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American Hairless Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

portrait of american hairless terrier dog in the green forest

American Hairless Terrier: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

Every dog is special, and the American Hairless Terrier is no exception. They make exceptional companions and are the only hairless canines from the United States. These alert, enthusiastic Terriers love to spend time with their favorite humans. Whether you are out on a brisk walk or snuggled up on the couch, the American Hairless Terrier wants to be right by your side.

Breed Overview


12–16 inches


12–28 pounds


14–16 years


Black, blue, apricot, chocolate, lemon, red, seal

Suitable for:

Families with children, first-time dog owners, active owners, those who want a low-shedding dog, and those with mild dog allergies


Inquisitive, vigilant, active

The American Hairless Terrier has many desirable features, such as its adorable appearance and appealing personality. This intelligent, playful companion can be coated or hairless; however, the hairless variety is especially good for owners who experience mild dog allergies.

They stand around 12–16 inches at the shoulder, which is a manageable size for any living situation. They are inquisitive, affectionate, and excellent with children. At the same time, they have a “Terrier attitude,” and they are protective of their loved ones.

If you like the description of this breed so far, keep reading–there is so much more to learn about this special dog.

American Hairless Terrier Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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American Hairless Terrier Puppies

American Hairless Terrier with red leash standing on green lawn background in evening light
Image Credit: art nick, Shutterstock

American Hairless Terriers are typically born with a short, fine layer of fur. Around 8 weeks of age, they shed their coat and remain entirely hairless, except for around the eyebrows and whiskers. Unfortunately, their skin is more vulnerable to environmental damage.

If you plan to take your American Hairless Terrier outside for prolonged periods of time, you will need to rub canine-appropriate sunscreen on their skin beforehand. Hairless dogs like the American Hairless Terrier are more prone to sunburn, so make sure you are prepared.

Likewise, they are more sensitive to cold temperatures. A coat and boots will protect the American Hairless Terrier nicely during the colder months.  They were bred to chase rats, so as a puppy, they may be prone to chasing after any small thing they lay their eyes on.

However, the American Hairless Terrier is not as ideal for hunting as their coated counterparts because the lack of hair on their bodies leaves them exposed and easily cut or bitten. Training your puppy early on to avoid chasing after other creatures will be essential for your dog’s safety.

American Hairless Terrier Breed Origin & History

As mentioned, the American Hairless Terrier is the only hairless dog breed indigenous to the United States. They’re a naturally occurring breed related to the Rat Terrier. Rat Terriers have existed since the early 1800s.

They were developed in England and are only one of the dozens of Terrier breeds developed to exterminate rats. Initially, the Rat Terriers were referred to as Feists, a nod to their feisty temperament. They were excellent rat catchers, and one Feist was even said to have hunted 2,500 rats in one day.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier has an excellent disposition. They’re playful, curious, and energetic, making them highly entertaining companions for families and singles. They are also very clever and make great training companions. They are biddable and willing to learn, and many dog owners find that teaching the American Hairless Terrier isn’t too much of a challenge.

American Hairless Terriers are alert canines. Although they may not have the size and menace to be a true guard dog, their vigilant nature makes them a great watchdog. They will alert you of anything suspicious they notice and perhaps a few unnecessary things.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

American Hairless Terriers are great family dogs. They can fit in a home or an apartment due to their manageable size, and their affectionate nature makes them an ideal companion for any family.

american hairless terrier dog with owner
Image Credit: larisa Stefanjuk, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

The American Hairless Terrier typically gets along fine with other pets as long as they have been properly trained, socialized, and introduced.

Keep in mind that the American Hairless Terrier’s heritage as a rat catcher will make them a poor companion for small mammals such as gerbils, hamsters, or mice. If you have small mammals in the home, bringing an American Hairless Terrier into the mix is not advised.

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Things to Know When Owning an American Hairless Terrier:

If you think the American Hairless Terrier would make a great addition to your life, you’ll want to consider whether or not you can provide for their needs. This includes their dietary requirements, exercise and training needs, grooming care, and more.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

One of the best ways to keep your American Hairless Terrier healthy and happy is to feed them a proper diet. All dogs should be given a high-quality, protein-rich diet regardless of their breed, so search for canine meal recipes that provide these essential qualities.

