History of the Chinese Crested Dog
by Lee Weston
The Chinese Crested dog is a very unique looking dog. Certainly, its appearance in public can invite comments, questions and conversations. The Chinese Crested has been described as a prancing pony, or a fawn, in miniature. Its neck is long, graceful and lean, just like a pony's. Since there is no hair, except on the feet, top of head, and the tuft at the tail, its skin is soft to the touch. This dog also has a broad, deep chest. When watching the movement of the Chinese Crested, it is very graceful and elegant.
So, exactly where did this particular breed come from? The answer to this question is neither easy, nor simple. There is much debate, speculation, and many, many stories. The Chinese Crested dog has been included in written history as far back as the 13th century, in China. The existence of documentation probably means that the dog existed for some lengthy period of time before the written record. There exists a type of hairless dog is many of the ports of call that chinese seamen and traders visited. This was backed by reports from British, French and Portuguese explorers, who found hairless dogs in various parts of Africa and Asia during the 1700s and 1800s. It is thought that the dogs were kept on board ship to control vermin, and/or they were a food source.
Some of the names that have been given to the Chinese Crested are:
Chinese Ship Dog
Chinese Royal Hairless
Pyramid, or Giza Hairless (in Egypt)
South African Hairless (in Southern Africa)
Turkish Hairless (in Turkey, although slightly larger)
Spanish explorers found a type of hairless dog in Mexico, and in Central and South America, in the 1500s. This dog became known to them as the Xoloitzcuintli.
Now this is where some controversy exists, did the Chinese get the dog from the Mexico area, or did the Chinese bring the Chinese Crested with them, and trade with the Indians of Mexico?
The first Chinese Crested dogs that were brought to Great Britain, were brought there as part of a zoological show. There was no breeding program put into place to continue the breed there, so the breed disappeared from England for a time. The first Chinese Crested to be registered in Great Britain was in 1881. The Kennel Club there focused its attention (through the standard) on two distinct types of Chinese Crested dogs. The "Deer" and the "Cobby". Not until 1984, did the Kennel Club agree to make provision for the third type, that is found in most litters, that of the fully coated Chinese Crested, the "Powder Puff".
Now the breed comes to North America. In 1880, a New Yorker, Ida Garrett, became interested in the breed and was involved in breeding, exhibition and writing about the Chinese Crested for over sixty years. Mrs. Garrett also shared her enthusiasm for the breed with Debra Woods, whom she met in the 1920s. For nearly forty years these two women worked together to promote the Chinese Crested dog breed in the U.S.
Debra Woods started a log book of all of her dogs in the 1930s, and in the 1950s, this log book was extensive enough for her to start a registration service for Chinese Crested dogs, and the establishment of the American Hairless Dog Club. Mrs. Woods maintained these books jealously until her death in 1969. After Mrs. Woods' death, the stud books were maintained by Jo Ann Orlik of New Jersey. In 1979 the American Chinese Crested Club was founded and these books then became their property.
Another person that was very involved in the promotion of the Chinese Crested worldwide, was the American singer, dancer and entertainer, Gypsy Rose Lee. Her sister had rescued a Chinese Crested dog from a Connecticut animal shelter, and had given it to Ms Lee. Ms.Lee was so taken with the breed, she became a breeder and protector of the Chinese Crested. It is to be noted that most active Crested kennels in the world can trace the ancestry of their dogs to the Crest Haven (Debra Woods) and Lee lines.
This dog is highly unusual, but those who have owned and loved this breed of dog, would have no other.