The American Kennel Club (AKC) has recently added two new dog breeds to its fold, the American Hairless Terrier and the Sloughi. So what kind of dogs are these newcomers? Both have been around for a while, and been recognized by other organizations earlier, so we can get a good idea of what kind of dog breeds we now have. This post will concentrate on the American Hairless Terrier, with a post coming on the Sloughi.
American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier (AHT) joins the Terrier group. It is a variant of the Rat Terrier. In 1972, a hairless female puppy was found in a litter of Rat Terriers. That puppy was given to a friend, who named her Josephine. After several litters with mixed results, Josephine had a final litter when she was nine years old. That final litter contained two hairless varieties, one of each sex. These two puppies became the foundation for the AHT breed.
On January 1, 2004, the United Kennel Club declared the AHT as separate terrier breed.
As might be expected, the AHT has about the same build as the Rat Terrier. It is a well-muscled dog with a deep chest, strong shoulders, powerful legs, and a solid neck. Hairless pups are actually born with fuzzy hair all over their body. They soon shed this fuzz, though, becoming entirely hairless by the age of six weeks.
Did you know not all American Hairless Terriers are hairless? As you can see in the picture at the left, some will continue to sport a coat, and may be indistinguishable from the rat terrier cousin. The UKC has stated that due to the rarity of breeding stock, coated Hairless varieties is acceptable. As the breed becomes more prolific, the coated variety will eventually disappear. It is interesting to note that when breeding, two hairless varieties will result in all hairless litters, while mixing hairless and coated will have mixed results.
American Hairless Terrier Temperament
American Hairless Terriers are extremely intelligent, alert, and playful. They are loving dogs that will make a great companion for almost everyone. They are good with children, especially if they grew up with them. While they are reasonably tolerant of strangers, they make good watchdogs.
AHTs are fairly territorial, so you need to be a good pack leader to control this tendency. Since the breed was based on other working dogs, the prey drive is strong in many AHTs. This could cause problems if the AHT decided to take off after its prey.
American Hairless Terrier Size and Health
The AHT can vary in height anywhere between 7 and 18 inches. As well, its weight covers a range anywhere between 7 and 25 pounds.
You can expect your AHT to live anywhere between 14 and 16 years. It has none of the health issues associated with other hairless breeds, since the AHT’s hairless gene is recessive, while the gene for hairlessness found in the other breeds is a lethal dominant.
Since it is hairless, it is very important to protect the dog’s skin when going outdoors, either with sun screen or with a doggy shirt to wear. This trait also affects its ability to withstand cold weather.
So there you have it! Looks like yet another choice that must be made when determining what type of dog you want to bring into your family. The American Hairless Terrier looks like a fine addition to any!