The American Hairless Terrier also referred to as AHT is a medium sized dog that has a striking resemblance with the Rat Terrier; of which is its immediate descendant. The dog looks athletic with strong powerful legs, a strong and solid neck, deep chest and well developed shoulders. Its ears are ever erect and are quite similar to those of the Rat Terrier. The tail is straight and should not be bobbed or docked as these traits make the American Hairless Terrier to be disqualified from registration.
The characteristic thing about this breed of dog is that they do not have any body hair, with the most common skin coats of the dog being black, red or even golden spots that are on the skin of the dog. When two hairless AHT’s are bred, hairless puppies are born. Crossing a terrier with hair and the hairless Terrier gives varying results, as the resulting puppies might or might not have hair. Puppies born with fuzzy hair shed it bit by bit as they grow, being hairless by about 6 weeks of age. The only hair seen on this dog is only eyebrow hair and whiskers. The height o the dog is recorded to range between 7 – 16 inches with the weight being approximately 5 – 16 pounds.
These dogs are intelligent, playful, loving and very alert. The lively nature of this dog makes it an ideal pet if you are after affection in dogs. It is an excellent pet when with children as it is very playful especially if you get them as puppies. To avoid the dog being territorial, it is important to show the dog that you are the pack leader. Yet another unique thing about this dog is that they sweat through the skin rather than on the mouth and it can be seen when it is hot or when the dog is scared. This dog is however quite friendly even with strangers. Training is easy for this dog as it is intelligent and they are very cooperative and eager to please.
The main challenge that the AHT may face is the lack of hair on its coat when out in the sun. It is therefore advisable that sunscreen be applied to the dog’s coat whenever going to walk out in hot sun. Rashes are also common due to allergic reaction from foreign material coming into contact with the skin.
Because of the lack of skin, the young one of the ATHT is vulnerable to opportunistic infections that might come as a result of the dog feeling cold. The mortality thus tends to be high in early life, though it can live for 14 – 16 years.
As the dog does not have any hair on its skin, the care that is recommended for it is to only avoid sunburn. Nail clipping is also recommended to be done twice a month. Bathing is also important for the dog as it sweats using pores on the skin. One to three times a week is recommended depending on the activity. In the case that the skin looks dry, lotion should be applied but it should not contain lanolin.
The lack of hair on the fur of AHT’s came from the Rat Terrier which gave birth to hairless puppies, a genetic predisposition which was first reported in 1972. It is from this litter that the puppies have been bred to make the unique American Hairless Terrier.