The only hairless small dog breed from the United States is the American Hairless Terrier. Also referred to as AHT or Hairless Rat Terrier, this dog is considered hypoallergenic and ideal for people allergic to dog fur. 


This dog breed was developed by accident. It was in 1972 that a few weeks old Rat Terrier puppy lost her birth coat and became hairless. The puppy named Josephine was bred over the years to produce more hairless terriers.

Breeding two hairless Rat Terriers produced the American Hairless Terrier while breeding the AHT with a Rat Terrier created Coated American Hairless Terrier. 

Because of the breed’s hairless coat, he was never used for ratting like his predecessor. 

The Rat Terrier received official recognition from the United Kennel Club in 1999. The American Hairless Terrier was included in this breed. 

The AHT was recognized as a separate breed by the United Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club in 2004 and 2016 respectively.  Rat Terriers were popular in the United States, with one of their biggest fans being President D. Roosevelt. 

Physical Characteristics

This striking small dog breed can be hairless or smooth coated. He has a sleek well-muscled body, wedge-shaped face and V-shaped erect ears. 

The round eyes are medium-sized and the eye colour varies from dark brown, amber, hazel, blue or grey. 

The terrier’s feet are compact and oval-shaped. His thin tail is thick at the base with a tapered end. The whole tail can be long or short. 

An American Hairless Terrier is born with a light fuzz of hair which is shed by six weeks. He retains his whiskers and eyebrows. 

Coat colours can be solid or a combination of two or three including the following:

* Black

* Blue

* Red

* Brown

* Sable

* Brindle 


Fully grown, the American Hairless Terrier stands between 12 and 16 inches (25 and 46cm) and typically weighs between 10 and 16 pounds (3.2 and 6.4kg). Some AHTs are smaller or bigger than average.  

Character & abilities

Like other terriers, this small dog breed is spunky, likes to play, dig and chase small animals. 

The American Hairless Terrier is loving, clever and curious. He thrives on human companionship and is enthusiastic to be involved in any family activities. 

He tends to choose a favourite person that he loves to cuddle with. But he will enjoy being around the rest of the members of the home.

He is alert and will bark when he sees a stranger at the door or perceives potential dangers. 

This terrier is wonderful with children and makes a good playmate. Because of his small size, interactions with children need to be supervised to avoid injuries. 

He gets along well with other dogs especially when raised together. Any new dogs should be introduced slowly and calmly because the terrier can be territorial. 

The AHT’s prey drive means he might not be suited for homes with cats, mice, hamsters and other small pets. 

Trainability & Intelligence

The American Hairless Terrier is intelligent and responds well to training. He can be stubborn at first and likes to test his boundaries. 

He is however eager to please. Regular training implementing positive training techniques will help him to understand the pecking order.  

Every dog is unique and it is important to give the AHT proper training and socialization from puppyhood. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

The AHT is highly energetic and needs at least 30 minutes of walking and some active play sessions throughout his day. 

Athletic in nature, this terrier can be quite fast. He will perform excellently at agility and other dog sports that require speed. 

He should be walked on a leash to prevent him from running off chasing after perceived prey. When off the leash, he needs to play in a yard with a secure fence. 

This terrier is prone to gaining weight and should be kept on a regular feeding schedule. An adult AHT can be fed twice a day with dog food that is formulated for energetic small dog breeds.


This terrier is a low shedder and although he is considered excellent for allergy sufferers, he is not 100% hypoallergenic because he still sheds some dander. 

This breed has minimal grooming needs, even the coated variety. When the AHT is dirty he can get a wipe down or a bath. Moisturising the skin with a non-oily product will ensure the pores are kept clear. 

The ears can have a build-up of dirt which can be cleaned with cotton dampened by dog ear cleaner solution. Any signs of infection like bad odour, redness and inflammation should be addressed immediately. 

It is important to brush the terrier’s teeth every day to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Do not use human toothpaste because the ingredients can be harmful to dogs. 

Frequent nail clipping is necessary. Long nails can make it difficult and painful for the dog to walk and run especially on smooth hard surfaces. They can also get caught in furniture upholstery and curtains. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

This breed is susceptible to hypothermia and sunburn. In the hot months, the AHT’s skin should be covered by sunscreen for dogs. In the colder season, he needs a good dog winter coat and booties. 

The AHT has a great need for attention and doesn’t like to be left alone for prolonged periods. 

It is easier to assign a spot for the AHT to fulfil his digging instincts than to stop him from doing it.  


Like other breeds, the American Hairless Terrier is usually healthy but can be predisposed to health problems like: 

* Patellar luxation

* Allergies 

* Hypothyroidism

* Deafness

* Red mange

* Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

* Cushing’s disease 

* Malocclusions

* Liver shunt

* Epilepsy 

* Cleft palate

* Primary lens luxation

With annual visits to the vet and proper nutrition, the AHT has a life expectancy of 13 to 16 years.


The bald and beautiful American Hairless Terrier is an active companion dog that is ideal for a large household or active city dwellers. This cuddly little dog makes a wonderful furry companion without all the tumbleweed of fur.

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we know that adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Our team has taken that first step and has researched for you. 

Our small dog breed descriptions will guide you to find the right match for your household and lifestyle. We recommend adopting from the local animal shelter or registered breeder.


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