A Chinese hamster should be long and slim rather than round. This hamster shouldn't have a waist either. The head should not be pointy and the ears not overly large. You run the risk of breeding them to look like mice if you aren't careful.
Chinese should be large but can be too big in my opinion. Any hamster should be in proportion when you look at them.
Males tend to be bigger than females.
All breeders should be mindful of diabetes that tends to come on in older age and may have genetic factors. Baby chinese born with this disease rarely survive longer than 8-12 weeks but older hamsters can live quite well with it. Diet should only be changed once diabetes is confirmed and animals with this condition should not be bred from.
The agouti wild coloured Chinese are referred to as 'normal' by exhibitors. This colour, like the golden Syrian, is not usually described as recessive or dominant as it's the natural or 'default' colour of this hamster.
Normals are often a grey colour but should actually be brown. The standard asks for a mahogany colour but it's not often that we see an extremely good example of this variety.
To help you achieve the best you can you must select for colour when choosing the pups although you shouldn't sacrifice too much head shape or size as these are equally difficult to get back on track.
Breeding normals with dominant spotted hamsters can give you normals with small white spots on the cheeks or neck. It's unclear whether these are 'secret spotties' (genetically dom spot) or just normals with faults. Normals produced out of white lines tend to be more washed out.
For the best results, breed normals to normals and only outcross to dom spot if you need to use a new blood line. When purchasing a new show animal, be sure to check the cheeks, belly and neck for white spots.
It's hard to judge the quality of a young normal Chinese as they are a variety that matures into it's colour and often doesn't do well until a year old.
The images show Vectis Curie at Doric. Doric Wee Jock whose size, type and colour won him numerous Best in Shows and 2 certificates of merit. Two of Wee Jocks pups showing how pale baby Chinese can be.
Dominant spotted Chinese are white animals with coloured markings. These markings should be spots but in reality colour tends to cluster around the dorsal stripe. Ideally, the pattern should be as even as possibly and not brindled (grouped into lines). Dom spots that are bred for whites tend to be more washed out, usually the colour on this patterned hamster is richer than on a normal.
A dominant gene, they are best bred with each other for good colour and pattern.
Images show Doric Bardane, Willowtree Luzerne at Doric and Doric Not. All adult male dominant spots. You can see the variety of patterns, especially on the face. We have no requirements for the pattern on the face in the UK.
Basically speaking, white is carried by dominant spot Chinese. You can't produce white from two normals, even if they've come from white lines. White is quite difficult to breed as, up til now, breeders haven't bred white to white. However, we recently had a break through with another breeder who had two full white litters from white parents so this colour may become more widespread.
Pairings for white should be dom spot and white or white to white but only where the inbreeding is low. This is to avoid any congential issues as well as diabetes.
Images show Vectis Fleur at Doric, Vectis Lys at Doric and Lilliput Buttercup at Doric, all adult female whites.