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Breed Spotlight: American Hairless Terrier

Not all breeds are ancient.

Its 1972 in Louisianna and longtime Rat Terrier breeders Willie and Edwin Scott are expecting a litter of Rat Terriers. Unbeknownst to the Scotts, however, this litter is going to be a bit different. Among the normal Rat Terrier puppies is a shocking anomaly; a single hairless bitch puppy, subsequently named Josephine. Enamored with this odd pup, the Scotts opted to keep her. In time Josephine was bred, and in her first litter was another single hairless bitch puppy. Many breedings of both bitches yielded no more hairless puppies, and the Scotts assumed that was the end of the line for these quirky naked Rat Terriers. That is until Josephine was 9 years old and had one more litter - one containing 2 hairless puppies; a male and a female.

As is typical in the fledgling years of any attempt at establishing a new breed, the siblings were mated to one another and produced many more hairless puppies and creating the foundation stock for the breed. Over the years several outcrossing back to coated Rat Terriers has helped breed out potential issues from the heavy early linebreeding. In 2016, 44 years after the first hairless Rat Terrier puppy was born, the American Kennel Club recognized the American Hairless Terrier as its own distinct breed. Ongoing efforts to continue to develop the breed and perfect it from the standpoint of health and form have been largely successful, resulting in a fairly robust and healthy breed today.

When born they are covered in a light peach fuzz that slowly gives way to smooth unblemished skin by the time they wean.

A small breed, the American Hairless Terrier stands somewhere between 12-16 inches at the withers, according to the AKC breed standard that was developed by the American Hairless Terrier Club of America. They are commonly 7-12 lbs, and they are lively and spirited. They love to be active outdoors, but they are susceptible to sunburn and hypothermia and precautions should therefore be taken. You can use unscented hypoallergenic sunscreen on their skin to protect from sun exposure, and you can use clothing designed for dogs during colder weather.

Their temperament is generally even and friendly. They are remarkably good with respectful children, but caution should be taken around very small children who do not yet know the boundaries of respectful interaction with dogs (this should be an obvious aspect for all dogs, not just the AHT). They are adaptable, living perfectly content on a farm or in an apartment. Exercise requirements are minimal, they can be exercised outdoors or indoors with normal play such as playing fetch, wrestling, or playing chase. If given the opportunity, however, they are content with cuddling in your lap for long periods of time.

If you decide to look into acquiring one of these interesting and uncommon beauties, follow the American Hairless Terrier Club of America's recommendation of purchasing from a breeder who health test their breed stock for Luxating patellas, Cardiac, Primary Lens Luxation (PLL), Hemophelia A, VWD, LCP (rare), and Congenital hypothyroidism. Ethical breeders are proud of their efforts to produce healthy puppies and will always jump at the opportunity to show you proof of the health testing they've done. If a breeder cannot give you proof of testing, or seems at all cagey about this topic, this is a red flag, and you should move on to a different breeder.

Below you can view the 2023 breed judging, which can help give you a good idea of what good examples of the breed should look like and how they should move.



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