Furthermore, consider your dog’s age. There are specialized recipes for puppies, adults, and elder dogs. If your dog has a unique health need, you can also find a diet that supports it.

If your American Hairless Terrier prefers certain flavors (such as chicken or beef), try to incorporate them into their regular meals. Not only will this make them happy, but it will also encourage them to eat and keep them enriched.

Exercise 🐕

The American Hairless Terrier was bred to hunt rodents, and they can become restless if cooped up for too long. Moderate exercise of around 45 minutes a day should be enough to keep them fit and happy.

Exercise can include brisk walks, playtime in the yard, or agility training. Keeping your American Hairless Terrier physically and mentally stimulated will greatly improve their quality of life.

American Hairless Terrier jumping and running in the park
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

The American Hairless Terrier is biddable, which makes them an excellent dog for less experienced owners. Positive reinforcement is typically the best technique when training the American Hairless Terrier. By rewarding your American Hairless Terrier for desired behavior, you’ll give them an incentive to continue behaving well and a desire to train in the future.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming the American Hairless Terrier is fairly easy. Since they have little to no fur, they don’t need regular brushing. Instead, you should give them a bath whenever they look or smell dirty. Be sure to use a canine shampoo for sensitive skin since their delicate skin can become easily dry, irritated, or cracked.

It’s vital to check your American Hairless Terrier’s ears regularly for debris and signs of infection and clean them if needed. Your American Hairless Terrier will also need their teeth brushed and their nails trimmed to keep them healthy and happy.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The American Hairless Terrier is typically a healthy canine. However, there are some conditions that owners should be aware of. Serious conditions that the American Hairless Terrier may be prone to include Cushing’s disease, thyroid issues, and idiopathic epilepsy.

Hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are relatively minor conditions. Making regular appointments with a trusted veterinarian can help you stay vigilant about your pet’s well-being.

Minor Conditions:
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip dysplasia
Serious Conditions:

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Male vs Female

According to some owners, male American Hairless Terriers can be a bit more feisty. This may mean that your male American Hairless Terrier can be more challenging to train, as they can be a bit more difficult to calm down. On the other hand, female American Hairless Terriers can be more independent.

However, observed personality differences between the sexes are anecdotal. The strongest influence on your American Hairless Terrier’s behavior is their upbringing and healthcare.

Three american hairless terrier sitting side by side isolated on white background
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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3 Little-Known Facts About the American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier is an unusual breed, and we have some of the most interesting facts about them below.

1. There Are Several Possible Breeds Involved in the American Hairless Terrier’s Bloodline

The American Hairless Terrier has a varied genetic history. Their predecessor, the Rat Terrier, was developed from a large pool of other dog breeds.

Some of the other possible breeds include:
  • Beagles
  • Smooth Fox Terriers
  • Italian Greyhounds
  • Miniature Pinschers

2. The American Hairless Terrier Was Created by a Mutation.

The American Hairless Terrier was established due to a spontaneous mutation in the Rat Terrier’s genes. The first American Hairless Terrier was born into a litter of normal Rat Terriers.

3. The American Kennel Club (AKC) Acknowledges More Than 35 Coat Colors in the Breed

There are over 35 colors that the AKC recognizes in the American Hairless Terrier.

These include:
  • Apricot
  • Red
  • Seal
  • Lilac dilute
  • Piebald
  • Brindle
  • Sable

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Final Thoughts

The American Hairless Terrier is a fairly low-maintenance pet in terms of grooming care, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t require special attention and care. Before bringing the American Hairless Terrier into your home, do thorough research to determine whether you can provide the best care possible for them.

The American Hairless Terrier is a special breed that has found a place in many dog lovers’ hearts. If you’re interested in adopting one, you can search local animal shelters or breeders for an American Hairless Terrier of your own.


Featured Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

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