The Chinese Crested dog has an illustrious and storied history. From Mexico, to Africa, to China, the origins of the dog are mostly unknown. Once utilized for its ability to hunt vermin and ward off diseases carried by fleas aboard ships, as well as a companion for the sick and elderly, the modern Chinese Crested dog is just as versatile, able to win national Agility competitions as well as excel as a family pet.
The Chinese Crested dog is also known as the “edible dog,” however there is no evidence it was truly ever eaten. Although the nickname has stuck, there is no reliable proof that the main purpose of this breed was for food. Some theorize that sailors would eat the dog when nearing the end of their journey; however, there is nothing that supports this speculation. Interestingly, the Mexican hairless dog (a possible relative of the Chinese Crested) was used for meat during the Aztec empire.
A Chinese Crested dog has been named “World’s Ugliest Dog” eight out of fifteen times. The competition, which started in 2000, is an annual contest now sponsored by Animal Planet and held in California. The winner receives $1,000 and a trophy, and unfortunately, is usually won by the Hairless variety.
A burlesque dancer and a Chinese Crested enthusiast saved the breed from extinction. In 1959, Debora Wood saw a need for a documented breeding program for the dwindling Chinese Crested and started the kennel, Crest Haven. Around the same time, burlesque dancer and actress, Gypsy Rose Lee, became interested in the breed and started her own kennel. To expand the gene pool, Ms. Lee incorporated Mexican Hairless dog blood lines, as well as Chihuahua. Her influence enlarged the breed’s popularity in America. Every Chinese Crested dog alive today can be traced back to the work of these two women.
Two Hairless Chinese Crested dogs can produce a Powder Puff, but not vise versa. The genetics of this breed are complicated. The hairless allele is a dominant trait; however, the presence of two hairless alleles in a zygote will lead to fetal abortion. Therefore, every single Chinese Crested carries one copy of Powder Puff DNA. While a Hairless CC can give birth to a Powder Puff, even if bred to another Hairless dog, when two Powder Puffs are bred together they cannot produce a Hairless variety.
Unlike most other dogs, the hairless variety can sweat. A common problem with dogs during the summer months is that they can easily overheat, because they don’t have sweat glands. Not so with the Hairless Chinese Crested! With sweat glands similar to human’s, the Hairless variety gets sweaty, which can also lead to human-like traits such as acne and skin irritations.
A newspaper reporter first made the Chinese Crested famous in America. In the 1870’s Ida Garrett noticed the Chinese Crested breed at a dog show and fell in love. Ms. Garrett wrote extensively about the breed, and eventually befriended the aforementioned Debora Wood! Even though America was first introduced to the CC in the late 19th century, it wasn’t until 1991 that the American Kennel Club gave the Chinese Crested breed recognition.