The Chinese Crested is top dog when it comes to flair. There is no other breed out there that can compare to this little pooch’s sense of fashion.
With it’s silky soft skin, and long flowing locks that would make a Hollywood hairdresser swoon, this pup’s style and grace would give today’s top runway models a run for their money. This little dog resembles a tiny pony, and has sometimes been referred to affectionately as “the unicorn dog”.
The Chinese Crested Dog (or “crestie” as it is affectionately called by it’s fans) comes in two distinct varieties: the “hairless” and the “powder puff”. Hairless cresties can be further broken down into the sub categories of “true hairless” and “hairy hairless”.
Usually the hair on all varieties of this breed is soft, silky, and flowing, and the amount of shedding is very little to none. Occasionally it is coarse like that of a terrier. Silky coats are generally preffered.
Although no dog is truly hypoallergenic, the crestie comes highly recommended for allergy sufferers. Another added bonus is that the hairless variety is distasteful to fleas, as fleas preffer to hide in a dog’s fur.
The powder puff (PP) variety is fully furred, from top to bottom and head to tail. PPs have a thick double coat, while the hairless varieties have only a single coat.
The hairy hairless (HHL) displays the gene for hairlessness, but often has hair on it’s torso and upper legs. Some HHLs can be nearly as fully coated as a powder puff, simply lacking the hair on their bellies. While the HHL requires a bit of extra grooming to remove excess body hair, when properly trimmed they can be true beauties.
The true hairless (TH) is naked on it’s torso, sporting hair only as a mane on it’s head and neck, feathering on it’s feet, and a tuft on the end of it’s tail. These are called “furnishings”. The furnishings on a true hairless are often sparse, sometimes nearly non existant, and rarely as impressive as those found on many well groomed hairy hairless specimans.
All three varieties may be found in a single litter, depending on the variety the sire and dam.
Without getting too deep into the realm of genetics, the trait for hairlessness in this breed is an incomplete dominant gene, and when homozygous (the embryo carries two copies of this gene), it is fatal… the developing embryo will die and be reabsorbed into the womb. All hairless cresties are therefore heterozygous (they carry only one copy of the hairless gene).
Powder puffs do not carry the hairless gene at all, therefore a powder puff bred to another powder puff cannot produce any hairless pups. A hairless crestie bred to a powder puff can produce both hairless and powder puffs in the same litter.
The Chinese Crested Dog is a toy breed, averaging around 10 pounds, and about 12 inches at the shoulder. They generally appear to be sturdy little dogs, while remaining elegant to the extreme. They have broad, wedge shaped heads, large upright ears, and almond shaped eyes that shouldn’t ever appear “buggy”. Their gait should be smooth, yet jaunty, never ungainly.
This breed is very affectionate, and while friendly with everyone in the family, it is known to form a special bond with it’s favorite person. The Chinese Crested is not a dog to be left out of anything. Whether you are cooking dinner, watching TV, or taking a shower, you’ll find your crestie eager to be in on the action. This is not a good breed for people or families that spend a lot of time away from the home. Cresties can become lonely, and can suffer from “seperation anxiety” which can manifest in destructive behavior. (http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/separation_anxiety.html)
The crestie has an outgoing personality, is intensely curious and lively, rather intelligent, and is not inclined to be yappy or nervous like some other toy breeds. They are playful, cuddly, and are a good choice for families with gentle children.
Cresties are often described as polite and clean, relatively easy to train, and are not a particularly noisy breed, though they may alert to anything unusual by barking. Thay are also known to have an endearing trademark howl reserved for use when they are having a good time.
It is very important with any small breed to properly socialize and to avoid “babying.” Babying a small breed dog often results in just the sort of unpleasant behavior small breeds are notorious for. They can end up nervous, clingy, yappy and have terrible self esteem, dominance, and fear issues. The dog is not an infant, it is a dog…let him be a dog, or you may wind up with an emotional wreck on your hands.
These dogs do require a lot of grooming. Powder puffs have long, thick hair that requires daily brushing to keep it free of tangles and mats. The hairless varities also require brushing, but it’s not as time consuming. In order to keep your hairless looking it’s best, you may wish to shave away it’s access body hair. Some breeders have succesfully employed hair removal lotions, but be sure to only use products designed for sensitive skin, and research all products (including lotions, and shampoos) before using them on your pup.
The hairless dogs have skin similer to a human’s, and are prone to acne and sunburn. Their skin can be very sensitive, and care must be taken to keep it in good condition. Many cresties are allergic to lanolin (an oil found in many lotion and wool products), so while it is advised to occasionally use lotions to moisterize the skin, and sun screen when going out in the sun, be sure to stay away from any products that list lanolin or wool as an ingredient..including bedding and clothing.
As a toy breed, cresties are relatively easy to excersize. A couple of short walks a day, along with some fun time in the yard…or even running amok inside, is adequete excersize for this breed. The Chinese Crested is an ideal apartment dog.
Though cresties are relatively healthy as a breed, there are a few health issues that you should keep an eye out for.
Hairless cresties have what is known as a “primitive mouth”, this means that all of their teeth are pointed like their canines. The hairless variety often suffers from poor dentition, including crowded and missing teeth, and are prone to tooth decay if not properlly cared for. Powder puffs rarely have any dental issues.
