American Hairless Terrier: Breed Profile, Characteristics, and Care Guide
By: Buzzpetz Updated: May 12, 2023
Hypoallergenic dog breeds are few and far between, but the American Hairless Terrier is a unique blessing for allergy sufferers. This breed is one of the few truly hairless dogs in the world, and it has a fascinating history and personality. So let’s find out more about this incredible breed.
7 to 16 inches
5 to 16 pounds
None (hairless) or short (coated)
Any color or combination of colors
Solid, spotted, brindle, or patched
Brown, blue, green, hazel, or amber
Lively, intelligent, playful, affectionate, and loyal
Moderate to high; responds well to positive reinforcement but can be stubborn and independent
Yes (hairless) or no (coated)
Yes (with older or gentle children) or no (with very young or rough children)
Yes (with socialization) or no (with aggression or dominance)
Yes (with socialization) or no (with prey drive)
United States (Louisiana)
Origin of the American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier is a new breed that originated in the United States in the 1970s. It is a descendant of the Rat Terrier. This breed was developed in the late 19th century by crossing various terriers with other breeds, such as whippets, beagles, and Italian greyhounds.
The first hairless rat terrier was born in 1972 in a litter of purebred dogs owned by Edwin Scott of Louisiana. The puppy, Josephine, was initially thought to be sick or defective, but she grew up healthy and fertile. She was bred with her hairy brother, Willie Scott, and produced several hairless puppies. The Scotts realized they had discovered a new mutation that caused the lack of coat and decided to develop a new breed from these hairless rat terriers.
They decided to name this new breed the American Hairless Terrier and registered it with the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1999. The American Kennel Club (AKC) also recognized the breed in 2016 as part of their foundation stock program. Today, the American hairless terrier is still rare, but it has gained popularity among people suffering from allergies and those who appreciate its unique appearance and personality.
Physical Appearance of the American Hairless Terrier
American Hairless Terriers are small dogs weighing between 5 and 16 pounds and 7 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder. They have muscular and athletic bodies, with a slightly arched neck, a broad chest, a level back, and a high-set tail that can be docked or natural. The head should be wedge-shaped, with erect ears, expressive eyes, and a strong muzzle.
As the name suggests, the most distinctive feature of the American hairless terrier is its lack of hair. Who knew? Their skin is smooth and soft and can be any color or combination of colors. Common colors are black, blue, brown, red, tan, white, or brindle. Some pups may have white markings or tan points on their face or body. Their skin can also have freckles or spots.
Interestingly, the American Hairless Terrier also comes in a coated variety with a short, dense coat that can be any color or pattern. This coated variety is genetically identical to the hairless variety, except for the presence of the coat gene. The coated variety is sometimes called the rat terrier type B.
American Hairless Terrier Personality
Most American Hairless Terriers are lively, intelligent dogs that love to play and learn new things. They are curious and alert and will often bark at anything that catches their attention. They are also very affectionate and loyal to their family and will enjoy cuddling on the couch or sleeping in bed with their owners.
Keep in mind this is not a lap dog, however. They typically have strong prey drives and a high energy level that requires regular exercise and mental stimulation. Activities like agility, obedience, rally, tracking, or barn hunting are great ways to keep these dogs happy and worn out. They will often chase squirrels, rabbits, or other small animals, so they should be kept on a leash or in a fenced yard when outdoors.
American Hairless Terriers usually get along well with other dogs and pets if socialized from an early age. They are also friendly with children if raised with them or if they are respectful and gentle. However, this breed is unsuitable for homes with young or rough children who may hurt or annoy it.
They can sometimes be stubborn and independent, so they need a firm and consistent owner who can establish themselves as the pack leader. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement training methods such as praise, treats, or toys. Like other dogs, they do not tolerate harsh or physical corrections well.
Interesting Facts about the American Hairless Terrier
The American hairless terrier is a fascinating breed that has many interesting facts and trivia. Here are some of them:
The American Hairless Terrier is one of the few truly hairless dog breeds in the world, along with the Chinese crested, the Peruvian Inca orchid, and the Xoloitzcuintli.
The American Hairless Terrier is also one of the few dog breeds that originated in the United States, along with the Boston terrier, the Alaskan Malamute, and the Chesapeake Bay retriever.
The only hairless dog breed originating in the United States is the American Hairless Terrier.
The American Hairless Terrier was featured on the cover of Modern Dog Magazine in 2008, with the title “Portraits of Popular Breeds.”
A DNA test can test the American Hairless Terrier for its coat type. The test can determine if the dog is hairless or coated or if it carries the gene for either type.
The American Hairless Terrier is sometimes called by other common names, such as AHT, baldy, or rat terrier type B.
Common Health Issues
The American hairless terrier is generally a healthy breed that can live up to 15 years or more. Like any dog breed, they can still be prone to some health issues, such as:
Skin problems: The lack of hair makes the skin more vulnerable to sunburn, cuts, scrapes, infections, or allergies. When exposed to the sun or cold weather, the skin should be protected with sunscreen, clothing, or blankets. The skin should also be checked regularly for any signs of irritation or injury. Some dogs may need moisturizers or supplements to keep their skin healthy and hydrated.
Dental problems: The hairless gene may also affect the development of the teeth, causing them to be crooked, missing, or decayed. The teeth should be brushed daily and checked by a vet regularly. Some dogs may need dental cleaning or extraction to prevent pain or infection.
