Chinese Crested Are so Much More than the “World’s Ugliest Dog”

First up, yes these are the (sometimes) bald dogs that the internet loves to laugh at. As frequent residents on “world’s ugliest dogs” lists, much has been written about the “unique” appearance of a Chinese crested. But we’re here to defend their honor, and get some things straight. For starters, they’re not even always bald! 

Also, they’re smart, loving (some would say obsessively), and beyond quirky. For example, they’re the only breed that can curl its feet to hold objects. What’s not to like?


We are going to have to file Chinese cresteds away with Frenchies, Bernese mountain dogs, and Australian shepherds as breeds with misleading names. That’s right, these guys aren’t technically from China. Rather it’s believed they evolved from African or Mexican hairless dogs, and arrived to China with returning sailors in the 16th century. Ok, you know what, 500 years is probably long enough to claim local status. 

Once they made it to China they didn’t waste any time settling in, becoming loved by everyone from emperors to sailors. Their warm little bodies were used as headpacks and saw them being known for having healing abilities. While their skills as rat catchers kept them aboard many ships, eventually resulting in them making it to Europe. By the 20th century they were popular around the world, but ironically have become rare in China.


These little guys are a toy breed, weighing in between three and five kilos. As mentioned, they’re also not all hairless. Rather there are two varieties: one with hair only on their head, tail, and feet, and a genetically recessive strain with a full coat. 

Chinese crested

Life Expectancy

12 to 13 years.

What You’ll Love about Chinese Crested

Loving: This might be the breed’s defining characteristic. They’re obsessed with cuddling, pretty much stalk their families, and get on well with kids, adults, older people, and (chill) pets. 

Easy to train: Chinese cresteds are alert, smart, and quick to pick up whatever you’re teaching.

Couch potato: This can be good or bad depending who you are, but Chinese cresteds have moderate exercise needs. They’re happy with a medium walk and spending the rest of the day in bed. Although if they feel like it, they’re good at running and jumping. 

Good for warm climates: While many breeds are heat sensitive, a Chinese crested is incredibly tolerant to hot weather. They rarely pant and some owners report them drinking less water than other dogs.

What You Might Find “Challenging”

Destructive: Like many bright breeds a Chinese crested may act out if they’re bored. This could mean chewing your shoe collection, digging up the yard, or escaping all together. They can be real Houdinis.

Timid: While they love their families, they can be very shy and skittish if not properly socialised when they’re young. Even then, they can be chilly to strangers. 

High maintenance grooming: That’s right, the lack of hair won’t save you time in the long run. Bald varieties need regular bathing and often experience skin sensitivities that need to be treated by a vet.

Common Health Issues for Chinese Crested

Sensitive: As mentioned, their hairless skin can give them trouble. They’re also prone to reactions from vaccinations and medications. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have them, but it’s something to ask your vet about if they get sick or need treatment for an issue.

Dental issues: There is a genetic link between the hairless variety and missing teeth. It’s not unusual for them to start losing teeth when they’re still quite young. This may require their food to be adjusted. 

Eye problems: Some Chinese cresteds experience dry or inflamed eyes which can be confused with conjunctivitis. They’re also more prone to a gradual deterioration of the retina, called Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).

Instafamous Chinese Crested

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Thinking about getting a dog? Check out our other great articles on the topic, like:

Should You Get a Dog?

Should You Get a Rescue Dog? How to Decide

What You Need to Know about Bringing a Dog Home for the First Time

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Written by Wendy Syfret
Wendy is Head of Media at Scratch. Which is a good fit, because she's never met a dog she didn't like. Although she has a special place in her heart for muts: three legs, one eye, missing fur, bit of a weird walk? The scruffier the better. Her favourite dog in the whole world though is her terrier-mix Stevie.