BBS Breed Spotlight: American Hairless Terrier

Run. Fast. Jump. Long. Don’t Stop. Ever! These must be the thoughts rolling through the American Hairless Terrier’s mind when they’re outside, going full out. Being a highly active dog, with seemingly endless energy, you almost forget this dog is hairless. With no thick scruff or padding to protect them, this dog is pretty brave to be so vulnerable. Read on about this courageous, cute and uncommon breed on the Breed Spotlight.

History & Background: In 1972, a hairless Rat Terrier was born in a litter of fully coated brothers and sisters. This unique pup, Josephine, became the pride and joy of Louisiana natives Willie and Edwin Scott. They loved the look and character of this dog and decided to continue this new breed. The Scotts called the uncoated dogs from Josephine’s litters American Hairless Terriers. AHTs are listed in the AKC’s Foundation Stock Services as to be recognized while allowing the breed to work toward a larger and healthy gene pool. In 2004, the UKC designated the AHT as its own distinct breed.

Height: 10 to 18 inches

Weight: 5 to 16 pounds

Coat: Obviously, mature, adult American Hairless Terriers do not have a coat. However, when these dogs are born a soft, downy fuzz appears on the body. At about 6 to 8 weeks all of this fuzz wears away and the dog is left with soft and warm skin. AHT’s do keep whiskers and guard hairs on the eyebrows and muzzle. A unique characteristic about this dog is that when stressed or overheated, the AHT will break out in a sweat. This dog is great for those who suffer from pet dander allergies.

Ironically enough, there is a “coated” American Hairless Terrier. The UKC states this is because the coated terriers are used to improve the breeding stock of the AHT. These dogs look more like their Rat Terrier cousins and have a short, dense and smooth coat.

Color: Any color skin is acceptable in the show ring. AHTs usually have an underlying color with spots and freckles of a contrasting color. Freckles enlarge with age and the skin darkens with exposure to the sun. The coated variety of AHTs must always have some white coat but can be fully white, bi-colored, tri-colored, sable or brindle.

A hairless variety can have any color eyes and rims match nose coloring, which is usually black. For a coated variety, eye color can range from dark brown to amber. Hazel eyes correspond with a light coat, blue, amber or dark grey eyes with a blue coat.

Appearance: As a small to medium sized terrier, the American Hairless has smooth muscles and is athletic in build with an intelligent expression. The head’s profile forms a blunt wedge shape. AHTs have a domed-shaped skull, muscular jaws and a tapered muzzle. The jaw is particularly unique and bears the same wide hinged mouth that has allowed its Rat Terrier ancestors to catch rats and other small animals.  The ears are V-shaped, erect and are set on the outside of the skull. An AHT’s eyes are round and stick out a bit.

The neck, body and legs of the AHT are all well muscled, strong, sturdy and tight. This dog is slightly longer than tall. The back is always strong and level whether this dog is standing or in a full run. The ribs are widely sprung and the chest is moderately deep. The tail is thick at the base and tapers at the tip.

Temperament: Pure Terrier: very alert, playful and intelligent this dog could play for days. They excel at dog sports and have bottomless energy. However, AHTs have their affectionate side, too. This breed really does make a great companion for any age, even children and especially when raised from puppyhood. AHTs make good watchdogs, being alert and notifying their owner when alarmed. This dog does have a strong hunting drive, but because of its coat (or lack thereof) isn’t built for the activity.

Health & Grooming: Unlike most hairless dogs, AHTs don’t have the common skin problems of similar breeds. Every once in awhile AHTs will have a slight rash or even pimples on their skin because of their sweat glands. When outside, this dog needs to wear sunscreen or a shirt. In winter, a sweater is a must. Allergies to grass aren’t uncommon for this breed. Because this dog does love to play, but has no protective coat, the AHT will get cuts and scrapes, so a bottle of hydrogen peroxide or other antiseptic is good to have on hand. The breed lives 14-16 years.

Grooming an AHT is relatively easy since they don’t have a coat. However, they do need to be bathed about once up to three times a week. Their nails should be trimmed weekly. If this breed’s skin is dry, lanolin-free lotion can be applied. Obviously, this breed doesn’t shed, but they do shed dead skin cells about every 20 days.

Product Suggestions: This dog needs a good sweater and has just the thing! A Chilly Dog Sweater is the perfect match for an AHT. These dog sweaters are made from handmade wool and will keep your AHT warm, protected and fashionable with patterns ranging from sock monkeys to argyle!

To keep your AHT happy and healthy, treat them to Cloud Star Soft Beef Gluten Free Buddy Biscuits. These tasty and yummy treats are grain free dog treats with a great beef flavor.  

Do you own or know an American Hairless Terrier? Tell us your favorite AHT story in the comments section!

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