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American Hairless Terrier

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This small dog Is one of the most recent arrivals to the world of dogs, but has quickly become one of its favorite members.

Here is the AHT at a Glance
Name American Hairless Terrier
Other Names AHT
Nicknames None
Origin United States
Average size Small
Average weight 5.5 to 26 pounds
Average height 7 to 18 inches at the shoulder
Life span 14 to 16 years
Coat type Hairless
Hypoallergenic Yes
Color Solid gray or spotted with white
Popularity High
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Poor
Tolerance to cold Poor
Shedding No hair, no shedding
Drooling Not a drooler
Obesity Not prone to obesity
Grooming/brushing Not prone to obesity
Barking A barker
Exercise needs High
Trainability Responds well, trains easily
Friendliness Responds well, trains easily
Good first dog Friendly with people
Good family pet Yes, when children are older
Good with children Older children
Good with other dogs Other family dogs
Good with other pets Not always
Good with strangers Okay
Good apartment dog Yes
Handles alone time well Not that well
Health issues Few health concerns
Food expenses $55 annual average
Miscellaneous expenses $35 annual average
Average annual expense $300
Cost to purchase $500 to $1,000
Rescue organizations Bald Is Beautiful Dog Rescue

The American Hairless Terrier’s Beginnings

The American Hairless Terrier, or AHT for short, is pretty much an all-American breed. Its roots go back to a hunting dog known as a Feist, which is especially common to the southern United States. Feists are known for their tenacity. They will chase their prey and never stop until it is treed, then bark until their owners arrive to finish things. They go back at least to the seventeenth century. George Washington knew Feists and wrote about them in his diary; and Abraham Lincoln wrote a poem, “The Bear Hunt,” that features a Feist. In the twentieth century, William Faulkner wrote about Feistsin “The Sound and The Fury,” and Marjorie Rawlings writes about them in her book, “The Yearling.”

New Lease on Life

Down the road, people began interbreeding Feists with other dogs, especially Beagles, Greyhounds and Miniature Pinschers. The result of that mix was the Rat Terrier, a small, feisty dog nicknamed the Rattie, that is also very popular in the United States. The Rattie got its name, according to legend, from yet another U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt. It is said that the White House, in Roosevelt’s day, was overrun with rats, and Roosevelt gave the job of rodent killer to the little terriers; He was so impressed with their performance that from that day on he, and then everyone else, refereed to them as Rat Terriers.

The last step in the journey occurred in Louisiana in 1972, when one of a litter of Rat Terriers was born completely hairless. Her owners named her Josephine and, over several years of breeding, Josephine produced three hairless pups that became the progenitors of a brand new breed.

The Dog You See Today

To begin with, of course, the American Hairless Terrier is, in fact, hairless—except not always. Some AHT’s actually have a coat of very short hair. This is because of the genetic mix, and the fact that hairlessness is a recessive gene. If two AHT’s are bred together, and one of them has the gene for hair hidden away, the puppies can end up either hairless or haired. If both adult dogs are pure hairless, then the puppies will always be hairless. If you are just looking to get a pup, no problem. If your new puppy was born hairless, it will stay hairless; what you see is what you get. If, on the other hand, you are thinking about breeding AHT’s yourself, you will want to be sure that your new pups are all purely hairless genetically.

Beyond that, the AHT is small, but with a wide range of smallness. It can stand anywhere from a little over seven inches to around eighteen inches at the withers, and weigh anywhere from five and a half to twenty-six pounds.

Although small, the AHT is very strong and extremely well muscled, with a deep chest and straight back. The head is slender and has a bit of a Greyhound feel to it. The skin is typically a shade of pink, with black, gold or red spots. At birth, by the way, the pup will have fuzzy hair all over, but this will disappear by the time it is around six weeks old, except for the eyebrows and whiskers, which do have hair.

The Inner American Hairless Terrier


AHT’s are, first of all, very smart dogs. They are alert and inquisitive, and are interested in everything going on around them. They love to explore, and can definitely be wanderers, and so it is important to keep an eye on them at all times.

AHT’s are also generally friendly dogs. They get along well with people, and are very affectionate and playful. However, these dogs are also quite territorial, and once they determine the boundaries of their turf, they will defend it. They are natural-born watchdogs. When strangers approach, they can be counted on to bark, and in fact controlling the barking and keeping it from getting out of hand is one of the jobs the owner has to take on with training.

Living with an American Hairless Terrier


Training needs

Fortunately, the AHT takes to training of all kinds—obedience, skill and agility—eagerly, and does well at it. AHT’s like to learn new things, and they learn them quickly. The new AHT owner needs to be reminded that this dog, like many smaller breeds, is a pack animal. Terriers historically lived and worked together in packs, and that meant of course, that there was always a pack leader. AHT’s have that same pack instinct, and so the owner has to be willing and able to be the pack leader; otherwise, the AHT will do its best to run the show. Once again, training is the answer here, and it should be continuous, not just a one-time event.

How active is this dog?

AHT’s make good pets for apartment dwellers. They don’t take up much space, they are affectionate and bond well, and with proper training and socialization they adapt well to their surroundings.

However, AHT’s also are very high energy dogs, and need plenty of physical exercise. The owner, whether living in an apartment or elsewhere, needs to be willing and able to devote considerable time and energy to this. Half an hour a day, every day, is pretty much the minimum for this dog. There is also a need for mental training. AHT’s like to learn new tricks and skills, and in fact will get antsy without a fair amount of this kind of attention.