Eye problems: The eyes may be sensitive to dust, dirt, or debris and may develop infections or injuries. The eyes should be cleaned daily with a damp cloth and checked for any signs of redness, discharge, or swelling. Some dogs may need eye drops or medication to treat eye conditions such as dry eye or glaucoma.
Deafness: Some dogs may inherit a gene that causes deafness in one or both ears. This can be detected by a BAER test (brainstem auditory evoked response) at an early age. Deaf dogs can still live happy and normal lives with proper training and care.
Other conditions: Some other conditions that may affect the American hairless terrier are epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or cancer. Regular vet visits, blood tests, and screening can prevent or treat these.
To ensure the health and quality of the breed, reputable breeders will often perform genetic testing of dogs before breeding them. They will also provide health certificates and guarantees for their puppies. Potential owners should ask for these documents when considering a puppy.
Grooming an American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier is a low-maintenance breed that does not shed or needs much grooming outside of basic care and hygiene.
The hairless variety needs to be bathed once a week or as needed with a mild shampoo and conditioner. The skin should be dried thoroughly and moisturized if needed. The nails should be trimmed regularly to prevent cracking or splitting. The ears should be cleaned weekly with a cotton ball and a gentle ear cleaner. The eyes should be wiped daily with a damp cloth.
The coated variety needs to be brushed once a week or as needed with a soft-bristled brush. The coat does not need to be clipped or trimmed unless desired. The nails, ears, and eyes should be cared for as described above.
Both varieties need to have their teeth brushed daily with dog toothpaste and toothbrush. This will prevent dental problems and bad breath.
The American hairless terrier is hypoallergenic and does not shed, which makes it ideal for allergy sufferers and people who do not like dog hair.
The American hairless terrier is intelligent and playful, which makes it easy to train and fun to interact with.
The American hairless terrier is affectionate and loyal, which makes it a great companion and family dog.
The American hairless terrier is high-energy and vocal, which makes it unsuitable for apartment living or busy owners who cannot provide enough exercise and attention.
The American hairless terrier is sensitive and delicate, making it prone to skin, dental, eye, and injuries.
The American hairless terrier is rare and expensive, which makes it hard to find or afford.
The Best Home for the American Hairless Terrier
Being a versatile breed, it can adapt to many different living situations. It can live in an apartment or a house as long as it gets enough exercise and attention. It can also live in any climate but needs protection from extreme temperatures, cold or hot.
The American Hairless Terrier is best suited for active and experienced owners who can provide it with adequate training and socialization. It is not recommended for novice or busy owners who may not have the time or patience to deal with its energy and stubbornness. Families with older children who can respect and play gently within their boundaries will get along well with these dogs.
Where to Buy an American Hairless Terrier
The American hairless terrier is a rare and expensive breed that may be hard to find and on the costlier side compared to other breeds. The average price of an American hairless terrier puppy is between $1,000 and $2,000, depending on the breeder, location, pedigree, and quality. The price can vary depending on the variety (hairless or coated) and the color (solid or patterned).
American hairless terrier breeders can be found through online directories, websites, or forums. Some of the organizations that list American hairless terrier breeders are:
The American Hairless Terrier Association
The American Kennel Club
The United Kennel Club
The American Hairless Terrier Club of America
As a rare breed, adopting an American Hairless Terrier may be a difficult task. Still, checking rescues or shelters for one available to adopt is never bad. You can find American hairless terrier rescues or shelters through online databases, websites, or social media. Some of the organizations that may occasionally have American Hairless Terriers for adoption are:
The Ratbone Rescues: https://www.ratbonerescues.com/
The Rat Terrier ResQ: http://www.ratterrierresq.com/
The Rat Terrier Club of America (RTCA): http://www.americanratterrier.com/rescue.htm
The American hairless terrier is a unique breed that has many advantages for allergy sufferers and people who like its appearance and personality. It is a loyal, intelligent, playful, and affectionate companion that will keep you entertained and happy.
Just remember there are some challenges that require careful consideration before adopting one. It is a high-energy, independent, and vocal dog that needs regular exercise, mental stimulation, training, and socialization. It is also a sensitive and delicate dog that needs protection from the sun, cold, and injuries. It is also a rare and expensive dog that may be hard to find or afford.
More Dog Breeds
If you’re interested in learning about similar dog breeds, check out:
Q: How much does an American hairless terrier eat?
A: An American hairless terrier needs a high-quality and balanced diet that meets its nutritional needs and energy level. The amount of food depends on the dog’s age, size, activity, and metabolism, but generally ranges from 1/4 to 1 cup of dry food per day. The food should be divided into two or three meals and supplemented with fresh water.
Q: How do I take care of an American hairless terrier’s skin?
A: An American hairless terrier’s skin needs regular care to prevent sunburn, infections, or allergies. The skin should be protected with sunscreen, clothing, or blankets when exposed to the sun or cold weather. The skin should also be checked regularly for any signs of irritation or injury. Some dogs may need moisturizers or supplements to keep their skin healthy and hydrated.
Q: What are some common behavioral problems of an American hairless terrier?
A: An American hairless terrier may develop some behavioral problems if it is not properly trained and socialized. Some of these problems are barking, digging, chewing, jumping, nipping, or escaping. These problems can be prevented or corrected by providing the dog with enough exercise, mental stimulation, training, and attention.
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