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Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Chinese Crested Chihuahua also known as the Chi-Chi or the Mexican Crested is a designer breed that is the result of pairing a Chihuahua with a Chinese Crested. He is expected to live between 10 to 15 years and is a small dog who is known to take part in competitive obedience and agility sports. He is a bold little dog but also very sweet and have a need to be with or very near his owners at all times. They are therefore not recommended for people who need to leave the house for long periods as he would get very upset.
Here is the Chi-Chi at a Glance
Average height Up to 12 inches
Average weight 4 – 10 pounds
Coat type Varies, can be hairless, short, long or puffy!
Hypoallergenic? If hairless he is more so
Grooming Needs Depends a lot on his coat, low to moderate
Shedding Low to none
Brushing Daily if long haired
Touchiness Quite sensitive
Tolerant to Solitude? Not at all
Barking Moderate to frequent barker
Tolerance to Heat Moderate just not extreme heat
Tolerance to Cold Very low. Not good in cold climates at all.
Good Family Pet? Very good
Good with Children? If like the Chinese Crested he will be excellent, if more like the Chihuahua he will just be so so
Good with other Dogs? Low to moderate
Good with other Pets? Good
A roamer or Wanderer? Very low chances
A Good Apartment Dweller? Good in terms of size but watch out for the barking if you have noise regulations
Good Pet for new Owner? Good to very good
Trainability Good but can be stubborn
Exercise Needs Moderate
Tendency to get Fat Moderate
Major Health Concerns Patellar Luxation, heart problems
Other Health Concerns Dental problems, eye problems
Life Span 10 – 15 years
Average new Puppy Price $450 – $750
Average Annual Medical Expense $450 – $600
Average Annual Non-Medical Expense $525 – $650

Where does the Chi-Chi come from?

Dogs have been bred with other breeds for many many years, so while the idea of designer dogs and the cutesy names is new in the last decade or so, mixing breeds together is not new. Specific details on how, why, who and when the Chi-Chi was first bred are not known. Usually intentions of respectable breeders are good and when the best of both breeds are bred into a puppy it is a great thing. However that is not something that can be controlled, there is always a bit of luck with this kind of thing. Chi-Chis for example vary vastly in appearance even in the same litter. He could be hairless, long haired and puffy or short haired. He might be a cute little thing, or he might be less impressive to look at. An example is poor Elwood the Chi-Chi in 2007 who won the World’s Ugliest Dog competition! Here is a look at the parent breeds to get a sense of where he comes from.

The Chinese Crested

The name of this dog is a bit misleading as they so not actually come from China but in fact originated either in Mexico or Africa, but it was the Chinese who reduced their size with breeding and so they became known as Chinese Crested dogs. These brave dogs are believed to have been taken on ships by Chinese sailors to catch rats and other vermin. By the 19th century they were popular in Europe though their name then varied including names like the Chinese Royal Hairless, the Chinese Edible dog and the Chinese Ship dog. When the breed came to America it is not clear though the first breed club formed in 1974. Today the breed is actually rare in China. He is a happy and alert dog who will dote on his owner and want a lot of lap time and cuddles. He is wary with strangers and is a smart guy. He can be stubborn though and a bit needy.

The Chihuahua

Just as with many breeds today the Chihuahua’s history is not completely known for sure. One theory is that she comes from Chinese dogs brought to Mexico by the Spanish who were bred with native Mexican dogs. The other theory is that she comes from the Techichi a South and Central American dog found as far back as the 9th century. Whichever is true the short-haired Chihuahua was discovered in the mid 19th century in the Mexican state of Chihuahua hence the name. The long-haired was developed later by breeding with either the Pomeranians or the Papillons. He is a popular breed still today being a bold and alert dog who is wary of strangers. He is very confident, perhaps a little too much so! He loves affection and attention but can be sensitive. He tends to bond with one person rather than many and needs proper socialization and training to do well in families with young children.


The Chi-Chi is a bold and friendly dog with a fair amount of energy that he likes to expend being playful. He is quite clever and is alert and wary of strangers. He can be loving but usually has a favorite person he prefers to be with. He wants to please you and while he can entertain himself for a short time, prefers to have company and attention. He is very loyal and sweet natured and usually has a big personality. Some Chi-Chi dogs can inherit a stubborn streak.

What does a Chi-Chi look like

While there are the exceptions in general the Chi-Chi is a cute looking dog but can look quite different from one puppy to the next. They are usually smaller than a Chinese Crested and have a frame that is stockier too. He can be up to 12 inches in height and weigh 4 to 10 pounds. His head has a high forehead and is usually deer shaped with a nose that is the same color as his body. He has almond shaped or round eyes that are bright and reflect how alert he is. Usually the Chi-Chi does not have the eye bulge the Chihuahua’s have but it is possible. His neck is arched and long and his body is a little longer than he is tall with a rectangular shape to it. He walks like a prancing pony and has feet that may be more narrow and longer than most other dogs. His tail is long and curved and if he is hairless he will have a plume of hair at the top end of it.

