Other Names: AHT
Country Of Origin: USA
Dog Group: Terrier
Recommended For: Couples, single owners
Maintenance Level: Moderate
Lifespan: 14-16 years
Temperament: Intelligent, curious, aloof
Good For the First-Time Owner? No
Good With Children? No
Good With Other Animals? Yes
Good With Strangers? No
Good For Apartments? Yes
Exercise Requirements: Daily walking
Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes
Can Live In Cold Weather: No
Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes
Grooming: Very low maintenance
The American Hairless Terrier is one of the hairless dog breeds ( along with Chinese Crested Dog, Peruvian Inca Orchid and Mexican Hairless terrier to name a few) and is kept mainly as a companion dog.
They’re descended from the Rat Terrier but aren’t kept as working dogs.
The breed is either completely hairless or has a very short coat, and so makes an excellent choice for those who suffer from allergies.
They’re not very strong swimmers, and so owners should be wary of taking them around water.
Color: White, with a combination of colors, including brown, tan, and black
Coat: Either hairless or a short and very dense coat
Height: 12-18” (both males and females)
Weight: 7-25lbs (both males and females)
Personality And Temperament:
American Hairless Terriers are very intelligent dogs and are naturally curious.
Their heritage as rat hunters makes them very keen to learn to commands, and they can also be very energetic.
They’re also powerful for their size, but because they’re not particularly big, they’re not too hard for owners to control.
With the right training and authority, owners should have very little problem keeping them in line.
The breed is quite easy to train, but their intelligence can make them quite stubborn, and also means they can get bored quickly if they don’t see the point in learning commands.
Owners should begin training as early as possible to ensure the best chances of success.
American Hairless Terriers can learn basic commands very easily, but also have the capability of learning much more complicated commands. Obedience training is a must, even if you don’t want them to learn anything else.
American Hairless Terriers need plenty of exercises considering their size, and owners should aim to take them for daily walks, but also provide plenty of toys for mental stimulation around the house.
The breed is very prone to obesity, so a proper diet and the right amount of exercise is essential. They also like to dig, so owners should be wary of this if they don’t want their yard digging up.
If you plan on keeping them in an apartment, you’ll have to provide more exercise to keep their weight down.
AHTs are fine to be kept in apartments because although they can be energetic, they also love lying around doing very little.
However, they can tend to bark if alarmed, which possibly makes them unsuitable for apartment living.
This kind of behavior can be controlled with the right training, but will never entirely leave the dog because it’s a leftover of their hunting instinct.
Similarly, their hunting instinct means owners should be careful keeping them around small pets, such as rabbits, small rodents, and small reptiles.
American Hairless Terriers were used for hunting rats, so by their very nature, they see these creatures as prey. Although you should be able to control this to a degree, never leave a dog alone in the presence of small animals.
That said, they’re fine to be kept with other dogs, although their aloof temperament might make socialization slightly harder. Providing you start from an early age though, this should be little problem.
The breed isn’t suitable for first-time owners, simply because they’re very rare, and so are very expensive.
Also, they do have some genetic health problems, which can make them very expensive to keep. First-time owners should look for low maintenance, generally healthy breeds, as these make good “training” pets.
However, if a first-time owner is looking for characteristics this breed can offer and is willing to spend the money, there’s very little else that prevents them from being a first-time pet.
The breed’s lack of hair means they’re not suitable for freezing climates, although this can be counteracted by providing them with a thick coat if it gets very cold.
They’re much better suited to warm weather, although they tend to overheat if exercised too much. To avoid this, just be smart about the time of day you choose to walk them and be extra careful during the warmest months.
American Hairless Terriers can be naturally wary around strangers but are typically fine if their owner is around.
They tend to bark when alarmed or scared, and so make good guard dogs. However, their size prevents them from being particularly intimidating, although they make a good warning signal.
Their independence means they can be left alone for more extended periods, although they’ll be much more accepting of this if left with other dogs.
Because of their lack of fur, American Hairless Terriers require very little grooming. Even ones with a coat typically don’t need brushing, simply because their coat is so short.
As mentioned, they don’t shed, and so make an ideal companion for those who typically suffer from dog allergies.
If you do need to do any brushing, a short, soft brush is best, because you’ll essentially be brushing their skin.
Bathing only needs to happen if they get dirty, as their skin will keep itself naturally oily.
As with all other breeds, you should trim their nails when needed, and brush their teeth several times a week to prevent tooth decay and dental diseases.
Common Diseases And Conditions:
Much like other breeds, American Hairless Terriers don’t have sweat glands, although some owners claim to have seen the dogs sweating.
This is, in fact, their skin secreting oil, which is usually absorbed by the hair to keep it in good condition. If you see evidence of this after exercise, don’t be alarmed, it’s natural.
However, if you have any concerns relating to the dog’s health, take them to the vet just to be on the safe side.
One of the main problems associated with the breed is sunburn. Without hair to protect the skin, the breed is much more susceptible than normal dogs, and so owners should provide the dog with sunscreen when it’s sunny.
This should obviously be a dog-specific sunscreen, which is very easy to buy online. Make sure you use it regularly, even if it doesn’t seem very warm outside.
Another viable option is to dress the dog in clothes, as this performs the same function as fur and looks quite cute too.
The only other notable health condition in the breed is a possible allergy to grass. This is again due to their lack of fur, and the allergy can either be present from birth or develop later in life.
Standard dog conditions, such as hip dysplasia and luxating patella, are also present in the breed, but they’re no more common than in other breeds.
Responsible breeders should test for these conditions at birth, and provide any potential owners with a copy of the certificate.
The American Hairless Terrier can trace its lineage back to dogs brought over to America from Europe during the 18th century.
These aren’t breeds that we would recognize today, or see any similarity to the American Hairless Terrier. Over time, they were bred with other dogs to create several breeds.
In the late 19th century, these original dogs were developed into the Rat Terrier, which was achieved by mixing them with several other breeds, such as Beagles and the Irish Wolfhound.
The Rat Terrier was (obviously) used for hunting rats, and the American Hairless Terrier still retains many of the same characteristics and instincts.
The American Hairless Terrier as we know it came into being in the 1970s when the first hairless puppy was born to Rat Terrier parents.
From there, all succeeding Hairless Terriers were bred, by crossing them with Rat Terriers through selective breeding.
The American Kennel Club first recognized them in 1998, and then by subsequent clubs a year later. However, they’re not yet recognized by all clubs worldwide.
American Hairless Terrier Facts & Figures:
Did You Know:
- The breed is still incredibly rare, more than anything because they’re very new in the timeline of dog breeds.
- Because of their late recognition by kennel clubs, breed standards are still being developed, which is why there can be so much variation in size, weight, and color.
- They are the first completely hairless breed to be developed in the USA.
- American Hairless Terriers are very intelligent and energetic, making them perfectly suited to agility competitions.
- They are the only hairless breed that has a normal tooth layout, unlike the Chinese Crested Dog, which has very unusual teeth.
- The AHT made an interesting case for genetics, as before its creation, the conventional working theory was that all hairless dogs shared a common ancestor. However, the breed’s creation showed the trait was a genetic mutation, but older hairless breeds, the gene is dominant, whereas, in American Hairless Terriers, it’s recessive.