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  • Temperament: Energetic, Alert, Curious
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 106 of 192
  • Height: 12-16 inches
  • Weight: 12-16 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years
  • Group: Terrier Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

American Hairless Terrier standing sideways, facing forward
American Hairless Terrier head facing left
American Hairless Terrier sitting facing forward
American Hairless Terrier body detail
American Hairless Terrier puppy standing in a field outdoors.

Find a Puppy: American Hairless Terrier

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AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The American Hairless Terrier is a small to medium sized, smoothly muscled and active terrier. Ancestors of the breed were bred to hunt rats and other vermin. The lack of coat on the hairless variety of the American Hairless Terrier renders them unsuited for most hunting activities. They have, however, retained a strong hunting instinct and excel in many other activities and sports. The breed is energetic, alert, curious and intelligent.

HEAD

Expression – is alert, curious and intelligent. Viewed from the front or side the head forms a blunt wedge shape and is proportionate to the size of the body. Eyes are expressive, set obliquely, round, somewhat prominent but moderate in size, and of matching color. Eye color varies with body color from darkest brown to amber and hazel. When eyes are brown, a darker brown is preferred. Amber eyes are permissible for a blue dog. Blue eyes are acceptable in blue or blue fawn dogs only but gray is preferred. Eye rim pigmentation corresponds with the nose color.

BODY

The body is slightly longer than tall. Length of the front leg (measured from point of elbow to the ground) should approximately equal one-half of the dog’s height. The loin is moderately short, slightly arched, and muscular, with moderate tuck-up and the croup is slightly sloping. Ribs extend well back and are well sprung out from the spine, forming a broad, strong back, then curving down and inward to form a deep body. Brisket extends to or just below the elbow. The chest between the forelegs is well filled and of moderate width when viewed from the front. The forechest extends in a shallow oval shape in front of the forelegs when viewed from the side.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders blades are well laid back with the upper tips fairly close together at the withers. The upper arm appears equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins at an apparent right angle. Shoulders are smoothly muscled and the elbows are close to the body. Forelegs are straight and strong when viewed from any angle and sturdy in bone. Pasterns are strong, short, and nearly vertical. Feet -Feet are slightly oval in shape and compact. The two middle toes are slightly longer than the other toes.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are muscular. Upper and lower thighs being approximately equal in length. Angulation of the hindquarters and forequarters are in balance with each other. Stifles are well-bent and the hocks are well let down. The short, strong rear pasterns are perpendicular to the ground and when viewed from the rear they are parallel to one another.

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american hairless terrier illustration

About the American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier stands between 12 to 16 inches at the shoulder, and comes in both coated and hairless varieties. The hairless variety might have eyebrows and whiskers, while the coated has a short, shiny coat. The skin of the hairless is smooth and warm to the touch. The broad, wedge-shaped head is a hallmark of both varieties. Erect, V-shaped ears frame the round, expressive eyes that gleam with curiosity.

The American Hairless moves with jaunty pep in his step that announces real terrier attitude. The hairless variety is as hypoallergenic as a dog can get. Hairlessness, though, presents its own challenges. Sunburn is a concern, and cold weather requires special precautions. This breed is protective of their humans and make alert watchdogs.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
American Hairless Terrier puppy standing in a field outdoors.

Find a Puppy: American Hairless Terrier

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find American Hairless Terrier Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The American Hairless Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The American Hairless Terrier actually comes in two varieties: coated and hairless. For either type, grooming needs are minimal. For the hairless variety, there is little maintenance involved other than keeping the ears clean and making sure the dog is protected from sunburn. The variety with a short, shiny coat is almost as carefree. They hardly shed, so all that’s called for is a quick session with a soft bristle brush once a week, and an occasional bath as needed. As with all breeds, the American Hairless Terrier‘s nails should be trimmed regularly.

EXERCISE

The American Hairless Terrier has only moderate exercise needs. They have to go outside several times a day, of course, but brief daily sessions in a fenced-in yard or on regular walks will generally be all they require. They enjoy activity but are also quite happy to curl up on the couch next to their owner. The breed is friendly and happy to play with people or other dogs. Thanks to their high trainability, they can do well in a wide range of canine activities such as obedience, rally, and agility competitions.

TRAINING

As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of about 7 weeks and 4 months will help him develop into a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult. Puppy training classes help owners learn how to recognize and avert any behavior problems and enhance the bond between the puppy and owner. The American Hairless Terrier is very intelligent and eager to please, so training is usually an easy and enjoyable activity.

HEALTH

Responsible breeders screen for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, cardiac conditions, luxating patella (a dislocated kneecap similar to what is called a “trick knee” in humans), and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a hip condition that can be corrected with surgery. Skin problems are quite rare in the breed. As with all breeds, an American Hairless Terrier’s ears should be checked regularly to remove foreign matter and avoid a buildup of wax, and the teeth should be brushed regularly.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Legg-Calve-Perthe Radiographic
American Hairless Terrier
American Hairless Terrier
American Hairless Terrier

History

The American Hairless Terrier, the only hairless breed indigenous to the United States, is a naturally occurring offshoot of the Rat Terrier.

Rat Terriers have been around since the early 1800s, when they were developed in England as one of dozens of terrier breeds created to exterminate rats that carried disease and raided food supplies in town and country. Originally called “Feists” as a testament to their feisty temperament, these proto–Rat Terriers were prodigious ratters. They were employed on farms (where one ferocious barnyard Feist was said to have dispatched 2,500 rats on a single day) and in the infamous rat pits, where spectators bet on the number of rats that their favorite terrier could kill.

