Hairless Skin Care

One of the most frequently asked questions I have found, when it comes to hairless dog breeds, is “how do I look after the skin?” This is probably true of the Chinese Crested, American Hairless Terrier, Xoloitzcuintli and the Peruvian Inca Orchid. It should be fairly obvious that hairless breeds will need some form of skin care as they don’t have the natural protection which hair provides.

Skin health is very important and all hairless dogs need more frequent baths than their coated counterparts – once weekly is probably a fair assumption of the frequency needed, depending largely upon the environment and how quickly the skin dries out. Keeping your Crested clean is vital in preventing dirty and clogged skin pores, so is protection from the elements – be sure to wash and dry thoroughly before applying any moisturiser. You don’t want to dry out the skin, neither do you want to let it get too oily. To be quite honest there is no right or wrong way, what works for one dog doesn’t always necessarily work for another, so trial and error is the key. I will list the products that I can remember having good results with, but you should experiment with different products to find which work best for you and your dog. Bear in mind that many hairless dogs can be allergic to lanolin which is found in many lotions as well as in wool itself.

Many hairless breeds suffer with a form of teenage acne. This usually happens between the ages of 6 months and 18 months, with variations in degree from dog to dog and can also be dependent on breed lines – it stands to reason that if the sire and dam suffered acne, any offspring will probably do so too.

Products such as Tea Tree Lotion or Clearasil for sensitive skins are useful at this time, but care must be taken to stop the dog ingesting the lotion (i.e. self-grooming) as it will surely do if it is not distracted whilst the lotion is being absorbed. If you are worried by your Hairless’ skin, seek breed specialist advice. Diet can also play a big part in the skin problems commonly seen today for all dog breeds, not just the Hairless and we like to give a vitamin E capsule with a daily meal.

There are conditions that can affect the Hairless which can be easily solved rather than subjecting the dog to expensive and time consuming tests which may not be necessary.


  • Oatmeal dog shampoo
  • Aloe Vera shampoo
  • Exfoliating body scrubs
  • Moisturising baby baths
  • E45 liquid soaps

Lotions & creams

  • Aloe Vera gel: Great for soothing cuts, scratches and rashes. Grow your own!
  • Elynium: This is wonderful for dry, easily irritated, itchy skin. A great product and all natural too.
  • E45 Creams: A general-use soothing moisturiser
  • Vitamin E cream: Soothes, heals and softens.

Protection from the elements

Warm weather

The Chinese Crested typically comes in many different colours. The darker areas will tan in the sun; the pink doesn’t, it burns! Whilst the Crested is an avid sun worshipper it must be remembered that the lighter coloured dogs will need protecting from the sun with quite a high factor sun block. We generally use a factor 50 – human sun care is perfectly safe for your dog. Our preference is a hypo-allergenic, fragrance-free product for sensitive skin, of which there are many on the market. Many people also like to put a tee shirt on Hairless dogs in extremely hot weather or if outside for longer periods of time. Ideally your dog should not be out in the extreme heat from around midday until 2 pm-ish – “Mad dogs and Englishmen” comes to mind!

Cold weather

It is mostly true that your Crested will not enjoy the colder weather, however, there are always exceptions to the rule. You’ll need to wrap her up warm for outdoor activities, that is if you can entice her out of the house at all and away from her favoured heat source. Cotton is probably the best fabric for clothing as it’s more natural and lighter, especially for underneath outerwear in extreme climates. We usually put clothes on our Cresteds for outdoors only. I find that indoors, if you are cold you put the central heating on – this is enough for your Crested even though she’s naked. She will likely find herself a nice warm spot on the sofa or your bed where she will happily curl up in blankets, duvets or your washing pile if you leave it lying around.
Note: the Hairless breeds, being naked, are not meant to be kennel dwellers.

Chinese Cresteds are considered hypoallergenic because they have hair not fur. To be “hypoallergenic” is to have a decreased tendency to cause allergies – there is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog. Hypoallergenic dog breeds will still produce allergens, but because of their coat type will typically produce less than others. People with severe allergies or asthma need to spend time with any breed in order to determine if they will be affected. I myself suffer with both asthma and eczema and am totally unaffected by Chinese Cresteds.

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