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American hairless terrier

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Terrier group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height —  12-16 inches
  • Weight —  4-35 pounds.
  • Coat length & texture — Completely hairless, skin is smooth. The coated variety has a short, soft, dense coat.
  • Coat color — For the coated variety, any color except merle or albino.
  • Exercise needs — Moderate.
  • Intelligence — High.
  • Barking — Not as often as other terrier breeds.
  • Life span — 14-16 years.
  • Temperament — Lively, intelligent, friendly, and a superior companion dog
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin —Louisiana, United States

American hairless terrier fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male American Hairless Terriers Cooper; Copper is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female American Hairless Terriers love Daisy, then Bella.

  • Puppies are born with a birth coat. The coat is a soft vestigial down, which disappears entirely by 8 to 10 weeks.
  • Canine sports. The AHT enjoys canine sports like agility and lure coursing.
  • Their compact feet are slightly oval. AHTs’ paws have two middle toes that are longer than the rest.
American hairless terrier portrait

American hairless terrier temperament and characteristics 

The American hairless terrier is a friendly, spunky, and energetic breed. They are intelligent, loyal, and obedient with people they know and trust. Because of these traits, they make excellent family companions who are gentle and loving towards children. While this breed can be wary of strangers, they are not aggressive or shy around them. American hairless terriers love to play fetch, go on walks, or participate in agility activities — and their athletic build pairs well with their love of exploring.

They do best in homes with plenty of space to run around outside. American Hairless Terriers can make wonderful family pets for active owners with the time to give them the required attention, exercise, and training.

The American hairless terrier’s unique appearance

The AHT is a small to medium-sized terrier breed with a well-muscled body. As the name suggests, they are hairless, though occasional small patches of hair or whiskers can be present. Their skin comes in various colors, including pink, black, blue, chocolate, and liver. They have a lively expression and keen, attentive eyes. There is a coated variety.

Common American hairless terrier health problems 

There are only a few health issues, including allergies, skin problems, deafness, and progressive retinal atrophy, that should be on a pet owner’s radar.

Also, their skin is susceptible to sunburn, and pet owners must apply sunscreen that is safe for animals and non-toxic to their coat before they go outside. Protective clothing may also be an option.

  • Allergies. Allergies are the most common problem in this breed, as they are predisposed to have sensitive skin that can be irritated easily. Skin problems include rashes, dry skin, and bacterial or fungal infections. Always use sunscreen!
  • Deafness. Deafness is another problem with a genetic component and can be hard to diagnose in the breed. As many of these dogs are white, deafness becomes more likely. Speaking with your veterinarian if you think this condition might affect your pet is essential.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and entropion. PRA is an inherited condition that can lead to blindness, while entropion is a form of eyelid malformation where the eyelids roll inwards, causing irritation and inflammation of the cornea. Fortunately, entropion can typically be handled with corrective surgery.

Cost of Caring for the American hairless terrier

American hairless terriers typically cost between $1,500 to $2,500 from a breeder. Prices can vary depending on the quality of the dog, its pedigree, and other factors.

The health issues affecting the AHT may become expensive over time as some allergy treatment plans are ongoing and life-long. Regarding the expected or unexpected, pet insurance can also help pet owners manage ongoing health issues like allergies. Signing up your canine buddy early on is the best plan of attack. No insurance covers pre-existing conditions. At the worst, get a plan at least one month after adopting a new AHT puppy. And always have a budget set aside for emergencies and a pet savings account.

History of the American hairless terrier 

The American hairless terrier is a relatively new breed in the United States. It is believed to have descended from the Rat terrier or Feist breed, with hairlessness occurring spontaneously due to a natural genetic mutation.

The foundation of a new breed,

The American hairless terrier breed was developed in the United States by Edwin Scott to create a hairless variety of Rat terrier. The first documented AHT was born in Louisiana in 1972 and was named Josephine. She had no hair, which is how the breed got its name.

Scott began a breeding program to increase the gene pool and develop the breed further.

Bonnie Turner and Teri Murphy

In 1981, Bonnie Turner and her daughter, Teri Murphy, purchased a pair of these hairless terriers from Edwin Scott and continued his efforts to breed the American hairless terrier. Through their dedication and research into the breed’s genetics, they created what is now known as the American hairless terrier.

Throughout their experience with this new breed, Bonnie and Teri authored several books on caring for hairless dogs and worked closely with the United Kennel Club (UKC) to get recognition for the breed in 2002. They also secured national recognition for the breed in 2004 by presenting evidence that the American hairless terriers were derived from standard-sized Rat terriers.

Today, Bonnie Turner and her daughter, Teri Murphy, are regarded as two of the most influential figures in developing and popularizing this unique dog breed. Their dedication to promoting this rare breed has earned them recognition amongst animal lovers worldwide.

American hairless terrier sat on a camping chair

Caring for your American hairless terrier

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet, schedule your dog’s vaccinations and discuss parasite control. Research the best ways to puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. No one likes to think about losing their new dog, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tags, so you’re ready just in case.