The Chi-Chi can have quite a variety of coat styles and looks. Some have long fluffy hair, some have short hair and some are hairless. Most will have some white hair on their belly, paws or chest but then can be any color elsewhere including brown, black, cream, chocolate, gray and dark brown. If he is hairless he will have hair on his head, lower legs, feet and tail only. There are also hairy hairless dogs, ones that may have a small lone of hair or patches in places.

Training and Exercise Needs

How much exercise will the Chi-Chi need?

He is just a small dog so even though he has a lot of energy his needs are still only moderate compared to much larger dogs. If you have a yard that is a great bonus to let him play in. Otherwise take him for a walk once a day and play with him indoors too. Try to make sure he gets a total of an hour a day of activity. Take care with his back legs when it comes to jumping and stairs. Many Chihuahuas have legs that are more fragile than most, and the Chi-Chi can inherit that sometimes. They are curious and love to explore and have a tendency to jump when they should not, or get up on places (like a wardrobe) where hey should not jump down from.

Is training going to be a problem?

Early socialization and training is something your Chi-Chi would really benefit from, it really brings out the best in them. He is not the easiest dog to train because he can have a stubborn side to him. Be firm and consistent but do not be harsh as he can be sensitive. Reward and praise is the best way to get him to learn, you may just have to be a bit more patient. Keeping the sessions short can help too and if it is not going well there are always professional trainers you can turn to or dog schools.

Living with a Chi-Chi

What grooming needs does he have?

If he is long haired he will need brushing once a day, if he is short haired once a week is enough. If he is hairless wipe him down with a damp rag a couple of times a week. If he is hairless remember to put sun lotion on him when he goes outside so he does not get sunburn! He is not much of a shedder and if he is hairless there is less chance he will trigger someone’s allergies though it is still a small possibility. Baths can happen just when he needs one.

Other grooming needs include wiping his ears once week, checking his eyes, brushing his teeth at least 3 times a week and then clipping his nails. This last one needs to be done with care as there are live blood vessels in dog nails which means if you clip too low, or too close to the quick there will be bleeding and pain for your dog. It is important to keep his nails trimmed especially if he is hairless otherwise when he scratches he could actually hurt himself.

What is a Chi-Chi like with children and pets?

The Chi-Chi is a good family dog but is perhaps more suited to families without children, single owners, or ones with older children. He is good with them when he has been socialized but young ones are not necessarily good to him and if he leans towards the Chihuahua in him he might snap at them if they hurt him. With good training and socialization and with children who know how to behave around him it works very well. He is also good with other pets but may need more time to adjust to other dogs.

Other information

This little guy is not good in very cold weather, and if hairless will need a sweater or something to wear when the weather cools down. He is best suited to moderate temperatures. He will need ½ to 1 cup of dry food total each day, of good quality, divided into two meals. Make sure he is not allowed to overeat as they have some chances to become overweight. He is a moderate to frequent barker so though he is a good size for apartment living your neighbors may not appreciate him. He does not like being left alone at all.

Health Concerns

In general they are a healthy mixed breed but there is always a chance a dog can inherit health issues from their parents and this is true of the Chi-Chi also. He can be prone to obesity as he loves to eat. He will need protection from the sun and elements if he is hairless. They may have dental problems, eye problems, heart problems and as a small dog Patellar Luxation is a possibility.

Costs involved in owning a Chi-Chi

Part of owning a pet is to accept the costs of taking proper care of him. Owning a Chi-Chi will mean making some initial payments for things like a crate, bedding, collar, leash and a carrier. This will be about $125. Then there are initial medical costs. Some breeders may have already had certain health checks done but some will not have. You need to have blood tests done, have him dewormed, then have him neutered and have a micro chip put in. This will cost about $275. The puppy himself could be anywhere between $450 to $740 depending on the breeder, the region, how popular he is and how old he is. Costs that will be ongoing will cover food, long hair grooming (if needed), recurring medical costs, pet health insurance, toys, treats, licensing and training. This will be $950 – $1100.


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The Chi-Chi is a good dog for anyone as they are quite good at adapting to whatever situation they are in. If they live with less active people who want a lap dog that is what they will be, if they live with people who encourage him to be more active then that is what he can be too. He is a sweet dog with a bold nature!

Featured Image Credit: Eric Isselee, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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