American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

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The American Hairless Terrier (AHT dog) is one of the world’s ten hairless dog breeds and the only indigenous to the United States.

They have an interesting origin story and were not purposefully bred but rather a happy accident while breeding a litter of Rat Terriers in Louisiana in the 1970s. 

An American Hairless Terrier dog, wearing a colorful leash and standing on the grass
The beautiful American Hairless Terrier

The AHT dog is born in litters of 3-5 puppies. These puppies tend to reach their full adult size at nine months old, but they can take up to 2 years to fully develop.

The average American Hairless Terrier stands at 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) tall and weighs between 12 and 16 lbs (4-7 kg), and there isn’t a significant difference between the size of males and females. 

American Hairless Terriers are born with a light fuzz of hair all over their bodies that gradually sheds from the nose backward until they are entirely hairless, apart from their eyebrows and whiskers, at around six weeks of age. 

The most common colors of American Hairless Terriers are chocolate, black, blue, and red, although they’re usually part colored with freckles that enlarge with age.

They’re slimly built with muscular chests, short tails, and long legs, with the classic Terrier head shape, a long snout, and pricked triangular ears.

American Hairless Terriers are lively, loving, bright, and playful. They’re a fairly vocal breed with a high-pitched bark, but they’re not yappy.

Although they have a low chance of biting someone, they do have a bite force of 330 PSI which is stronger than a Pitbull’s bite force with 235 PSI. 

Generally, American Hairless Terriers are a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 14-16 years. But they’re prone to unhealthy weight gain, so a healthy diet consisting of biologically appropriate protein and healthy fats is necessary.

The breed also needs at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, plus lots of fun, challenging play. 

If you’re interested in owning an American Hairless Terrier, keep reading for everything you need to know about the breed.

Table of Contents

What is the American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed?

An American Hairless Terrier dog, leashed, standing in front of a bush
Maeve, an American Hairless Terrier, spends weekends outdoors – Image source

The American Hairless Terrier was developed from Rat Terriers, a breed used to hunt rats and other vermin on farms to protect crops and livestock.

Their ancestors were used for rat-baiting, a bloodsport in which dogs were trained to kill rats in a contained space for human entertainment. As a result, they’re vigilant dogs that can run pretty fast.

What is the Etymology of American Hairless Terrier Dogs?

The breed’s name is very literal. As mentioned above, the American Hairless Terrier is the only hairless dog breed native to America, and they began as a variation of the Rat Terrier.

What’s the History of American Hairless Terriers?

In 1972 in Trout, Louisiana, a Rat Terrier breeder discovered one of the pups in their purebred litter, later named Josephine, was completely hairless.

She was given to some friends of the breeder, the Scott family, who fell head over heels for Josephine. 

In every other way, she was like her siblings and completely healthy. Her condition was likely due to a rare genetic disposition for hair loss that none of her other siblings inherited.

Josephine later bred two more hairless pups, and her pups were inbred to create more hairless Terriers. 

They were initially registered as a hairless variety of Rat Terriers, but the Scott family renamed the breed in its own right and established their own club, the American Hairless Terrier Association.

In 2004, the United Kennel Club officially recognized the AHT as a breed in its own right, followed by the American Kennel Club in 2016. 

How Many American Hairless Terriers are There in the World?

It’s unknown how many American Hairless Terrier dogs there are worldwide. But they are a pretty rare breed, which is to be expected considering their heritage can be tracked down to one specific dog only a few decades ago. 

In fact, the breed ranked 136 out of 192 breeds for popularity in the US, according to the American Kennel Club.

However, this isn’t too bad for such a rare breed, and thankfully they are not in danger of disappearing due to their devoted army of AHT lovers. 

What are the Variants of American Hairless Terrier Dogs?

A brown-white-and-tan American Hairless Terrier dog stands on a rock, outdoors
Meet Marvel, an active American Hairless Terrier – Image source

Despite their name, there is a coated (or hairy) variety of the American Hairless Terrier, which does not inherit the hairless gene.

They’re accepted by the AKC and have short, glossy coats that display the same colors and patterns that their hairless friends have. 

What are the Key Traits of an American Hairless Terrier?

