American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed Guide: Facts, Health & Care

American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed Guide: Facts, Health & Care

The American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier dog breed is ranked as 136th out of 197 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. They are inquisitive, playful, and rather unique-looking dogs. As an accidental offshoot of the Rat Terrier, the American Hairless Terrier is the only hairless dog indigenous to the United States.

This complete guide will review the breed’s history, personality, lifestyle requirements. Find out why this hairless dog is so popular among Terrier enthusiasts suffering from dog allergies.

Breed Basics

Breed Group Terrier Group
Temperament Energetic, alert, curious
Life Span 14-16 years
Weight 12-24 Ibs
Height 12-16 inches
Colors Pink skin with red, grey or golden spots
Origin America

American Hairless Terrier History

The first American Hairless Terrier was born in 1972 in a litter of Rat Terriers – all other pups were properly coated, except one female puppy named Josephine. Later on, Josephine gave birth to only one hairless puppy – Gypsy. Gypsy gave birth to two hairless pups called Snoopy and Jemima. Snoopy and Jemima were bred and had several hairless litters. Their hairless offspring marked the beginning of a new breed – the American Hairless Terrier.

Hairless Terrier Appearance

The American Hairless Dog is a small yet sturdy and muscular dog. The head is wedge-shaped and proportional to the body with obliquely-set, round and expressive eyes and v-shaped, erect ears. The body is rectangular – slightly longer than tall and the legs are muscular and strong.


American Hairless Terriers males are 12-16 inches tall (30.4-40 centimeters) and weigh about 12-24 pounds (5.4-10.8 kilograms). Females are also 12-16 inches tall (30.4-40 centimeters) and weigh 12-24 pounds (5.4-10.8 kilograms).

Coat & Color

There are two types – a hairless and a short-haired American Hairless Terrier. It is an interesting fact that all breed members are born with downy and light hair that starts falling out, a few weeks later.

In the hairless variety, the hair falls out completely by the time the puppy is eight weeks old. The hairless variety may retain a fine hairy layer called a vellus (something like the human’s peach fuzz). The coated variety has a short, smooth, and dense coat with a pronounced sheen.

All colors and combinations, except merle and albino, are acceptable. However, pink skin with red, grey, or golden spots is the most common color pattern.

American Hairless Terrier Grooming & Maintenance

The hairless variety needs an occasional bath while the short-coated variety in addition to the occasional bath may need an occasional brushing with a soft bristle brush. However, it should be noted that the lack of a coat means these dogs are not protected from the sun. To achieve sun protection they need to wear adequate outfits or use sunblock creams.

The American Hairless Terrier is the only hairless dog breed with normal dentition. In all smaller breeds, teeth issues are highly likely to develop. The best prevention is regular teeth brushing  – no less than three times per week, preferably daily and frequent use of doggy mouthwash.

The ears are prone to wax buildup and infections, therefore requiring weekly checkups and cleanings. The nails should be trimmed once a month since overgrown nails can become infected and cause unnecessary pain.

American hairless terrier

American Hairless Terrier Temperament & Personality

The American Hairless Terrier can be described as an adventurous, inquisitive, alert, and agile dog. When outside, this dog is active and enjoys participating in fun and sportive activities. At home, it is also active, but enjoys cuddling and being affectionate with its human family. Despite its diminutive size, the American Hairless Terrier is a brave and watchful protector.

American Hairless Terriers are brilliant, energetic, fun-loving, and affectionate companions. They can get along well with other dogs and small pets but do not like to be bullied by small children. All in all, they make excellent companion dogs for families with older children.

Training your American Hairless Terrier

Do not be fooled by the American Hairless Terrier’s small size. Just like its Terrier cousins, this free-spirited dog has a gigantic personality that cannot be easily tamed. American Hairless Terriers need experienced handlers who can remain humorous while taking transgressions.

The training sessions should be short, entertaining, and interactive. The American Hairless Terrier is exceptionally smart and if it considers the training sessions to be quite simple it will lose interest.

