The Adorable African Hairless Dog: All You Need to Know

Rare and probably extinct dog breeds are always fascinating. One such example is the African Hairless Dog. Known by many names, including Abyssinian Sand Terrier and Zulu, this dog is a symbol of ancient traditions.

In this article, we will take a closer look at this breed, exploring its history, physical characteristics, and personality. Whether you are a longtime fan or simply curious about it, read on for all you need to know about the unique and “naked” African Hairless Dog.

A Brief History of the African Hairless Dog

Like many old dog breeds, the history of the African Hairless Dog is somewhat shrouded in mystery.

What we do know is that this breed’s roots can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times. In fact, these hairless little dogs were sometimes mummified alongside their owners and buried with them in tombs.

Origins and Ancestry

It is believed that the African Hairless Dog’s ancestors lived somewhere on the African content. They were semi-wild, meaning they followed cattlemen breeders around and interacted on occasion, but were never fully domesticated.

The African Hairless Dog was probably used in the creation of modern-day “naked” dog breeds, like the Chinese Crested Dog.

Cultural Significance

The African Hairless Dog has played an important role in many cultures throughout history. In addition to being treasured pets, they have also been used as hunting dogs and guard dogs. They were even believed to have healing properties, with some people rubbing their skin on wounds or ailments in order to promote healing.

One interesting cultural tradition involving the African Hairless Dog is the “Dogon dance” of Mali. This dance is performed by the Dogon people, who believe that the dance helps to ensure a bountiful harvest. During the dance, a group of African Hairless Dogs is led in a procession through the village, with each dog wearing a special outfit made of straw and cloth.

Another interesting cultural connection is the African Hairless Dog’s association with the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. Anubis was often depicted with the head of a jackal, and some scholars believe that the African Hairless Dog may have been one of the breeds used to create the jackal-headed god’s image.

Physical Characteristics

When it comes to physical appearance, the African Hairless Dog was truly unique.

Size and Weight

African Hairless Dogs were small to medium-sized and typically weighed between 21 to 39 pounds. They were lean and muscular, with a slightly arched back and long legs that give them a sleek appearance. Breed members stood around 15.5 to 20.5 inches tall.

Coat and Skin

As their name suggests, African Hairless Dogs were mostly hairless – with the exception of a small crest on the head and a small tuft on the tail.

Instead, their skin was covered in wrinkles and fine hairs that give them a unique texture. The skin came in a range of colors, including black, sand, gray, or bronze, with or without mottled markings.

Facial Features

African Hairless Dogs had distinctive facial features that gave them a lot of personality. They had large, almond-shaped eyes and large ears that stand upright. Their snouts were usually long and pointed, with strong jaws.

One unique aspect of their facial features is that their wrinkles could change depending on the mood, giving them expressive notes. When happy and relaxed, their wrinkles would be more pronounced. When anxious or scared, their wrinkles would become less noticeable.

Personality and Temperament

The personality of the African Hairless Dog is described as conflicting – on one hand, they were independent, and on the other, they often made contact with humans.

Friendly yet Cautious

Despite being semi-wild, African Hairless Dogs bonded with the cattlemen they followed and, over time, learned to be somewhat affectionate and friendly. They were never aggressive but usually wary of strangers.


African Hairless Dogs are highly intelligent and quick to pick up ques. This allowed them to survive in the often harsh conditions of the African continent.

Health and Lifespan

We do not know much about the health issues this ancient and rare breed might have faced. Considering the lack of coat and sun exposure, we can assume it was prone to skin burns.

Literature data states that the average lifespan of African Hairless Dogs could have been between 12 and 15 ages.


As you can see, the African Hairless Dog is a fascinating breed with a unique history, physical appearance, and personality.

If you are an enthusiast when it comes to ancient and probably extinct dogs, we hope this article has given you all the information you need to know about this breed.

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