The American Hairless Terrier (AHT) is a small-to-medium-sized terrier that is intelligent and curious. These active and trainable dogs are completely hairless, although some can have whiskers and eyebrows. Here are some fun facts about this truly American dog.
1. The American Hairless Terrier is directly descended from the Rat Terrier, a dog that was bred to hunt rats and other vermin. Both of these members of the Terrier Group have a strong hunting instinct, but the AHT's lack of a coat makes them unsuitable for most hunting activities. However, that doesn’t stop them from participating in other dog sports. Their drive to excel makes them great partners for events such as agility or obedience.
2. The breed began in the early 1970s, when a litter of mid-size Rat Terrier puppies was born in the Southern United States. One of the puppies was hairless, and although she wasn’t the first hairless puppy to be born to those parents, she was special. She found a new home with Edwin and Willie Scott in Louisiana, and the Scotts named her Josephine. Josephine captivated her new owners with her winning personality and later became the foundation for this new breed.
3. Like other hairless breeds, the AHT comes in two varieties, the hairless and the coated. Lovers of the breed call the coated variety the Coated Carrier because, although it has a full coat, it carries the hairless gene that can be passed to its offspring. These Coated Carriers are covered with a short, smooth, and shiny dense coat.
4. Grooming needs are simple for the American Hairless Terrier. Their smooth skin requires regular bathing, their ears need to be kept clean, and their nails need to be trimmed. But be aware that their skin is susceptible to sunburn, so they should be covered up in protective clothing or sunscreen before a day out in the sun. The hairless variety may be the perfect dog for people with allergies, as these dogs are known for causing fewer allergic reactions than other breeds.
5. Hairless puppies are actually born with a birth coat, a soft, vestigial down that covers their body. Over time the coat fades away, and puppies will be completely hairless by the time they’re 8-to-10-weeks old.
6. The AHT is the first hairless breed to be developed in the United States, and it’s different from most other hairless breeds, such as the Xoloitzcuintli and the Chinese Crested. The AHT has no hair anywhere on the body, such as on the tail or head, and the breed has full and strong dentition.
7. American Hairless Terriers are happy being lap dogs, and with proper socialization, they generally get along well with other pets and with children. However it is necessary to be cautious with young children and AHT puppies because the puppies are so small, even well-meaning kids can easily injure them. These energetic and alert dogs do well with apartment or city living. Their exercise needs are minimal, but they will benefit from indoor playtime and regular walks.