Originating in England during the 1820s, the Rat Terrier breed descended from the cross between a Smooth Fox Terrier and the Manchester Terrier, which resulted in a dog that was known for its determination and ability to hunt rodents. Ancestors of the Rat Terrier were brought to the United States where the breed thrived and the addition of the Whippet, Greyhound, and Beagle were incorporated into the lineage to improve the breed's hunting abilities. In the state of Louisiana, one puppy in a Rat Terrier litter was born hairless. This puppy served as the foundation for the beginning of the American Hairless Terrier breed. Hairless puppies are born with a bit of sparse, fuzzy hair all over their bodies. The puppy will shed this fuzz, starting with the head, proceeding backward, becoming entirely hairless within a few months.
The American Hairless Terrier (AHT) directly descended from and is nearly identical to the medium-sized Rat Terrier. They are an active, well-muscled breed with a deep chest, strong shoulders, solid neck, and powerful legs. Their skin can be of any shade with spots of a contrasting color. Although completely hairless, AHTs do have normal eyebrows and whiskers. They have medium-sized eyes, erect, tipped, or button V-shaped ears, and a well-proportioned muzzle with a black or self-colored nose. The tail of the breed is carried at an upward curve when alert or straight out when relaxed.
Intelligent and alert, the Hairless Terrier is a very inquisitive and affectionate dog that makes an excellent companion. They are potentially a great breed choice for individuals that suffer from allergies due to their hairless and infrequent shedding characteristics. AHTs can be fairly territorial, and like all dogs, need a consistent and firm owner for obedience training. They are highly intelligent and train easy, but can be stubborn if proper assertive leadership is not displayed. With a friendly and playful personality, these small terriers are good with children, other dogs, and even cats if properly socialized. They may not be the best choice for households with small rodent-like animals unless properly trained or raised with them from a young age because of their high prey drive and hunting background. Many AHTs are considered to be very attentive and watchful, making them a decent watchdog that will alert their owners of strangers by barking or growling. Even though they are a small breed, they still require significant exercise such as daily walks around the neighborhood or long romps in the yard. These little dogs have the lively, feisty, and fearless nature found in the best of the terrier breeds to make a great companion for a variety of households.