The American Hairless Terrier is the only indigenous hairless breed of the United States. This new breed of dog evolved independently from the other hairless breeds, as a variant of the Rat Terrier. It was recognized as a separate dog breed by the United Kennel Club in 2004. The parent breed, the Rat Terrier, is being evaluated for AKC recognition.
American Hairless Terrier
In 1972, a small hairless female puppy, Josephine, was born into a litter of medium-sized Rat Terriers. Josephine was bred to a Rat Terrier (her sire) and produced a litter of four puppies, of which only one was a hairless, a female named Gypsy. In her final litter, after being bred to her son, Josephine whelped a hairless male, a hairless female, and two coated female puppies, Snoopy, Jemima, Petunia, and Queenie.
Snoopy was further bred to all his littermates, producing the foundation stock of a new breed. Their owners, Willie and Edwin Scott, of Trout, Louisiana, kept all the puppies and established "Trout Creek Kennel" to further develop the breed. The aim was to keep the unique type and temperament of the Rat Terrier while maintaining the hairless trait. Today, new American Hairless Terrier bloodlines are created by carefully planned "out-crossings" to the Rat Terrier. These outcrossings are necessary, not to avoid lethal complications or teeth abnormalities, as is the case with the Chinese crested, but to establish a large enough and sound gene pool.
American Hairless Terriers differ from the other hairless breeds by the fact that no coated variety is needed to produce viable hairless pups, as the gene that codes for hairlessness is not semi-dominant, but autosomal recessive. This means that breeders may breed hairless to hairless without danger of prenatal mortality or other abnormalities associated with the hairlessness trait.
Hairlessness in Mexican and Peruvian hairless dogs and Chinese crested dogs, on the contrary, is called 'semi-lethal dominant', meaning that dogs with one dose of hairlessness show the effects of the gene including teeth abnormalities, while the double dose is a prenatal lethal, hence the Chinese crested dog is an obligate heterozygote (meaning one dose of hairlessness and one dose of coated are needed for the pup to be viable). The phenotype combining missing hair and teeth is termed canine ectodermal dysplasia (CED), and is inherited as a monogenic autosomal semidominant trait.
Hairless-to-hairless breeding in AHT always produces 100% hairless litters, while the breeding of an American Hairless Terrier to a coated hairless gene carrier will produce a mixture of coated and hairless offspring. Two coated dogs carrying the recessive hairless gene will also produce a mixture of hairless and coated.
Like in other breeds with erect ears, ears start to rise when puppies are 2 to 3 months old. Until the age of one year both ears may haven risen unsymmetrically. In dogs older than one year, non-matching ear carriages are considered a fault. Tipped or button ears are accepted (if matching), but erect ears are preferred.
Coated dogs may be bi-color, tri-color, sable or brindle, but always with some white, which may be of any size and located anywhere on the dog. In the coated variety, any solid color other than white is considered a fault. There are dilute colors as well, such as chocolate and blue.
This hairless terrier is different from all other hairless breeds in several ways. Unlike the other hairless breeds, the American Hairless Terrier is entirely hairless, except for the whiskers, guard hairs on the muzzle, and eyebrows. Puppies are born with sparse, fuzzy hair, which starts to fall out by a week of age, starting at the nose. By the age of 6 to 8 weeks all hair should have completely disappeared.
Taylor, a rare apricot American Hairless Terrier at various age stages.
Example of how ear carriage and freckles can evolve from puppy to adult age. Photos show the same dog as a puppy (very light in color and with button ears), then between 2 and 11 months, first with asymmetrical ears (normal at that age), then with erect ears, and freckles becoming larger and darker in color. Last picture as an adult dog. Note that not all American Hairless terriers necessarily show such a marked evolution color-wise. Photos courtesy Woodland Manor Kennel
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Taylor, a rare apricot American Hairless Terrier
Photo: Woodland Manor Kennel
Jemima, Josephine, Snoopy, and Gypsy
Solid-colored American Hairless Terrier
Photo: Woodland Manor Kennel
A Comprehensive Owner's Guide
(Kennel Club Dog Breed Series)
by Alice J. Kane
Sneeze-Free Dog Breeds:
Allergy Management And Breed Selection for the Allergic Dog Lover
by Diane Morgan
In-depth breed profiles of 21 hypoallergenic dogs, including grooming needs, personality traits, activity levels, health issues, and trainability.
Also includes information on treating allergies, including at-home remedies and recent medical breakthroughs, as well as tips for controlling and managing the home environment.
by Catherine Marien-de Luca for Bulldoginformation.com 2003-2008 © All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Karyn, Woodland Manor Kennel.
Coated Pups Mako and River
A coated blue and white pup with tan points (solid pattern) and a black and white pup with tan points (solid pattern)
In the hairless variety any skin color is acceptable, solid or parti-colored. The most common pattern is parti-colored: a background color with patches of a contrasting color (freckles) and tan points (on face, ears, legs and tail), technically tri-colored. Bi-colored is the same, but without the tan points. Freckles on the skin darken and enlarge with age.
Another difference is the quality of the skin, which is much softer and smoother than that seen in the other hairless breeds.
Most evident is their normal dentition. There are no
missing premolars, and the canine teeth are strong and normal in size, and set correctly in the jaw.
Coated, bi-colored pups, one puppy (left) with white blaze on the face and tuxedo pattern, i.e. solid colored black with white chest (shirt front), and white feet (like pats or gloves). The puppy right is piebald (bicolored) white and black.
American Hairless Terrier "D'Lanor"
Photo: Woodland Manor Kennel