American Hairless Terrier

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12-24 lbs
United States

The American Hairless Terrier is a well-muscled small dog who descends directly from the Rat Terrier. He has a typical terrier personality and loves to make mischief. His tail must be long and cannot be docked or naturally bobbed. He is originally a hairless breed, but like all other hairless breeds, there is a smooth coat variety. Hairless puppies have normal eyebrows and whiskers. The American Hairless Terrier is lively and makes an excellent companion for anyone. He does great with children and can have boundless energy. He can be destructive if left to his own devices and he thrives on attention. Interactive toys will keep him mentally engaged when you do not have the time to play with him.

Date of Origin

American Hairless Terrier Health

Average Size
Height: 12-16 inches Weight: 12-24 lbs
Height: 12-16 inches Weight: 12-24 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Hemophilia
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
  • Portosystemic Shunt
  • Cushing's Disease
  • Teeth Issues
Minor Concerns
  • Demodectic Mange
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Von Willebrand's Disease
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Blood
  • Knee
  • Blood Test
  • Thyroid Tests
  • Skin Scraping
  • X-Rays

American Hairless Terrier Breed History

Until the 1970s the American Hairless Terrier was identical in stature and purpose to the Rat Terrier. The American Hairless Terrier was created when a rare mutation occurred in a litter or Rat Terrier puppies born in Louisiana in 1972. In this litter of seemingly normal Rat Terriers was a puppy that was completely hairless. The breeders of this litter did not know what to do with this hairless female puppy that had pink skin with black spots. Once the puppy was weaned, they gave her to Willie and Edwin Scott. The female puppy was named Josephine and was the first completely hairless Rat Terrier that was recorded. Josephine became the foundation female for the American Hairless Terrier. Josephine was bred and produced one hairless puppy in her first litter. This puppy was also a female. Josephine was bred several other times and did not produce another hairless puppy until she was nine years old. She produced two hairless puppies, one male and one female. The Scotts used the hairless offspring from Josephine to create a breeding program that was used to produce hairless Rat Terriers that would eventually become American Hairless Terriers. These dogs are not typical of other hairless breeds; there is no Powderpuff variety in the American Hairless Terriers. However, because this breed derived from a coated breed, there are American Hairless Terriers who have a short coat similar to that of the Rat Terrier. The American Hairless Terrier is considered to be a hypoallergenic breed, although no breed is completely hypoallergenic. In 2016, the American Hairless Terrier was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

American Hairless Terrier Breed Appearance

The American Hairless Terrier is a well-muscled, lively and inquisitive terrier. He looks very similar to the Rat Terrier and has an alert expression. He is hairless; however there is also a coated variety of the American Hairless Terrier. The coated variety has a smooth, dense coat that is short and has a high sheen. His whiskers should never be removed. His skin is close fitting to his body. Coated dogs that do not have a dense coat are not desirable. The hairless variety is born with a soft down or birth coat. This soft coat covers the body but will go away over time and by eight to ten weeks of age the puppies are completely hairless. When he is mature, he will be completely hairless except for whiskers and eyebrows. Sometimes he will have very fine hairs on his body when he matures. Both coat varieties can be any color or color combination. The American Hairless Terrier cannot be a merle or albino.

American Hairless Terrier Breed Maintenance

Even though the hairless variety of the American Hairless Terrier has nominal grooming requirements, he does require special care for his skin. He does require sunscreen to prevent sunburn when he is outside and exposed to the sun. In the cold weather months, he will require extra care to keep them warm and their skin from becoming frostbitten. He does need to be bathed at least once a week, but up to three baths in a week is acceptable. A mild shampoo should be used on him. His coat does require lotion without lanolin when is skin becomes too dry. The coated variety of the American Hairless Terrier does have minimal shedding and should be brushed once a week with a natural bristle brush. He should be bathed often, usually 2 to 3 times a month using a mild shampoo. The American Hairless Terrier needs his nails trimmed weekly. His ears should also be cleaned weekly. A routine dental plan needs to be established to ensure his teeth and gums are healthy.

American Hairless Terrier Temperament

The American Hairless Terrier may look fragile because of his lack of hair, but he is all Terrier. He is energetic and makes an excellent companion for most people, especially families with children. He is a very smart dog who does require a lot of exercise to keep him happy. He can be territorial and needs a strong leader to keep him from trying to take over. The American Hairless Terrier loves to play games and will make his own mischief if he is left alone for too long. He is fearless and tenacious. He needs to be closely watched around pools and other bodies of water since he is not a good swimmer. He does break out into a sweat when he becomes too hot or becomes scared. The American Hairless Terrier is one of the few dog breeds that can actually sweat. It is not recommended that the American Hairless Terrier be allowed to work as a ratter since their skin does not have any protection against the elements.

American Hairless Terrier Owner Experiences