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Posted by Addie Fisher on April 30, 2019
A hairless cat is more recognizable than a hairless dog, but did you know that there are 5 official hairless dog breeds? Hairless dogs are not like dogs with dyed hair or painted nails. It’s not a fancy grooming technique to give a dog a buzz cut. Hairless dogs are not some new trend in animal fashion. Hairless dogs are born that way!
Technically, a genetic mutation is the cause of the lack of fluff on a hairless dog. Some hairless dogs were influenced by human intervention, such as the American Hairless Terrier. People have bred dogs that have the recessive hairless gene together to produce more hairless dogs. Others, like the Peruvian Inca Orchid and the Xoloitzcuintli dogs of South America and Mexico, have existed for thousands of years. Their hairlessness occurs naturally due to the dominant hairless gene in their genetic makeup.
What makes a hairless dog so different than others? Are they still cuddly? Do they do “normal” dog things? Here are a few fun hairless dog facts that you’ll love to know:
The Peruvian Hairless Dog has a gorgeous name and a cute face to match it. Sometimes that face includes little tufts of hair. Sometimes they are not hairless at all, though PIOs with hair are rare.
To ensure that they remain the loving and exceptional breed that they are known to be, it is important for PIO owners to socialize them early on in life. PIOs are mostly outgoing, alert, and calm in nature around those that they are close to, while a bit wary around people that they do not know well.
Unlike their counterparts, the American Hairless Terrier is a United States native, originating in Louisiana. A gene mutation resulted in the birth of a completely hairless Rat Terrier in the 1970s. The family that adopted this first known hairless terrier went on to consult veterinarians in order to continue her genetic makeup. Thus, the American Hairless Rat Terrier breed came to be.
Aside from their hairlessness, AHTs are very much like typical Rat Terrier dogs. AHTs are super affectionate and sporadically energetic. Lots of cuddles and 30-45 minutes of exercise a day will keep them happy and well-behaved.
The Mexican Hairless Dog is Mexico’s national dog! It has a long history of being a cute and loyal hairless friend to those that have been fortunate enough to adopt one. They range in sizes from toy to miniature (small), to standard (medium). Like all other hairless dogs, its skin and patches of hair range in colors from dark blue and gray, brown, copper and pink, bronze, brindle, and black.
If pronouncing this dog’s name seems impossible, stick with its nickname, Xolo, pronounced “Show-Low.”
The fanciest-looking of the hairless dog breeds, the Chinese Hairless Dog is only “mostly hairless.” This breed is typically born one of two ways – Crested, mostly hairless; or Powderpuff/Puff, mostly covered in long hair. Chinese Hairless Crested dogs can have hair on their head, tail, and legs. Chinese Hairless Puff dogs have hair all over, sometimes excluding their face and the very tips of their ears.
Despite its name, the Chinese Hairless Dog is of South American origin. Its genetic makeup shows that it probably originated alongside the Xolo dog, as they are closely related. Chinese hairless dogs are popular on many scenes.
You can see them walking proudly in dog shows, or holding the title for “The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest,” just like the blind and nearly toothless Sam, a Hairless Chinese Crested dog.
Hairless dogs require some typical dog care maintenance, but some of their needs are very different from traditional dogs. Haircuts and brushing are obviously not necessary. They still require their nails to be clipped regularly. Proper dental care is especially important since their hairless gene is linked with dental issues. Their exposed skin requires special attention.
Hairless dogs actually need baths more frequently than dogs with hair.
Whereas dogs with hair are recommended to be bathed once a month, hairless dog breeds should be bathed once every one to two weeks. Exfoliating their skin with a soft loofah style glove is helpful for maintaining their skin health, as well. Lastly, just like human skin, their skin needs to be moisturized. This helps to protect it from the elements that they encounter outside, such as the sun, wind, and pollutants in the air.
Once people learn about hairless dogs, an immediate afterthought is how perfect they will be for people who are allergic to pet dander. They are a great pet option to consider for families with pet allergies.
However, it’s important to note that hairlessness alone does not mean that a dog is hypoallergenic.
It is their skin and not the hair, after all, that causes allergy flare up. It is important to have your doctor run the proper tests to determine if a hairless dog will trigger your allergies.
Overall, hairless dogs have not be recorded to have many chronic genetic diseases. They have a general lifespan of 11-15 years. As with all aging dogs, they can face blindness, deafness, bone and joint issues, and heart issues. A less common but recognized issue with some hairless dogs is epilepsy and seizures.
Minor issues that face all hairless dog breeds include sunburn if they are not protected with sunscreen while they are outside, blackheads which occur naturally or when their skin isn’t cleaned and exfoliated regularly, and tooth loss as they age or due to a lack of proper dental hygiene. Their tooth loss is also genetically related to their hairlessness, so it is important to care for their teeth starting early on.
If you believe that a hairless dog would make the perfect addition to your family, the next step is to determine which breed would be best for you. As with all dog breeds, the descriptions are just a general overview. Each dog will differ from others in its breed. Be sure to consult the dog seller, shelter, and/or other pet professionals to see if a particular dog is a good fit for your family.
Perfect for someone who is able to give him a lot of attention. Not well-suited for families with young children. Best around older children that are calm. Require a lot of socialization, love, and positive reinforcement when they misbehave. It is more difficult to train them as they get older, so start training them early. Mostly a chill breed, but does require dedicated time to be active each day.
This dog is suitable for families of all types and ages. They are extremely loving and affectionate, which sometimes leans towards separation anxiety if they don’t get the attention that they long for. Generally enjoy meeting new people, and do well with other pets that aren’t overly playful or rough.
Xolos are very active and match well with an active family. Their protective nature makes them great for alerting a family of and guarding them against trespassers. They form strong bonds with those who take care of them, so let your entire family take part in their care and upbringing. Very active, so indulge their need to exercise, or it will result in behavioral problems.
Is it possible for other breeds to produce hairless dog?
Yes! It is possible but rare.
It is simply a genetic defect, as it is with official hairless dog breeds, but it occurs far less often. Some examples of these rare hairless dog finds include hairless chihuahuas and hairless pugs. While official hairless dog breeds may birth litters with a few hairy dogs, typical breeds that have the recessive hairless gene will do the opposite. Some litters may contain one or more hairless dogs, but it is not a guarantee.
Once you get over the shock of seeing a hairless dog, their charming demeanor and their loyal, affectionate character will make you fall in love with them. Don’t let their “special need” of caring for their sensitive skin scare you off.
Just as all dogs are merely another member of the family, a hairless pup is just another one of the kids. Bathe them frequently, shower them with love and attention, feed them well, allow them to play actively for half an hour or more each day, and you’ll have a hairless dog friend for life.
About the Author:
Addie Fisher is a sustainable lifestyle blogger, writer, and WordPress website designer. She is a wife, mom, and dog mom to Boston, an American Hairless Rat Terrier. You can find her work addiefisher.com and oldworldnew.us.