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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & Temperament

American Hairless Terrier Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care & Temperament

american hailess terrier_Tikhomirov Sergey_Shutterstock

If you love the idea of having a dog that cuddles up next to you, livens up your life, and completely lights up every time you enter the room, but you don’t like the idea of having all your stuff constantly coated in fur, then the American Hairless Terrier may just be the perfect pup for you.

Breed Overview


7 – 18 inches


5 – 25 pounds


14 – 16 years


Pink and gray, pink and gold, pink and red, pink and black

Suitable for

Apartment dwellers, those looking for a dog that hardly sheds


Intelligent, curious, feisty, co-dependent, goofy

These dogs make fantastic pets, as they have all the advantages of any canine companion. However, their hairless appearance makes them easy to care for — up to a point, anyway.

These dogs aren’t widely known, as they’re not a popular breed. If you’re interested in learning more about these unique yet awesome dogs, simply read on.

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 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 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 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.


American Hairless Terrier Puppies

Many people have never even encountered a hairless dog, much less owned one. If you’re a novice when it comes to caring for a bald pooch, you should understand that while they’re still a dog, there are a few things that you’ll have to deal with that you may not be used to.

One of the biggest is having to purchase — and put on — clothes for your dog. These animals do not do well in harsh climates, so they’ll need coats in winter and something to protect their sensitive skin from the sun’s rays in the summer.

Also, for some reason, many people expect hairless dogs to be less energetic than their floofy counterparts. That may be true for some breeds, but it is certainly not the case with the American Hairless Terrier.

These are energetic dogs, and while they’re great for apartment dwellers, you’ll still need to ensure that they get plenty of physical and mental stimulation every day.

If you want something a bit different from the standard Labrador or Golden Retriever, adopting an American Hairless Terrier is a great way to stand out while still getting the typical “dog” experience. However, don’t expect it to be a walk in the park (but do expect to provide many walks in the park).


Temperament & Intelligence of the American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier is basically a carbon copy of the Rat Terrier, and that knowledge should inform most of your ideas about this breed.

They’re clever dogs, as most hunting dogs have to be intelligent to get the drop on their prey. American Hairless Terriers seldom actually hunt, though, so their cleverness comes out in different ways — like figuring out how to circumvent your “no dogs on the couch” rule.

They can be quite boisterous as well, for better and for worse. They love to play and snuggle with their humans, but they also need plenty of exercise, or else their boisterousness can turn destructive.

These dogs also often fail to understand that they’re little. This can make them excellent guard dogs, but it can also get them in trouble if they try to assert their dominance over a larger animal.

For the most part, though, these are sweet dogs that love to be the center of attention. Most of their negative quirks can be ironed out with a healthy dose of training and socialization.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

These pups can be excellent family pets. Their small size makes them great playmates for little ones, and they love to cuddle as much as they enjoy tearing around the park.

You’ll likely want to enlist the whole family in tuckering them out, though, as their high energy levels can be tiresome for a single person.

You also need to be careful not to let them become too attached to a single member of the family, as they’ll definitely play favorites if allowed to. This won’t necessarily result in aggression, but it could mean that they start ignoring any commands that come from someone other than their chosen person.

Despite their generally amiable disposition, you should never leave your children unattended near one of these dogs (or any other dog, for that matter). It is often believed that smaller dogs can’t do any real damage, but while they’re unlikely to kill someone, they’re still quite capable of mauling them.

These dogs are equally well-suited for an apartment or house, but regardless of where you live, you should expect to provide them with plenty of exercise to keep them well-behaved.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

American Hairless Terriers often get along with other dogs, but you can’t just throw them in with another pup and expect things to go smoothly.

Instead, slowly acclimate them to one another, preferably in a place that acts as neutral ground to both. Be watchful for any signs of aggression, and don’t allow displays of dominance, which will likely come from the American Hairless Terrier, as these pups have a bit of a Napoleon Complex.

As far as other pets like cats are concerned, it’s generally not a good idea to mix them with these dogs. While they may no longer be used for hunting purposes, the prey drive is still strong inside them, and they’ll likely terrorize smaller pets at every opportunity.

Every dog is an individual, of course, and you may luck out with an American Hairless Terrier that loves cats, gerbils, and freedom. We wouldn’t bank on it, though, and we certainly wouldn’t bet your other pet’s life on it.


Things to Know When Owning an American Hairless Terrier

While they may not look like any other dog that you’ve ever owned, American Hairless Terriers likely have quite a bit in common with them. They’re not a completely different species, after all — just a dog with no hair.

Still, it’s worth learning all you can about the breed before you bring one home. With that in mind, this information should tell you most of what you need to know about raising one of these pooches.

Food and Diet Requirements 🦴

Hairless Terriers are small dogs, and as such, their diets should be restricted accordingly. You don’t want your pup to become obese, as that leads to a variety of debilitating health issues. It’s absolutely essential that you practice strict portion control with your pooch.

That said, these are active dogs, and they need plenty of fuel to stay that way. We recommend feeding them a high-protein diet, as that will help build lean muscle while also giving them the long-lasting energy that they need to run around all day.

