Chinese cresteds are believed to have their origins in African hairless dogs. Originally used to hunt rats on board ships, Chinese cresteds now earn their keep as companion dogs. They are 11 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 12 pounds. There are two varieties of Chinese crested: hairless and powderpuff. Both can occur in the same litter. The hairless variety has soft, exposed skin that may be mottled with patterns or spots. They are not completely hairless, but usually have a crest, plume and socks of silky hair, and some hairs on their bodies; some also have beards. Powderpuff Chinese cresteds have a normal double coat. Care needed by the two varieties is somewhat different.
Training, Diet and Exercise
Apply positive reinforcement techniques in training your pet. Chinese crested dogs are intelligent and easy to train.
Socialize your pet early. Chinese cresteds often are extroverts, but without socialization they tend to develop shyness and can become possessive or overprotective of family members. They get along with other pets and children, but small children can be too rough for small animals. Always protect your dog. Teach children the proper way to interact with dogs, and supervise when children are around your dog.
Exercise your Chinese crested for an hour daily, but keep walks short. Chinese cresteds enjoy activities that combine mental and physical effort, such as agility and obedience. Members of the breed can also be good therapy dogs.
Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet for your dog. Chinese cresteds require good nutrition to help prevent skin problems. The Cowtown Chinese Crested Club recommends a diet based on fish and rice for the sensitive digestive system of a Chinese crested.
Health and Preventive Care
Review the health issues that may affect your pet. While Chinese cresteds are generally healthy and suffer fewer genetic diseases than many small dogs, they do have some health issues. Skin problems are common, including allergies, irritation and acne. Schedule regular eye checkups to monitor your Chinese crested for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), dry eye syndrome, cataracts and glaucoma. Deafness, patellar luxation and Legg-Perthes disease, which damages the hip joint, also affect the breed.
Brush your dog’s teeth regularly, using a pet toothpaste and toothbrush. Pay particular attention to dental health if your Chinese crested is the hairless variety. Hairless Chinese cresteds tend to have poor dental health and missing teeth, and may suffer early tooth loss. The teeth can have inferior roots and insufficient enamel. The teeth of the powerpuff variety are normal.
Ask your vet about the proper solution and frequency for cleaning your Chinese crested’s ears. Have the vet remove hair from the ear canal, or do it yourself, using your fingers. Arrange for a groomer or your veterinarian to trim your dog’s nails: Chinese cresteds have a “hare foot” paw, so you can easily trim their nails too short. Watch for signs of trouble after vaccinations, as some cresteds are prone to adverse reactions.
Protect your pet from exposure to direct sunlight. Apply a sunscreen rated for young children to your hairless Chinese crested's skin if he will spend an extended time outdoors. To prevent skin problems, wash the sunscreen off when you return home.
Apply a child-safe lotion if your dog has dry skin. Use lotion sparingly or every other day. It may help to think of your pet’s skin like your own. Your Chinese crested may have both dry and oily areas, and too much lotion can lead to clogged pores and skin problems.
Avoid using products containing wool and lanolin with your pet, as many Chinese cresteds are allergic to them. Read labels before use, particularly with clothing, bedding and lotions.
Dress your hairless Chinese crested if you live in a cold climate. Monitor your pet for signs such as inactivity and cool skin, which may indicate your Chinese crested is too cold. The hairless Chinese crested can endure heat better than many dogs, but cannot endure cold.
Brush your dog often to prevent matting of his coat and furnishings. Powderpuff variety Chinese cresteds are double-coated, and the amount of hair on a hairless variety varies with individuals of the breed, but Chinese crested dogs shed very little. Invest in a pin brush and comb if you own a powderpuff variety, and a slicker brush or bristle brush for hairless dogs.
Trim your Chinese crested’s furnishings as needed, using grooming scissors. Brush and trim your pet before you bathe him. Working in this order will wash away loose hair and reduce matting. While grooming your pet, check his skin condition and overall health.
Bathe your Chinese crested twice a week. Both varieties are prone to skin issues and require bathing more frequently than most other breeds. Use dog shampoo, followed by a light or diluted conditioner. Work the shampoo into the coat with your fingertips, moving from root to tip to avoid matting. Rinse several times to make certain you wash away all of the residue.
These affectionate animals do not do well if left alone for long periods.
The AKC includes Chinese cresteds on its list of dogs recommended for people with allergies. These dogs are best kept as indoor pets, as their coats are insufficient for cold outdoor weather. The breed makes a good pet for apartments or small homes with minimal yard space. They make good watchdogs, and will bark to alert their owners.
Items You Will Need
- Pet toothbrush and toothpaste
- Dog clothing
- Pin brush and comb or slicker, or bristle brush
- Grooming scissors
- Dog shampoo and conditioner
- PetMedsOnline.org: Chinese Crested Dog: Personality & Health Issues
- ChineseCrested.no: Powderpuff: Bath and Dry
- American Chinese Crested Club: ACCC Recognized Regional Clubs (AKC Recognized)
- EverCrest Kennels: How to Groom Your Chinese Crested
- PetMedsOnline.org: Top 10 Best Apartment Dogs
- ChineseCrested.no: Articles: Coat Color Genetics
- ChineseCrested.no: Articles: Grooming
- Chinese Crested Dog puppy image by amlet from Fotolia.com