American Hairless Terrier Breed Information – All You Need to Know

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American Hairless Terrier Breed Information – All You Need To KnowThis newly accredited terrier is the first hairless breed to originate from the United States. Known for its intelligence, the American Hairless Terrier is friendly, playful, and is popular amongst allergy sufferers due to its hairless coat.

The American Hairless Terrier first originated from Louisiana in 1972 when a single hairless puppy was born into a litter of normally coated rat terriers. This puppy, named Josephine, was adopted by Edwin and Willie Scott who were enamored with the puppy and wanted to breed more like her. The Scotts created the Trout Creek Kennel and bred Josephine with a focus on keeping the recessive hairless gene.

After decades of careful and successful breeding, the Scotts formed the American Hairless Terrier Club of America in 2009, which is the breed’s official club. The American Kennel Club recognized the American Hairless Terrier in 2016, and the breed is also recognized by the Rare Breeds Association and National Rat Terrier Club.

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Characteristics of the American Hairless Terrier

Here we’ll go into what a typical American Hairless Terrier looks like.


The American Hairless Terrier has the characteristics of a Rat Terrier without the fur. Being small to medium sized, the American Hairless Terrier typically stands at 12-16” tall and its muscular body weighs 12-18lbs. The breed has two variations; hairless with smooth skin and occasional eyebrows and whiskers, or a haired variety which has a short, shiny coat.

Regardless of the variation, the breed often is brindled or spotted, with color combinations including white, black, red, chocolate, blue, and apricot. The dogs may also be solid in any color, though they will not be merle or albino. The tails on American Hairless Terriers must be left long and their ears are alert and pointed. On average, the American Hairless Terrier lives between 12-15 years.


The American Hairless Terrier has a personality that is consistent with their terrier ancestors. They are incredibly intelligent and inquisitive meaning they are trainable and love obedience or agility training. This breed is playful and requires a moderate amount of stimulation throughout the day, and they are very friendly and affectionate.

Overall, this dog is even-tempered and kind, though it may bark at strangers and act as a watch dog. The American Hairless Terrier is also good with children, cats, and other dogs when socialized properly, though it is important to note that children should be taught the proper handling of a small dog to avoid accidental injuries to the puppy.

The American Hairless Terrier makes a good apartment or city dog as they primarily indoor dogs. Given their sensitivity to sun and cold, these dogs should not be left outdoors for prolonged periods of time. The breed is muscular and athletic, though not good at swimming, and they have a strong hunting instinct which causes them to dig in the yard and chase small animals. Overall, the American Hairless Terrier is a true terrier who could be a playful addition to any family.

Caring for American Hairless Terrier Tips

Here’s what you need to know when caring for an American Hairless Terrier.


The American Hairless Terrier is an athletic dog who needs the proper nutrition to keep its lean physique and healthy spring in its step. While there are not specific dietary requirements, the breed should be kept on a high-quality dog food with veterinary supervision of their overall health. The dog food should be based on real meat, and a food containing probiotics may help prevent various diseases.

Since the American Hairless Terrier may be susceptible to hip dysplasia, it is important to monitor their weight and ensure they stay within healthy weight zones for their size. Because of this, treats should only be given sparingly as positive reinforcement during training. As with any dog, fresh, clean water should always be available.


Given that American Hairless Terriers are athletic dogs, it is important they receive enough exercise each day to maintain their energy. These dogs should be walked every day, especially if kept in a smaller apartment. Terriers are also very playful so it may be helpful to allocate space for the dog to run and play, as well as spending time to play with the dog. Interactive toys are also a positive way for these dogs to exercise and play while building on their intelligent and inquisitive nature.

If outdoor space is available, allowing the dog to dig is another way to expend energy and help the dog connect with their instincts. While these dogs are active, American Hairless Terriers are also happy being lap dogs and don’t need as much exercise as many larger dog breeds.


Training is an integral part of owning an American Hairless Terrier and is one of their favorite activities! These dogs aim to please and respond well to positive reinforcement. Training should begin from a young age to encourage socialization with humans and other dogs.

As the dogs get older, they may enjoy obedience and agility training as well. Given their eager-to-please attitudes, American Hairless Terriers are considered easy to train and they excel in many activities and sports.


The main health concern with American Hairless Terriers is keeping their skin healthy. These dogs require occasional bathing and sunscreen must be applied to their skin before going outside. During cold months, it is important to keep them warm using a heating pad or putting them in a jacket when taking them outside. 

A raincoat may also be necessary to keep their skin warm and dry during the rainy weather. In addition to skincare, it is important to keep their nails trimmed and their teeth and ears clean as you would with any dog breed.

Given that the American Hairless Terrier is a new and rare dog breed, there is still little information regarding their health issues. To date, the breed has had one or more encounter with (and may be at risk for) the following health issues:

  • Malocclusions
  • Legg-Calve Perthes
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Liver Shunt
  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Diabetes
  • Immune medicated hemolytic anemia
  • Blue Dog Disease
  • Club Foot
  • Allergies
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Heart Murmur
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Hemophilia A
  • Primary Lens Luxation
  • Microvascular Dysplasia.

When adopting an American Hairless Terrier, you may consider finding a breeder who tests and reports these issues. Additionally, supplements may help decrease the risk for some issues, such as joint supplements for hip dysplasia.

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