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Chinese Crested Breed Information, Facts, Traits & More

The Chinese Crested dog is a rare breed. This unique-looking canine is smart, sweet, and full of attitude. Learn more about what it takes to adopt and raise one of these unusual pups.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: May 23, 2022 | 11 min read

Old Chinese crested dog in the summer in the park with long hair in face

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Are you considering a Chinese Crested for your next lovable canine family addition? These adorable little critters are intelligent, playful companions. Learn more about this almost hairless, unique-looking breed to see if they are the right choice for your family.

The Chinese Crested, or “Crestie,” is an unusual breed with a long history of cohabiting with humans. These little creatures traveled the world and are recorded in history books accompanying explorers from many cultures.

Our breed guide discusses some of the must-know information about the Crestie and how to care for them. This information is general and is not meant to substitute for professional advice. Always consult your dog’s individual needs with your vet.

Chinese Crested Breed Overview
    • weight iconWeight8-12 Pounds
    • height iconHeight11-13 Inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan13-18 Years
    • color iconColorsBlack, White, Tan, Cream, Blue, Brown, Red, Apricot, Palomino, Pink, Multicolored
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

Breed History

Chinese Crested Dog standing in the grass
This breed has ancient roots.

While there is no tangible way to trace back the specific origin, it is believed that these dogs originated in Africa. Large hairless dogs were taken from Africa to China, where they were bred to be smaller. After many generations of careful breeding, the tiny Cresties we are familiar with today were developed.

Chinese traders often sailed with these small companions. The little dogs earned their place as valued crew members due to their remarkable ability to catch rats and other vermin aboard ships. The “Chinese Ship Dogs” dogs became highly traded among seaports worldwide.

Spreading from seaport to seaport, the crested dogs made their way to Europe, Asia, Egypt, Turkey, South and Central America. The little dogs enjoyed popularity in Europe in the 1800s and found their way to the United States in the 1880s.

It took almost one hundred years for the breed to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1991. Now, this breed has competed many times, often in the Ugliest Dog category, due to their unique appearance.

There are two kinds of Chinese Crested dogs currently around today, the hairless and the Powderpuff. The Powderpuff has long, fluffy fur. The hairless only sports hair on her head, tail, and feet.

These two varieties are the exact same breed of canine. The main difference is that one has long fluffy fur, and the other is hairless, with small tufts of hair on their paws, tail, and head. There can be a mix of these two kinds, referred to as a “hairy-hairless,” ranging from little hair to an almost fully grown coat.

Temperament

Chinese crested dog in river
Cresties are curious, playful, alert, loving, and sensitive.

This pup makes an amazing lapdog and does her best in homes where someone is available to love her all day. This breed can be described as clingy. They love their humans and want to be the center of attention 100 percent of the time.

This type of dog is known for high sensitivity and does not respond well to harshness or loud words. She will respond much better to gentle, loving guidance. A calm, secure environment is where she does best. Cresties make good therapy dogs when trained correctly. They are known for being ultra-affectionate and very gentle most of the time.

When it comes to being affectionate and comfortable, she will do very well with her family. However, she can get nippy, anxious, or a little aggressive with people she does not know. Socialization and obedience training can help with this.

Size & Appearance

This kind of pup is often described as a regal and elegant dog due to its fine bone structure and unique appearance. Cresties have delicate bones and are petite, with adults reaching 8 to 12 pounds when fully grown. Males and females are about the same size and stand 11 to 13 inches tall.

Chinese Crested dogs have large, pointy ears and wide-set, almost almond-shaped looking eyes. Their eye color will usually correspond with a light or dark coat. A dark coat means dark eyes and vice versa. This dog has flat cheeks, a narrow nose, and an elongated head. The hairless Crestie has fine, smooth tufts of hair on their paws, referred to as socks, a tuft called a plume on their tail, and a crest of hair on their heads.

Coat & Colors

Portrait of two nice Chinese crested dog - one spotted and one white with longer hair sitting in the grass
Coats can be multicolored and even sometimes have traces of pink.

The Crestie has a coat that can come in an assortment of colors. Black, white, tan, blue, cream, chocolate, slate, apricot, red, or a mix of colors, including Palomino.  The Powderpuff Crestie has long, silky fur, with a shorter undercoat and longer outer coat. The hair is straight, soft, and not overly dense.

The skin of the hairless type can range in color from pink to black and be spotted. The hair on their heads, called the crest, tends to be dramatic, adding a bit of flair and attitude to this already adorable breed. The hairless Crestie does not have a double coat.

All Cresties share the trait of being hare footed, which means their toes are longer than most breeds. This can make trimming their nails tricky, as they have longer quicks than other dog breeds.

