Many theories surround the early origins of the Chinese Crested breed, with some suggesting it derives from Africa, being known as the 'African Hairless Terrier,' and was adopted by Chinese trading ships that docked along the African shores, using the dogs to catch and kill troublesome vermin. Others speculate that the breed arose in the Han Dynasty of China, where it was widely utilised as a guardian dog, protecting the homestead and the treasure houses. The Chinese Crested is also featured in paintings from the time of the ancient Aztec wanderers, a tribe that used the hairless dogs to warm beds and consumed them as a delicacy. Whatever the true nature of the breed's evolution, the Chinese Crested rose to great global popularity and was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1991.
Distinctive in appearance, the Chinese Crested is classified in two varieties - the 'Hairless' and the 'PowderPuff.' The Hairless usually boasts a tuft of hair on its head, toes, tail and extending down its legs, whilst its body is covered in a robust skin. Both varieties possess a wedge-shaped head, tapering muzzle and large, upright ears. The skin and coat will be solid or parti-coloured, and mottling is common. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for a litter to produce both variations of the breed, although the Hairless Chinese Crested is more popular with breeders.
An intelligent and vigilant breed, the Chinese Crested makes a great companion and watch dog, alerting you to change or threat about the homestead. Highly trainable, adapting quickly to new situations and people and obedient to instruction, the Chinese Crested is well suited to the domestic setting, compatible with children and other house pets when introduced gradually. In order to prevent behavioural problems often associated with the 'toy' breed group, early socialisation, consistent training and firm leadership is essential. On average, a healthy Chinese Crested will weigh 4-5 kg, with a life expectancy of 10-14 years.
Early onset blindness, alongside other optical complaints are identified in the breed. Skin allergies, dental disease and thyroid deficiencies are also common, as is easy weight gain. Feeding human foods is not encouraged for this reason. Despite these complaints, the Chinese Crested is typically healthy and long-lived.