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Chinese Crested Dog - Breed Profile

The Chinese Crested Dog is a small and unusual-looking breed with lots of character, spunk, and personality. They are as fun as they look: playful, loving, and devoted to their humans.


The exact origins of the Chinese Crested are unknown but it almost certainly it did not originate in China despite what the name suggests. 

The breed probably originated in Africa as the dog called the African Hairless Terrier in the 1800s.

Chinese Crested Dogs used to hunt rats on ships travelling in and out of various ports around the world.

Hairless dogs appeared in tropical and sub-tropical areas at various points in history and were known by many names.

One theory suggests that the Chinese Crested Dog shares a common ancestor with other hairless breeds in Central and South America, where a hairless dog population first achieved sufficient numbers to be able to constitute a 

Painting by Eugène van Gelder (1882)
The Peruvian Hairless Dog and the Xoloitzcuintle are the probable source, with the Chinese Crested Dog sharing the rectangular outline of the latter, rather than the square outline of the former.

There is anecdotal evidence of the inclusion of small breeds, such as the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Papillon, and a small hound (possibly a Whippet), which may account for the coated Crested being the only long-coated version of a hairless breed.

These dogs remained a novelty right 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.


Small and finely built, Chinese Crested Dogs belong to the Toy Breeds (Group 1)

They 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. An ideal crest (long and flowing is preferred) begins at the stop and tapers off down neck. 

There are two distinct types of this breed:

  • Deer type, racy and fine boned and
  • Cobby type, heavier in body and bone. 

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

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. 

Interestingly, due to the genetic makeup of the breed, each litter can include a mix of hairless and Powderpuff Chinese Crested. 

  • Height: Male Dogs: 28-33 cm at withers; Female Dogs: 23-30 cm at withers.
  • Weight: Ideally not over 5.4 kg (12 lbs). 

For the full Chinese Crested Dog Breed Standard, please visit Dogs Australia


The average Chinese Crested Dog is a bit of a clown, a besotted companion, an agile climber, somewhat prey driven, and is keen to please his owner. 

Active, graceful and affectionate with their owners, the Chinese Crested can be aloof with strangers and make good watchdogs. They are not yappy or snappy and are receptive to training. 

His temperament makes him suitable for dog sports such as Rally O, Agility, Obedience, Lure Coursing or simply lying on the lounge with you. 

This is a clean dog with little odour but he loathes getting his feet wet and sometimes even objects to having his feet handled.

Chinese Crested Dogs do not require a lot of exercise but love to climb and dig, so a small yard would satisfy these needs.

Health & Lifespan

Chinese Crested Dogs are subject to the same health problems as other breeds. There is genetic testing available for PRA, PRCD, PLL, von Willebrand’s Disease Type II and other issues that principled breeders routinely test puppies for. Dry eye is known in the breed, but inheritance is not yet proven.

The mutation that causes hairlessness in the Chinese Crested - as well as in most other hairless breeds except for the American Hairless Terrier - also causes crooked and missing teeth (especially premolars). 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.

As with all hairless dogs, 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.

Healthy Chinese Crested Dogs should live an average of 15 years.


Properly cared for with regular bathing using a herbal non-allergic cleanser, followed by some skin cream or oil, 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 with appropriate warm clothing and bedding.

This breed sheds little and is highly recommended for allergy sufferers.

Both versions of the Chinese Crested require regular maintenance of their large ears, teeth and nails.

Recommended for

Breed: Chinese Crested dog
Temperament: lively, intelligent, affectionate
Lifespan: up to 15 years
Maintenance: medium
Recommended for: anyone with a sense of humour

Chinese Crested Dog - Photo Unsplash / Monika Kacperek
Crested owners range from active singles and families to the elderly, and this breed makes its home anywhere from a flat to a farm.

For more information about the Chinese Crested Dog, please contact one of the following Clubs:

Chinese Crested Dog Club of Victoria
Chinese Crested Club of NSW
Chinese Crested Dog Social Club of Queensland

If you're looking to adopt, please get in touch with:


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