Loyalty, protection, and unconditional love; all these three characteristics make dogs the best friend of a human. The dogs’ relationship with humans is long-running and stands the test of time. During the prehistoric phases, humans and dogs formed a bond of love and friendship that is still 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 also know the breed’s history. In the following section, we have discussed the history of the Chinese crested dog. The information about the breed’s history would help you understand the dogs better and 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 and 13 inches tall, these small dogs have a fine bone structure and elegance that is hard to miss. These dogs are loving, playful and very energetic. They are very loyal and can be some of the most attentive housemates who get attuned to the daily chores of the household.

These dogs either come with tufts of hair on the tail, head, and ankles or 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.


  • Hairless
  • Powderpuff

The Mysterious Origins and Evolution of the Chinese Crested Dog

Although Chinese crested dogs are called “Chinese,” they are not believed to have originated from China. Contrary to their name, it is believed that these dogs actually stem from one of the hairless dog breeds found in Africa.

The Fascinating Journey of Chinese Crested Dogs: From African Roots to Global Popularity
The Fascinating Journey of Chinese Crested Dogs: From African Roots to Global Popularity

Yet another theory 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.

History and Recognition of the Chinese Crested Dog

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 were 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 at miniaturising the dog breeds and concentrated on changing their size and temperament while maintaining their ratting abilities. They started to believe these lively dogs had 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.
Due to their cuteness, elegance and loving nature, the Chinese crested dog gained popularity in almost every stratum of society. Not only did the sailors start keeping the dogs as a companion, but also the Chinese Emperors of the Han dynasty used to keep these dogs as pets.

13th century

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 miniature horses, with fur-lined coats protecting them from the brutal winter.

The 1500s

It is believed that the Chinese crested dogs used to go on the high seas with the sailors as ratting dogs. It is also considered that these dogs were used for hunting the vermins during and after the plague.
The theory states that after dogs reached the Aztec civilisation through the hands of the Chinese sailors. After this period, the Chinese sailors started distributing the dogs in different trading ventures worldwide. That includes South America and Central America. Only after that did the Aztecs start using them as companions, bed warmers, and food sources during special events.

Early European paintings also showcase a hairless dog that resembles the Chinese crested dogs of today. An image called Christ Nailed To The Cross by Gerrard David showcases a dog with socks, crest and plume, indistinguishable from the modern Chinese crested.
Several texts also mentioned the dogs by names, such as Chinese Ship dogs, Chinese Edible dogs, Chinese Royal Hairless, and African Hairless Terrier.

The 1700s

During this period, European sailors started exploring the world and reached the seaports of Africa and Asia. The increased communication enhanced the awareness of these dogs and significantly impacted the history of the Chinese crested dog.

The 1800s

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. Celebrated animal painter Jacques Laurent showcased some of the best Chinese crested dogs in his paintings.

The 1850s-1860s

Even though there were dog shows before this period, a crested dog rarely participated in them. However, several Chinese crested dogs were exhibited in England during this time, and their photographs were widely circulated.


The famous Gilmore Garden show showcased three Chinese crested dogs this year.


This year, two Chinese crested dogs were first showcased in the Westminster Kennel Club Show, which took place in New York.

Chinese Cresteds | Breed Judging 2023
Chinese Crested dogs participating in dog shows

The 1920s

During this time, the Crested dogs started spreading their roots in North America. Their popularity rose thanks to two ladies. One was a journalist named Ida Garrett, and the other 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 the doyenne of the breed. It was deemed that she obtained almost every hairless dog known to them.

The 1950s

Ms. Woods started the Crest Haven kennel. She offered registration services to all hairless dog breeds through this kennel.


American Kennel Club first registered the Chinese crested dogs under the miscellaneous class.


This year, the American Kennel Club dropped the name of the Chinese crested dogs as there was a lack of reliable standards, acceptable registry, or speciality club. Only 200 Chinese Crested dogs were registered with the American Kennel Club during this time.


American Chinese Crested Club was founded this year. The reliable standard of breeding 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 gain permission to perform in American Kennel Club shows. However, these dogs appeared in these shows under the miscellaneous class. The hairless and powder puffs were considered two different varieties during this period, which later changed.
Even though this breed was initially registered under the import register of the Kennel Club of England, by 1982, it got full recognition. These dogs even received the first British award in the same year. While the hairless dogs won the hearts of everyone in the shows, the powder puffs were not allowed to participate in any of them until 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 for complete American Kennel Club registration. The American Chinese Crested Club also became the official parent club for the breed in the United States. This acknowledgement enabled the toy breed to appear on dog shows arranged by the American Kennel Club under the toy group.


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 and mixed races, often ranked pretty well in this content.

Modern Times

While the Chinese Crested dogs have retained their popularity in Europe and the United States, the breed has rapidly declined in China.

Chinese Crested puppy, capturing it's adorable and playful demeanour.
Chinese Crested puppy

Chinese Crested Dogs: Origin, History, and Popularity – Frequently Asked Questions

Where did the Chinese Crested dog breed originate?

The Chinese Crested dog breed is believed to have originated from Africa, not China.

What are the characteristics of Chinese Crested dogs?

Chinese Crested dogs are small, standing between 11 and 13 inches tall. They have a delicate bone structure and are known for their elegance. These dogs can either have tufts of hair on certain parts of their bodies or be fully covered in a silky smooth coat. They are loyal, playful, and energetic, making them great companions.

What are the different varieties of Chinese Crested dogs?

There are two primary varieties of Chinese Crested dogs: hairless and powderpuff. Hairless Chinese Crested dogs have little to no hair on their bodies, while powderpuff Chinese Crested dogs have full, soft coats.

What is the history of Chinese Crested dogs?

The history of Chinese Crested dogs is quite fascinating. They were believed to be discovered by Chinese sailors during their travels to African ports. The sailors were intrigued by the hairless dogs, as they were unaffected by fleas, and brought them on board their ships to control vermin. The dogs were then bred in China and became popular pets among sailors and Chinese Emperors. Over time, the breed spread to different parts of the world through trading ventures.

Were Chinese Crested dogs originally from China?

Despite their name, Chinese Crested dogs are not believed to have originated from China. They were likely discovered by Chinese sailors in Africa and brought back to China, where they were bred and gained popularity.

How did Chinese Crested Dogs gain popularity?

Chinese Crested dogs gained popularity due to their cute appearance, elegance, and loving nature. Sailors started keeping them as companions; even Chinese Han dynasty emperors kept them as pets. Over time, they became well-known and accepted in Europe and North America, thanks to increased communication and exposure through trade routes.

When were Chinese Crested dogs first exhibited in dog shows?

Chinese Crested dogs were first exhibited in dog shows in England during the 1850s-1860s. However, they were not commonly seen in dog shows before this period.

When did the American Chinese Crested Club establish breeding standards?

The American Chinese Crested Club established breeding standards in 1979. These standards were based on the registry kept by a breeder named Debra Woods.

When did Chinese Crested dogs become eligible for American Kennel Club registration?

Chinese Crested Dogs became eligible for complete American Kennel Club registration in February 1991. The American Chinese Crested Club also became the official parent club for the breed in the United States.

How popular are Chinese Crested dogs in modern times?

While Chinese Crested dogs have retained their popularity in Europe and the United States, the breed has seen a decline in popularity in China.


The history of the Chinese Crested dogs proves they are intelligent, lively, loving, and loyal to their human companions. At the same time, the dogs have a stubborn streak, with some training that can be managed well. They form attachments fast and always prefer to stay close to their owners or families. As these dogs suffer from separation anxiety, you can witness 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, this dog can be one of the best pet companions you have ever had.

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