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Eva-Maria Kramer, Animal Photography
The hairless Crested is better known (who can forget a naked dog?) but if you prefer your dogs covered up, the Powderpuff variety is completely covered with soft, silky hair.
Both varieties of the Chinese Crested can be born in the same litter.
With its graceful, fairy tale look, 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, with furred feet, head, and tail, and a mostly hairless body. Similar to many toy breeds, the Crested is lively, charming, and portable, an entertaining and loving companion for gentle households.
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 family. As for warmth, he seems to give as much as he gets, radiating heat from 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 a winter wardrobe: For this breed, sweaters are a necessity, not an affectation.
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.
While it's easy and tempting to spoil and protect a small dog, resist the impulse with your Chinese Crested. Too much indulgence, and he'll become a tyrant; too much guard and his slight tendency toward shyness can blossom into a real problem.
Cresteds tend to like children, but they're far too small for rough-and-tumble play. They are not the best choice for families with toddlers, unless you are prepared to provide plenty of supervision. And sadly, this is among the most difficult of all breeds to successfully housetrain, so consider that carefully when deciding if it is the breed for you.
While not as yappy as some toy dog breeds, the Chinese Crested can still make noise. He needs gentle and consistent training from puppyhood on to prevent bad habits from taking hold.
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.
The appearance of hairless dogs in litters is the result of a natural genetic mutation and has occurred many times in many places over the course of thousands of years. Reports of hairless dogs exist everywhere from Africa and China to Central and South America. Hairless dogs from China have been traded since at least the 13th century. Explorers and missionaries often wrote of their presence them in ports around the world.
One of the first modern Chinese Cresteds was named Chinese Emperor. He was exhibited at a dog show in Britain in 1881. Even earlier, in the 1850s and 1860s, some hairless dogs from China were kept in English zoos.
Cresteds made their way to the United States in the late 19th century and drew the attention of newspaper reporter Ida Garrett, who would go on to breed, show, and write about them for the next 60 years. Her efforts -- combined with those of her friend Debra Woods -- led to the breed’s eventual recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1991, a century or so after Garrett first took an interest. The Chinese Crested ranks 57th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
Happy and playful, the Chinese Crested likes to snuggle. He loves being in the spotlight and will always be delighted to have your attention. The hairless variety can be clingy, while the Powderpuff has a more independent nature. Both are affectionate with family members and people they know, smiling and taking any opportunity to make them laugh. Choose a hairless if you like the feel of a warm body under the covers -- that’s where he’ll be whether you like it or not.
When you’re not around to entertain, the Crested enjoys playing with his toys, inventing games, running around outdoors, or zipping over the furniture. If he goes outside, he’ll need a securely fenced yard. Cresteds are agile and can be good climbers, so make sure your yard isn't easily escaped.
The Crested may be small, but that doesn’t mean he’s not active. Besides playtime in the yard or around the house, a Crested will enjoy a daily walk or personal playtime. He can be good at dog sports such as agility and rally. His alert, but not yappy, nature also makes him an excellent watchdog.
This is a sensitive dog who will be aware of your emotions. If you’re happy, he will be too, and if you’re sad, he’ll try to make you feel better.
Unfortunately, you may be sad because he can be difficult to housetrain. It’s essential to set up a strict potty schedule if you want to be successful. Don’t give a Crested any chances to have accidents in the house. The more often he does, the more difficult it will be to teach him that it’s not allowed. Changes in his routine or upsetting situations can cause him to lapse back into bad habits, so try to keep things steady. Consider training him to use a pee pad or litter box so that he has an acceptable in-home potty option for days when the weather makes the outside unappealing. However, be aware that giving him indoor options may confuse him. It's always best to get him outdoors, so there's no doubt in his mind where it's appropriate to potty.
The Crested loves to eat and is highly motivated for food. This can be great when you’re training, but it means that, left unchecked, he may start putting on the pounds. For the hairless, especially, extra weight will be noticeable. Monitor how much your Crested eats.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Crested, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Among the health problems that can affect Cresteds is progressive retinal atrophy, an eye condition which can lead to night blindness, and eventually total blindness. Have a Crested’s eyes examined regularly by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist to make sure his eyes are healthy.
Like most very small dogs, Cresteds are prone to dental disease caused by the small size of their mouths. Congenital deafness may occur in Cresteds, as well as diabetes and hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
Allergies can cause itchy skin and secondary infections. Cresteds also frequently suffer from dry skin, and sometimes from comedones, or blackheads, so regular skin care is essential for the hairless variety.
Read more about the breed’s health issues at the American Chinese Crested Club. The ACCC participates in the Canine Health Information Center, a health database. Before individual Cresteds can be issued a CHIC number, breeders must submit eye test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) as well as patella (knee) and heart evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Optional CHIC test results that can be submitted are OFA evaluations for congenital deafness and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease and DNA tests for primary lens luxation and progressive retinal atrophy.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.
Don't fall for a bad breeder's lies. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been "vet checked," or any of the other excuses bad breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Cresteds gain weight easily, so it’s important to pay attention to portion size. Keeping a Crested at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The hair on the Chinese Crested is soft and silky. The hairless variety has soft, smooth skin, with hair on the ears and face, the top of the head and down the neck, the feet and the tail. The Powderpuff is born with hair. He has a short, silky undercoat topped with long, thin guard hairs.
Just because the Crested is hairless doesn’t mean there’s no grooming involved. Both the hairless and the Powderpuff have special grooming needs. Just as you wash your face and body daily, you must also clean the Crested with a mild cleanser and moisturize his skin with a gentle lotion or coat oil to keep it from drying out.
The hairless Crested can experience problems with his skin, from dry skin to sunburn to acne. Apply sunscreen to his skin before he goes outdoors. Use a dog-safe brand recommended by your veterinarian in case he tries to lick it off.
The silky Powderpuff coat should be brushed or combed daily. Give him a bath every few of weeks using a mild shampoo made for dogs.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Brush the teeth for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A quality breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will have completed all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with. They will come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you plan to provide. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid them. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Chinese Crested and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the American Chinese Crested Club. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the ACCC’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will clear. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include over-availability, multiple litters on the premises, a choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of an Chinese Crested puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment and come from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Chinese Crested might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Chinese Crested in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Cresteds available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire to adopt a Chinese Crested. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
You can search online for other Chinese Crested rescues in your area. Most people who love Chinese Cresteds love all Chinese Cresteds. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The American Chinese Crested Club rescue groups can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Chinese Crested rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Crested home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Chinese Crested, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Chinese Crested to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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