In general, the American Hairless Terrier is a lively, loving, playful, and affectionate companion that can get along well with children and other pets.

To learn more about living with this rare hairless dog breed, take a look at the most common characteristics of an American Hairless Terrier dog below. 

  • Lively Despite their size, the AHT dog has lots of energy, needs a fair bit of exercise, and is very enthusiastic about life.
  • Loving – The American Hairless Terrier is super loving and affectionate towards their family and friends and loves nothing more than to be part of the pack.
  • Loyal – Like most Terriers, the AHT is very loyal and protective and can air towards territory without training. 
  • Playful – The AHT dog is fun-loving, playful, and needs mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. 
  • Clever – Like most dogs that have farmwork in their background, the AHT is very bright and highly trainable. 
  • Inquisitive – The breed is also very curious and investigative, making for a brilliant companion when exploring new places. 
  • Alert – As mentioned above, the AHT is very vigilant and watchful, making for an excellent watchdog to keep watch over your home and supervise vulnerable family members.

The behavioral qualities of American Hairless Terrier dogs can be found below.

American Hairless Terrier Characteristics Rating
Relation with family 5
Good with children 5
Friendly with strangers 4
Friendly with other dogs 4
Easy to Train 4
Energy Level 4
Barking Level 4
Mental Stimulation Needs 4

What Does an American Hairless Terrier Look Like?

An American Hairless Terrier dog standing in a living room
Toastie, an American Hairless Terrier, enjoys the indoors – Image source

Like their cousins, the Rat Terriers, the American Hairless Terrier has a generally narrow build with a strong, muscular chest, a short, skinny tail, long legs, and a classic Terrier-shaped face with a long snout and pricked ears.

How big is the American Hairless Terrier?

The average American Hairless Terrier is between 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) tall. Unlike most breeds, there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference between the size of males and females.

They’re small-medium-sized dogs that don’t need huge homes, so long as they get enough exercise every day. 

The physical features of an American Hairless Terrier dog can be found at the table below.

American Hairless Terrier Features Male Female
Height  12-16 inches (30-40 cm) 12-16 inches (30-40 cm)
Weight 7-14 lb (3-6 kg) 7-14 lb (3-6 kg)

When crate training your AHT dog, 24-inch crates are best for the breed. It’s best to have one on the snug size rather than too big, as it will help them feel safe and secure. 

When are American Hairless Terriers fully grown?

AHTs tend to enter adolescence around 5-6 months of age and reach their full adult size and emotional maturity at nine months old, although it can take up to two years for their bones and muscles to fully develop. 

What is the average weight of American Hairless Terrier dogs?

The average weight of the American Hairless Terrier is around 7-14 lb or 3-6 kg. Their exact weight will depend on their age, height, and activity level, but beware, they can become overweight easily. 

How fast can an American Hairless Terrier run?

How fast an American Hairless Terrier can run has never been tested or recorded.

Still, their genetic history and athletic build mean that they do run fast, and they’re known to be able to run 5 miles (8 km) in a day if they’re healthy and in good condition – not bad for a smaller breed. 

What is the Average American Hairless Terrier Life Expectancy?

An American Hairless Terrier dog, clothed, is looking up as it stands on the grass
Meet Cortex, an American Hairless Terrier, who stays active – Image source

The average life expectancy of the American Hairless Terrier is 14-16 years with good care. That care includes several things, from daily runs and a good diet to challenging games and lots of company.

Owners should also ensure they stay up to date with preventative medications and attend annual vet check-ups. 

What Coat Type Do American Hairless Terriers Have?

A coated American Hairless Terrier standing outdoors
Meet Vida, a coated American Hairless Terrier – Image source

As their name suggests, most adult American Hairless Terriers have no coat, which is ideal for people with allergies. However, the coated variety has a short, single coat that is easy to look after, requiring weekly brushing with a pin or bristle brush.

What’s the American Hairless Terrier dog’s coat like?

The coated variety of the American Hairless Terrier’s coat is glossy in appearance, straight in texture, and smooth to touch. 

How long is the American Hairless Terrier’s coat?

The hairless variety of the American Hairless Terrier may have little fine hairs covering their skin when they mature, while the coated variety of the AHT’s coat measures around one inch long. 

