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The Inquisitive, Intelligent American Hairless Terrier Temperament: Can You Handle This Lively Breed?

The only hairless breed to originate in the United States, the American Hairless Terrier temperament is playful, loving, and alert. They are highly trainable, adaptable, children friendly and therefore make great family pets. But you need to be firm to deal with the American Hairless Terrier territorial temperament.

Photo of American Hairless Terrier Grey Puppy Portrait

American Hairless Terrier dogs are identical to Rat Terriers – save for their lack of hair. This is, of course, no accident, as the AHT is a direct descendant of the Rat Terrier.

American Hairless Terrier Temperament and Personality

If you’re wondering if the American Hairless Terrier temperament is a good match for you and your family, then there are some key things you must know.

Provided below is a list of the key traits of the American Hairless Terrier’s personality to help you make a more informed decision about the breed.

They are affectionate

American Hairless Terriers are a loving, friendly breed. They make great companions for all types of families.

They adore children

American Hairless Terrier pups are great with children – especially if you raise them together.

But they can be territorial

Thanks to their terrier heritage, American Hairless Terriers can be territorial, so they require an owner who knows how to be a leader.

Photo of American Hairless Terrier On Leash

If you’re a first-time dog owner, and you don’t think you would be comfortable being firm with this dog, then you will not make a good match.

This little breed has Napoleon syndrome – they will attempt to rule the roost if you don’t show them who’s boss (and no, it’s not them).

They are friendly towards strangers

For the most part, this AHT’s are welcoming of new people and are not aloof with new humans.

They are great watchdogs

In true Terrier fashion, American Hairless Terriers make excellent watchdogs – always alerting you when potential intruders are near! They are fearless, despite their smaller size.

They are adaptable

Though they are energetic and lively, American Hairless Terriers can adapt to almost any environment.

Provided you take them for daily walks, they’ll do well with apartment dwellers and homeowners alike.

A daily walk of 20 to 30 minutes should be enough to satisfy him enough for the apartment life.

They wear their emotions on their skin…literally

The American Hairless is a unique breed because you can literally see how they’re feeling by watching their skin.

This breed actually breaks out in a cold sweat when he’s too hot or when he’s scared. So, if you notice your dog is sweating, give him a little extra love.

They’re not good swimmers

Keep an eye on this little guy if you’re around a body of water. Unlike some other breeds, AHTs are not good swimmers. He could drown if you’re not around to watch him.

They’re not good at ratting either

If you need a good for ratting purposes, you’re better off with the Rat Terrier over the American Hairless Terrier.

This is because, due to the lack of a coat, this breed is particularly vulnerable to injuries he could potentially suffer during ratting or hunting of any kind really.

The American Hairless Terrier Appearance

Photo of American Hairless Terriers  With Coat

Size (Weight and Height)

The American Hairless Terrier size is small.

Their weight is between 12-16 pounds, and as for height, they stand between 12-16 inches tall.

Types of American Hairless Terriers

The American Hairless Terrier comes in two varieties: hairless and coated.

Coated American Hairless Terriers have a short, dense coat while hairless AHT’s do not have any fur.

In fact, AHTs are actually born with hair! They have “birth coats,” which is a soft down that covers their bodies. However, the coat falls out over time until, by the time the puppy reaches between 8 and 10 weeks old, he has become completely hairless.


Coated American Hairless Terriers, come in a variety of colors that include combinations of pink, such as black, grey, red, or gold.

A Brief History of the American Hairless Terrier

The American Hairless Terrier’s history traces back to a group of mixed breed Terriers known as “Feists”.

Experts believe Europeans brought Feists to North America back in the 18th century. From there, breeders developed the Rat Terrier, and from the Rat Terrier, the American Hairless Terrier was born.

In fact, the first American Hairless Terrier – Josephine – was born to a litter in Louisiana in 1972.

Her owners liked her look so much that they bred her, hoping to make more of them, which they eventually did in 1981.

Josephine, therefore, effectively became the mother of the breed, and this led to the development of the breed in greater supply.

Today, American Hairless Terriers are rare, only gaining AKC recognition in 2016.

How Do You Train an American Hairless Terrier?

The American Hairless Terrier is an intelligent and inquisitive breed. They are eager to please, though, and are highly trainable.

American Hairless Terriers respond best to positive reinforcement training. Use treats and praise to keep your AHT concentrated on the task at hand. Keep sessions short to avoid boredom or burnout.

This breed can, however, turn stubborn and willful without calm yet assertive leadership.

Both early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended for the American Hairless Terrier. Expose American Hairless Terrier puppies to different people, situations, and places so they become well-mannered and adjusted adults.

Training classes help both owners and puppies learn basic obedience skills and enhance the bond between human and puppy.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

How Do You Groom an American Hairless Terrier?

As you can imagine, grooming an American Hairless Terrier is quite easy – they have no fur! But they do require bathing one to three times per week.

Photo of American Hairless Terriers Spotted Portrait

Preventing sunburn and keeping them warm in the winter is necessary. If their sky becomes dry, you can use non-lanolin lotion.

While they do not shed and do not get fleas, their skin cells shed every 20 days or so; dander is minimal, though.

Is the American Hairless Terrier Hypoallergenic?

If you’re wondering, is the American Hairless Terrier hypoallergenic, the answer is that no dogs truly are. However, your chances are better if the dog has little to no hair, like the American Hairless Terrier, because he can’t shed.

It’s not the hair, though, that’s the problem. You can still be allergic to a hairless dog due to the dog’s dander or saliva.

So, if a dog has longer hair, there is more of a chance that he can spread his dander around the house, and in greater supply.

This, therefore, is why your chances of having an allergic reaction increase when a long-haired dog is around.

