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11 Quirky Facts About the Chinese Crested

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The Chinese crested is one of the most unusual breeds in the dog world; their furry feet and flowy manes make them look like they were bred for an ‘80s hair commercial. Although they may not enjoy running around outside as much as other dogs do, they give just as much affection—if not more.

1. They're descendants of African hairless dogs.

Many people depended on the now-extinct African hairless dogs for their warm bodies. Thanks to their lack of fur, they emitted warmth and were often used as bed warmers and hot compresses for aches. This likely led to the rumor that the dogs had magical healing powers. When they were brought to China, they were bred to be smaller.

2. Chinese sailors loved them.

Rebecca O'Connell

Chinese crested dogs accompanied Chinese sailors on their many voyages during the 14th century. The dogs would catch rats on the ships and thus help prevent the spread of the Black Death. The dogs themselves weren't likely to contribute to the spread of the disease, because their lack of fur meant they were less likely to get fleas.

3. There are two different kinds.

The Chinese crested comes in two varieties: hairless and powderpuff. Powderpuff dogs have a thick coat of silky fur all over their bodies. This is a recessive gene, which means you can find hairless and powderpuff puppies in the same litter. 

4. Their feet are a little different from other dogs'.

Compared to other breeds, Chinese crested dogs' feet are elongated. Some call this longer paw print “hare-like.”

5. They come in a variety of colors.

The Chinese crested comes in a ton of different colors, from slate to pink and chocolate; some even have splotchy spots all over their bodies. The most popular colors have shifted through the years—or example, palomino colored crested dogs were all the rage in the ‘80s, but have since fallen from favor. Some owners notice that their cresteds change color with the seasons; as it gets warmer, their skin gets darker.

6. Watch out for skin problems.

Hairless Chinese crested dogs have a lot of exposed skin, which means they're prone to many of the same issues humans are. They can get acne, rashes, and yes, sunburns.

7. A Burlesque dancer helped make them famous.

Stage performer Gypsy Rose Lee fell in love with the breed after her sister June Havoc gave her one named Fu Man Chu. She went on to become an active breeder and advocate for the dogs. Many Chinese crested dogs today can trace their lineage back to Lee lines.

8. Keep them away from wool. 

Because they're so bare, Chinese cresteds need to layer up in colder temperatures. Just be careful about what fabrics you use to clothe your pooch—many cresteds are allergic to wool and lanolin. In general, itchy fabrics can lead to irritation or rashes.

9. Hollywood loves their unusual looks.

You can find a Chinese crested riding in Kate Hudson's purse in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, or hanging with the Olsens in New York Minute. They have also made appearances in 102 Dalmations and Cats and Dogs.

10. They get sweaty.

Unlike most other dogs, Chinese cresteds have sweat glands and can cool down without panting.

11. They're Ugly Dog Competition champs.

Hairless Chinese cresteds can be beautiful and elegant, but others suffer from permanent ugly duckling syndrome. Sometimes this works to their advantage: They have won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest more than any other breed. The most famous winning crested is a blind dog named Sam, who won the contest three years in a row. 

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Whale Sharks Can Live for More Than a Century, Study Finds
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Some whale sharks alive today have been swimming around since the Gilded Age. The animals—the largest fish in the ocean—can live as long as 130 years, according to a new study in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research. To give you an idea of how long that is, in 1888, Grover Cleveland was finishing up his first presidential term, Thomas Edison had just started selling his first light bulbs, and the U.S. only had 38 states.

To determine whale sharks' longevity, researchers from the Nova Southeastern University in Florida and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program tracked male sharks around South Ari Atoll in the Maldives over the course of 10 years, calculating their sizes as they came back to the area over and over again. The scientists identified sharks that returned to the atoll every few years by their distinctive spot patterns, estimating their body lengths with lasers, tape, and visually to try to get the most accurate idea of their sizes.

Using these measurements and data on whale shark growth patterns, the researchers were able to determine that male whale sharks tend to reach maturity around 25 years old and live until they’re about 130 years old. During those decades, they reach an average length of 61.7 feet—about as long as a bowling lane.

While whale sharks are known as gentle giants, they’re difficult to study, and scientists still don’t know a ton about them. They’re considered endangered, making any information we can gather about them important. And this is the first time scientists have been able to accurately measure live, swimming whale sharks.

“Up to now, such aging and growth research has required obtaining vertebrae from dead whale sharks and counting growth rings, analogous to counting tree rings, to determine age,” first author Cameron Perry said in a press statement. ”Our work shows that we can obtain age and growth information without relying on dead sharks captured in fisheries. That is a big deal.”

Though whale sharks appear to be quite long-lived, their lifespan is short compared to the Greenland shark's—in 2016, researchers reported they may live for 400 years. 

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Animal Welfare Groups Are Building a Database of Every Cat in Washington, D.C.
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There are a lot of cats in Washington, D.C. They live in parks, backyards, side streets, and people's homes. Exactly how many there are is the question a new conservation project wants to answer. DC Cat Count, a collaboration between Humane Rescue Alliance, the Humane Society, PetSmart Charities, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, aims to tally every cat in the city—even house pets, The New York Times reports.

Cities tend to support thriving feral cat populations, and that's a problem for animal conservationists. If a feline is born and grows up without human contact, it will never be a suitable house cat. The only options animal control officials have are to euthanize strays or trap and sterilize them, and release them back where they were found. If neither action is taken, it's the smaller animals that belong in the wild who suffer. Cats are invasive predators, and each year they kill billions of birds in the U.S. alone.

Before animal welfare experts and wildlife scientists can tackle this problem, they need to understand how big it is. Over the next three years, DC Cat Count will use various methods to track D.C.'s cats and build a feline database for the city. Sixty outdoor camera traps will capture images of passing cats, relying on infrared technology to sense them most of the time.

Citizens are being asked to help as well. An app is currently being developed that will allow users to snap photos of any cats they see, including their own pets. The team also plans to study the different ways these cats interact with their environments, like how much time pets spend indoors versus outdoors, for example. The initiative has a $1.5 million budget to spend on collecting data.

By the end of the project, the team hopes to have the tools both conservationists and animal welfare groups need to better control the local cat population.

Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance, said in a statement, “The reality is that those in the fields of welfare, ecology, conservation, and sheltering have a common long-term goal of fewer free-roaming cats on the landscape. This joint effort will provide scientific management programs to help achieve that goal, locally and nationally."

[h/t The New York Times]

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