American Hairless Terrier

American Hairless Terrier looking forward

Quick Facts


12 to 28 pounds


12 to 16 inches at the shoulder

Average Lifespan:

14-16 years

Known For:

Smart, playful dogs, good for people with allergies.


The American Hairless Terrier, often affectionately referred to as the “AHT,” is a breed that stands out not just for its distinct appearance but also for its captivating history.Β 


Originating in the United States, this breed has quickly gained popularity among pet enthusiasts, especially those who suffer from allergies. Their lack of fur makes them a unique choice among terriers and dog breeds in general. This breed, while relatively new, has made a significant mark in the canine world, and its popularity continues to grow among pet lovers globally.

History and Origin

The story of the American Hairless Terrier is as intriguing as the breed itself. Unlike ancient breeds with millennia of history, the AHT’s origin can be traced back to one specific event in the early 1970s. In a litter of Rat Terriers, a hairless puppy was unexpectedly born in Louisiana. This puppy, named Josephine, was the beginning of the American Hairless Terrier breed.


The owners, Edwin and Willie Scott, were intrigued by Josephine’s unique appearance and decided to breed her. The subsequent litters produced more hairless puppies, and it became evident that this was a new, distinct breed in the making.Β 


The Scotts dedicated themselves to developing and promoting the breed, leading to its recognition by various canine organizations.

While the AHT hasn’t made as many Hollywood appearances as some other breeds, its distinctive look and friendly nature have made it a favorite among those who’ve had the pleasure of meeting one.

Breed Characteristics


Barking Tendency

Dog Friendly

Health Issues

Shedding Level









Cat Friendly

Exercise Needs


Social Needs








App. Friendly

Child Friendly


Energy Level

Stranger Friendly

Watchdog Instincts







Appearance and Size

The American Hairless Terrier is a sight to behold. At first glance, its lack of fur is the most striking feature. Their skin can be of any color, and many have a combination of attractive patterns and shades. This breed is the only hairless breed where the puppies are born completely bald, unlike other hairless breeds where puppies are born with hair and lose it over time.


In terms of size, the AHT is a small to medium-sized dog. They typically weigh between 12 to 16 pounds, with some males being slightly larger. Their height ranges from 7 to 16 inches at the shoulder.


Their eyes are round and can be of any color, often matching or complementing their skin tones. Their ears stand erect, giving them a perky and alert appearance. While they lack the traditional coat, they do have whiskers and eyebrows, which add to their expressive faces.

For those who might miss the feel of a furry friend, there’s a coated variety of the American Hairless Terrier, which has a short, dense coat. This variety is less common but shares the same structure and personality as the hairless version.

Personality and Temperament

The American Hairless Terrier is a bundle of joy wrapped in smooth skin. They are known for their lively, curious, and playful nature. Despite their small size, they are energetic and often act as if they’re the biggest dog in the room. Their terrier lineage shines through in their feisty and spirited demeanor.


AHTs are incredibly affectionate with their families. They thrive on human interaction and love being the center of attention. Their intelligence and alertness make them excellent watchdogs, but they’re also known to be friendly towards strangers once they’ve assessed the situation.


One of the delightful quirks of the AHT is their tendency to “talk.” They can be quite vocal, expressing their feelings with a range of sounds, from barks to playful growls. This communication is endearing to many owners, who feel it deepens their bond with their pet.

Health and Lifespan

The American Hairless Terrier is generally a healthy breed with a lifespan of 14 to 16 years. Their lack of hair means they don’t suffer from many of the skin issues that can plague other breeds. However, their exposed skin does require some special attention.


Sunburn is a concern for these dogs. If they’re going to be outside for extended periods, especially in strong sunlight, they might need sunscreen or protective clothing. In colder climates, they’ll appreciate a warm sweater or coat.


Some common health issues that can affect the breed include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and allergies. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and a balanced diet can help mitigate many potential health concerns.


It’s also worth noting that, like all breeds, the AHT benefits from early socialization and exposure to various environments, sounds, and experiences. This not only ensures a well-rounded dog but can also help in identifying and addressing any health or behavioral concerns early on.

