Breed Profile: Chinese Crested

The Chinese Crested has a unique appearance that is pretty unmistakable. Learn more about this rare breed in our profile.

The Chinese Crested is a rare breed. By: Yolanda


Chinese Crested



Physical Description

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

There are two varieties of Chinese Crested dogs: hairless and powderpuff. The hairless version has hair only on its head, tail and bottom of the feet. The powderpuff has a short double coat over the entire body. Any coat color and pattern is acceptable for either version of the breed.

Litters can include a mix of hairless and powderpuff Chinese Cresteds. The average height of this breed is between 11 and 13 inches, and the dogs weigh an average of 10 pounds. Life expectancy is around 12 years.


Hairless dogs from Africa are believed to be the ancestors of the Chinese Crested. The dogs were traded among people traveling to different ports, so they appeared in many areas of the world. The Chinese decided to to breed the dogs to be smaller.

The breed was seen in Central and South America, Africa and Asia in the 1500s. Artwork and photographs depicted Chinese Cresteds through the 19th century.

The breed became popular in the United States in the 1900s, and the dogs saw a spike in popularity after Gypsy Rose Lee, a stage performer, author, actress and playwright, acquired one of the dogs. 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.


Chinese Cresteds used to hunt rats on ships traveling in and out of various ports around the world. Today they are companion pets and participate in conformation events.


These dogs are quite attached to their owners. 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 and can learn tricks. They are good with other pets and do not bark much. Chinese Cresteds do like to climb and dig, so a small yard would satisfy these needs.

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

Exercise Needs

Daily walks and play are ideal for these dogs. They can get injured easily and should be supervised when outdoors.

Grooming Requirements

The hairless version of the breed needs regular bathing followed by a moisturizing agent such as oil or cream. The powderpuff version needs regular brushing 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. The breed also ranks number 2 on our top 10 funniest looking dog breeds.

Common Health Problems

Chinese Crested dogs do not have many health concerns, but there are a few:

  • Prone to overeating
  • Sunburn and skin irritations (hairless)
  • Tooth decay (hairless)
  • Allergies

Is the Chinese Crested the Right Dog for You?

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 Cresteds are affectionate, playful dogs who become devoted to their owners. They can be entertaining and are intelligent enough to learn tricks, but they should be thoroughly socialized.

Exercise needs are easily filled with a daily walk and a small yard with an area for digging. The breed is prone to injury, so care should be taken when they are outside or in unfamiliar environments. Grooming is average to minimal depending on which version of the breed you acquire, and these dogs are recommended for allergy sufferers.

Health concerns are minimal, but food intake should be monitored because the breed has a tendency to overeat. If you can meet the requirements and recommendations above, a Chinese Crested might be a perfect choice for your next pet.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

Chinese Cresteds end up in shelters and rescues often, so search these resources first. If you decide to contact a breeder, make sure you are not unknowingly supporting a puppy mill.

Additional Resources

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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