The best way to tell if you’re allergic is to spend some time with the dog you’re interested in.

Staying Healthy: American Hairless Terrier Health Issues

While the American Hairless Terrier is a healthy breed, they can suffer from several genetic conditions. Some to look out for include:

One positive of the AHT is that this breed doesn’t suffer from skin conditions the way other hairless breeds often do. However, because he is hairless, you must take extra care of his skin.

For instance, he can get a sunburn, so apply sunscreen and put a shirt on him. You’ll also want to cover him up in the cold to help keep him warm. He can also get pimples, so be sure to regularly clean the sweat from his skin.

Helpful Dog Health Resource:

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely AHT dog from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.

American Hairless Terrier Lifespan

Their life expectancy is between 14-16 years.

What Food to Feed Your American Hairless Terrier?

When you’re trying to figure out what to feed an American Hairless Terrier, it is important that you feed a puppy different food than what you might feed to an adult. The reason for this is because there is more protein in puppy food. This is to give them the strength they need to grow into healthy adults.

In fact, if you feed an American Hairless Terrier adult food regularly, you can do permanent damage to their overall health and wellbeing.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets minimum standards for the food you should feed to your pets. You should always check the food’s packaging to ensure that it is either formulated for growth or for all life stages.

If the food does not meet the AAFCO’s minimum standards, then you shouldn’t be feeding it to your pet.

You must also ensure that the food you choose contains meat-based protein of higher quality and that, of course, it fits within your budget.

Don’t go broke buying premium food when you can get something just as good for a fraction of the price.


American Hairless Terriers are a moderately active breed. They only require regular brief walks or playtime in the backyard. AHTs love to play with other dogs in the dog park, too.

While they enjoy activities, American Hairless Terriers are just as happy to curl up on the couch next to their humans!

They also do well in dog sports, such as agility, rally, and obedience competitions.

How to Find the Perfect American Hairless Terrier?

Do you think you have what it takes to add an American Hairless Terrier to your family? Now it’s time to find the perfect one.

You have a couple options when finding the perfect AHT: adopting from a rescue organization or purchasing from a breeder.

To determine which option is best, consider your lifestyle. Do you have what it takes to raise a puppy? Puppies require constant attention, patience, and a lot of time.

If you don’t think you are ready to add a puppy to your family, why not consider American Hairless Terrier adoption? While you can adopt an AHT puppy, many rescue organizations have adults or even seniors available for adoption.

Adult dogs are perfect for busy families or individuals who don’t necessarily have the time to raise a puppy.

American Hairless Terrier Puppies for Sale

So how much is an AHT?

Well, American Hairless Terrier puppies for sale from a breeder will cost an average of $300-$500. While American Hairless Terriers for sale from a rescue will range between $200-$400.

The cost of an American Hairless Terrier from a breeder is dependent on location and litter availability as well as AKC status.

The American Hairless Terrier price from a rescue includes spay/neuter (if necessary), vaccinations, as well as microchipping and any other required costs.

Photo of American Hairless Terriers Grey Portrait

American Hairless Terrier Rescue and Adoption

If you’ve weighed the options and decided American Hairless Terrier rescue is for you, your first step should be researching local rescues.

Because this breed is so rare, you may have to wait until your local rescue has an AHT available, or travel to a non-local rescue.

However, if you are not set on a purebred AHT, you can adopt an American Hairless Terrier mix. Bald is Beautiful is a rescue organization dedicated to homeless hairless and small breeds all over the country.

American Hairless Terrier Breeders

Decided to purchase an American Hairless Terrier from a breeder? Now it’s time to find the perfect one.

Begin your search by researching local breeders and planning visits. While there are many reputable breeders, there are also non-reputable breeders.

A reputable breeder will promptly respond to your inquiry as well as answer any initial questions you may have.

Their home and/or kennel should be clean – a dirty kennel area is a big red flag! Breeders should treat their puppies and dogs lovingly and make sure they are properly socialized.

Bring a list of questions to ask the breeder and be prepared to answer questions in return – especially if the breeder is reputable. Ask about health certificates and what would happen should you need to return the puppy for any reason.

American Hairless Terrier FAQ

What follows is a list of questions and answers to hopefully answer any remaining questions you may have that did not receive coverage above.

Q:        How does the American Hairless Terrier do in different types of weather?

A:        AHTs can do well in hot weather, provided you take the steps necessary to ensure you are properly protecting their skin and keeping them cool. Cold weather climates, however, may be a bit much for this breed, due to their lack of a proper coat.

Q:        Does the AHT suffer from separation anxiety?

A:        The AHT is a breed that you can leave alone for longer periods of time without a problem. So, if you have a typical 9-to-5 schedule, you can leave the AHT home alone and not worry that he will retaliate for your being gone. While other breeds may chew up your possessions or howl for hours on end, the AHT will amuse himself or relax until you get home.

Q:        Why do some American Hairless Terriers have hair? Their name even says they’re hairless!

A:        The hairless gene is actually a recessive one, so the difference between a Coated American Terrier and a Hairless one all comes down to the parents. And, because the AHT is a fairly new breed with a smaller gene pool, the odds are higher that he will have no hair due to the lack of inbreeding.

Conclusion: Why the American Hairless Terrier?

The American Hairless Terrier temperament makes this breed a true terrier: lively, inquisitive, and intelligent.

They make wonderful family companions – especially families with children. Just be sure to train him early on to recognize who the true boss around your house is, else he will seize the opportunity to take the lead.

AHT’s are easily trainable and adaptable. They only require a moderate amount of exercise and are just as happy hanging out with you on the couch as they are running around with you outside.

If you’re on the hunt for a loving, playful and alert breed, the American Hairless Terrier is the ultimate companion.