American Hairless Terrier

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About American Hairless Terrier

5-25 lb
14-16 years
Miscellaneous Class
Best Suited For
Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
Lively, inquisitive, alert, intelligent
Comparable Breeds
Xoloitzcuintli, Rat Terrier
7-18 inches
American Hairless Terrier Basics

Although a fairly new breed, the American Hairless Terrier has gathered quite the fan club in its few decades of existence. Identical in appearance to the Rat Terrier, barring its obvious lack of hair, the American Hairless Terrier, or AHT, is a fairly small dog with strong shoulders, a well-muscled neck and powerful legs. And although it looks more like a toy breed, it is actually a highly intelligent working breed.

American Hairless Terriers possess traits that are characteristic of all terriers: They are energetic, intelligent, extremely loving and make excellent companions for a wide array of dog owners. They also make excellent pets for animal lovers that suffer from various allergies.

Although a fairly new breed, the American Hairless Terrier has gathered quite the fan club in its few decades of existence.


The story of the American Hairless Terrier began in 1972 when a single hairless puppy was born in a Rat Terrier litter owned by Edwin and Willie Scott. This puppy, which was named Josephine, went on to become the mother of the entire breed. Once Josephine reached maturity she was bred to a Rat Terrier and produced one female hairless pup. However, Josephine failed to produce any pups with the hairless trait in her next few litters. In her 9th litter, she rewarded the Scott’s perseverance by producing two hairless pups, one of each sex. These two puppies became the foundation on which the American Hairless Terrier was developed as a breed.


The American Hairless Terrier is a direct descendant of the Rat Terrier, which is in turn a development from a breed of European terrier called Feists, which were crossed with Beagles, Greyhounds and Miniature Pinschers.


These dogs are highly energetic and should be fed on high-quality dry food.

Like Rat Terriers, AHTs are highly intelligent and are also eager to please.


Like Rat Terriers, AHTs are highly intelligent and are also eager to please. They are highly trainable and respond well to positive reinforcement based training methods. They can, however, turn willful and stubborn if an owner fails to demonstrate calm and assertive leadership.


American Hairless Terriers can weigh anywhere between 5 to 25 pounds.

Temperament and Behavior

Like most terriers, American Hairless Terriers are highly intelligent, alert and playful. They also are a very loving breed of dog and get along excellently with children. They also possess the determination and fearlessness of terriers and make excellent guard dogs.

Like all terriers, they love playing, digging and chasing small game and enjoy competing in agility trials. It is important that owners keep these tendencies in mind when purchasing a pet because catering to a terrier’s needs can sometimes be an overwhelming task for a mild or laidback pet owner.

Common Health Problems

Because the gene associated with the American Hairless Terrier’s lack of hair is recessive, they do not suffer from absent premolars or other breeding complications that plague other hairless dog breeds. They can however suffer from occasional cuts and bruises resulting from vigorous play.

Life Expectancy

American Hairless Terriers have fairly long life spans and can live for 14 to 16 years.

Exercise Requirements

American Hairless Terriers are extremely strong and athletic and require a significant amount of exercise. Owners should not purchase these dogs if they cannot take them on a long walk every day. When deprived of an outlet for their excess energy, these dogs can turn destructive and develop other behavioral problems.

Like most terriers, American Hairless Terriers are highly intelligent, alert and playful.


The AKC has included the American Hairless Terrier in its Foundation Stock Series and allows the breed to compete in performance events and open shows.

The AKC also has this to say about the American Hairless Terrier: “The breeding of the American Hairless Terriers (AHT) began in earnest in the early 1970’s when a hairless puppy was born into a litter of mid-size Rat Terriers. This was not the first hairless puppy born to these parents, but it was the first to be given to a couple in Louisiana, Edwin and Willie Scott, who immediately fell in love with this female puppy and named her Josephine. Josephine became the foundation for the American Hairless Terrier breed.

The AHT is well known for its propensity for fewer allergic reactions than other breeds, allowing them into homes once denied. This combined with their intelligence and ease of care make them perfect companions while maintaining the drive to excel in performance events.”


Since they lack a coat, owners should take care to protect their American Hairless Terrier’s skin by using a sunscreen. They may also need a light sweater to keep warm during colder months.


It is important that American Hairless Terrier puppies be socialized with humans and other animals at an early age. They can sometimes be reserved with strangers and early socialization is important to ensure that they lead a balanced life later on.

Photo credit: Nyaah/Wikimedia; Rpping/Wikimedia; John Morton/Flickr

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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