American Hairless Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Alex (Assai Panta Rei). Owned by and photo copyright © Marek Šubr ( All rights reserved.

Alex (Assai Panta Rei). Owned by and photo copyright © Marek Šubr ( All rights reserved.

The American Hairless Terrier did not exist until 1971, when a breeder in Louisiana discovered a hairless puppy in a litter of Rat Terriers. That puppy did not survive. When a second hairless puppy was born in the next litter, she was given to a couple in Louisiana. When she was a year old, she gave birth to a sole hairless puppy. This puppy, named Josephine, caught the owners’ interest, but they were unable to produce another hairless puppy until nine years later, when Josephine was bred back to her son and produced several more hairless puppies. This was the beginning of the American Hairless Terrier. The breed was accepted into the United Kennel Club as the Rat Terrier—Hairless Variety and was renamed the “American Hairless Terrier” in 2004. It became a member of the AKC’s Miscellaneous Class in January 2014 and entered the AKC Terrier Group in January 2016.


The American Hairless Terrier is smooth, strong, and muscular in overall appearance. The head is wedge shaped and the skull is slightly domed. The muzzle is well chiseled with tight, dry lips—the lips’ pigmentation matches that of the nose and the eye rims. The eyes are expressive and round, with a color that varies from dark brown to blue to hazel to amber (although blue eyes are only accepted in blue or blue/fawn dogs and amber is only accepted in blue dogs). The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The ears are V-shaped and should be erect, although tipped or button ears are acceptable.

The neck is clean, long, muscular, and slightly arched. The body is slightly longer than it is tall. The loin is short and arched with a moderate tuck up. The back is broad and strong with a strong, level topline, and the chest is well filled. The tail almost reaches the hock and tapers toward the tip. The dog holds it up with a slight curve when alert; he may carry it behind or up when in motion.

The shoulders are smoothly muscled and the forelegs are straight. The feet are oval and compact—the two middle toes should be longer than the other toes. Rear dewclaws must be removed; removing front dewclaws is optional. The hindquarters are muscular.

This breed has both hairless and coated varieties, which can be born in the same litter. The coated dogs have a smooth, shiny coat. Puppies of the hairless variety are born with a soft, downy birth coat, which falls off by 8 to 10 weeks. Mature AHTs may have whiskers, guard hairs on the eyebrows and muzzles, and very short, very fine hair (called vellus hair). The skin is warm and smooth.

The American Hairless Terrier’s gait is smooth, powerful, and jaunty, suggesting great agility and speed.

Key Facts

  • Height:  12 to 16 in. (male); 12 to 16 in. (female).
  • Size:  Small
  • Weight:  12 to 16 lbs.
  • Availability:  Difficult to find.
  • Talents:  Watchdog, agility, jogging, lure coursing, obedience, tricks.


American Hairless Terriers will sweat when hot or scared. They are not good swimmers and need to be watched carefully in the water. They also need protection from the sun (including sunscreen and light covering), as well as from extreme cold. American Hairless Terriers sometimes develop rashes from grass or other irritants and they are prone to cuts and scrapes due to the lack of a protective coat. This breed needs to be bathed at least once a week.


Intelligent, eager to please, and full of energy, the medium-sized American Hairless Terrier cannot hunt due to its lack of coat. But these dogs still love to work, play, and perform—in agility, obedience, tracking, Frisbee, or any other kind of dog sport that involves interacting with their people. They make wonderful companions, especially for families with children, as they balance fun-loving energy with a love of napping indoors and cuddling. But this is still a terrier and prone to feistiness, which means they need a strong human leader. Due to their lack of hair and minimal dander, these dogs can be good for people who are allergic to dogs.


  • Children:  Good with children
  • Friendliness:  Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability:  Very easy to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  Moderate
  • Other Pets:  Good with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood
  • Combativeness:  Not generally dog aggressive
  • Noise:  Average barker


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming & Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:   Hairless
  • Shedding:   None
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A good jogging companion
  • Indoors:   Relatively inactive indoors
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  OK without a yard
  • Climate:  Best in warmer climates
  • Owner:   Good for novice owners
  • Longevity:  Long (15 or more years)

Useful Links

AKC® American Hairless Terrier Breed Standard

American Hairless Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Books about the American Hairless Terrier

American Hairless Terrier Gifts