Care and Maintenance

American Hairless Terrier grooming

Caring for an American Hairless Terrier is a rewarding experience. Their lack of fur means no shedding, which many owners find to be a significant advantage. However, their skin requires some special care. Regular baths are essential to keep their skin clean and free from dirt or oils. After a bath, it’s crucial to dry them thoroughly to prevent any skin issues.

Diet plays a significant role in the health of an AHT. A balanced diet will ensure their skin remains healthy and vibrant. It’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian about the best food choices for your individual dog.


Exercise is vital for this energetic breed. They love to play and will appreciate regular walks and play sessions. Their size makes them suitable for apartment living, but they’ll still need their daily dose of activity.


While they might not need traditional grooming, their nails will require regular trimming, and their ears should be checked and cleaned regularly.

Training and Behavior

The American Hairless Terrier is an intelligent breed, eager to please and quick to learn. However, their terrier lineage means they can sometimes be stubborn and independent. Consistent, positive reinforcement-based training methods work best with this breed. They respond well to treats, praise, and play.


Early socialization is crucial for AHTs. Exposing them to various environments, people, and other animals from a young age helps in developing a well-rounded and confident adult dog. They can occasionally exhibit prey drive, especially towards smaller animals, so training them to recall on command is essential.


While they are generally good-natured, some AHTs can develop behavioral quirks if not given proper guidance. Regular training sessions, even just short ones, can help in keeping their minds sharp and preventing unwanted behaviors.

American Hairless Terrier and Families

American Hairless Terrier with people

The American Hairless Terrier is a fantastic family dog. Their affectionate nature and playful demeanor make them great companions for children. They are gentle and patient, but as with all breeds, it’s essential to teach children how to approach and play with dogs properly.


Their size and temperament also make them suitable for seniors or singles looking for a loyal companion. They get along well with other dogs, especially if introduced properly. However, their terrier instincts might make them chase smaller pets, so supervision is advised.


The joy and companionship that an AHT brings to a family are immeasurable. Their unique appearance and charming personality make them a favorite in many households.

Adopting an American Hairless Terrier

If you’re considering bringing an American Hairless Terrier into your home, you’re in for a treat! These dogs are loving, playful, and sure to bring joy to your life. When looking to adopt, consider checking with breed-specific rescues or shelters. They often have AHTs looking for their forever homes.


Before adopting, ensure that you’re ready for the responsibility. While they are relatively low-maintenance in terms of grooming, they do require regular care, especially for their skin. Also, consider their exercise needs and ensure you can provide them with the activity they crave.


When adopting, ask about the dog’s history, health, and temperament. This will give you a good idea of any special needs or considerations. Remember, adopting a dog is a long-term commitment, but the love and companionship you’ll receive in return are priceless.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the lack of fur affect the care and lifestyle of an American Hairless Terrier?

The lack of fur in an American Hairless Terrier makes them more sensitive to temperature extremes, requiring protection from sunburn and cold weather, as well as regular moisturizing to maintain skin health, while also necessitating more frequent bathing to prevent skin issues.

Are American Hairless Terriers hypoallergenic, and what does this mean for allergic owners?

American Hairless Terriers are often considered hypoallergenic due to their lack of fur, which reduces dander and shedding; however, no dog breed is entirely hypoallergenic, meaning allergic owners may still experience symptoms, albeit potentially less severe, necessitating regular grooming and environmental cleaning to minimize allergens.

What are the personality traits of American Hairless Terriers, and how do they interact with families?

American Hairless Terriers are known for their lively, affectionate, and intelligent nature; they typically form strong bonds with their families and enjoy being involved in various activities, making them well-suited for family life, although consistent training and socialization are important to ensure they integrate well into the family dynamic.

What health considerations are unique to the American Hairless Terrier breed?

Unique health considerations for American Hairless Terriers include susceptibility to skin issues such as sunburn, acne, and rashes due to their lack of fur, as well as potential dental problems and allergies; regular skincare, dental care, and monitoring for allergic reactions are important for their well-being.

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