Due to their hairlessness, these terriers have unique care requirements. They need protection from extreme temperatures, including both hot and cold weather. Regular skin care, including moisturizing and sun protection, is crucial.

Additionally, they may require occasional bathing to keep their skin clean and healthy. Here are some other basics specific to American Hairless Terrier.


American hairless terriers excel in various dog sports and activities. They are agile and can participate in agility, obedience trials, and therapy work. Despite being small, they have a high energy level and enjoy physical and mental challenges.

This breed needs sunscreen! Walking your AHT in the shade when the temperature soars and on the grass is better. Summertime may present challenges as you must keep your dog out of the direct sun. Your dog may enjoy more rigorous outdoor activities in the fall and winter, including long hikes. The American hairless terrier needs moderate exercise, such as daily walks, runs, or playtime.  With proper exercise, they stay fit and energized.

American hairless terrier running


Grooming, your canine best friend, can be done as often as they’re open to brushing and bathing. When you introduce grooming, it should be the dog’s choice! Cooperative care involves training an animal to tolerate handling but also be an active, participant. You can learn about cooperative care to ensure grooming is stress-free.

Incorporate daily brushing — Brushing may be needed if you have the coated variety to promote healthy shedding.

Give occasional summer baths — Baths outside are great as your AHT will dry quickly.

Try a self-rinse between baths —  A self-rinse keeps your dog’s skin healthy and clean.

Remember to clean their ears — Our vet can show you how to clean their ears with a safe cleaner.

Start slow with nail trimsCutting one nail daily is okay as long as your dog is happy to cooperate. One nail is a success.

The AHT is super simple to groom. Pet owners can dilute dog shampoo and scrub them with a washcloth. A healthy diet and sunscreen is the best plan for healthy skin anytime these dogs are outdoors.  The American hairless terrier’s unique lack of fur makes them great for those who suffer from dog allergies.

No breed is truly hypoallergenic. Allergic reactions occur due to the protein in a dog’s dander, hair, and saliva. Dogs considered hypoallergenic shed less and thus have a minor effect on those with dog allergies.

Diet and nutrition

Small dog breeds require a diet formulated to meet their unique nutritional needs. Like all other dog breeds, small dogs must eat high-quality food with adequate protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Pet owners may want to talk to their vet about the diets tailored for specific small breeds.

An appropriate amount of carbohydrates can also provide energy for active small breeds. As with any breed of dog, avoid overfeeding or underfeeding your AHT. You can work with your vet on a specific diet plan and how much to feed. Always use a measuring cup to ensure you’re not just guessing the amount! Determining the food portion may be difficult when choosing a new diet, and pet parents should refer to their vet for food portioning.

Additionally, pet owners should never leave food out all day long. Small dogs have faster metabolisms and typically eat multiple small meals throughout the day. No free feeding! It is also important to provide treats in moderation. Choose healthy treats that are low in calories but still provide a nutritious boost for your pup.

Training your American hairless terrier 

Take the time to train in short sessions when you bring home your AHT.  The AHT is a breed that is easy to please and fun to train! Start with impulse control, as waiting for something is a great lesson for all dogs. Here are some tips from an expert on cooperative care training. Working with a positive-based trainer on shaping behaviors is an excellent investment!

  • Markers. Introduce a unique sound to indicate your dog is performing a desired behavior, and the marker sound should follow. Ths is also known as clicker training.
  • Mat target. For this exercise, it’s important to teach your dog to seek out a mat or bed and then to relax and stay on it. If he stays on the mat, he gets a treat!
American hairless terrier leash training

Breeds similar to the American Hairless Terrier

Is an AHT right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to start:

  • Rat Terrier. They’re an American breed. Unlike most breeds, rat terriers originated in the United States. Their family tree includes Whippets, fox terriers, Manchester terriers, Italian greyhounds, old English white terriers (now extinct), and many more.
  • Chinese Crested. These dogs were historically known as “ratters.” Sailors dating back to the 14th century were recorded keeping Cresties on their ships to keep the area hygienic and rodent-free.
  • Xoloitzcuintli. The Xoloitzcuintli is America’s first dog. This breed has existed in Mexico for over 3,000 years, which is why they’re also known as the Mexican hairless dog. The Xolo remains a national symbol of Mexico to this day.

Frequently asked questions

What is an American hairless terrier?

An American hairless terrier is a small terrier breed developed in the United States. Its defining feature is its lack of fur, although some individuals may have a sparse coat. It has a short muzzle, V-shaped ears, and dark eyes.

How big do American hairless terriers get?

American hairless terriers typically weigh between 4 and 35 pounds, depending on size.

Are American hairless terriers hypoallergenic?

Yes, since they lack a coat, American hairless terriers are considered hypoallergenic and do not shed like other breeds of dogs.

What are American hairless terriers’ temperament like?

American hairless terriers have a friendly and playful personality, making them excellent pets for families with children and those looking for an energetic companion to join them on outdoor adventures. They are also highly intelligent and easy to train.