What Is a Powderpuff Dog?

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Although the Chinese crested is often seen as a dog with no hair on his torso, the hairless version is actually one of two varieties of the breed. The hairless Chinese crested only exhibits hair on his head, tail and feet. The second variety of the Chinese crested is called a powderpuff, and this little dog is entirely clad in a long coat. The two variations of Chinese crested can both present within a single litter of puppies.

Origin and Genetics

The Chinese crested was developed in China from African hairless dogs who found their way to the continent via merchant trade ships. The first Chinese crested presented for show appeared in a British dog show in 1881. Around this time, Chinese crested dogs made their entrance into the United States, where the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1991.

Hairless Chinese crested dogs carry a dominant gene that results in hairless, smooth skin. They also carry a second gene that is responsible for long hair, providing the dogs with the areas of hair on their head, tail and feet. If a Chinese crested carries two dominant hairless genes, this fatal flaw often results in fetal death. If, however, a Chinese crested carries two of the genes that result in long hair, the resulting puppy is a powderpuff dog.

Physical Attributes

The Chinese crested belongs to the American Kennel Club's toy breed group of dogs. Both the hairless and the powderpuff variations stand at average heights of 12 inches at the shoulders. They weigh between 10 and 13 pounds. The overall physique for a Chinese crested is fine-boned and elegant.

The hairless variety is easily recognized by the crest of long locks on his head and ears, the plumed tail, hair that resembles socks as it hangs from the hocks to cover the feet and no hair anyplace else on his body. The powderpuff Chinese crested is entirely covered in a double coat. The outercoat is straight and moderately long. The hair of both variations is soft and silky to the touch and may be of any color or color combination. The tail of a Chinese crested is tapered and slightly curved, the eyes are almond-shaped and the triangular ears stand erect.

Temperament Traits

While the hairless Chinese crested tends to gravitate to his human family members for frequent warming snuggle sessions, the powderpuff is a bit less clingy. Both variations adore their humans, however, including children who are gentle and respectful. Chinese crested dogs enjoy being in the spotlight and taking part in household activities. Chinese crested dogs have moderate levels of energy that can be expended with daily walks and interactive play.

Their general temperaments are playful, sensitive, alert and happy. They adapt easily to apartment living. Whether you choose the hairless or the powderpuff Chinese crested, your family will be rewarded with an entertaining and loving companion. The only downfall of the breed is that they are challenging to housebreak.

Health Concerns

The Chinese crested is essentially a healthy dog whose life span averages between 13 and 15 years. Some health problems to be aware of in both the powderpuff and hairless varieties include:

  • Patellar luxation, a genetic condition in which the knee joints pop in and out of place.

  • Congenital deafness.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy, a genetic condition in which the retinas of the eyes degenerate, resulting in blindness.
  • Primary lens luxation, a genetic condition in which the ligaments that secure the lens of the eyes are weak, which leads to dislocation of the lens and results in vision loss.
  • Congenital heart disease, caused by an inherited defect in one of the heart's structures.
  • Periodontal disease, which occurs more frequently in toy breeds due to dental crowding in their tiny mouths. 

By choosing a powderpuff dog, you will avoid many of the skin conditions to which the hairless Chinese crested is prone, such as dermatitis, sunburn and blackheads. Powderpuff dogs shed minimally, but their coats require daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles.

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