Agile & Unusual
Your at-a-glance guide to Chinese Cresteds…
Of all the breeds registered with the Kennel Club, the Chinese Crested has to be the most unusual – namely because it’s mostly bald! Its name too, is somewhat misleading, since opinions vary as to where this unique little dog originated and when. Some say it dates back hundreds of years to China, some say Africa, while others say it’s a relatively new breed that was created in the 1920s at the Crest Haven kennels in America by a breeder called Debora Woods. Another notable breeder during the second half of the 20th century was the hairless dog aficionado Gypsy Rose Lee (1911 1970), a famous American stripper, who founded the well-known Lee kennel. Nearly all Cresteds today trace their lineage back to Lee or Crest Haven lines. Whatever its obscure history, the Kennel Club describes the breed as definitely one ‘for the connoisseur’, as its unusual looks tend to arouse either love or loathing in people.
The Chinese Crested comes in two varieties – Hairless and Powder Puff. The former is completely bald (due to an incomplete dominant gene) apart from a crest of fine hair on the head, some on the back, lower legs and a plume on the tail. Powder Puffs are covered in a veil of long, soft hair. Both Hairless and Powder Puffs can be born in the same litter. Some Cresteds are of the ‘deer type’ (racy and fineboned), while others are of the ‘cobby type’ (heavier in body and frame).
Game for anything
The Crested’s often delicate appearance belies its tough, agile and game-for-anything character. They are renowned as being affectionate and playful family pets that get on with most people and other pets if brought up, trained and socialised correctly, as with any breed. They are good all-rounders too, enjoying many activities such as agility, obedience, heelwork to music and flyball. While not noted for being noisy, Cresteds do like to climb and enjoy digging, so it helps to keep them content if you provide them with the facilities to do so (see the April 2010 issue for tips on constructing a digging pit, and also Playkennels for dogs).
- Chinese Crested Dog Club of Great Britain: Stuart Payne (secretary), tel. 01560 322119; CrestedclubGB@aol.com; www.thechinesecrestedclubofgb.co.uk
- Chinese Crested Dog Club: Linda Biss (secretary),tel. 01278 455935; ANKORSCH@aol.com;
- Size: small.
- Height: dogs 28-33cm (11-13ins) and bitches 23-30cm (9-12ins) at the withers; weight varies but should not be over 5.4kg (12lb).
- Lifespan: usually over nine years and often up to 15 years and over.
- Exercise: they will take as much or as little as you wish to give. They are active indoors – but will require daily walks and off-lead romps. Don’t exercise in hot sunlight or in overgrown areas as being hairless, Cresteds are prone to skin injuries (from thorns and shrub branches for example) and sunburn. A skin sunscreen (such as a baby, hypo-allergenic product) is essential for pinkskinned dogs out in sunshine.
- Training: willing to learn and easily trained.
- Grooming: Hairless Cresteds should be bathed weekly, dried carefully with a soft towel, then have general hypo-allergenic moisturiser (Body Shop’s hemp hand cream is recommended by one breeder) massaged into their skin to help keep it in good condition. Powder Puffs need daily, careful brushing to prevent the coat matting.
- Colour: all colours and colour combinations.
- Diet: eats most things, but do gain weight easily so don’t overfeed.
- Health: Hairless Cresteds are prone to tooth decay and loss. Health problems in some dogs comprise primary lens luxation (PLL), a progressive movement disorder, patella luxation, allergies (often to wool and lanolin) and autoimmune diseases. Hairless Cresteds feel the cold, so it’s important they wear suitable clothing during cool weather. Good breeders, and the clubs (see ‘Useful contacts’) will be happy to advise on any aspects of Crested care, behaviour and training.
- For the Chinese Crested breed standard visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk
Did you know?
The Chinese Crested derives from a mixture of breeds including the Chihuahua, Papillon and Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog). Expect to pay around £500 for a Chinese Crested puppy, or contact the breed clubs for rescue dogs needing homes. Ensure you buy from a breeder whose stock is testing free from hereditary diseases.
Many thanks to Stuart Payne and Linda Biss for their help in producing this feature. All contact details and prices correct at time of press (22 March 2010).