Loyalty, protection, and unconditional love; all these three characteristics make dogs the best friend of a human. The relationship that the dogs have with humans is long-running and stood the test of time. During the prehistoric phases, the humans and the dogs had formed the bond of love and friendship that is still going strong today. However, like humans, not all dogs are created equal. While some are better suited for hunting, others make the perfect at-home companion. The popularity and personality of the dogs also vary depending on the breed. So, to understand the dog better, one should know the history of the breed as well. That’s why in the following section, we have talked about the history of the Chinese crested dog. The information about the history of the breed would help you understand the dogs better and to become a better human friend to them.
Recognising the Chinese Crested dog
The Chinese crested dogs come from an alert and lively toy breed. Standing between 11 to 13 inches in height, these small dogs have a fine bone structure and elegance that is so hard to miss. These dogs are loving, playful and very energetic. They are very loyal and can be one of the most attentive housemates that get attuned to the daily chores of the household.
These dogs either come with tufts of hair on the tail, head, and ankles, or they are fully covered in a silky smooth coat. The unique coat and the graceful movement are the first things that catch the attention of the onlookers.
While these dogs bear the name China, it is unlikely that the origin of the modern variety took place there. Contrary to what their name represents, it is considered that the Chinese crested dogs originated from one of the hairless dog breeds of Africa.
That being said, there is yet another theory that indicates that the history of the Chinese crested dog is related to the hairless dog breeds of Mexico. It is hard to find out which of these two theories are correct. So, let’s move on to the history of the Chinese crested dog to understand how the dogs have become what they are today.
206 BC – 220 AD
As we have mentioned earlier, it is considered that the Chinese sailors first discovered the hairless dog breeds while they were travelling to the African ports. The hairlessness of the dogs intrigued the sailors as they are mostly unaffected by the fleas. The sailors brought the dogs on board to manage the vermin problem of the ship. The Chinese used these dogs as ratters and brought them home to breed. The Chinese breeders were excellent about miniaturising the dog breeds and concentrated on changing the size and the temperament of the dog while keeping its ratting abilities intact. They started to believe that these lively dogs have the healing power to cure the sick. As the size of the dogs started getting smaller, the Chinese people started using the breed as heating pads as well.
Due to their cuteness, elegance and loving nature, the Chinese crested dog gained popularity in almost every stratum of society. Not only the sailors started keeping the dogs as a companion but also the Chinese Emperors of the Han dynasty used to keep these dogs as pets.
The records of ancient china describe a dog with jade beads plaited in its mane, which shares an uncanny similarity with the Chinese crested dog. These dogs were called little horses, and they had fur-lined coats that protected them from the brutal winter.
It is believed that the Chinese crested dog’s used to go on the high seas with the sailor as ratting dogs. It is also considered that these dogs were used for hunting the vermins during and after the plague.
After this period, the Chinese sailors started distributing the dogs in different trading ventures across the world. That includes South America and Central America. The theory states that after dogs reached the Aztec civilisation through the hands of the Chinese sailors. Only after that, the Aztecs started using them as companions, bed warmers, as well as a source of food during special events.
Early European paintings also showcase a hairless dog that shares a resemblance with the Chinese crested dogs of today. A painting, called Christ Nailed To The Cross, by Gerrard David showcases a dog with socks, crest and plume, which is indistinguishable from the modern Chinese crested.
Several texts also mentioned the dogs in different names, such as Chinese Ship dogs, Chinese Edible dogs, Chinese Royal Hairless, and African Hairless Terrier.
During this period, the European sailors started exploring the world and reached the seaports of Africa and Asia. The increased communication enhanced the awareness of these dogs and had a significant impact on the history of the Chinese crested dog.
The popularity of these dogs gradually enhanced, and the breed became well known and accepted throughout Europe and North America. Several paintings and texts started mentioning the dogs. The works of celebrated animal painter Jacques Laurent showcased some of the best Chinese crested dogs in his paintings.
Even though there were dog shows before this period, rarely a crested dog took part in them. However, during this time, several Chinese crested dogs were exhibited in England, and their photographs were widely circulated.
In this year, three Chinese crested dogs were showcased in the famous Gilmore Garden show.
In this year, two Chinese crested dogs were first showcased in the Westminster Kennel Club Show, which took place in Newyork.
During this time, the Crested dogs truly started spreading their roots in North America. Their popularity rose thanks to two ladies. One of them was a journalist named Ida Garrett, and the other one was a breeder named Debra woods.
Over the decades Ida prompted the dogs in the USA through her writings and speeches. On the other hand, Ms Woods continued the breeding program and maintained the studbooks scrupulously. Ms Woods was also considered as the doyenne of the breed. It was considered that she obtained almost every hairless dog known till them.
Ms Woods started the Crest Haven kennel. Through this kennel, she offered the registration services to all the hairless dog breeds.
American Kennel Club first registered the Chinese crested dogs under the miscellaneous class.
In this year, the American Kennel Club dropped the name of the Chinese crested dogs as there was a lack of reliable standard, acceptable registry, or speciality club. During this time, only 200 Chinese Crested dogs were registered in the American Kennel Club.
American Chinese Crested Club was founded this year. The reliable standard of breeding of these dogs was established depending on the registry kept by Ms Wood.
The continuous work of the American Chinese crested Club helped the dog breed to gain once again the permission of performing in American Kennel Club shows. However, these dogs were making an appearance in these shows under the miscellaneous class. During this period, the hairless and the powder puffs were considered as two different varieties, which changed later.
Even though this breed was initially registered under the import register of the Kennel Club of England, by 1982, they got the full recognition. These dogs even received the first British award in the same year. While the hairless dog’s was winning the hearts of everyone present in the shows, the powder puffs were not allowed to participate in any of them till 1986.
The Chinese crested breed was first recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in 1987, While the Kennel Club (1981) identified the breed in 1981.
In February this year, the Chinese crested dogs became eligible to get the full American Kennel Club registration. The American Chinese Crested club also turned into the official parent club for the breed in the United States. This acknowledgement enabled the toy breed to appear on different dog shows arranged by the American Kennel Club under the toy group.
In this year, the Australian National Kennel Council recognised the Chinese Crested dogs.
During this time, one of the hairless Chinese Crested Purebred dogs named Sam owned and retained the title of the world’s ugliest dog contest. However, he died before taking part in the competition in 2006. However, other Chinese crested dogs, both purebred as well as mixed races, often ranked pretty well in this content.
While the Chinese Crested dogs have somewhat retained their popularity in Europe and the United States, in China the breed has witnessed a rapid decline.
All in all, the history of the Chinese Crested dog prove that they are intelligent, lively, loving, and loyal to their human companions. At the same time, the dogs have a stubborn streak, with a bit of training that can be managed well. They form attachment fast and always prefer to stay close to their owners or their families. As these dogs suffer from separation anxiety, you can witness some destructive behaviour if the Chinese crested dogs are left alone for some time.
Despite all these, if you shower your dog with love and affection, these dogs can turn out to be one of the best pet companions that you ever had.
About the Author
Teresa has been a pet lover since she was little. She currently lives with two dogs and two cats, and a hamster. Teresa is a qualified dog groomer and canine behaviourist; these days, she spends her time studying canine nutrition. Teresa is the founder of the Dog Friendly Scene and loves sharing her knowledge on pets.