteristic of the Chinese Crested is a genetically dominant trait regarded as a semi lethal. At least one parent must carry the hairless gene for pups to be born with no hair. Those pups which receive the hairless gene from both parents will usually die before birth and are reabsorbed in the womb. Those that are not reabsorbed are either stillborn or deformed. Mating hairless dogs together increases the likelihood of producing a greater number of these malformed pups. For this reason, hairless dogs should not be bred together but rather with powderpuffs. As powderpuffs do not carry the hairless gene, pups cannot inherit two hairless genes, though the litter will consist of both haired and hairless types.

Litters range from one to four puppies with an average of three. In a litter of four there are normally three hairless puppies and one powderpuff.

Chinese crested pups start from $600. Powderpuffs start from around $400. Prices can vary widely.

Health and lifespan

Naturally with hairless dog, problems may arise with exposure to the sun and cold. Care must be taken to ensure that these dogs do not suffer sunburn. Sunscreen may be applied during the hot summer months but this may prove frustrating as the dog is likely to lick the product off. The skin is thicker than other breeds of dog and heals quickly if scratched or cut; though unsightly blackheads may occur, necessitating routine cleaning of the skin. Poor tooth structure is also linked to these hairless breeds. The canine teeth will point forward, like tusks, and a shallow root structure will cause the teeth to loosen and fall out prematurely, as early as two to four years. Breeders suggest that feeding plenty of bones and dry food will help stimulate and clean the gums and teeth. Selecting and breeding from dogs with improved dentition can also help to reduce this problem over time. Toenails also require regular clipping. Healthy Chinese crested dogs should live an average of 15 years.

Feeding and maintenance

Chinese crested dogs thrive best on a balanced diet of dry food, fresh meat and raw bones. Like other small breeds of dog, the Chinese Crested will often take their food away and eat it one piece at a time.

Properly cared for with some skin cream, the skin of the hairless will remain soft to the touch. Show quality dogs are higher maintenance as they will have a very sparse covering of hair over their body which requires clipping. A comb is required for the fine hairs. Powderpuffs require grooming for 10 minutes every two to three weeks to keep the coat free of tangles. In cooler climates, hairless dogs should be protected from the cold in winter.

Space and exercise

Equally suited to a backyard, courtyard or unit. These dogs do not require much exercise but do enjoy being walked.

Recommended for

Those who prefer something a little different. These are loyal dogs equally suited to families, the retired or someone who might just want to look a bit funky. Due to their size, these dogs are generally not suited for families with very small children.

Further Information

We filmed this segment in Victoria at Yarra Bend Park, Fairfield with members of the Chinese Crested Dog Club of Victoria.

If you are interested in finding out more about these dogs, contact;

VIC: Chinese Crested Dog Club of Victoria
Secretary Carol Slavin
Phone: (03) 5191 8252
Email: [email protected]

NSW: Chinese Crested Club of NSW
Secretary Sandy Pickering
Phone: (02) 6352 4196
Email: [email protected]

QLD: Chinese Crested Dog Social Club of Queensland
Secretary Joanne Tilbrook
Phone: (07) 5529 4522
Email: [email protected]

WA: Breeder Lyn Williams
Phone: (08) 9398 6537

For other states, contact the nearest listed state for assistance.