How is the American Hairless Terrier dog’s coat density?

Despite being a single coat rather than a double coat, the coated variety of the American Hairless Terrier’s coat is fairly thick and dense.

Do the American Hairless Terriers shed?

The hairless (and more common) variety of the American Hairless Terrier does not shed, while the coated type does shed, but not heavily or excessively. That said, they’re still suitable for people with allergies to dog hair. 

Is the American Hairless Terrier good for people with allergies?

Yes, the American Hairless Terrier is ideal for people with allergies to dog hair, even the coated variety.

Such allergies are set off by the dander released into the air when a dog sheds their fur, so hairless dogs that don’t shed or shed minimally, like the AHT, are perfect for people with extreme allergies.

Can American Hairless Terriers Live in Hot Weather?

An American Hairless Terrier dog wearing colorful clothes while standing on a grassy yard
Meet Norman, a stylish American Hairless Terrier – Image source

The American Hairless Terrier can tolerate heat very well due to its lack of fur. However, it’s essential to take care of their skin in the hot weather.

Their bare skin is very susceptible to sunburn, which can lead to skin damage and even cancer. So, wearing light clothing, like a T-shirt, and sunscreen is advised. 

AHT dogs should also wear coats in cold weather (under 45°F or seven °C) to compensate for their lack of fur and prevent hypothermia

What are the Most Common Colors of American Hairless Terriers?

According to the American Kennel Club, the American Hairless Terrier comes in over twenty colors, combinations, and patterns, but the most common ones are black, sable, blue, brindle, red, or brown. 

What Markings Do American Hairless Terriers Have?

Just as they come in many different colors, American Hairless Terriers can also have lots of different markings.

These include tan points, dark spots and patches all over the body, piebald markings, white markings on the chest, legs, tails, and underside, sable markings, and brindle markings. 

What is the American Hairless Terrier Dogs’ Temperament?

An American Hairless Terrier dog, clothed in black, sits on a white blanket
A cute American Hairless Terrier – Image source

The American Hairless Terrier is generally friendly, bright, and fun-loving, with a curious attitude. They’re energetic, spirited, affectionate, and love family life, getting on with both people and other dogs alike.

However, they can also be stubborn and anxious without proper training and care.

American Hairless Terrier Temperament Rating
Adaptability 4
Friendliness 5
Mouthiness 3
Playfulness 4
Family-oriented 5
Stranger tolerance 5

Are American Hairless Terriers good with other dogs?

American Hairless Terriers do tend to get along well with other dogs, especially other family dogs. That said, they may not be compatible with smaller family pets like rabbits and hamsters because of their rat hunting genetics.

Like all dogs, they should be socialized early on in life to learn social cues. 

Are American Hairless Terriers friendly with other people?

Yes, American Hairless Terriers get on very well with people, they’re known for being friendly dogs, and they’re especially loving and affectionate with their family members.

Can the American Hairless Terrier dogs get along well with strangers?

American Hairless Terriers do tend to be friendly towards strangers, but socialization is vital.

Socialization allows your dog to learn about human behavior and helps them to differentiate between threatening behavior and non-threatening behavior. 

How do American Hairless Terriers get along with young children?

Unlike some Terrier breeds, American Hairless Terriers have a very good reputation with children. They’re known for being very gentle and patient with children of all ages, including younger ones.

However, owners should always supervise reactions, as the AHT’s smaller size means they’re easily hurt by accidental knocks and stomps from small children.

Is it Possible for American Hairless Terrier Dogs to Adapt Quickly?

An American Hairless Terrier dog, wearing colorful clothes, sits on a yellow bed
Norman, an American Hairless Terrier, relaxes on bed – Image source

In some ways, American Hairless Terriers are a very adaptable breed. Because of their size, they can live in any sized home, so long as their needs are met.

That said, they do need help adapting to changes in weather and are prone to anxiety if they’re understimulated.

Are American Hairless Terrier Dogs Aggressive?

American Hairless Terriers are not known for being aggressive dogs whatsoever. Unlike some smaller Terrier breeds, they’re generally very gentle. However, they are protective of their loved ones and homes and will react if provoked. 

