More on the Chinese Crested Powderpuff Dog

 1886 from an out of copyright book “Dogs, Illustrated”

Right now, there is only one version of the Chinese Crested Dog that counts as the proper type. This perfect type dog has a hairless body and neck, with flowing hair on the lower legs, tip of the tail and the “Crest” itself is like a horse’s fetlock and mane, a spendiferous fest of flowing locks. This dog may be the most flashy and decorative dog to  grace the kennel clubs since the poodle’s distinctive cut made it a fashion icon, decades ago.

There is little known about how the Chinese Crested breed was designed. The lies about the founding of the breed, still redounding today, are indictments of truth-telling in Dog Breeders, in general- they are ALL fish stories for popular consumption, little jingles to imprint the breed on your mind, for all breeds have a sales pitch. And yes, The CC was a designed dog, cobbled together from 3-4 varieties of  hairless dogs from Latin America and perhaps several dogs with white, long, hair. The major architect of the breed was Debora Wood, though she inherited foundation stock and philosophy from Ida Garrett.  who learned her methods  helping to form the AKC Chihuahua and the Akc Chihuahua standard. Ida Garrett, perhaps a bit ego-inflated from her success with the Chihuahua, which she completely removed from its roots, took on the hairless dog breeders around at the time, mostly in Europe. Dog breeding was a societal pivot and the British were its masters. In the achievement of the Chinese Crested Dog,  Ida, who conceived the idea and had started collecting the dogs, was at once playing homage to the “Kennel” club’s idea of breeding dogs, by creating a dog breed, and at the same time, have an American try to out show them at their own “best” as creators of breeds. This was the ultimate pinnacle in Dog Society, to design and produce a breed for the modern age, to base it on one of the “old types”. Early in the game, Debora Wood took over the work and is credited for refining the deer type body in the crested. Later, Gypsy Rose Lee added stock and ideas to the mix.

Only someone else of that day could understand how being a “Dog Fancier” gave status to the new “Upper Middle Class” in England and America (and by “me, too,” default, Canada). Ida Garret and Deborah Wood were part of that scene. They had enough money to breed dogs and to collect them, which was a prerequisite in dog breeding. Garrett had collected hairless dogs, but passed them to Wood- (I think because of the variable hairless problem, which she referred to as “mixed breeding”). She even claimed there were no purebred Xolos any more. (There probably never were, but they didn’t recognize that in the 1950’s)

Wood  looked at the Xolos and PIO’s and Pila dogs and whatever was hairless that she had gotten from Garrett, and had a Vision of this dowdy little food dog as Dog Royalty. Some of her hairless dogs were squat and fat. too much of a food dog, though they were very gentle and well behaved dogs. Some were average in proportion. They had a slightly longer back than leg, erect, large ears. When bred to a long hair dog of about the same type and proportions, they got all the now known hairless dog patterns in the first few litters. I would imagine that every hairless dog in the experiment was mated to a long hair. The first (F1) generation would have sorted into 50% long (hopefully)  haired dogs and 50% with the hairless mutation.

If Wood had 20 hairless to start, (that’s a guess at a minimal number and she picked several different long haired breeds to cross with, then she interbred the results. One thing seems clear. The general type is still like a small xolo, with hare feet, almond eyes and big, upright ears. These probably came in all of the Latino hairless dogs. They are probably dominant features or maybe not, but they breed true most of the time. They came out as the strongest showers in the earliest matchings, thus bringing something else kind of distinctiveto the breed,  in addition to the hairless traits. This part was easy to fix into the new breed compared to getting the correct hair pattern. Although many xolos of the day were long backed with shortish legs, Wood emphasized the more deerlike traits, finer bones and longer legs. This dog is almost indistinguishable from toy sized Xolos, except in the fancy furnishings.

The long hair crossings with the correct hairless pattern were producing true hairless, with hair in the correct places, but the powder puffs and the hairy hairless and the blotchy hairless pups have to go to pet homes and often that was most of the litter. At first, Wood must have thought she would be able to improve the odds for getting more hairless with the proper hair pattern. As soon as possible, she started breeding hairless to hairless. She would have chosen to skip over the powder puffs and the ones with too much hair and perhaps even too little hair, unless some other consideration was in play. This did appear to help produce more pups of the correct pattern, but did nothing to stop producing the powder puffs and a huge number of pet quality pups, in which the pups are missing the very trait that defines their breed.

Breeding correct hairless to correct hairless may have lowered the chances for the hairy hairless and blotchy bald types to show up, but, 60 years after Wood’s main work, unacceptable hair patterns and baldness still occur in the best of litters. Chinese Crested breeders can count on about 25%- powderpuffs even if they breed only the proper baldness pattern to proper baldness pattern and reject all the powderpuffs for breeding, plus the hairy hairless, of course you must not breed a blotchy hairless dog under any circumstances and the ones that look like xolos should be designated pet quality too.

Obviously, this is not the breed to make money breeding on, unless you can get good prices for the improper types as pet quality dogs. It would appear to be lucky to get 2 with the proper hair pattern in one litter, 2 powder puffs and 2 with improper hair patterns in a litter of 6. Even the 2 with the correct hair may have other issues keeping it from being show quality. I am sure it is the economics of breeding this breed that is the basic reason for some breeders, using the hairy-hairless and the blotchy hairless in the ring. They have the dentition, so why not just shave off the offending hair, and voila! one more show dog enters the ring.

I get to this point in my thinking and have to stop, because in a world with too many dogs to have homes for them all,  I need to reflect on the ethics of creating a breed that only breeds true 25% of the time…………I am positive Wood saw this as a solvable problem, but nothing has eliminated the variety of improper types, so far.

Instead, it makes me think about how this was dealt with in Mexico and other places that kept this breed before Debora Wood and her new breeding notions started using the Hh gene in her breeding scheme to develop a “My little Pony” Breed out of the original hairless breeds. The more I say, the more I need to study.

You know that if a hairy hairless wins in the ring, it will be used for breeding. Some of the honest Cresty breeders who play by the unfair rules of their game, deplore this and fear the entire breed will turn into hairy hairless.  So far, I have seen no evidence that breeding the hairy hairless to each other produces anything but the same old pattern baldness. That is, the proper type can be found in hairy hairless litters. In fact the hairy hairless seem to birth pups with the same basic four hair patterns: hairy hairless, blotchy hairless, true hairless and too hairless. I am sure that two blotchy hairless can produce a true hairless. If the hairy hairless breed true and produce only hairy hairless, that also appears to be yet another breed the CC has produced, but there is no evidence that this is true. Hairy hairless don’t breed true any more than true hairless.

In a world that does not need more puppies anyway, the CC breeders are producing a lot more pet quality dogs because of the low percentage of true Cresteds to come out of most breeding programs. Then if they doctor the looks, it thumbs the nose at the Breed Standard as it is written today. And then, the CC breed also throws a certain percent of xolo-type dogs. what do you do with them? Some CC people appear to start raising Xolos too. I feel that dog breeders using the AKC style of inbreeding is not working in this breed, In fact, eliminating all the ones with incorrect hair patterns from breeding programs accelerates the inbreeding coefficient.

Hairless street dog with blotchy baldness and a full mane.

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