American Hairless Terrier Breed Overview and Background

Published February 25, 2021
American Hairless Terrier Dog

The American hairless terrier (AHT) is an ideal companion for pet parents with allergies. This terrier is a smoothly-muscled, small to medium-sized dog breed. Dog lovers need to protect this hairless dog's skin from sun and cold weather, so there is no grooming required, but the terrier requires a sweater.

American Hairless Terrier Breed Overview

The AHT breed is intelligent, and this terrier excels in performance sports! The dog comes in two varieties. In addition to the hairless version, there is a coated variety that does shed. The more popular hairless version is free of any fur except for whiskers and guard hairs on the eyebrows and muzzle. This hairless breed is a good candidate for people with allergies.

Origin and History

The AHT breed was born from a Rat terrier. Rat terriers without hair or fur were the result of a genetic mutation but then bred with each other to produce American hairless terrier puppies. The first American hairless terrier litter was bred in the 1970s in Louisiana. One of the first owners of a puppy from this litter was Edwin and Willie Scott. The puppy, Josephine, became the foundation for the American hairless terrier breed.

They Are Known as Ratters

American hairless rat terriers were used to kill mice or rats. One AHT holds a world record! After seven hours, this little dog killed 2,501 rats in a single barn.

American Hairless Terrier dog

Suitable for An Active Lifestyle

This terrier breed is for pet parents with active lifestyles. The American hairless terrier excels in performance events, terrier racing, agility, and obedience. Try coursing agility tests with your little buddy!

Health Concerns

The AHT is predisposed to eye problems known as primary lens luxation (PLL), which is a condition that can cause the lens of the eye to become loose and eventually displace. A few diseases pet parents need on their radar, but otherwise, this terrier is generally healthy.

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Immune-mediated disease
  • Rheumatic disease


This small breed is energetic, playful, and alert. The AHT is affectionate with his family and is known as a perfect companion animal for pet lovers looking for a hiking buddy.


The terrier's ears may be erect, semi-erect, or button.

  • Size: The AHT is between 10 and 18 inches.
  • Weight: The terrier weighs between seven and 13 pounds.
  • Standard coat colors: The coated variety may come in any combination of any color.
American Hairless Terrier dog


Grooming is low-maintenance, but the most crucial tip for pet parents is to invest in coats, so your terrier avoids getting frostbite in the winter. The goal is a closet full of cute sweaters! This active breed needs daily exercise but must be kept warm.

Best Diet for Small Breeds

There are many diets specially formulated for smaller breeds. Watching your small breed's weight to make sure he does not become obese is extremely important.

Caring for Your Senior American Hairless Terrier

This terrier lives between 14 and 16 years, which is a long life! With this in mind, aging seniors and small breeds need to see the vet at least twice a year. Active dogs may develop arthritis, and a vet assesses whether some medication is necessary for pain management.

About the Terrier Group

The AHT is part of a group of tenacious terriers. The terrier group is known for dogs that are active and energetic companions. Terriers are bred to hunt, kill vermin, and guard the home or barn. Some are relatively small, like the American hairless terrier, Norfolk, Cairn, and some are larger, like the Airedale terrier.

Work With a Reputable Breeder

The United Kennel Club or UKC may be an excellent resource for pet parents when you start to look for a breeder. Pet lovers may also look for a breed rescue group or breed club, including the American Hairless Terrier Club of America.

Great Companion Animal

The American hairless terrier is a lively, active, and affectionate companion animal. Grooming is low-maintenance, and the tiny terriers are lovely for pet parents with allergies. It is essential to keep this little dog busy and ask a breeder questions about any possible health conditions.

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American Hairless Terrier Breed Overview and Background