American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier is the only hairless dog breed indigenous to the United States, and the breed’s creation was something of a happy accident. Today, the breed is known as an active companion dog and an especially great choice for allergy sufferers.

Some fans of the new breed abbreviate the name to AHT, while some refer to them as hairless Rat Terriers. Although these are purebred dogs, you may still find them in shelters and rescues. Remember to adopt! Don’t shop if this is the breed for you.

Like all terriers, the American Hairless Terrier is a curious, spunky, and intelligent dog breed. They can thrive in larger family homes with kids or with active urban dwellers in apartments or condos. If you’re looking for a small dog who enjoys snuggling, being a goof, and alerting you to potential dangers, the American Hairless Terrier just might be the dog for you!

DogTime recommends this carrier for traveling with your small American Hairless Terrier. You should also pick up this interactive puzzle toy to keep your pup active indoors!

See below for complete list of dog breed traits and facts about American Hairless Terriers!

American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed Pictures

Breed Characteristics:

Adaptability

Adapts Well To Apartment Living
4
Good For Novice Owners
3
Sensitivity Level
3
Tolerates Being Alone
2
Tolerates Cold Weather
1
Tolerates Hot Weather
3

All Around Friendliness

Affectionate With Family
4
Kid-Friendly
4
Dog Friendly
3
Friendly Toward Strangers
3

Health And Grooming Needs

Amount Of Shedding
1
Drooling Potential
1
Easy To Groom
5
General Health
4
Potential For Weight Gain
4
Size
2

Trainability

Easy To Train
3
Intelligence
4
Potential For Mouthiness
3
Prey Drive
4
Tendency To Bark Or Howl
3
Wanderlust Potential
3

Physical Needs

Energy Level
4
Intensity
3
Exercise Needs
3
Potential For Playfulness
5

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group:
Terrier Dogs
Height:
12 to 16 inches
Weight:
10 to 16 pounds
Life Span:
13 to 16 years

More About This Breed

  • Highlights

    • American Hairless Terriers can be black, sable, blue, brindle, red, or brown. Sometimes their skin or very short, fine coat is a solid color, and other times they are a combination of two or three colors.
    • They make excellent dogs for allergy sufferers, thanks to their minimal shedding. They still do shed some dander, so they are not 100 percent hypoallergenic--no dog is.
    • Make sure your AHT gets at least one good half-hour walk per day along with lots of little active play sessions throughout the day.
    • American Hairless Terriers make great playmates for active kids. However, they are on the small side, and over-eager children could easily hurt your AHT. Always supervise playtime.
    • American Hairless Terriers tend to get along with other dogs, but when it comes to cats, they still have the prey drive of their Rat Terrier parents, so they may be prone to chasing.
    • These dogs don't do well when left alone for long periods of time. They need attention and validation, which makes them great dogs for big families or active urban dwellers.
    • AHTs are incredibly smart and inquisitive, and they love to please their humans. They may try to test you at first, but when you stick to regular training, your AHT will learn the pecking order.
  • History

    No one planned to create the American Hairless Terrier breed at first. Rat Terriers had steadily gained popularity in the United States through the 20th century, with President Frankin D. Roosevelt counting himself as a fan. But in 1972, something unexpected happened in Trout, Louisiana. One Rat Terrier was born hairless. Her birth coat fell out when she was a few weeks old.

    Edwin and Willie Scott got the hairless Rat Terrier, whom they named Josephine. They started breeding Josephine, and over the years, she produced several more hairless pups. Once two hairless Rat Terriers were finally bred together in 1983, the American Hairless Terrier was born. They continued to breed some of the American Hairless Terriers with Rat Terriers, creating Coated American Hairless Terriers. This was to ensure a healthy breed pool.

    It wasn't until 1999 that American Hairless Terriers' parent-breed, the Rat Terrier, was officially recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC). At this point, AHTs were included in this category, but Scott wanted their breed to be its own and formed the American Hairless Terrier Association (AHTA).

    On January 1, 2004, the UKC officially recognized the American Hairless Terrier. The American Kennel Club (AKC) followed suit in 2016 and recognized the AHT breed.