Just like any other member of the Terrier Group, American Hairless dogs like barking, digging, making escape plans, and chasing smaller pets. The foundations of raising a well-mannered American Hairless Terrier are obedience training and extensive socialization.

American Hairless Terrier Exercise Requirements & Energy Level

Like all terriers, the American Hairless Terrier has an impressive endurance level. The average member of this breed needs at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day or ideally 45 minutes. With go-all-day stamina, the American Hairless Terrier can effortlessly run for as much as five miles.

Even when well-exercised the American Hairless Terrier will still be hyperactive at home. However, if not exercised, it is likely to become destructive.

It should be noted that American Hairless Terriers are prone to wandering which means unless, in an enclosed area, they must be exercised on leash.

Common American Hairless Terrier Health Issues

The American Hairless Terrier is a dog breed with an average lifespan of between 14 and 16 years. However, just like any other breed, there are certain health conditions specific to the American Hairless Terrier.

The top three health concerns in American Hairless Terriers are sunburns, orthopedic and heart conditions. Other medical issues include allergies, seizures, deafness, cleft palate, blue dog disease, thyroid problems, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, liver shunt, and demodectic mange.

Health Concerns

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club

    Hip Evaluation Cardiac Exam Patella Evaluation Legg-Calve-Perthe Radiographic. 

Nutrition Needs: Feeding your American Hairless Terrier

American Hairless Terriers should be fed high-quality and protein-rich dog food formulated for active small dog breeds.

The general recommendation is to serve half a cup to one cup per day. This amount should be divided into two separate meals. American Hairless Terriers thrive on homemade diets too. If deciding to cook at home, make sure the recipes are balanced and vet-approved.

American Hairless Terriers can be overly protective of their food. Therefore, children should not be allowed to mess with the dog or its food bowl during feeding times.

Tips for Adopting & Raising An American Hairless Terrier

Purebred American Hairless Terriers can cost between $800 and $1800. Adopting an American Hairless Terrier will be less, and costs around $300. The expenses of parenting an American Hairless Terrier are highest during the first year.

Parenting an American Hairless Terrier is a huge commitment in responsibility, time, and money. It takes patience, love and consistency to raise a well-adjusted and well-mannered American Hairless Terrier. When parenting an American Hairless Terrier you do not need to spend time on grooming or worry about fleas.

However, you will need to provide your hairless baby with sunscreen protection – creams and fashionable outfits. It also needs extra warming during winter months – warming beds and winter clothes. Older American Hairless Terriers often need ramps to get on and off furniture since they are prone to joint problems.

American hairless terrier

American Hairless Terrier FAQs

Is the American Hairless Terrier hypoallergenic?

Yes, based on coat shedding or the lack of it, American Hairless Terriers are classified as hypoallergenic dogs. However, it should be mentioned that dog hair is not the only allergy trigger. People can also be sensitive to dog dander and dog saliva.

Do American Hairless Terriers sweat?

If stressed, American Hairless Terriers produce moisture along their spines. It is not determined whether this is actual sweat. Dogs generally sweat through their paws and noses but whether this hairless variety sweats from elsewhere too, remains a mystery.

Why do some American Hairless Terriers have hair? 

The American Hairless Terrier has a particularly small gene pool with limited diversity. The hairless coat is inherited recessively which means both parents need to lack hair for the offspring to be hairless.

Do American Hairless Terriers shed?

As the name explains, American Hairless Terriers have no hair which means they cannot shed hair. However, they do shed skin cells or dander

Do American Hairless Terriers smell?

American Hairless Terriers do not have a naturally present unpleasant smell. However, just like any other dog, if left unmaintained they can develop a specific doggy-like smell, which is completely normal and can be prevented with proper care.

Official Resources: Breed Clubs, Rescues & Helpful Links

 Recommended Products for American Hairless Terriers

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American hairless terrier

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