Chinese Cresteds are unique dogs. How to care for hairless skin can seem confusing to a new crested owner, so here is a guide to help you care for your Chinese Cresteds skin, along with the products I use and recommend.
Hairless Skin Care
I care for hairless skin in a similar way in which I care for the skin on my face. Simple, gentle, and natural products are best. Crested skin can be sensitive, susceptible to sunburn (the lighter the skin color, the more susceptible), oily or dry depending on the weather, and acne prone. Most cresteds will go through a “teenage acne phase” between 5-10 months, at which time their skin may need a little extra care. While Chinese Crested skin may be different from other dogs, it is really no different from our own skin care!
I generally recommend bathing 1-2 times per week. Any more can cause dry skin (natural oils are good for the skin!), but any less may cause a oily, smelly dog and lead to acne. In the summer, especially if you are applying sunscreen, bathing may be more frequent, and in the winter, when the air is dry and playing outside is no fun, bathing may be less frequent. As you become accustomed to your crested’s skin, you will know when s/he does and does not need a bath.
When choosing products, I look for products as natural and chemical-free as possible. I bathe with Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap. I dilute this soap 1:10 and use it on both skin and hair. You may also use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Bar Soap, but the bar is more difficult to use on cresteds with long furnishings. After bathing, as long as there are no dry skin issues (more common in winter), I apply witch hazel to all the hairless areas, paying special attention to any acne. If there is acne present, I apply witch hazel directly on the acne daily. If the skin is dry, I will apply organic coconut oil, but only use a very tiny amount … a little goes a very long way.
It is important to keep your Chinese Crested protected from sun burns. Not only is it dangerous, but it is also painful. Skin color plays a big role in the amount of precaution you will need to take. Most crested skin colors will tan, and as the summer progresses, your crested’s skin will be less susceptible to sun burn. The exception to this rule is cresteds with pink skin. The color pink does not tan, it only burns, so extra care will need to be taken. Spots on pink skin, however, do tan. So as the summer progresses, the spots will become much more vibrant! I love watching all my crested’s go from their dull winter colors to tan and vibrant during the summer!
The best way to prevent sun burn is to avoid sun exposure when the sun is the strongest (generally between 10am-4pm). My cresteds spend most of their time outside in the early morning and late evening. Even in the middle of the day, as long as they are not in direct sunlight for more than 15 mins at a time, their skin should be safe from burns (you can extend this time for darker dogs).
I try to avoid sunscreen and clothing in the heat because it can cause acne. However, if sun exposure is necessary (no need to avoid a fun day at the lake/beach/park/etc!), then sunscreen and light clothing can be worn. I recommend using an oil-free sunscreen and washing it off at the end of the day. Don’t forget to reapply throughout the day as needed – water and towels can rub the sunscreen off. You may also use lightweight sun-protection clothing.
Grooming the Hairy Hairless
This is probably the most confusing part about the hairless Chinese Crested … the HAIRY Hairless. All cresteds have varying amounts of body hair – from completely naked to completely covered with hair. Genetically, hairless dogs are different from powderpuffs, even if they have a whole lot of hair. If you have a Chinese Crested with hair on their body (maybe just a little, maybe a lot), or if you want to keep face and ears hair-free, you may want to learn to groom your crested at home. I usually groom every 4-6 weeks, right before a bath. Even the hairiest hairless will have a thin enough coat that grooming at home will be easy to do with an inexpensive pair of clippers. I use a Wahl Peanut, and have for over 15 years. I love this clipper! When brushing, I use a small pin brush and comb. You will also want to cut nails. If you are new to cutting nails, it is better to go too long than too short a first. You may also want to purchase septic powder just in case you cut too short. After your crested’s hair and nails are cut, they are ready for their bath to finish up their beauty make over.