Chinese Cresteds

Looking like a graceful creature from a fairy tale, a hairless Chinese Crested can't be mistaken for any other breed. Even though he weighs only 10 to 13 pounds, he has a bit of a pony look about him, with his furred feet, head, and tail, and mostly hairless body. Similar to many toy breeds, the Crested is lively, charming and portable, an entertaining and loving companion for gentle households.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

A hairless Chinese Crested can suffer from the cold, but he doesn't often have to put up with it. He's a renowned lap dog, happiest when curled up with his human. As for warmth, he seems to give as much as he gets, radiating heat of his exposed skin. When he does go out, his bare skin needs protection from the sun, which means canine clothes and human sun block. When cold days arrive, you'll need to switch to his winter wardrobe, for this is a breed where a sweater is a necessity, not an affectation.

While it's easy and tempting to spoil and protect a small dog, resist the impulse with your Chinese Crested. Too much of the first, and he'll become a tyrant; too much of the second and his slight natural tendency to shyness can blossom into a real problem.

A well-bred, well-socialized Chinese Crested is an intelligent dog with a happy and somewhat clownish nature. He's not a fan of being left alone, and certainly can't be left in the yard or garage. This is a dog that needs to live indoors as a member of the family.

While Cresteds tend to like children, they're far too tiny for children's games, and are not the best choice for families with youngsters. And sadly, this is among one of the most difficult of all breeds to successfully house-train, so consider that carefully when deciding if this is the breed for you.

While not as yappy as some toy dog breeds, the Chinese Crested can still make some noise. He needs gentle and consistent training from puppyhood on to prevent bad habits from taking hold.

Variations of the Chinese Crested

Chinese Cresteds come in two varieties, the hairless and the Powderpuff. The Powderpuff is a relatively low-shedding dog, and can sometimes be tolerated by people with mild allergies. He does need frequent brushing to keep his coat from tangling. The hairless Crested has a lot of problems with his skin, from dry skin to sunburn to acne. He needs dog-safe sunscreen when he's outdoors, and often needs moisturizer and other skincare products.

Health Issues Common to Chinese Cresteds

Like most very small dogs, Chinese Cresteds are prone to health problems related to their size. Chinese Cresteds can have breathing difficulties caused by a windpipe that collapses and a number of dental problems are caused by the small size of their mouths.

It's essential to have your puppy's eyes examined annually by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist, even if his parents were CERFed. The breed can also suffer from a condition known as "dry eye," so if you notice his eyes seem irritated, consult your veterinarian.

Chinese Cresteds are prone to luxating patellas, where the kneecap slips easily out of place as well as thyroid disease. Also, hip dysplasia is a genetic hip deformity that requires costly surgery to repair and can lead to arthritis later in life.

Your Chinese Crested may also suffer from Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. This condition causes reduced blood supply to the head of the thigh bone, which in turn causes it to shrink. The first sign of this disease is limping, which usually appears when the puppy is 4 to 6 months old. Treatment is surgical remove of the head of the leg bone, after which the puppy will have a relatively normal life other than an increased likelihood of arthritis.

Chinese Cresteds should also be genetically tested for thrombopathia through the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, and have von Willebrand's factor antigen testing, which can be done by any veterinarian, to screen for these bleeding disorders that occur in the breed.

The breed in general is prone to allergies that can cause skin itching and secondary infections, but the hairless Crested's skin needs special care to protect him from sunburn and skin cancer. Use a veterinary-approved sunscreen on your dog's skin if he needs to be out in the sun. They also frequently suffer from dry skin, and sometimes from acne, so regular skin care is essential for the hairless variety.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Patellar Luxation Medium $1,500-$3,000
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease Medium $1,000-$3,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Chinese Crested Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers all breeds and popular mixes, shipped with no questions asked. If you're tempted to buy a puppy at the mall to go with the purse you just picked up, you must resist. Not only will you be supporting a cruel and abusive industry, your carelessly bred Chinese Crested will be at much greater risk of developing health and temperament problems, and of being even more difficult to house-train or instill good manners into than usual. Walk past that pet store, quickly and without a glance.

If you have decided the Chinese Crested is for you, start your search for a good breeder on the website of the American Chinese Crested Club, which provides a breeder listing service who have agreed to abide by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits members from selling puppies through pet stores.

Ask your puppy's breeder to show you written documentation from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) that her dogs are free of eye problems including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). The breeder should also have clearance from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that your puppy's parents' knees are free of a condition known as patellar luxation and that they are free of thyroid disease. BAER testing for deafness is recommended as well. OFA or University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) certification that their hips and elbows are free of dysplasia is also necessary.

Don't fall for the lies of unethical breeders with excuses like their dogs are all healthy or were "checked" by the vet. Consider it a bad sign and walk away.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Chinese Cresteds

Pet insurance for Chinese Cresteds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Chinese Cresteds are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace Pet Insurance offers full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Chinese Cresteds are susceptible. The best time to get dog insurance for your Chinese Crested is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.