In build, the American Hairless Terrier (AHT) is identical to the medium-sized Rat Terrier, from which he is directly descended. The American Hairless is a well-muscled dog with a deep chest, strong shoulders, solid neck and powerful legs. The ears are carried erect when the dog is alert and are called bat, similar to the Rat Terrier's.
Tails must be full length. Bobs, either natural or docked are a disqualification. The skin is pink with gray, black, golden or red spots. Hairless-to-hairless breeding always produces completely hairless puppies. Hairless-to-coated mating produces variable results, depending on chance and whether the coated dog is a carrier of the hairless trait. Hairless pups are born with a bit of sparse, fuzzy hair all over their body. The pup will shed this fuzz, starting with the head, proceeding backwards, becoming entirely and eternally hairless by the age of six weeks. They do not have tufts of hair on the head, feet and end of tail, as do the Chinese
Crested. They do however, have normal eyebrows and whiskers.
American Hairless Terriers are intelligent, alert, playful and loving dogs. Very inquisitive and lively. This affectionate dog makes an excellent companion for anyone. They are good with children, especially if they are raised with them from puppyhood. The American Hairless Terrier, unlike other dog breeds, will break out in a sweat when hot or scared. They are fairly territorial, and like all dogs, need a human who understands how to be his leader. For the most part friendly with strangers. AHTs make good watchdogs. They are not good swimmers and need to be closely monitored. These dogs are quick and very playful. The temperament of these dogs is pure terrier. They have the lively, feisty, fearless nature found in the best of terriers. Ratting cannot be recommended, due to the increased vulnerability brought on by the lack of a protective coat. This breed seems to train easily and are eager to please. Small dogs have the tendency to lack in human leadership. Be sure you are this dog’s true pack leader in order to curb any negative behaviors.
These dogs do not have absent premolars or any of the breeding complications associated with the hairless breeds. The AHT does not have the major skin problems commonly seen in hairless dogs. Sometimes they will get a rash on their skin. Because of their lack of hair, they do need protection from the sun. Sunscreen should be applied or a shirt should be worn, not only for the protection from the sun but from the cold as well. AHTs do have sweat glands and will get pimples! They go away on their own. Rashes due to grass allergies are not that uncommon. Other allergies do occur as well.
The AHT will do OK in an apartment so long as they get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. They are fairly active indoors and should have at least a small to medium sized yard. AHTs love to dig. Since they have sweat glands they do not drool at the mouth or pant in order to balance their body heat. They should wear a sweater in cold weather.
The breed enjoys challenging games and outdoor romps. They need to be taken on a long daily walk.
About 14-16 years.
The only special care required is preventing sunburn and keeping them warm in cold weather. They should be bathed one to three times a week; owner’s preference. Their nails should be trimmed weekly. If their skin becomes dry, lotion (without lanolin) can be applied. This breed obviously does not shed and they do not get fleas, but they do shed skin cells about every 20 days, therefore there is some dander but it is very minimal. AHTs forget they do not have any hair and romp around outside. Scratches and cuts do happen and they need to be attended to with hydrogen peroxide or any other antiseptic agent.
This breed is very good for allergy sufferers. Many AHT breeders have experiences doing hands-on and remote allergy tests with people who have allergic responses to dogs and more often than not, individuals who cannot tolerate even those breeds that are known to be 'hypoallergenic' can tolerate an AHT. Studies have found them to be the best breed of dog for people with dog allergies. Many breeders can recount stories of grown men crying at the prospect of owning a dog for the first time in their lives. For those individuals and families who have never owned a dog before either due to their own allergies or a family member’s, holding a dog for the first time without a reaction is a rather powerful feeling for them!
In 1972, a remarkable thing happened: in a litter of mid-sized Rat Terriers, a completely hairless female was born. It became the prized pet of Willie and Edwin Scott of Louisiana, USA. They named their hairless dog Josephine. The Scotts bred Josephine and produced one hairless female in her first litter, but through the next several litters, the little terrier failed to whelp any more exhibiting the hairless trait. Finally, at the age of nine years, she crowned her attempts by having a litter with two hairless pups, one of each sex. These hairless pups were the foundation of a breeding program to produce and stabilize the breed. The Scotts worked under the guidance of their geneticist and veterinarian. They named their new breed the American Hairless Terrier. These are not just freak dogs. They differ substantially from the hairless types of Asia and Africa in that no Powderpuff variety is needed to obtain hairless pups, as the hairlessness gene is not semi-lethal dominant but autosomal recessive. Furthermore, these dogs do not have absent premolars or any of the breeding complications associated with the hairless breeds. For these traits, the Scott's nude puppy and its progeny are truly remarkable and unique in the canine world. The Scotts are still working on establishing this breed. They are working toward keeping the temperament of the Rat Terrier while still maintaining the hairless trait.
UKC = United
NKC = National
AHTF = American
Hairless Terrier Federation
AHRTC = American
Hairless Rat Terrier Club
CKC = Continental
APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
ACR = American Canine Registry
DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
AKC/FSS = American Kennel Club Foundation Stock Service® Program
Sparky the AHT at 12 weeks of age
An adult American Hairless Terrier, photo courtesy of Horizon AHTs—"This breed of dog is excellent for allergy sufferers. They have absolutely no body hair, no dander. Most people who cannot tolerate a Bichon, Poodle, Yorkie or Wheaten Terrier can tolerate this breed. An allergy test is recommended before buying any breed where allergies or asthma are a problem."
"Scooby McGurk the American Hairless Terrier at 8 years old—he is the world's first and only Search and Rescue trained AHT. He is an unusual dog; very intelligent, feisty and outgoing, and high energy, high drive dog. He knows over 200 words and phrases and is currently being trained for mold detection."
What a beautiful face!
"I had the pleasure of meeting Ripley. He was an adorable little thing! Ripley is very alert, lively and playful. He just loved playing with my kids."