5 Things to Know About Chinese Crested Dogs

The Chinese Crested has a unique appearance that is pretty unmistakable.

Chinese crested dogs love to dig. By: iStock.com/s5iztok

1. Key Characteristics

  • AKC Group: Toy
  • Height: 11–13 inches
  • Weight: 10 pounds, on average
  • Life Expectancy: Around 12 years

This small, elegant and playful breed is one of the most popular hairless dog breeds.

There are 2 varieties of Chinese Crested dogs: hairless and powderpuff. The hairless version has hair only on the head, tail and bottom of the feet. The powderpuff has a short double coat over the entire body.

Interestingly, litters can include a mix of hairless and powderpuff Chinese Cresteds.

2. Where They Came From

Hairless dogs from Africa are believed to be the ancestors of the Chinese Crested.

Chinese Cresteds used to hunt rats on ships traveling in and out of various ports around the world. The dogs were traded among people traveling to different ports, so they appeared in many areas of the world. In China, the dogs were bred to be smaller.

The breed became popular in the United States in the 1900s, and the dogs saw a spike in popularity after stage performer, author, actress and playwright Gypsy Rose Lee acquired one of them. She also opened one of the first breeding kennels for the Chinese Crested in the United States.

The American Kennel Club added the breed in 1991.

These smart dogs are also very affectionate. By: iStock.com/GlobalP

3. How Friendly Are They?

These dogs are quite attached to their humans. They are affectionate, playful, alert and can be entertaining and goofy at times.

They are good with children who are taught to be gentle with them, and they need thorough socialization to avoid shyness. They are intelligent, can learn tricks, are good with other pets and do not bark much.

Chinese Crested dogs love to climb and dig, so a small yard would satisfy these needs.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


LOW: Daily walks and play are ideal for these dogs. But keep an eye on them when outdoors — they injure easily.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: The hairless version of the breed needs regular bathing followed by a moisturizing agent such as oil or cream. For the powderpuff version, brush them regularly to prevent matting. 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.

Health Problems


LOW: Chinese Crested dogs don’t have many health concerns, but there are a few:

This video shows 2 hairless Chinese Cresteds at the 2013 Crufts show in England:

5. How to Adopt One

These small toy dogs are more popular in the hairless version, and finding a powderpuff can be difficult. The breed is rare, and the hairless version is considered to be more valuable.

Chinese Crested dogs end up in shelters and rescues often, so search these resources first. If you decide to contact a breeder, make sure you’re not unwittingly supporting a puppy mill.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, has been researching dog and cat breeds for nearly a decade and has observed the animals up close at dog shows in both the United States and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the book One Unforgettable Journey, which was nominated for a Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. In addition, she was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. Kristine has researched and written about pet behaviors and care for many years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, another bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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