American Hairless Terrier – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
American Hairless Terrier is a breed of an original appearance and unique temperament. Read on to learn more about this terrier.
Dog Breed Group:
Terrier Dogs
12 to 16 inches
10 to 16 pounds
Life Span:
13 to 16 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The American Hairless Terrier is originally from Louisiana and comes in both hairless and coated varieties.

Officially, this is a young breed – the United Kennel Club recognized this breed in 2004.

Since this breed has no hair, it’s easy to conclude that this breed is considered to be the hypoallergenic type.

This Louisiana native dog is smart, affectionate, and playful.

They are highly trainable and are a great choice for dog sport events, such as agility and obedience.

The American Hairless Terrier is directly descended from the Rat Terrier, a dog bred to hunt rats and other vermin.

Since this is a hairless breed, grooming needs are straightforward.

Skin requires regular bathing, while ears should be kept clean all the time and well-protected in hot weather.

In fact, with this breed, you will have to purchase high-quality dog sunscreen and apply it on your American Hairless Terrier before a day out.

The American Hairless Terrier stands between 12 to 16 inches at the shoulder, and as such is considered to be a small and well-muscled dog.

Since this is a hairless dog he isn’t suitable for hunting. As expected, his hunting instincts remain intact.

Quick Facts

Real name: American Hairless Terrier
Other names: Rat Terrier
Origin: States
Breed type: Terrier Dogs
Weight: 10 to 16 pounds
Height: 12 to 16 inches
Lifespan: 13 to 16 years
Litter Size: 4 – 5 puppies
Color: Black, blue, brindle, red, brown, or sable
Coat: Hairless

American Hairless Terrier History

Thanks to its original appearance, the American Hairless Terrier is one of those dog breeds that you cannot miss.

Wherever they appear somewhere they are a big attraction. That’s not because they are not often seen, but more because once you see them you won’t be able to forget them.

Did you know that this smaller size dog of unusual appearance is actually the only hairless dog breed indigenous to the States?

Or that creation of this breed was merely an accident?

Creating this breed wasn’t planned, but they are definitely becoming one of the most popular dog breeds across the States. Not that long ago, in 1972, one Rat Terrier was born hairless.

What happened is that her hair fell out when she was just a few weeks old. This one-of-a-kind terrier was named Josephine.

Josephine’s owners, Willie and Edwin Scott started breeding this dog and produced more hairless puppies over the years.

Officially, the American Hairless Terrier was born in 1983. From there, breeders continued to breed this breed with Rat Terriers, which resulted in creating Coated American Hairless Terriers.

This practice was the most effective way to ensure a healthy breed pool. In 1999, the Rat Terrier was officially recognized by the UKC (United Kennel Club).

At the time, American Hairless Terrier was included in this category, but Willie Scott wanted their breed to be on its own. Therefore, he created the American Hairless Terrier Association (AHTA).

The year 2004 was the year when UKC officially recognized the American Hairless Terrier, while the AKLC recognized the breed in 2016.

American Hairless Terrier Physical Appearance

The American Hairless Terrier is a small to medium size dog of active nature.

Since they have no coat, they aren’t suitable for hunting activities. However, they have strong hunting instincts which makes them suitable for many activities and sports.

They may look gentle, but they are true athletes. At first sight, this breed is longer than taller, of medium bone.

Their overall appearance is strong, but with flat muscles. They should never be too heavy, or too light, or they would be disqualified from dog competition.

Expression is alert. The muzzle is well filled, eyes are round, and ears are erect. The neck is clean and powerful, while the line of the back is strong. The breed is hairless but has a coated counterpart.

A coated dog is covered with a very short and smooth coat, which is often described as dense.

Any color or combination of colors is allowed. The overall movement is smooth and effortless.

American Hairless Terrier Personality

American Hairless Terrier may have a small size body, but his heart is of a true giant.

They are packed with enormous energy and they will always try to do what’s on their mind. This breed isn’t fond of staying alone for a long period of time.

If you don’t have someone staying home all the time, you may think about getting a more independent breed.

They need both attention and validation, and they won’t be shy to ask for it. This is an intelligent breed that loves pleasing his humans.

They love spending equal time both outdoors and indoors. As a smaller size dogs, they are more likely to choose one person and stick to their ‘favorite human.’

Does this mean that they would ignore other family members? No, it just means that their ‘favorite person’ comes first.

Living With American Hairless Terrier

American Hairless Terriers are full of energy, but they will enjoy chill indoor time as well.

Think about agility sport as an effective way to keep your AHT’s energy in control. Never forget that a tired dog is a happy dog.

Dogs thrive when there is a job to be done. You don’t have to force your AHT to have a certain job, like guarding the flock, but you can give him a toy filled with treats that he will try to get.

This is an easy way to keep your dog entertained for hours. This gentle dog may have soft nature, but they have rat terriers in them which means one thing – they love to chase small animals.

This is why walking your AHT on a leash is highly recommended.

Living With American Hairless Training

Don’t think that smaller size dogs are easier to train. This may be the case, but in reality, smaller dogs are more challenging sometimes.

It seems that it’s far challenging for people to be strict with smaller size dogs. This is the most common for seeing ‘small dog syndrome’ in small dogs.

Training smaller dogs should be identical to training large size dogs. There should be rules, exercise, and rewards for nice behavior.

Provide enough training toys and treats. Never use any harsh training methods. No dog should ever experience any negative treatment.

Did you know that dogs can learn basic commands as of eight weeks of age? This is a period that should be used to teach him basics, how to ‘come’, ‘sit’, and ‘no.’

Once your veterinarian gives you green light, you should feel free to let your Fido explore the world around him. This means that he can meet other dogs and sniff everything around him.

Early socialization and well-structured training sessions are crucial factors when it comes to having a well-behaved dog.

If you feel like training your AHT is too much, think about puppy classes. This way you will bond stronger with your Fido.

Plus, with professional inputs, you will speed up the training process and help your canine become the best canine citizen possible.

This is an intelligent breed eager to please. These traits should help with training sessions.

Living With American Hairless Health

Let’s be honest, if you want a healthy puppy, you need to deal with responsible breeders only.

Yes, getting a puppy from a reputable breeder may be pricey and may be a longer process, but it will be worth it.

You want to avoid puppy mills and get a dog with more health issues that you want to deal with. The only way to do this is by dealing with responsible breeders.

They will always:

  • Show you medical documentation on the breed
  • Let you meet the bitch
  • Show you the facilities
  • Ask you a lot of questions to make sure that you are suitable fit
  • Inform you on possible future conditions

Responsible breeders will also tell you to return the dog to them if for any reason you cannot keep the dog anymore.

As for the health issues in this breed, you can expect to see:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Luxating patella
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

This doesn’t mean that your dog will suffer from any of the listed issues.

No, it just means that regular veterinarian check-ups can keep your dog away from any of the listed issues.

You may expect to face many skin issues because this is a hairless breed, but luckily that’s not the case.

Skin problems are in general very rare in this breed. The rest is basic care:

  • Check ears weekly
  • learn how to clean dog’s ears
  • Trim or grin nails monthly
  • Bathe only when needed and on your vet’s guidelines
  • Check gums weekly

As long as you manage to provide proper care, high-quality nutrition, and exercise you will have a long-living dog.

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