The Adorable American Hairless Terrier: Everything You Need to Know

If you are looking for an inquisitive, lively, and lovable pet, you might want to consider the American Hairless Terrier. This breed is distinctive for its hairless appearance and irresistible charm.

In this article, we will provide you with everything you need to know about this fascinating breed, including its history, physical characteristics, personality and temperament, and health and lifespan.

A Brief History of the American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier is a relatively new breed that originated in the 1970s in Louisiana, USA. The breed emerged from a litter of mixed-breed terriers, which included a hairless puppy.

The hairless gene mutation that caused this unique feature was then selectively bred to create a breed of hairless terriers with specific physical and behavioral characteristics.

Origins and Ancestry

The American Hairless Terrier is closely related to the Rat Terrier. The Rat Terrier was originally bred for exterminating vermin, and their tenacity and agility made them popular with farmers and ranchers.

The breed also has a connection with the Feist, a small hunting dog that was popular in the southern United States in the 19th century. The Feist was known for its ability to hunt small game and vermin.

The history of the Hairless Terrier began when a hairless puppy was born in a litter of normally-coated Rat Terriers in Louisiana. The puppy was named Josephine. Later on, Josephine gave birth to several hairless dogs that were bred with each other.

The Hairless Gene Mutation

The hairlessness of the American Hairless Terrier is caused by a dominant gene mutation that prevents the growth of hair. This gene is present in both males and females, and it is passed down from parent to offspring.

However, not all American Hairless Terriers are completely hairless. Some have a small amount of hair on their heads or tails or a thin layer of fuzz on their bodies. This variation in hairlessness is due to the presence of a recessive gene that can cause some hair to grow.

Interestingly, Hairless Rat Terriers are born with hair that then falls off. The birth coat falls off when the puppies are only several weeks old.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

It took several years of breeding and selection to establish the American Hairless Terrier as a distinct breed. In 2004, the breed was recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC), and in 2016, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Today, the breed is gaining popularity as a companion dog, and enthusiasts praise their friendly and energetic personalities. The American Hairless Terrier is particularly popular among pet owners with allergies.

Physical Characteristics of the American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier is a truly remarkable-looking dog and the only hairless breed in the world with normal dentition. Here is more information on the physical traits of the breed.

Size and Weight

The American Hairless Terrier is a small dog. Members of the breed weigh around 12 to 16 pounds and stand between 12 and 16 inches tall at the withers.

Despite their small size, American Hairless Terriers are muscular and surprisingly strong. They are athletic and love participating in outdoor activities.

Coat and Color Variations

The American Hairless Terrier is a hairless breed, but its skin comes in a variety of colors and pigmentation, including black, chocolate, blue, red, apricot, sable, blue fawn, lemon, lilac dilute, etc.

Because they are hairless, American Hairless Terriers require special care to keep their skin healthy. This includes regular baths and moisturizing to prevent dryness and irritation.

Distinctive Features

One of the most distinctive features of the American Hairless Terrier is its big, expressive ears. The ears are erect, pointy and give the dog an attentive and curious look.

Another striking trait of the American Hairless Terrier is the wide, dark eyes. The eyes convey a sense of intelligence, alertness, and playfulness and are very expressive.

Personality and Temperament

According to the American Kennel Club, the American Hairless Terrier’s personality is best described with the words curious, alert, and energetic.

Playfulness and Energy Levels

American Hairless Terriers are highly energetic and love to play. They are often described as “feisty” or “spirited,” and they enjoy running, jumping, and playing fetch.

Members of this breed have a goofy side that makes them great companions for families with children. They love making people laugh and often act as clowns to get their attention.

Intelligence and Trainability

American Hairless Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement and enjoy learning new tricks and commands.

However, they may have a stubborn streak, and consistent training and socialization are important to prevent unwanted behaviors.

Socialization and Friendliness

American Hairless Terriers are very social and love spending time with their humans and other dogs. They are generally friendly and outgoing, but they may be wary of strangers or unfamiliar animals.

Proper socialization from a young age can help them develop confidence and good behavior. Socialization also helps counter the breed’s high prey drive, which is vital when living in multi-pet households.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, American Hairless Terriers are prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common health concerns include:

  • Joint Problems: The breed is prone to various orthopedic issues, such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation 
  • Cushing’s Disease: An endocrine condition in which the adrenal gland is overactive and produces high amounts of corticosteroids 
  • Epilepsy: A severe neurological condition in which the brain misfires impulses causing seizure episodes 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Preventative care and regular checkups are essential to ensure the health and well-being of your American Hairless Terrier. This includes regular vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental cleanings, and general wellness exams.

The lack of a coat implies certain considerations. Namely, Hairless Terriers are prone to skin burns and must be protected with sunscreen when outside during the summer months. They are also likely to feel cold in winter and must wear protective clothing.

Expected Lifespan

The average lifespan of the American Hairless Terrier is between 14 and 16 years. With proper care and attention, members of the breed can live long, happy lives and bring joy and companionship to their owners for years to come.


In conclusion, the American Hairless Terrier is a unique and fascinating breed that has captured the hearts of dog lovers around the world. With their playful personalities and easygoing temperament, they are the perfect dog.

If interested in the American Hairless Terrier, research the breed carefully and ensure it is the right match for you. Then, look for a reputable breeder and invest time and money into proper care to ensure optimal health.

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