American Hairless Terrier

american hairless terrier

Lively yet manageable: The American Hairless Terrier has a pleasant temperament.

The American Hairless Terrier (AHT) originated in the American South from selective breeding with naturally occurring hairless Rat Terriers. This small, lively dog exhibits typical Terrier traits and is particularly popular among people with allergies. The United Kennel Club recognised AHT as a breed in 2004.

Appearance: Hairless and Wiry

The small to medium-sized AHT is a slender dog with a sporty look. Standing 20 to 40 centimetres at the withers, it falls into the small to medium dog category.

Individuals of this breed can be very light or heavier depending on their level of exercise – topping out at a maximum of twelve kilograms.

AHT Build

The AHT has triangular, large, and upright ears, which sometimes fold over at the tips. The slim muzzle leads into a graceful skull, housing dark, almost black, expressive eyes.

A proportionally long neck transitions into a muscular torso with a strong chest. The high legs of the American Hairless Terrier are muscular, perfectly equipping the pooch for running. This four-legged friend moves with a lively verve indicative of true Terrier attitude. Its elegant body line ends in a pointed, hairless tail.

From Fluff to Naked Skin

The American Hairless Terrier is born with a light covering of down, which it completely loses within the first few weeks after birth. The silky sheen of these dogs comes from their smooth, shimmering skin which feels delightfully soft and warm to the touch.

The skin colour ranges from white-pink to grey-light brown. In the summer, American Hairless Terriers darken slightly in the sun – just like us humans. There are typically dark brown, grey, reddish, or black pigmented spots distributed across their bodies.

Do American Hairless Terriers have fur? Some representatives of the breed have eyebrows and whiskers. There are also atypical coated variants of the American Hairless Terrier. However, these dogs with short, smooth coats are rare around these parts.

Character and Behaviour: A Typical Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier is a typical Terrier: It loves to be active and is always on the go, seeking something to do. It’s athletic to a competitive degree and enjoys showing off its performance.

This breed can be well trained: Thanks to its outstanding intelligence, it quickly grasps lessons and the AHT will do anything to show off its tricks for a treat.

But after a job well done, it also appreciates some downtime. Then it’s ready to snuggle up with its owner. This dog focuses intensely on its family and wants to be an important part of the community.

It enjoys being involved in all activities and should never feel excluded. All in all, with this breed, you get a loving, cheerful, playful, and energetic companion.

Barking? Of Course!

Like all Terriers, the American Hairless Terrier is keen to defend its territory. It isn’t necessarily aggressive, but it typically barks at visitors at first.

It takes a while for it to get used to new people in its circle. Consistent training is a must to curb the barking as much as possible.

Changes and Children

The American Hairless Terrier is not a fan of changes. It’s best if it joins its family as a puppy, gets to know the new environment and the surroundings, and there it can grow old. Frequent moves or a constantly changing environment don’t sit well with it.

The family can consist of other [(small) animals], children, or newborns. Especially children are fond of the American Hairless Terrier since they have a comparable level of energy and love to play with it.

Care: Extensive Involvement is Necessary

The American Hairless Terrier is a very agile dog that requires lots of care. Leaving this dog alone for extended periods is not an option. Otherwise, the American Hairless Terrier might start destroying the home’s interior and chewing on objects.

A Little Bundle of Energy

Yay, off it goes! The American Hairless Terrier never rests for long. Provide it with opportunities to expend its surplus energy by ensuring frequent and regular outdoor exercise.

Particularly challenging and varied games intrigue the AHT. This way, it can satisfy its curiosity and consistently demonstrate new skills.

Tip: Why not try agility for small dogs, obedience, or the odd trick.

Keeping in an Apartment

As the American Hairless Terrier isn’t particularly large, there’s nothing against keeping it in an apartment. It’s substantially happier staying close to its family rather than in a kennel.

But beware: The little Terrier isn’t content with permanent indoor living. Take it outside multiple times daily and offer it incentives against boredom. As a family dog for active families, the breed is excellent.

Diet: What Does the American Hairless Terrier Eat?

The American Hairless Terrier is easygoing when it comes to food. Generally, it eats everything. Its diet can include vegetables, fruits, meat, and moderate amounts of grain.

