The American Hairless Terrier is a rare breed of dog that was derived as a variant of Rat Terrier. As of January 1, 2004, the United Kennel Club deemed the AHT a separate terrier breed, granting it full UKC recognition. An intelligent, social and energetic working breed, the American Hairless Terrier is often listed as a potential good breed choice for allergy sufferers.
The American Hairless Terrier is a smoothly muscled, active, small-to-medium terrier.
Height: 7-18 inches (18–45.7 cm.)
Life Span: 14–16 years.
Weight: 7-25 pounds (2.5–12 kg.)
Skin Color: White (to varying degrees) with a variety of colors including black, blue, pink, brown, tan, and sable. Skin color darkens with sun
Eye Color: Brown, blue, grey, amber and turquoise
Pattern: near-solid (with some white), brindled, spotted (piebald) and saddled
Tail/Ears: Tails must be left long on the hairless variety, coateds may be docked or left undocked
Type: Working Breed
American Hairless Terrier and Rat Terrier distinctions
The American Hairless Terrier's origins are unique in that the entire breed originated from a single hairless Rat Terrier female born in 1972. The AHT is therefore very similar to the Rat Terrier and the coated AHT is almost indistinguishable from its Rat Terrier cousin.
However, since the first litter born in 1982 from the originating hairless female, the AHT has continued to be developed as a distinct breed (see "Breed Recognition") with several characteristics that distinguish the AHT from its Rat Terrier origins. These differences include smaller sizes, more refined features, new eye colors, new patterns, new (skin) colors and, of course, a complete lack of fur on the hairless variety.
Other breeder choices have further differentiated the AHT. AHT breeders and clubs promote the undocked tail appearance on hairless, unlike the more traditionally docked appearance of the Rat Terrier. To date, the hairless trait has not been bred over to the other types of Rat Terrier such as the Decker Giant Terrier or the Type B Rat Terrier (also known as the Teddy Roosevelt Terrier).
Hairless breeds and genetics
While there are unproven theories that other hairless dog breeds have common ancestry, the recent evolution of the American Hairless Terrier demonstrates an independent evolution from other hairless breeds.
A key difference found between the American Hairless Terrier and other Hairless Dog breeds is that the AHT's hairless gene is recessive, while the gene for hairlessness found in the ancient breeds is a lethal dominant.
The American Hairless Terrier does not have dental issues (absent premolars) or other characteristics associated with the dominant hairless gene.
For dogs where hairlessness is a dominant gene, hairless to hairless matings will on average produce 66.6% hairless and 33.3% coated live puppies. For hairless to coated matings, there will be an average one-to-one ratio between coated and hairless offspring. In coated to coated matings, all puppies will be coated.
Matings between hairless AHTs will produce completely hairless litters. Between hairless AHT to coated AHT or Rat Terrier, results are more variable and will produce mixed hairless litters to all coated litters.
Hypoallergenic dog breed
There is no scientific evidence supporting the existence of a completely hypoallergenic dog breed and hairlessness is not the sole characteristic that will determine allergic reactions or its degree.
The American Hairless Terrier Association recommends individual allergy tests prior to adopting an AHT.
The American Hairless Terrier (AHT) is an intelligent, curious, and energetic breed.
Graceful and elegant, the American Hairless Terrier is also strong and athletic. The AHT enjoys participating in agility games like its other terrier cousins. The AHT typically likes to dig, chase small game and will bark when alarmed and will act as a good watch dog. The AHT is not a strong swimmer and should be monitored around water.
Its ancestry gives the AHT a strong hunting instinct, but its lack of coat makes it a less likely candidate for a hunting dog as rough underbrush may hurt the AHT's unprotected skin. As a breed founded by working dogs, the prey drive is strong in many AHTs. This has led to debate among owners as to whether or not AHTs are appropriate for families with young children. Anecdotal evidence suggests that AHT's can be trained to be less aggressive to children, especially if the dog is shown that it may not dominate a child. Due to the small size of many AHTs, they can be hurt if roughly handled. Positive reward is the most effective form of training, however, some AHT require a more care-giver dominant approach to correction in giving the AHT direction.
The American Hairless Terrier continues to be a rare breed with a limited breeding stock. The UKC recognizes the need to continue to breed in Rat Terrier blood lines (see "Coated American Hairless Terrier") until "breed of breeds" (also, see "Genetics" above).
Although often stated otherwise[by whom?], AHTs do not have sweat glands. However, after physical exertion or in warm temperatures, the breed exhibits dermal evidence of moisture along the spine, typically lower spine. There is no scientific evidence to suggest an independent evolution of sweat glands unique to this breed. The mis-perception has likely arisen from the presence of sebaceous glands associated with hair follicles. These are the same glands that are present in all canines. The hairless variety of this breed has the same follicles, however the "hair" is lost early on as the dog matures.