AHT’s are also good diggers and tend to be escape artists because of their love of exploration. If they are going to be spending time in a fenced yard, that fence needs to be a secure one, and should be fairly tall, because AHT’s are also good jumpers.

Caring for the American Hairless Terrier

Grooming needs

As the name states the American Hairless Terrier has no hair and therefore brushing his coat or cleaning up loose hair is not a factor when it comes to grooming and maintenance. However it does have its own needs as a result. It is more prone to sunburn and to the cold. A dog sweater may be needed if you live where the winters get cold and sun lotion will have to be applied in the warmer months. About every 3 weeks there will be some dander shedding (skin cells). Allergies, cuts and scratches are common and will need to be taken care of. Bath as needed, not too often as the natural oils in his skin can be damaged by over bathing. Teeth should be brushed at least twice a week to maintain good oral hygiene. The AHT will need its nails clipped should they get too long but this must be done with someone who knows there is a difference between human and dog nails. Also ears should be checked for infection and then cleaned by wiping with a cotton ball and ear cleanser.

Feeding the AHT

The AHT will probably need to be fed ½ to 1 cup of high quality dry dog food a day and that amount should be divvied into at least two portions for two meals. A high quality food will have far more nutrients in it and is better for your dog. Amounts can change depending on how active it is, how big or small it is and how healthy it is. How is the AHT with other pets and children

AHT’s are very good with children, and make great family pets. Very young kids, because they are impulsive and unpredictable, may be a problem, but this can be dealt with by early and firm socialization and obedience training—for both the dog and the kids.

AHT’s are, after all is said and done, Rat Terriers, and they share many of the characteristics of that breed. They are fearless, and won’t back down from other animals, including larger dogs as well as critters that are just as feisty, like raccoons. Firm obedience training is very much advised for these dogs.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

American Hairless Terriers are basically very sturdy, healthy dogs. They are a new breed, and it is possible that some genetic vulnerabilities may turn up over time, but so far this does not seem to be the case. They do get rashes from time to time, but this is not a difficult problem to deal with. It is true, of course, that their hairlessness leaves them vulnerable to climate extremes. They need sweaters or some similar protection when it is cold. They need to be protected from sunburn, which can be dangerous. Like most small, active dogs, they can hurt themselves just jumping and running around, digging under or trying to jump over the wrong fence, things like that. Otherwise, not a lot is likely to go wrong.


Biting Statistics

When looking at data for dog attacks on humans there are no accounts of the AHT attacking a person though there are 2 accounts of a Rat Terrier causing harm that needed medical attention. Since both dogs are closely related it is something to be advised of, though 2 attacks over 34 years of reports is something that should not cause concern. Make sure you know exactly what you want from your dog and what you can offer it so that you one that suits your lifestyle and experience. Raise it with training, socialization, love and care and there should not be issues.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

Because it is a very new breed—it was first officially recognized by the United Kennel Club in 2004, and did not receive official American Kennel Club recognition until 2016—prices for new American Hairless Terrier puppies varies a lot. You may be able to find one for as little as $500. Then again, you might find yourself spending more than $1,000. Obviously, this is a case were shopping around and exploring the territory is a good idea. If you get lucky and find one at an animal shelter the price will, of course, go way down. You could spend as little as $200, including the cost of puppy shots and spaying, if the pup is a female, or neutering, if it is male. In such a case, of course, you will be looking at an older pet, not a brand new puppy. There are also organizations that specialize in rescuing and finding owners for AHT’s, most of them local or regional. One of the larger ones is Bald Is Beautiful Dog Rescue.

Once you have your American Hairless Terrier home, it is time for initial medical work. The pup will need to be either spayed or neutered, which will typically cost in the neighborhood of $190. There will also be an initial round of inoculations and other routine procedures performed by your local veterinarian, which will cost you $70 to $80. At this time you may also want to think about whether to get pet insurance for your new pup. Even though American Hairless Terriers are generally free of medical issues, things can happen, and veterinary costs are going up like everything else. Pet insurance these days can cost $200 or more, depending on how expensive you want the coverage to be.

At this time you will also need a license for about $15, and a collar and leash for another $25 or so. You may also want to think about a carrier bag—about $40—and a crate for your pup, which will cost another $35.

The next step is to locate a professional who offers obedience training, which is always a good idea unless you have the skills and experience to do this yourself. In most places you can get an initial course in basic obedience training for about $110.

Then, of course, there is food, because even little dogs like to eat. They don’t eat as much as big dogs, of course, so you get a break here. A year’s supply of quality dog food for your American Hairless Terrier will run you about $55. You will want to get him little treats as well, for training, and for just because. The amount there is up to you. Some people spend more on treats for their pups than they do for regular dog food.

Overall, once the initial expenses are covered, you can expect to spend about $300 a year for the care and feeding of your AHT.


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The American Hairless Terrier is a brand new addition to the world of dogdom. The first of the breed was born in Louisiana in 1972, and was one of nature’s unexpected little gifts. The AHT is a small, strong dog. It is affectionate, intelligent and very active. It is great with kids, playful with everyone, and makes a good family dog. Its forebears are Rat Terriers, and it shares their adventurousness and feistiness. It loves to learn new things, and is easy to train. If you are looking for a pet that doesn’t take up a lot of space and loves to play, the AHT may just be the dog for you.

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