In the late 1800s, Feists were brought to rural America by British miners who sought a new life. It was here that the Feist was stabilized as a breed with crosses to the Smooth Fox Terrier. It is said that President Theodore Roosevelt, who adored his Feist named Skip, coined the name Rat Terrier.

Fast-forward some 70 years, from Roosevelt’s time to 1972. It was then, in Trout, Louisiana, that a strange thing happened: A hairless was born into a litter of midsize Rat Terriers of normally coated parents. (This is a good place to note that the hairless pups are born with a birth coat that falls out when they are several weeks old.) A couple named Edwin and Willie Scott acquired the hairless and named her Josephine. She was bred and produced Gypsy, a hairless female. Eight years later, after producing several litters of coated pups, Josephine gave birth to a pair of hairless siblings, Jemima and Snoopy. In 1983, Snoopy was bred to his sisters and sired several hairless offspring. A new breed, the American Rat Terrier, was born.

The Scotts continued their breeding program, kept careful records, and founded the first club devoted to their new breed. The breed’s AKC parent club, the American Hairless Terrier Club of America, was established in 2009; the breed gained full AKC recognition in 2016.

Did You Know?

The American Hairless Terrier was first recorded in the Foundation Stock Service October 2011.
They are the only hairless breed with normal dentition.
American Hairless Terriers are the first hairless breed to have originated in the United States.
The skin of the American Hairless Terrier is susceptible to sunburn and they must either have sunscreen applied or protective clothing put on before going outside.
Like all terriers, they love playing, digging and chasing small game and enjoy competing in agility trials.
They are an all-round dog willing to please and give 100% in whatever they do with proper socialization. They don’t shed or get fleas, but they do shed skin cells.
American Hairless Terriers have fairly long life spans and can live for 14 to 16 years.
The American Hairless Terrier has been approved to compete in the Miscellaneous Class since January 1, 2014.
The American Hairless Terrier Club of America became the official Parent Club for the American Hairless Terrier in February 2015.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The American Hairless Terrier is a small to medium sized, smoothly muscled and active terrier. Ancestors of the breed were bred to hunt rats and other vermin. The lack of coat on the hairless variety of the American Hairless Terrier renders them unsuited for most hunting activities. They have, however, retained a strong hunting instinct and excel in many other activities and sports. The breed is energetic, alert, curious and intelligent.

HEAD

Expression – is alert, curious and intelligent. Viewed from the front or side the head forms a blunt wedge shape and is proportionate to the size of the body. Eyes are expressive, set obliquely, round, somewhat prominent but moderate in size, and of matching color. Eye color varies with body color from darkest brown to amber and hazel. When eyes are brown, a darker brown is preferred. Amber eyes are permissible for a blue dog. Blue eyes are acceptable in blue or blue fawn dogs only but gray is preferred. Eye rim pigmentation corresponds with the nose color.

BODY

The body is slightly longer than tall. Length of the front leg (measured from point of elbow to the ground) should approximately equal one-half of the dog’s height. The loin is moderately short, slightly arched, and muscular, with moderate tuck-up and the croup is slightly sloping. Ribs extend well back and are well sprung out from the spine, forming a broad, strong back, then curving down and inward to form a deep body. Brisket extends to or just below the elbow. The chest between the forelegs is well filled and of moderate width when viewed from the front. The forechest extends in a shallow oval shape in front of the forelegs when viewed from the side.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders blades are well laid back with the upper tips fairly close together at the withers. The upper arm appears equal in length to the shoulder blade and joins at an apparent right angle. Shoulders are smoothly muscled and the elbows are close to the body. Forelegs are straight and strong when viewed from any angle and sturdy in bone. Pasterns are strong, short, and nearly vertical. Feet -Feet are slightly oval in shape and compact. The two middle toes are slightly longer than the other toes.

HINDQUARTERS

The hindquarters are muscular. Upper and lower thighs being approximately equal in length. Angulation of the hindquarters and forequarters are in balance with each other. Stifles are well-bent and the hocks are well let down. The short, strong rear pasterns are perpendicular to the ground and when viewed from the rear they are parallel to one another.

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american hairless terrier illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Apricot Check Mark For Standard Color 002
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black Sable Red Check Mark For Standard Color 532
Blue Check Mark For Standard Color 037
Blue Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 036
Chocolate Check Mark For Standard Color 071
Lemon Check Mark For Standard Color 114
Lilac Dilute Check Mark For Standard Color 475
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red Sable Check Mark For Standard Color 155
Seal Check Mark For Standard Color 261
White & Apricot Check Mark For Standard Color 200
White & Black Check Mark For Standard Color 202
White & Blue Check Mark For Standard Color 288
White & Blue Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 334
White & Chocolate Check Mark For Standard Color 287
White & Lemon Check Mark For Standard Color 211
White & Red Check Mark For Standard Color 214
White Black & Red Check Mark For Standard Color 361
Black & Tan 018
Black Brindle 279
Black Brindle & White 021
Black Tan & White 030
Blue & Tan 044
Blue Brindle 056
Blue Brindle & White 254
Blue Fawn & White 274
Blue Tan & White 291
Chocolate & Tan 072
Chocolate Brindle 342
Lemon & White 115
Red & Tan 250
Red & White 146
Red Brindle 148
Red Brindle & White 149

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Brindle Check Mark For Standard Mark 051
Brindle Points Check Mark For Standard Mark 046
Sable Check Mark For Standard Mark 026
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
Tan Points Check Mark For Standard Mark 029
White Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
White Markings, Tan Points Check Mark For Standard Mark 030
Piebald 025
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