AKC group: Terrier Group
UKC group: Terriers
Average lifespan: 14-16 years
Average size: 30 to 60 pounds
Coat appearance: hairless and coated varieties
Coloration: near-solid (with some white), brindled, spotted (piebald) and saddled
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
During a period of American history
, dog fighting was a legal and popular activity. Many wealthy people and prominent politicians could be found at dog fights, betting on their dogs, which went by several names: Pit Bull
, Yankee Terrier and half-and-half dog — a reference to their origin as a cross between Bulldogs and Terriers.
The same dogs were equally popular with farmers and families. They tended to be good ratters and useful in hunting dangerous wild pigs and bears, and they were said to be good with people. Pit Bulls could do it all, from being the kids’ playmate to serving in the military. A Pit Bull represented the United States on World War I recruiting posters, and pop culture Pitties included Tige in the Buster Brown comic strip; Nipper, the RCA trademark dog; and Petey, who starred in the “Our Gang” comedies of the 1930s.
The United Kennel Club has registered the American Pit Bull Terrier since 1898, when the club was established. The American Kennel Club does not currently recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier as a breed.
In 1998, the breed gained recognition as the American Hairless Terrier (AHT) by the American Rare Breeds Association and the National Rat Terrier Club. Canada was the first country outside the US to gain recognition, by Canadian Rarities in 1999. In 1999, the breed was recognized as Rat Terrier, Hairless Variety by the United Kennel Club.
In the US, the American Hairless Terrier Association is the provisional breed club. Other national breed clubs around the world include the Canadian American Hairless Terrier Association and the Japanese Hairless American Terrier Club.
On January 1, 2004, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the AHT as a distinct breed.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) also includes the AHT within its Foundation Stock Series and allows them to participate in AKC Performance events and in Open shows.
Despite its smaller size, the AHT is not a toy breed. Rather, like its Rat Terrier cousin, the AHT is a working breed.
In January 2016 the American Hairless Terrier was recognized fully by the AKC in the terrier group.
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.
These dogs do not have absent premolars or any of the breeding complications associated with the hairless breeds. The AHT does not have the major skin problems commonly seen in hairless dogs. Sometimes they will get a rash on their skin. Because of their lack of hair, they do need protection from the sun. Sunscreen should be applied or a shirt should be worn, not only for the protection from the sun but from the cold as well. AHTs do have sweat glands and will get pimples! They go away on their own. Rashes due to grass allergies are not that uncommon. Other allergies do occur as well.
The AHT will do OK in an apartment so long as they get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. They are fairly active indoors and should have at least a small to medium sized yard. AHTs love to dig. Since they have sweat glands they do not drool at the mouth or pant in order to balance their body heat. They should wear a sweater in cold weather.
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.
The breed enjoys challenging games and outdoor romps. They need to be taken on a long daily walk.
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.
The only special care required is preventing sunburn and keeping them warm in cold weather. They should be bathed one to three times a week; owner’s preference. Their nails should be trimmed weekly. If their skin becomes dry, lotion (without lanolin) can be applied. This breed obviously does not shed and they do not get fleas, but they do shed skin cells about every 20 days, therefore there is some dander but it is very minimal. AHTs forget they do not have any hair and romp around outside. Scratches and cuts do happen and they need to be attended to with hydrogen peroxide or any other antiseptic agent.This breed is very good for allergy sufferers.
Many AHT breeders have experiences doing hands-on and remote allergy tests with people who have allergic responses to dogs and more often than not, individuals who cannot tolerate even those breeds that are known to be ‘hypoallergenic’ can tolerate an AHT. Studies have found them to be the best breed of dog for people with dog allergies.
Is the American Hairless Terrier the Right Breed for you?
Grooming should be performed often to keep the dog’s coat in good shape. No trimming or stripping needed.
Easy Training: The American Hairless Terrier is known to listen to commands and obey its owner. Expect fewer repetitions when training this breed.
Fairly Active: It will need regular exercise to maintain its fitness. Trips to the dog park are a great idea.
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.
Did You Know?
Pit Bulls descend from crosses between Bulldogs and Terriers. The goal was to create a dog with the strength and tenacity of the Bulldog and the speed and agility of the Terrier.