Living Conditions

Pet ownership is both a pleasure and an immense responsibility.  As their guardians, we must ensure they have the best care, top nutrition, and a healthy environment to thrive. Chinese Crested are dogs that require a higher level of TLC than some other breeds, so taking on the responsibility of owning one is no small task.

This breed of dog makes a perfect family pet. However, they do better with older children or those who can be very calm. They can develop severe separation anxiety, so doggie daycare may be an option to investigate if you need to leave her for extended periods.

Chinese Cresties are very affectionate and love getting attention from trusted people. While they have a lot of energy, they are mellow dogs who do best in calm, quiet environments.

Cresties should not be left outside unsupervised, nor should they be exposed for long to direct sunlight. These dogs do much better indoors.

The Crestie interacts well with other animals and people, so they can be an excellent choice for those who already have cats or other pets.

Training

Young Chinese crested dog looking up at trainer while on leash
Training for your puppy should begin young.

She will need to start learning basic commands when she is young and will need socialization with both people and other pets. Walking your dog is a fantastic way to work on socialization as they will encounter new people, new animals, new smells, and new sights and sounds.

Housebreaking for this particular canine breed can be a bit of a challenge, as they are incredibly sensitive. If you are too harsh when reprimanding your pup, she may shut down and be very resistant to training. They are intelligent dogs that respond better when approached calmly with sensitivity and patience. She will react very well to positive behavior reinforcement such as treats, belly rubs, and toys.

You will want to make sure to have plenty of appropriate dog toys available for her as she will be a very playful puppy. She may get bored quite quickly. Having a variety of toys to play with, including balls to play fetch, chew toys, and rope toys to play tug of war, will help keep her entertained. Any bored puppy or dog will get into trouble, so spare your puppy and yourself a lot of heartaches and be prepared with a broad selection of entertainment options.

Exercise

Chinese crested dog run in field
This breed does not need a lot of room to play, but she does need regular exercise.

Sticking to short walks of 30 minutes or less will work best for her. She is a small dog and will tire easily, so you do not want to overdo it. This breed is known to be very energetic but not hyperactive.

Allowing her about 30 minutes of vigorous play in the morning and a short walk or playtime in the evening should be enough. These dogs are agile and do genuinely enjoy physical activity. Due to their small size, it is extremely easy to overexert them, so make sure you are factoring in plenty of rest time for your pup.

Health

Hairless Chinese crested dog with stethoscope in laboratory
Overall, this is a healthy breed of dog and has a life span of 13 to 18 years.

The hairless variety tends to be susceptible to more health conditions than Powderpuff. Smaller dogs like these can be injury-prone and easily get underfoot. Additionally, they can escape through ridiculously small openings, so be sure to seal off any way they might get out of your yard.

The Chinese Crested has health considerations that many other breeds do not. One main one is that the hairless variety gets sunburned very easily. This breed will always need sunscreen when out in warm climates with a lot of sunshine and hot temperatures.

Conversely, they also chill quickly and will need to wear sweaters, coats, booties, and other clothing to keep them warm. They do not like the cold. For this breed, warmth is a necessity. Clothing is not just a cute opportunity for a great picture of your pup.

The Crestie can also sometimes be missing teeth. This is a normal trait for this type of canine. However, it is something that any pet owner should pay attention to.

Regular cleaning and dental care are essential for your dog’s health. If you are concerned about your pup’s dental health, check with your vet to look at her unique situation and symptoms.

Chinese Crested Dogs Can Be At Risk For:

  • Dental concerns, hairless dogs are prone to dental issues, make sure to talk to your vet about dental care options throughout your pet’s life.
  • Inherited eye ailments include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), primary lens luxation, and glaucoma.
  • Skin concerns include sunburn, skin cancer, and canine acne.
  • Patellar Luxation is a common condition in dogs that occurs when the kneecap pops out of place and can result in a mild limp or be as severe as needing surgery.
  • Joint concerns and disease can also be a concern for this dog breed. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and other orthopedic issues can develop and impact mobility.
  • Deafness can be a concern for some dogs of this breed.

Nutrition

Chinese Crested Hairless Dog looking at bone in the grass
Your pup needs high-quality, well-balanced dog food.

Depending on your dog’s needs, you may want to provide a mix of dry and soft foods. If your pup is missing teeth, soft foods may be better for her.

Because this is such a small breed, the amount of food smaller dogs consume is particularly important to their health. Just an extra half a pound or so can put them at risk of heart issues. Ensure that your pup is getting the right amount of food and not too many treats.

Grooming & Skincare

Portrait of Chinese Crested dog at barbershop
This canine breed requires special grooming and skincare.

The hairless variety of this breed requires sunscreen anytime they are going out in the sun. This includes partly cloudy days. They are extremely sensitive to heat and susceptible to sunburn, which can be quite painful.