It likes both dry dog food and wet dog food and usually tolerates most sorts well. For particularly sensitive skin, there are also special dog foods that regulate sebum production.

Health: Does the American Hairless Terrier Suffer from Its Hairlessness?

With hairless dogs like the American Hairless Terrier, there’s inevitably the question of whether it’s a breed with associated health issues. In some hairless breeds, the hairlessness and other health problems are on the same allele. Breeders therefore accept the health impairments for the desired trait of naked skin.

Hence, the breeding of hairless dogs is often controversial. However, the American Hairless Terrier is not known to suffer from typical breed-related illnesses associated with the genetic anomaly.

Sensitive Skin

The American Hairless Terrier is known to be robust and disease-resistant. Nevertheless, its soft, sensitive skin is a weak spot. The hairless dogs quickly become stressed in cool temperatures or under intense sun exposure.

Even though the skin darkens in summer, there is still an elevated risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Therefore, it makes sense to have special skin cream for your pet at home. With it, you can care for irritated and inflamed skin as needed.

Your vet will be happy to advise you on this during regular routine check-ups. And don’t forget to attend the necessary vaccination appointments.

How Old Does the American Hairless Terrier Get?

As a small breed, the American Hairless Terrier can reach a proud age of twelve to fourteen years.

American Hairless Terrier Care

The American Hairless Terrier is easy to care for. Lacking fur, you won’t need to brush it or remove hairs from the sofa and covers. However, the reduced grooming requirement is offset by other responsibilities: You need to protect the animal against harsh environmental conditions.

  • Use special sunscreen for your dog in sunny weather. Especially in the early spring days when the skin is yet to darken, there’s a risk of sunburn.
  • In wind, cold, and rain, dress your dog in a coat for protection. This ensures the pet doesn’t get chilled or even suffer skin burns, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
  • Furthermore, you can bathe your pet in the case of heavy soiling.

Good for Sensitive Human Noses: The American Hairless Terrier has virtually no body odour.

Breeding: How Did the American Hairless Terrier Come About?

Breeding of the American Hairless Terrier began in the early 1970s when a hairless puppy surprised breeders in a litter of coated Rat Terriers. The unique female went to Edwin and Willie Scott, who named her Josephine and fell so in love that they started a breeding programme.

After some initial failures, the couple managed to breed more hairless puppies, laying the groundwork for the American Hairless Terrier. However, it took about 30 years until the United Kennel Club recognised the breed. The FCI has not yet listed it.

Recessive Inheritance: Both parents must pass on the hairlessness trait for this breed. If only one parent contributes the gene or genes for fur, the puppies will be fluffy rather than naked.

Purchase: Where Can I Buy an American Hairless Terrier?

If you’re interested in this breed, you may need to search a bit harder for an American Hairless Terrier breeder. The AHT is still quite rare, especially outside its home country, the USA. Nonetheless, it’s not an impossible task. Several enthusiasts offer small but fine litters in German-speaking countries.

Accurate price information is difficult due to the few puppies, but as a rough guide, expect to pay between £600 and £1900.

american hairless terrier lying on green grass © Marina /
What’s rustling in the bushes? The American Hairless Terrier is always on alert.

Conclusion on the Breed: Small, Bald, and Cuddly

The American Hairless Terrier is a vibrant and affectionate family dog with spirit and character. It will thrive with owners who can give it plenty of attention. In return, it rewards them with loyalty and great affection.

Its hairlessness and thus allergy-friendliness is perhaps the most striking feature of the AHT. Due to this characteristic, the dog doesn’t require much grooming but does need protection against the sun and cold.

American Hairless Terrier at a Glance:

Highlights:Hairless Terrier from the USA with sprightly temperament, not recognised by the FCI.
Character:lively, athletic, playful
Height at Withers:20-40cm
Fur:hairless, soft skin
Colours:all colours
Coat Care:easy to care for, but skin must be protected
Exercise:average need for exercise
Suitability for Beginners:yes
Barking:likely to bark
Lifespan:12-14 years
Typical Illnesses:sensitive skin
Price:approx. £600-1900

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