Understanding the Chinese Crested
by Robert Hudson
The Chinese Crested dog is one of at least nine hairless dog breeds. Soft, silky hair on the head flows down the neck, and tufts of hair on their ankles and a thick coat on the tail. To me it looks like a horse! The skin color can range from white, grey, to black, and a combination of these and spots.
The amount of body hair can vary greatly. There is also hair on the face and ears, sometimes on the neck, and sometimes halfway up the legs. There is also a powderpuff variety that has a full coat over its entire body. It is ultra soft. The powderpuff can be born in the same litter as the hairless.
Why a Chinese Crested
This dog is small in stature: 11 to 13 inches tall and weight is 5 to 12 pounds. Lifespan is typically 12 to 14 years, but have been known to live much longer like many small breeds.
This cutie Chinese Crested belongs to dog trainer Jenn Michaelis. The other dog in the picture is a 120 pound Cane Corso Mastiff that was Ringo’s best friend. She crossed over in January of 2021. Why a Chinese Crested? “I am naturally drawn to unique looks, so this breed definitely has it!”, Jenn told me.
Ringo is 16 years old and still going strong! “He struggles with CCD (canine cognitive disease) and some mild lumbosacral stenosis (arthritis of the spine), but other than that, he still has a great zest for life! I have to be careful because his enthusiasm is greater than his physical stability these days. So I have to be the fun police. It’s no fun.”
Training your Chinese Crested Dog
Jenn adopted Ringo when he was five years old, and he came with issues. “He had some mild separation distress that needed to be managed and treated, potty training to solidify, as well as starting from scratch with all his general obedience. Ringo was a serious bike, squirrel and airplane chaser with no impulse control. He would disappear into the sunset chasing something if he was off leash! He had a rock-solid temperament, was friendly to everyone, and he could stack beautifully for a judge, but that was about it! I had my work cut out for me, that’s for sure.”
She faced these challenges head on. “I started with some intense levels of management, meaning that I arranged the environment to help keep him from falling off the bandwagon and rehearsing the exact behaviors I was trying to get rid of. This meant a belly band in the house, crate training, arranging a baby sitter when I couldn’t be home, and keeping him on a leash religiously until his focus and recall were better.
She continued. “Then I used every opportunity to teach him the good habits I wanted him to have, using a clicker and treats. It took a month to get just a regular, normal sit and stay. He was so used to being discouraged from sitting in the show ring that it was very counter intuitive for him. It took lots of patience and micro adjustments and compromises, but we got it! I improved his impulse control which helped his chasing obsession and his separation anxiety, and used my other dog and friends to ‘babysit’ him so I didn’t have to leave him alone and aggravate his separation anxiety. I weaned him off of all these things slowly until we got to a place where we were both happy with the progress”.
According to many websites, the breed is considered easy to train, although housebreaking may take a bit longer than with other breeds. Particularly intact males who want to mark. Of course each dog is an individual and may differ from the generalization of the breed.
Jenn says, “He’s very sensitive!! He likes to learn and has a lot of enthusiasm, though not a lot of thoughtfulness. Because he is naturally very impulsive, training sessions had to be well thought out and done correctly. If I tried to skip steps or go too fast, he would just leave the training session. Most people would think that is distractibility, but he was stressed by the confusing training session.
Easier as Time Goes By
He kept me honest and I learned how to balance his hummingbird speed with his need for extremely clear information from me. It was so challenging at the beginning that I thought I would have to be happy with only the basics from him, but as our relationship and understanding of each other grew, so did our success! We ended up competing very successfully in Canine Musical Freestyle and Rally-FrEe. He brought me to tears one weekend by earning high in trial. He earned his musical freestyle champion title in 2018, when he was 13 years old! I always like to tell people that, yes, an old dog can learn new tricks.”
As with many small dog breeds, Chinese Crested may have energy to burn away to avoid behavior problems. “Mine is high energy!! He still requires two daily walks and has zoomie-silly-puppy moments where he runs around the house like a maniac. Only now we have to be careful that he doesn’t slip or run into walls! I wish he would slow down a bit…”
The first year of your relationship is critical for training. “Good breeding matters, so always meet the parents of a prospective puppy for the best forecast of your puppy’s temperament. And all dogs need consistent, weekly training for the first year. After that, if they are total rockstars, reliable and running on auto-pilot, then you can consider less training. Anything less than that and the onus is on us humans to systematically teach the dog what manners are expected of them.”
Holly is a Chinese Crested Dog with quite a following on social media. She has the least amount of body hair I have seen in pictures on the internet. The pink skin, adorable eyes and cute nose really make her stand out.
Stacey told me, “She was abused right from a young age at the breeders house. They picked her up by her ears and was drop kicked into the wall. At 7 weeks old she was the size of a large mouse. It took 15 months before she felt safe enough in our home to walk across the floor. Holly has PTSD and will sometimes fall back into fear mode with no known triggers. She adopted me and even after 6 years I’m the only person she allows to hold her. I’ve spent years socializing her and have found ways for her to interact with strangers and feel safe.”
Nothing But Love
“Holly is the underdog. She is unique looking. She’s tiny at barely 6 pounds yet she has a huge personality and the most expressive dog I’ve ever met.” Stacey exclaimed.
“Holly’s crazy posts have helped countless people worldwide deal with what ails them. They feel like they can open up to me. One young man was in a field with a gun ready to end his life. He went into FB to look at his family and friends one last time and Hollys viral video came on. He laughed so loudly that it echoed back from the trees and he realized he still have the ability to laugh. he threw the gun away, went home and woke up his family, told them and he went right into treatment. It’s been 5 years since he wrote me thanking me for saving his life and we still stay in touch. He’s happy, healthy and married now. All because Holly showed him he could still laugh. “