Alergies and Autoimmune disease are two other issues some cresties may face. Common allergens to dogs include (but are not limited to): beef, wheat, corn, grass, and flea bites. Allergies can and do affect dogs in much the same way as they do people; and, as is true with people, allergies cannot be “cured” but can be managed. (http://www.peteducation.com/category.cfm?c=2+1587)
Cresties are also prone to at least two types of progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA .(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_retinal_atrophy) For one form, there is a genetic test in existance that can detect affected or carrier status. (http://www.optigen.com/opt9_test_prcd_pra.html) Since these issues can lead to blindness, it is important that breeders continue to test their dogs for this condition, and not breed any animals that test positively.
Glaucoma is another concern. (http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2092&aid=439) Glaucoma is caused by a build up of fluid inside the eye, causing higher than normal pressure. If not treated, Glaucoma can result in blindness.
As with many toy breeds, cresties are prone to pateller luxation. (http://www.vetsurgerycentral.com/patella.htm) This is a congenital deffect (genetic) caused by shallow knee joints. It is evidenced by knee caps that can pop out of place. The severity of this problem ranges, and can cause temporary to permanent lameness in some cases. Luckily, there is also a test for this that should be performed on all potential breeding stock prior to producing puppies.
Canine multiple system degeneration or CMSD,(http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/96/7/727) also called progressive neuronal abiotrophy (PNA) is also sometimes seen in this breed, thus far exclusively in the hairless variety. This is a progressive movement dissorder that begins with cerebellar ataxia (http://www.caninegeneticdiseases.net/ataxia/Atx-main.htm) which appears first in puppies between the ages of 10-14 weeks of age. By six months of age, affected dogs will begin to have trouble initiating movements, and may fall frequently. The symptoms will become progressively worse, and is eventually fatal, with no known treatments or cures. One dog used in a study of the disease survived to 29 months of age with intense nursing.
The final concern for hairless cresties in particular, is hypothermia. Hairless cresties can become easily chilled. This makes it a great choice for people who like to dress their dogs up, as it is a requirement in colder temperatures. If you are not sure whether or not your crestie needs a sweater, consider if you would be comfortable naked at the current temperature. If not, then neither would your crestie. Dog boots are recommended for use outside if there is snow or ice on the ground. (http://www.fufufashions.com/index.html)
Compared to other breeds, the crestie is unfortunately rather short lived. The average lifespan for most dogs is 13-16 years, with some smaller breeds living into their 20’s. The Chinese Crested, sadly, has an average lifespan of only 10-12 years, allthough some have lived for 15 years or longer
Despite it’s name…the Chinese Crested dog did not originate in China. There are two theories as to it’s orgin. The first, and more widely accepted, is that the breed originated in Africa as the African hairless terrier. It is thought that Chinese sailors visiting ports in Africa brought some of these dogs onto their ships to serve as able ratters. The dogs were brought back to China, where early breeders focused their efforts on reducing size and improving temperment, then redistributing them as either “Chinese hairless” or “Chinese cresteds.”
The other theory is that the breed actually originated with the ancient Aztecs from a cross between the chihuahua and the Mexican hairless breeds. This theory also supports the idea that the breed somehow made it over to China, and continued it’s development there.
The cresty first made it’s appearance in England as part of a zoological exhibit, and as there were no breeding programs put into place, it quickly dissapeared again.
The breed made a comeback In Great Britain, and the first Chinese Crested Dog was registered with The Kennel Club in 1881. The written standards for the breed only allowed for two variations, and those were in physique; the “deer” and the “cobby”. It wasn’t until over 100 years later, in 1984 to be precise, that The Kennel Club made provisions to recognize a third type, the “powder puff”.
The Breed came to the U.S. in 1880, where it eventually captured the attention of a New York woman by the name of Ida Garrett. Garrett involved herself in breeding, exhibiting, and writing about this breed for around 20 years. In 1920, she became friends with Debra Woods, and the two together continued to promote the breed for another 40 years.
Woods began keeping a detailed log book recording the breedings of her dogs in the 1930’s, and by the 1950’s, she had enough of a record to start a registration service for the breed, and to establish the American Hairless Dog Club. After her death in 1969, her books were kept by Jo Anne Orlik of New Jersey. In 1979 The American Chinese Crested Club was founded (http://accc.chinesecrestedclub.info/), and the books were given over into the club’s care. The breed finally gained recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1991. (http://www.akc.org/)
It is not clear at what exact time in history the famous burlesque star Gypsy Lee Rose became involved with the breed, but it was most likely between the late ’50’s and ’60’s. Her sister had rescued a crestie from a Connecticut shelter, and Gypsy was smittin with the little dog. She began to breed and promote them with fervant passion.
Nearly every Chinese Crested Dog in the U.S. today can trace back it’s lineage to these two breeders via the Crest Haven (Woods) and Lee lines.
The Chinese Crested may not be the right dog for everyone, but if you want a flashy, eye catching dog with a sunny, outgoing personality, and you want a cuddly, under foot (all the time) companion, then look no further! As long as you have the time to dedicate to this very social and somewhat needy breed, then this might be the dog for you!
To learn more about this delightfull breed, and to speak to other owners and fanciers, please visit The Chinese Crested Crush forum at: http://www.chinesecrestedcrush.com/phpBB2/index.php
Photo provided by Klearly Chineses Cresteds http://www.klearlychinesecresteds.350.com/