Not all protein is created equal, though. Many low-rent dog foods use something called “animal by-products,” which are basically the rotten and discarded cuts of meat that can’t be sold on their own merits. You don’t want your dog eating that junk, so skip any food that lists them among the ingredients.

You should also be wary of cheap fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. These have little nutritional value and will add to your dog’s waistline.

Instead, look for high-quality fruits and veggies, like broccoli, blueberries, spinach, etc. As a general rule, if it’s good for you, it’ll probably be good for your dog as well.

Exercise 🐕

Your American Hairless Terrier will need a great deal of daily exercise. These dogs can turn destructive if they don’t have a healthy outlet for their energy. They need to run around or dig or chase something every day, and if they don’t, your shoes will likely pay the price.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much encouragement to get these dogs to burn off their excess energy. They love to run, and a stint at your local dog park should leave them completely gassed.

Failing that, an energetic, hour-long walk should do the trick. You can also challenge them mentally with extended training sessions or games of fetch or hide-and-seek.

Their intelligent and energetic nature also makes them a natural for canine competitions like agility trials, if you want to really put your pooch to the test.

Training 🎾

Training an American Hairless Terrier can be a bit of an adventure. These dogs are bright, so they’ll quickly pick up on what you want them to do, but they also have an independent streak that is liable to rear its head at an inopportune moment.

They also love to test their owners to see how much they can get away with. It’s essential to use a firm yet gentle hand when training them, as they’ll walk all over you if given the chance.

That doesn’t mean you should punish or mistreat them, though. When faced with punitive measures, these dogs usually become sullen or rebellious rather than obedient.

Their intelligence also makes them intolerant of the same-old, same-old. You’ll need to vary your training routines regularly, or else they’ll start to tune you out or worse, decide to amuse themselves by pushing your buttons.

If you don’t feel up to the task of training one of these dogs, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to do it for you. It’s much better to have someone else take over than to let your pup become accustomed to being ill-mannered.

Grooming ✂️

As you might expect, grooming is one area in which these dogs really shine. Owning an American Hairless Terrier will save you tons of dog-brushing time. You also won’t have to spend a small fortune on lint rollers or dedicate hours a week to vacuuming after them.

The flip side to this can be summed up in one word: sunscreen. They’ll need appropriate protection from the sun’s rays when venturing out into the daylight, and in the wintertime, they’ll need to be bundled up like a small child.

Beyond that, you’ll want to brush their teeth daily, clean their ears with a damp cloth every week, and bathe them when they become visibly dirty.

Health and Conditions 🏥

American Hairless Terriers are a fairly healthy breed, provided that they’re well-cared for, of course. If you allow your pup to become obese or bake in the sun, you’ll be setting them up for easily avoidable health conditions down the line.

That’s not to say that these pooches don’t have their fair share of health issues, though. In particular, you should be on the lookout for the following.

Minor Conditions
  • Deafness
  • Demodicosis
  • Patellar luxation
  • Skin allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Skin cancer
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease


Male vs Female

Males and females of this breed are typically fairly similar. As is common in most breeds, however, males might be a bit bigger when fully grown, whereas females tend to mature more quickly.

By and large, though, the differences between the two genders are subtle, so you’ll likely be thrilled with whichever sex you bring home.

3 Little-Known Facts About the American Hairless Terrier

1. They Are (Almost) Indistinguishable From Rat Terriers

As it turns out, the American Hairless Terrier and the Rat Terrier are almost completely indistinguishable, save for one major difference: that the American Hairless lacks a coat. They still have a powerful prey drive, although due to their hairless nature, they’re not suitable for hunting or ratting purposes.

2. Despite What You Might Have Heard, These Dogs Are Not Hypoallergenic

Many people think that dog fur or dander is what causes allergies, but that’s actually not true. They’re caused by a protein found in the dog’s urine or saliva, so while a non-shedding breed will keep your house cleaner, it won’t stop you from sneezing.

The fact is, there are no hypoallergenic dog breeds, so you’re just as likely to react poorly to an American Hairless Terrier as you are to a St. Bernard.

3. They’re Highly Susceptible to Sunburn

Everyone knows that you need to wrap up a hairless dog in a sweater before you take them out in the bitter cold, but many people don’t realize that dogs can get sunburned, same as people. It doesn’t usually happen, though, as their thick coats prevent the sun’s rays from reaching their skin.

Hairless breeds obviously don’t have that kind of protection. As a result, you’ll need to be careful about leaving your dog outside too long; if they simply must stay outdoors, give them plenty of shade and consider dressing them in something lightweight that breathes well.


Final Thoughts

Adopting a bald dog might be something that you never thought you’d do, but you should definitely give the American Hairless Terrier a second look (and maybe a third and a fourth, as they’re quite something to behold). These are great dogs, lack of hair notwithstanding.

That said, they’re not for everybody. They can be extremely energetic and have a bit of a rebellious streak, so they may not be ideal for first-time owners.

If you can keep up with them, though, you’ll have a little hairless cuddlebug that will absolutely light up your life. Just make sure that light isn’t too bright, though — these dogs have sensitive skin, after all.

Featured Image Credit: Tikhomirov Sergey, Shutterstock

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