American Hairless Terrier

American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed

The American Hairless Terrier, also known as the AHT, is classified under the UKC (United Kennel Club) category of Terriers. This breed is a relatively new breed, originating solely from the Rat Terrier breed.

American Hairless Terriers have a height range of 7 – 16 inches (18 – 41 centimeters) and a weight range of 5 – 16 pounds (2.5 – 7 kilograms).

They have a lifespan of 12 – 15 years.


In 1972, a single completely hairless puppy was birthed amongst a litter of Rat Terriers. Apart from the lack of hair, the puppy seemed identical to the rest of the puppies in the litter. Due to the absence of hair, the puppy’s eventual owners realized that cleaning up after fallen dog hair is completely unnecessary, and combined with their fondness for the dog (named Josephine), they decided to develop a new breed of Terriers. In 1982, Josephine gave birth to a litter of puppies – in that litter, there were two hairless pups, one male and one female. This pair of puppies turned out to be the foundation of the Hairless Terrier breed.

As several lines of Terriers – e.g. the Manchester Terrier, the Fox Terrier, and the Rat Terrier – were bred to aid in the eradication of vermin, the Hairless Terrier is considered by some to be a working dog. They are, however, bred as a companion dog and can also be seen as show dogs.

Physical Appearance

The Hairless Terrier is essentially identical to the Rat Terrier in terms of appearance – apart from the lack of hair. The Hairless Terrier has a deep chest and a muscular body. Hairless Terriers’ tails are usually undocked and are short and tapered, whereas some Rat Terriers have their tails docked.

Hairless Terrier puppies are born with a downy coat, which completely falls off by the time the puppy turns 6 – 8 weeks old. They come in a variety of skin patterns, usually with one predominant color and markings in other colors along the head, back, and sides.


As a companion dog, Hairless Terriers are very affectionate and devoted to their owners and their families. If left alone for an extended period of time, they are very likely to develop separation anxiety. With proper socialization, Hairless Terriers are incredibly good with children (and other canine breeds), and are willing to tolerate a child’s rough play. Some Hairless Terriers are very friendly to strangers, whereas some are slightly more reserved and wary. Dogs of the second type can make decent watch dogs, although Hairless Terriers are generally not good guard dogs as they do not possess the required strength or aggression.

Due to its ancestors being vermin eradicators, the Hairless Terrier will not do well in a home with small rodents. They will most likely aim to kill such animals. Owners may experience ‘presents’ of small stray animals if a Hairless Terrier is given a yard.

Although they do not challenge the authority of their owners, some Hairless Terriers may be stubborn and/or resistant. As such, they should undergo training starting at a young age. Quite an active breed, the Hairless Terrier needs daily exercise in order to prevent destructive behaviors from occurring. They are barkers, but the barking can be minimized with proper training and exercise.

General Care & Health

Hairless Terriers need to be protected from the sun, either through the application of sunscreen (obtain one from a vet/the breeder) or wearing a shirt. They should be bathed regularly (once a week) as some are allergic to things such as grass and such allergies may trigger rashes or pimples. Their ears should be cleaned with a cotton swab and a solution obtained from the breeder/vet. Teeth should be brushed regularly as they are prone to bad breath, and nails should be trimmed once or twice a month. Check for signs of infection whenever grooming occurs, and keep an eye out for redness and inflammation of the skin, eyes, nose and mouth.

The recommended daily amount of food an American Hairless Terrier should be getting is 1½ to 2 cups of dry food, divided into two or three meals throughout the day. Despite the presence of a guideline, the amounts can be altered if the dog is highly active or otherwise.

American Hairless Terriers are a generally healthy breed, but due to the lack of a coat, they are prone to sunburn and surface cuts. They do suffer from various allergies, and one should confer with the breeder to determine allergies for each individual dog.


The American Hairless Terrier is a great home companion due to its lively and affectionate nature. They are a great choice for people suffering from allergies as they do not shed, and as a result, they do make cleaning up after them much easier. A social breed, they are friendly with most strangers if trained properly, and are quite vocal, making them great watchdogs.

Image Credit

Photo by Nyaah – CC BY 3.0

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