The Chinese Crested Dog is a smaller (10–13 lbs) hairless breed of dog. Like most hairless dog breeds, the Chinese Crested comes in two varieties, both with and without fur, which are born in the same litter: the Hairless and the Powderpuff.
At first glance, the "Hairless" and "Powderpuff" varieties of Chinese Crested Dogs appear to be two different breeds, but hairlessness is an incomplete 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 an incomplete dominant gene, the "hairless" gene has a prenatal lethal effect when homozygous. Zygotes affected with double hairless genes (1 in 4) never develop into puppies, and are reabsorbed in the womb. All hairless Cresteds are therefore heterozygous.
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 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 premolar 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.
The amount of body hair on the hairless variety varies quite extensively, from the true hairless which has very little or no body hair and furnishings, to what is called a 'hairy hairless', which if left ungroomed often grows a near-full coat of hair. These hairy hairless are not a mix between powderpuffs and hairless Chinese Cresteds, but are merely a result of a weaker expression of the variable Hairless gene. The mutation responsible for the hairless trait was identified in 2008.
One famous Chinese Crested dog was the hairless purebred named Sam, was the winner of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest from 2003 to 2005. He died before he could compete in 2006. Other Chinese Cresteds have finished high in the event as well.
Both varieties require certain amounts of grooming. The Puffs have a very soft and fine double coat that requires frequent brushing to avoid matting. Although a Puff's coat does not continuously grow like that of some other breeds, it can grow to be quite long at full length. This breed has little to no shedding.
Maintenance of the Hairless variety's skin is similar to maintaining human skin—and as such it can be susceptible to acne, dryness, and sunburn. Hypoallergenic or oil-free moisturizing cream can keep the skin from becoming too dry when applied every other day or after bathing. Burning can occur in regions that lend themselves to strong UV-rays, especially in lighter-skinned dogs. Many owners apply baby sunscreen to their pets before spending time in strong sun. Some Cresteds have skin allergies to Lanolin, so be cautious when using any products that contain it.
Unless the dog is a "True" Hairless (one with virtually no hair growth on non-extremities), trimming and/or shaving is often performed to remove stubble growth.
The Chinese Crested is further distinguished by its hare foot, (having more elongated toes) as opposed to the cat foot common to most other dogs. Because of this the quicks of Cresteds run deeper into their nails, so care must be taken not to trim the nails too short to avoid pain and bleeding.
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