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The Chinese Crested Dog is a smaller (10-13 lbs) breed of dog known for its unusual appearance and entertaining personality. It is a member of the toy dog group. Two types can be born in the same litter; the Hairless and the Powderpuff.
Appearance At first glance, the “Hairless” and “Powderpuff” varieties of Chinese Crested Dogs appear to be two different breeds, but hairlessness is a dominant trait within a single breed. The Hairless has soft, humanlike skin, as well as tufts of fur on its paws (“socks”) and tail (“plume”) and long, flowing hair on its head (“crest”). In addition to being a dominant gene, the “hairless” gene is lethal when homozygous. All living hairless Cresteds are therefore heterozygous for this trait.
The Hairless variety can vary in amount of body hair. Fur on the muzzle, known as a beard, is not uncommon. A true Hairless often does not have as much furnishings (hair on the head, tail, and paws). The difference between a very hairy Hairless and a Powderpuff is that the Hairless has a single coat, often with hairless parts on the body, while the Powderpuff has a thick double coat. The skin of the Hairless comes in a variety of colors, ranging from a pale flesh to black. Hairless cresteds often lack a full set of teeth, but this is not considered a fault.
The look of the Powderpuff varies according to how it is groomed. When its fur is completely grown out on its face, it strongly resembles a terrier; however, the Powderpuff is usually shaved around the snout as a standard cut. Its fur is incredibly soft. Due to its coat type, both Powderpuff and Hairless are considered good pets for allergy sufferers.
Temperament Chinese Cresteds tend to be affectionate, energetic and playful. They are considered great family pets, with endearing personalities. Some are known “singers” or “screechers” while others are known to “smile.” They are generally happy lap-dogs with candid personalities and usually aren’t the grumpy type but some males can become a tad bit aggressive as they age. In addition, Chinese Cresteds do not tend to be a “one-person” dog, spotting one particular member of the family as their “owner” seeing as how many of the Chinese cresteds are happy with anyone. Though most cresteds are like that sometimes they will choose to be attached to certain people. Often, this person is the one who gives the dog the most safe and secure feeling, and the dog would clearly show its affection towards him/her above others in the family.
Health Due to the relative rarity of the Chinese Crested Dog, and generally speaking, this breed has not been ill-bred enough to develop many congenital diseases found in more popular Toy Breeds. There are, however, some lines prone to the conditions below.
Cresteds have what is called a “primitive mouth.” This means that most of their teeth are pointy like their canines. Hairless varieties of the Cresteds can be prone to poor dentition when they come from a line that was bred Hairless to Hairless for multiple generations. Poor dentition may include missing or crowded teeth and teeth prone to decay when not properly cared for. Some breeders advise new owners not to give their puppies hard toys to chew on lest the pups lose their teeth. This problem is mostly avoided in lines that do not feature multiple pairings of Hairless to Hairless parents. Most dogs of the Puff variety have few, if any, dental defects.
Eyes can be a major concern within the breed, having at least two forms of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) which can eventually lead to blindness. Breeders concerned about the health of the breed genetically test and annually certify their stock. Many register their stock’s certifications with the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).
As with all other Toy Breeds, the Cresteds can be prone to patellar luxation. This inheritable condition is caused by shallow knee joints (stifles) and results in kneecaps that pop out of place. Its onset is often at a young age, and can cause temporary to permanent lameness based on the severity. Breeders concerned about the health of the breed have their stock certified free of patellar luxation and registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
Some Crested dogs are prone to allergies, especially if care is not taken with breeding. Dietary allergies seem to be most common in Cresteds fed a diet that is heavily composed of wheat, corn, or soy products.
Many allergic reactions of the skin of Hairless Cresteds are caused by topical products containing lanolin (wool fat) and other sheep wool products. Some other allergies peculiar to Cresteds include Aloe vera gel and strong fragrances contained in skin care products.
The lifespan of a Chinese Crested Dog can be quite impressive. Many well-cared-for and healthily-bred Cresteds live to see 15 years or more (info from Wikipedia).