  • Size

    The American Hairless Terrier stands between twelve and 16 inches from the shoulder and weighs between ten and 16 pounds.

    However, some AHTs can be smaller or larger than the average or standard for their breed.

  • Personality

    Like many other dogs in the Terrier breed group, American Hairless Terriers might be small, but their personalities are anything but. They have high energy levels, will let you know if something is on their mind (or if someone is at the front door), and don't do well when left alone for long periods of time. The AHT needs attention and validation, which makes them great dogs for big families or active urban dwellers.

    The American Hairless Terrier can have something of a Napoleon complex, so it's important to start training early and consistently. Fortunately, AHTs are incredibly smart and inquisitive, and they love to please their humans. They may try to test you at first, but when you stick to regular training, your AHT will learn the pecking order--even if they do retest that boundary every once in a while.

    Even though they're energetic, American Hairless Terriers love to cuddle just as much as they enjoy playing and performing trained tricks. As a smaller dog, they may stick to their "main" human, or the main caregiver, the most. Still, AHTs won't ignore the rest of the family; they just happen to play favorites.

  • Health

    American Hairless Terriers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all AHTs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    Some of the more common health problems American Hairless Terriers suffer from include:

    • Deafness
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Patellar Luxation
    • Demodicosis (Red Mange)
    • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (Hip Joint Bone Degeneration)
    • Cushing's Disease
  • Care

    As with all dogs, you should keep up with your American Hairless Terrier's regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help you develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.

    American Hairless Terriers are prone to weight gain, and they have high energy levels. This means your AHT needs a good amount of exercise. Make sure your AHT gets at least one good half-hour walk per day along with lots of little active play sessions throughout the day.

    Check their ears for debris and pests daily, and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog's nails before they get too long--usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this.

    Your main concern when it comes to your American Hairless Terrier's care will be maintaining their oral health. You should brush their teeth daily, as small breeds are prone to dental issues. Your veterinarian can instruct you on how to brush your dog's teeth properly.

  • Feeding

    An ideal American Hairless Terrier diet should be formulated for a small- to medium-sized breed with high energy.

    Like other Terrier breeds, the American Hairless Terrier is prone to weight gain. Keep your AHT healthy and happy by measuring their food and feeding them on a regular, twice-a-day schedule, as opposed to leaving food out for grazing purposes.

    As with all dogs, the American Hairless Terrier's dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your American Hairless Terrier's diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs--including weight, energy, and health--to make a specific recommendation.

  • Coat Color And Grooming

    Both the Coated Hairless and the Hairless American Terrier have very distinguishable coats or skin patterns. AHTs can be black, sable, blue, brindle, red, or brown. Sometimes their skin or very short, fine coat is a solid color, and other times they are a combination of two or three colors.

    One of the best parts about the American Hairless Terrier--no matter if they are coated or not--is that they make excellent dogs for allergy sufferers, thanks to their minimal shedding. They still do shed some dander, so they are not 100 percent hypoallergenic--no dog is.

    Their short coats mean that they will need sun protection, even in the colder months. Be sure to apply doggy sunscreen to your AHT before going outside with them for 15 minutes or more. Their lack of coat also means you will need to get your American Hairless Terrier a coat, booties, and maybe even a hat for the winter months if you live in a colder area.

  • Children And Other Pets

    American Hairless Terriers make great playmates for active kids. Socializing your AHT with children is easier the younger you start, but you can still introduce an older AHT to kids if you do so calmly and slowly. Children, no matter their age, should also know how to respectfully play with a dog. The American Hairless Terrier is on the small side, and over-eager children could easily hurt your AHT.

    In general, American Hairless Terriers tend to get along with other dogs, given that they are introduced slowly and in a calm environment. When it comes to cats, AHTs still have the prey drive of their Rat Terrier parents, so they may be prone to chasing.

    Still, each dog is unique, and how your American Hairless Terrier gets along with kids and other animals comes down to training, socialization, and luck of the draw.

  • Rescue Groups

    Rescues specifically for American Hairless Terriers might be hard to come by. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to hairless dogs or all kinds of dogs. You can take a look at the following:

    You can also try DogTime's adoption page that lets you search for adoptable dogs by breed and zip code!

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