Do American Hairless Terrier Dogs Pose a Threat to Humans?

Generally speaking, American Hairless Terriersdo not pose a threat to humans. As mentioned above, they’re known for being very gentle, friendly dogs. However, any dog can react aggressively when provoked into doing so.

Do American Hairless Terrier Dogs Bite?

Like all dogs, American Hairless Terriers will bite during their puppyhood. Teething is a natural process that all infant mammals go through, in which their milk teeth fall out, and their adult teeth grow in.

For dogs, this process starts within the first few weeks of their lives and stops between 6-8 months. 

Adult AHTs have a bite force of 330 PSI but shouldn’t bite unnecessarily, so it’s essential to train your dog on what is and isn’t theirs to bite from an early age using redirection and positive reinforcement. 

You can also use repellent furniture sprays to stop your dog from chewing your furniture and show them that biting hurts by yelping and stopping your interaction as soon as they bite you. 

Should you use a muzzle for American Hairless Terriers?

Muzzles aren’t usually necessary for American Hairless Terriers as they’re generally very friendly dogs, but they can be used under the necessary circumstances.

Muzzles have multiple functions; they’re predominantly used to avoid dangerous biting behaviors, but they can also be used to stop dogs from eating things they shouldn’t if they’re prone to doing so. 

Do American Hairless Terrier Dogs Have a Protective Attitude?

American Hairless Terriers are very loving and loyal and therefore protective of their loved ones. They’re also very alert and vocal, making great watchdogs. That said, they aren’t suited to being guard dogs as they’re not aggressive enough. 

Are American Hairless Terrier Dogs Easy to Train?

An American Hairless Terrier dog, clothed, stands on the grass and yellow fallen leaves outdoors
Kobe, an American Hairless Terrier, loves autumn – Image source

American Hairless Terriers are fairly easy to train. They’re very intelligent and eager to please, so the key is to make sure you bond with your dog before training.

You should also keep your training sessions concise and fun, with lots of positive reinforcement to prevent boredom, confusion, and stubborn behaviors. 

You should start their training as early on in their life as possible and keep it regular and consistent over time. The use of a behavioral marker will help, and negative signals should be verbal and non-threatening. 

For example, ignoring your dog and saying “stop” whenever you want your AHT to stop a behavior will soon create the association between the command and the behavior being undesirable. 

Can American Hairless Terriers be used as a working dog?

The American Hairless Terrier is a relatively new breed that hasn’t been used for work, despite their heritage of vermin hunting and rat baiting.

Although they could still be used for vermin hunting, there’s far less call for such practices as there are lots of easier ways to rat-proof farms these days. 

That said, as mentioned above, AHTs could very well be used as watchdogs, but not so much as guard dogs. The difference is that watchdogs purely keep watch and alert their owners of intruders.

Whereas guard dogs are trained to guard and protect physically. 

The breed sometimes competes in dog shows due to their unique appearance but is often kept as beloved pets. 

Are American Hairless Terrier Dogs Always on Alert?

An American Hairless Terrier dog, clothed, looks at the camera while lying on its stomach on the couch
Norman, an American Hairless Terrier, keeps his mind alert amidst rest – Image source

Yes, American Hairless Terriers are very alert dogs, making them excellent watchdogs. If they sense something different or there’s a potential danger or threat, AHTs will alert you.

This is due to their genetic history in hunting and baiting rats. You’ve got to be on the ball to catch something so small and quick.

Do American Hairless Terrier Dogs Bark a Lot?

The American Hairless Terrier is a fairly vocal breed. They’re not known for barking excessively or unnecessarily, but they can and will alert you to issues and use their voice to tell you how they’re feeling.

That said, they can also be trained to bark – or stop barking – on command. 

How does an American Hairless Terrier bark?

The AHT dog has a high-pitched bark, although it’s not akin to “yapping”. Although nothing is recorded about the exact frequency of their bark, it’s known to be loud, as their cousins, the Rat Terriers, were bred to bark very loudly during their hunts. 

What is the Energy Level of American Hairless Terrier Dogs?

