A direct descendant of the Rat Terrier, The American Hairless Terrier (or AHT, as it is commonly abbreviated) is a smart and lively companion. The breed was recently recognized as a separate terrier breed by the United Kennel Club in 2004.
History and Origin of the American Hairless Terrier
Although the AHT is descended from the Rat Terrier, the origins of both are attributed to the Feist, a type of European terrier mix. When the Feist immigrated to North America, the Rat Terrier was developed by adding breeds such as beagle, miniature pinscher, and Italian greyhound. The American Hairless Terrier was then eventually developed from the Rat Terrier in 1972 in Louisiana after one puppy in a Rat Terrier litter was born hairless and bred, producing the original breed stock. Currently, the American Kennel Club (AKC) includes the AHT as “Foundation Stock Series.” The owners of the original hairless puppy, Willie and Edwin Scott, are still active in developing the breed to this date.
Appearance and Size of the American Hairless Terrier
The AHT is nearly identical to the Rat Terrier, with the obvious exception that he is completely without hair. Although AHT puppies can be born with “peach fuzz,” they lose this light covering of hair by the age of six weeks.
The AHT stands at a height of 7 to 16 inches and weighs from 5 to 16 pounds. They typically have pink skin with spots of varying colors of black, brown, grey, or red. Tails of the AHT should not be docked and their ears stand upright when alert.
Interestingly, the AHT can appear to break out in a sweat when hot, nervous, or scared, although most experts believe this is due to an increase in sebaceous gland secretions.
Personality of the American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier was bred to keep the traits of its ancestor, so the AHT is very similar in temperament to the Rat Terrier. The AHT is energetic, intelligent, and playful. They enjoy regular activity and exercise. The AHT is a good watchdog and, like most terriers, he has a “fearless” nature.
Home and Family Relations with the American Hairless Terrier
Being energetic and athletic, the AHT does best with an active family. American Hairless Terriers do have a strong prey drive, but can peacefully coexist with children, particularly if they are socialized early in life. The AHT is loyal and loving and aims to please.
Training of the American Hairless Terrier
The AHT is largely regarded as a breed that is easy to train. Short, frequent training sessions with positive reinforcements help to increase carryover of learned skills. The American Hairless Terrier also excels in dog sports such as agility and can learn these skills quickly.
Grooming of the American Hairless Terrier
Care of the AHT is quite easy, as there is no hair to brush. However, care should be taken to protect the skin in extreme weather. Sunscreen should be applied when the dog will be spending time out of doors, and skin should be protected with a covering (such as a sweater or coat) during cold weather.
American Hairless Terriers can, at times, experience acne-like rashes, which should subside on their own. Regular bathing can help lessen these breakouts. Dry skin may also occur, and application of a lanolin-free lotion may be helpful. As always, regular tooth brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming is recommended.
Special Care of the American Hairless Terrier
The AHT does not have the protection of a coat; therefore, care should be exercised during outdoor play as skin can easily be scratched on branches. For this reason as well, the AHT is not recommended for ratting. The American Hairless Terrier is also not a strong swimmer and should be supervised very closely around water.
Common Diseases and Disorders of the American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier is a relatively healthy breed; however, the breed can experience minor skin issues such as skin rashes due to allergens such as grass. As the breed is still being developed, more research is recommended to determine any other common diseases associated with the AHT.
Life Span of the American Hairless Terrier
The life span of the American Hairless Terrier is approximately 14 to 16 years.