The first Chinese Crested I ever met was the hairless variety, and at a distance they look as if they have been shaved to create their distinctive look. The Chinese Crested is known as a good companion dog. They like to play, are alert, agile, crave human companionship and can become devoted to their owner. It should be noted that children need to be gentle with this dog and not roughhouse – because of this breed’s lack of hair they can be injured easily. Since the Chinese Crested sheds very little or no hair, the American Kennel Club has them on its list of breeds for people with allergies.
The Chinese Crested comes in two varieties: the powderpuff and the hairless. Both the hairless and powderpuff can appear in the same litter, and the hairless variety carries the gene for both the hairless and coated dogs. The hairless is more susceptible to sunburn, skin irritations and allergies, and should be provided with a sweater in cold weather. The powderpuff reminds me of a terrier with their pricked ears and long coat.
It is said that the Chinese Crested was used by Chinese sailors aboard their ships to hunt vermin, especially during times of the plague. It is thought that the Chinese Crested was bred down to its current size from breeds of African hairless dogs. As the Chinese sailed into different ports, the dogs were traded to other sailors and merchants, and that is how the breed made its way around the world. They were found not only throughout Asia and Africa, but South and Central America as early as the 1500s.
An adult Chinese Crested should be between 11 and 13 inches at the withers (shoulders) and they should weigh between 10 and 13 pounds. Their life expectancy is between ten and twelve years. They do not need a yard and will do well in an apartment, though they are an active dog and need daily exercise. Playing can take care of their need for exercise, but it is no substitute for a walk every day. The Chinese Crested is not known as a barker, but they like to climb and dig holes. They are intelligent and able to learn tricks easily, and are usually good around other pets. They should to be socialized and need to know that you are the leader of the pack.
The Chinese Crested is a member of the Toy Group, and was recognized by the AKC in 1991. The first two Chinese Crested dogs to be exhibited in the United States were shown in 1885 in New York at the Westminster Kennel Club Show. Though they had a registry and extensive stud book that began in the 1930s, in 1965 the AKC dropped their eligibility to be shown because of low breed numbers and the lack of a national breed club. The first Chinese Crested breed club in America was established in 1979, and today they are ranked 132 by the AKC. Their most famous supporter is probably Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous stripper who began her career in burlesque. Miss Lee acquired her first Chinese Crested during the 1950s and began breeding them, which helped publicize the breed.
During the nineteenth century, the Chinese Crested began showing up in European architecture and art. There is no breeding program evidence from the period, but the Chinese Crested is also shown in pictures of English dog shows from this time. One of the most famous Chinese Crested dogs was a hairless purebred “Sam” who won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest for three years in a row. He passed away before he could repeat his winning performance in 2006.
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