Grooming

Hairless pups will need to have the varying amounts of hair they have cleaned and brushed regularly. Only true hairless dogs will not need some sort of shaving or grooming to keep the hair even.

Powderpuff dogs will need regular bathing and grooming to maintain their soft, silky fur. A weekly bathing routine and brushing every other day are advised to maintain their luxurious coats. This breed does not shed much and does not carry an odor. It is recommended to give them a light spritz with a water bottle before brushing, as their fur fares better being brushed wet than dry.

There are several brushes to choose from for your pup. A shampoo brush like the Bohdi Dog New Grooming Shampoo Brush is a massaging brush that can be used during bathing.

The Hartz Groomer’s Best Combo Dog Brush is another fantastic choice. It is a double-sided brush with soft bristles on one side and a pin brush on the other.  A grooming comb can help get tangles, mats, and debris out of your Crestie’s coat.

Skincare

Skincare is essential for hairless and semi hairless dogs. Along with sunscreen, they will need a regular moisturizer application to prevent excess skin drying. Check with your veterinarian on what brands of products to use, as these can be expensive and may contain ingredients that dogs are allergic to.

Do not use human products on your pup. This can cause a severe allergic reaction or worse. These products are developed for use by humans, not canines. Never use human products on canines unless approved by your veterinarian.

Moisturizers that contain oatmeal, Vitamin E, and natural plant oils can be greatly beneficial to keeping a Crestie’s skin from getting dry. Pet MD makes an Oatmeal Shampoo that works well to eliminate itching and get canines ready for moisturizer. Coconut oil is a great ingredient that helps keep the skin supple and prevents drying. It is in moisturizers and shampoos and can be taken as a supplement. Burt’s Bees makes a highly reviewed lotion with olive oil and rosemary that works well for dry noses, elbows, and paws.

A leave-in conditioner can also help keep the Chinese Crested’s skin hydrated and their coats smooth and healthy. Warren London Hydrating Butter Leave-in is a highly recommended choice.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

Cresties are pricy puppies depending on pedigree. Depending on the breeder and pedigree, they can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $4,000. The initial investment for a Chinese Crested dog could be around $5,000 once all the necessary supplies are purchased.

Your Crestie will need an adjustable crate should you choose crate training. This is often recommended for toy-sized dogs like this breed. Beds, toys, training supplies, collars, leashes, food, treats, and more will be needed as your puppy grows.

Along with supplies and the breeder’s fees, your puppy will need regular medical care and vaccinations throughout her life. As a puppy, she will need an operation to be spayed, as well as immunization, heartworm treatment, flea treatment, and regular checkups.

Depending on where you live, your pup will need to be registered. Microchipping is also likely, and an effective way to ensure your pet can make it back home should they be lost. All these canine breeder and care costs will vary depending on where you live.

Rescues & Shelters

Close-up of a Chinese crested dog puppy looking at the camera, on gradient grey background
Adopting a Crestie from a shelter or rescue may be possible and will be a less expensive option than purchasing a purebred.

There are several groups dedicated to rescuing and rehoming this breed.

As Family Pets

The Chinese Crested makes an adorable and enjoyable family pet. While these dogs can be clingy, sometimes called “Velcro dogs,” they are delightful.

Because of their small size, Cresties make excellent dogs for people who live in small spaces. They do not need a huge yard or outdoor area to run around as they are quite small.

Fun Facts

  • The Chinese Crested has been given the moniker of the “Dr. Suess Dog.” This is because of the similarity to the fantastical creatures in Dr. Suess’s books. The tuft of goofy, wild hair on the head of the tiny hairless Crestie does make her look like she could be one of those storybook characters.
  • Cresties dogs emit a lot of body heat, leading to the ancient Chinese belief that they had magical healing powers. These dogs may be one of the earliest examples of dogs being used for medical therapy with humans.
  • A famous Chinese Crested dog named Sam ruled the roost as the World’s Ugliest Dog for three years in a row, from 2003 to 2005. Sam was a rescue dog with a happy ending who found his way to fame and appeared in the media internationally.

Final Thoughts

The Crestie is a great little canine companion. They are intelligent and loyal, full of love and affection, making them wonderful lap dogs. Their unique appearance and prominent personalities will find a special place in your heart.

A sensitive breed, these pups require some special love and care. These dogs come in two varieties, hairless and Powderpuff, and each type has unique care needs. Take note, these little four-legged friends do not like wintry weather and need extra care and attention when they go outside in the sun.

The Chinese Crested does not like to be alone and can develop severe separation anxiety. Keep this information in mind when considering if this dog is a good fit for your lifestyle. Making sure you have all the best information and are genuinely ready to devote your time and energy to your pup is the best way to prepare for the responsibility of caring for this special breed.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety or care advice. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, insurance expert, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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