A coated American Hairless Terrier dog looks up, smiling with its tongue out, while standing on the grass
An excited, coated American Hairless Terrier – Image source

American Hairless Terriers are pretty energetic for a smaller breed. They require a fair bit of daily exercise and lots of play to expend their energy – and they are known for running around the house in circles when they don’t get it. 

How Active are American Hairless Terriers?

American Hairless Terriers need at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, but preferably closer to an hour. This is best split into two or three walks.

The breed loves to run, explore new places, and interact with other dogs on walks. The one thing they’re not great at is swimming, so take care when walking your AHT dog around lakes, rivers, and beaches. 

Do American Hairless Terrier Dogs Like to Play?

The AHT is a very playful breed of dog. They love to fetch, chase, and find. Their genetic heritage and instincts mean they love to play with “find” toys like snuffle mats and treat dispensers, which are also great for stress and boredom-busting. 

Some other popular games for American Hairless Terriers include:

  • Hide and seek – To play hide and seek, ask your AHT dog to sit and stay while you hide somewhere in the home, then call them to come and find you.
  • Treasure hunt – To play treasure hunt, pick one of your AHT’s favorite toys or treats. Then, ask your dog to sit and stay and show them what you’re going to hide. Hide it elsewhere in the house and call them to come and find it. 

Do American Hairless Terriers Drool a Lot?

If you’re not keen on drooly dogs, good news. The American Hairless Terrier is not known for drooling a lot. However, it’s normal for any dog to drool a little when they’re around food.

Excessive drooling can be a sign of stress or a medical issue – so if your AHT dog suddenly starts to drool a lot, take them to the vet. 

What is the Family Life of American Hairless Terrier Dogs Like?

A Beagle and Jack Russell Terrier Mix and an American Hairless Terrier lying on their stomachs on a dog bed
Floki, an American Hairless Terrier, with his brother Takkie – Image source

The American Hairless Terrier loves to be a part of the family, and they, in turn, are great family dogs. They’re very playful and adventurous, without requiring too much daily exercise, so they’re perfect for moderately active, fun-loving families. 

They’re very gentle with children and older or vulnerable family members, and they get on well with other dogs. However, they’re not ideal for families with smaller pets like hamsters due to their hunting and rat-baiting genetics.

So, if you have smaller pets, make sure you socialize them together early on. 

What Kind of Food Should American Hairless Terriers Eat?

Like most Terrier breeds, American Hairless Terriers are prone to gaining weight and joint issues.

So it’s essential to provide them with a healthy, nutritionally complete diet consisting of biologically appropriate protein from high-quality sources like chicken and fish.

Their food should also contain healthy fats like Omega-3 fatty acids to help retain their healthy weight. Puppies and senior dogs should also eat foods containing DHA for brain support. 

A healthy adult American Hairless Terrier dog should eat 100g – 140g of food per day, ideally split into two meals.

Pups should consume 20g of food per 1kg of their body weight per day, and older dogs should eat fewer calories as they become less active with age. 

What are the Best Dog Foods For American Hairless Terriers?

These are our top recommendations for commercial food for adult AHTs:

Our top recommendations for the American Hairless Terrier puppies:

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like American Hairless Terriers?

A black-and-white Chinese Crested Dog standing on the grass
A fabulous Chinese Crested Dog

Despite their uniqueness, a few other breeds look like the American Hairless Terrier. Namely, of course, other hairless breeds and other Terriers, including:

  • Chinese Crested
  • Xoloitzcuintli
  • Peruvian Inca Orchid
  • Argentine Pila Dog
  • Abyssinian Sand Terrier
  • Hairless Khala
  • Jonangi
  • Ecuadorian Hairless Dog
  • Hairless Chihuahua
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Rat Terrier

Who Should Get an American Hairless Terrier?

An American Hairless Terrier dog looking up while standing on a yellow blanket with star prints
Maxmilian, a puppy-dog-eyed American Hairless Terrier – Image source

If you want a fluffy dog to cuddle up to, the American Hairless Terrier may not be the right dog for you. However, their lovely temperament and fun-loving nature make them a surefire contender for budding dog owners everywhere. 

They’re an interesting breed of dog with a unique history, as well as a unique look. Do you own an American Hairless Terrier? Tell us what you love the most about them in the comments down below! 

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