11 Quirky Facts About the Chinese Crested

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The Chinese crested is one of the most unusual breeds in the dog world; their furry feet and flowy manes make them look like they were bred for an ‘80s hair commercial. Although they may not enjoy running around outside as much as other dogs do, they give just as much affection—if not more.

1. They're descendants of African hairless dogs.

Many people depended on the now-extinct African hairless dogs for their warm bodies. Thanks to their lack of fur, they emitted warmth and were often used as bed warmers and hot compresses for aches. This likely led to the rumor that the dogs had magical healing powers. When they were brought to China, they were bred to be smaller.

2. Chinese sailors loved them.

Rebecca O'Connell

Chinese crested dogs accompanied Chinese sailors on their many voyages during the 14th century. The dogs would catch rats on the ships and thus help prevent the spread of the Black Death. The dogs themselves weren't likely to contribute to the spread of the disease, because their lack of fur meant they were less likely to get fleas.

3. There are two different kinds.

The Chinese crested comes in two varieties: hairless and powderpuff. Powderpuff dogs have a thick coat of silky fur all over their bodies. This is a recessive gene, which means you can find hairless and powderpuff puppies in the same litter. 

4. Their feet are a little different from other dogs'.

Compared to other breeds, Chinese crested dogs' feet are elongated. Some call this longer paw print “hare-like.”

5. They come in a variety of colors.

The Chinese crested comes in a ton of different colors, from slate to pink and chocolate; some even have splotchy spots all over their bodies. The most popular colors have shifted through the years—or example, palomino colored crested dogs were all the rage in the ‘80s, but have since fallen from favor. Some owners notice that their cresteds change color with the seasons; as it gets warmer, their skin gets darker.

6. Watch out for skin problems.

Hairless Chinese crested dogs have a lot of exposed skin, which means they're prone to many of the same issues humans are. They can get acne, rashes, and yes, sunburns.

7. A Burlesque dancer helped make them famous.

Stage performer Gypsy Rose Lee fell in love with the breed after her sister June Havoc gave her one named Fu Man Chu. She went on to become an active breeder and advocate for the dogs. Many Chinese crested dogs today can trace their lineage back to Lee lines.

8. Keep them away from wool. 

Because they're so bare, Chinese cresteds need to layer up in colder temperatures. Just be careful about what fabrics you use to clothe your pooch—many cresteds are allergic to wool and lanolin. In general, itchy fabrics can lead to irritation or rashes.

9. Hollywood loves their unusual looks.

You can find a Chinese crested riding in Kate Hudson's purse in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, or hanging with the Olsens in New York Minute. They have also made appearances in 102 Dalmations and Cats and Dogs.

10. They get sweaty.

Unlike most other dogs, Chinese cresteds have sweat glands and can cool down without panting.

11. They're Ugly Dog Competition champs.

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Hairless Chinese cresteds can be beautiful and elegant, but others suffer from permanent ugly duckling syndrome. Sometimes this works to their advantage: They have won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest more than any other breed. The most famous winning crested is a blind dog named Sam, who won the contest three years in a row.