There are only a few Hairless Dog Breeds in the world, though there are some hairless variations of common breeds such as the Chihuahua. These dogs can be excellent and loving companions, as well as being ideal for people with certain medical conditions, such as allergies to fur.
If you’re considering a hairless dog breed to bring home as a member of the family there are some things you might be wondering about!
Why are some dogs hairless?
What breeds are hairless?
Are hairless dogs rare dog breeds?
Do hairless dogs need any special type of care?
What are the benefits of having a hairless dog?
Why Some Dogs are Hairless
There are only a small number of dog breeds with a hairless body. They are rare. And only a few variations of more standard breeds that can become hairless, like the Chihuahua. But why?
According to experts, the answer lies in genetics. A genetic trait that expresses itself in these specific breeds.
Some breeds have the hairless gene as a dominant trait, a defining characteristic of the breed, like the Xolo.
In some cases, like that of the Chinese Crested, it can be an ‘incomplete dominant’ resulting in several different outcomes.
For other breeds, like the American Hairless Terrier, the trait is a recessive gene.
Characteristics of Hairless Dogs
In addition to a lack of fur, there are a few other things to look out for if you’re looking for a hairless dog.
The genetic mutation that earns them the ‘Hairless’ designation sometimes comes with other complications.
These are the things you should look out for if you want a hairless canine as a member of the family:
- Incomplete sets of teeth: Many hairless breeds or variants wind up lacking molars or other teeth.
- Skin Issues: Without the fur to keep them warm and prevent irritation, Hairless dogs are more susceptible to various skin conditions and problems.
- Skin Cancer: Hairless dogs are more susceptible to sunburn and thus skin cancer.
- Nail Defects: Similar to their dental issues, hairless breeds can suffer from deficiencies in their nail development, and may require extra attention to their paws.
- Temperature Regulation: No fur means no insulation from the cold. You will need to provide them with warm clothing in the winter. But it also means they have less temperature regulation ability when exposed to hot weather.
What Dog Breeds are Hairless?
There are only a small number of breeds of Hairless dogs in the world. Depending on the criteria used, some experts may list as few as 5, or as many as 10-15.
Below is a list of the most well-known breeds of Hairless Dogs, and also a few of the less common ones!
Peruvian Inca Orchid Dog
- Also known as the Chimu dog, Peruvian viringo, and the Peruvian hairless dog.
- They come in three sizes, with an average height of about 20 inches and a weight of 30 lbs.
- Their skin comes in several colors such as chocolate brown, copper-toned, or gray.
- Known for their slim build and ‘candle-flame-shaped’ ears.
- Keen and highly intelligent.
- Learn quickly and well, a legacy of their breeding as hunters.
- They are known to be lively.
- Energetic nature means they need plenty of exercise. You’ll want to spend at least 30 minutes a day playing with them to keep them healthy and happy.
- Peruvian Inca Orchids frequently sport a patch of mohawk-style fur on their heads. They sometimes also have fur on their tails.
- They can have very delicate skin.
- Bred as hunting dogs, and remain excellent hounds.
- Excellent companions, known to be loyal and loving dogs.
- Considered very good family animals.
- They get along reasonably well with other dogs. However, experts say that they don’t always do well with cats, or animals that trigger their hunting instincts.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 12 Years
Xoloitzcuintli – Mexican Hairless Dog
- The word Xoloitzcuintli or Xoloitzcuintle (seems to be used with both spellings) is derived from a combination of two Aztec words. Xolotl and itzcuintli. Xolotl is the Aztec god of lightning and death.
- Aztecs held these dogs in great esteem as watchdogs and companions. They are often referred to as the ancient Aztec Dog of the Gods!
- This ancient breed of dog is over 3500 years old.
- Xolos were the chosen companion of renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and she often included them in her paintings and named hers Mr. Xolotl!
- Some experts say it is one of the first American hairless dogs to ever exist.
- One of the few hairless breeds to be formally recognized by the American Kennel Club.
- The Xolo can be found in multiple sizes, from a medium-sized dog to a toy-sized.
- Known for large, bat-like ears, sleek appearance and almond shaped eyes. It is said to have a great resemblance to the Pharaoh Hound.
- They’re considered excellent companions.
- They were not bred for any specific role, and as such, retain many of the primitive instincts of ancient dog breeds.
- Highly intelligent and very adaptable. Once adapted to their home, they are lively and energetic animals.
- Xolos can be sensitive, and may require additional socialization to be comfortable around children or other pets.
- Experts recommend starting with a younger dog if you’re going to choose a Xolo as your companion. This will make it easier for your Xolo to adapt to your household.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 18 years or so.
Chinese Crested Dog
- The Chinese Crested dog is named for the fact that it frequently sports a flowing mane of hair around it’s face and ears. This may include a small ‘beard’ near the chin.
- The rest of the dog is generally hairless, with the exception of the feet and tail, which can also sport flowing fur.
- Chinese Cresteds are known for its ‘mixed’ hairless status. The Chinese Crested has what experts call an ‘incomplete dominant gene’ for hairlessness, which can cause interesting results.
- They tend to have very sensitive skin.
- One variant of this dog has even been voted as the ugliest dog in the world, though Crested Chinese owners often disagree.
- The Crested Chinese is a small dog, rarely weighing in at more than 10 lbs.
- Experts say this dog very friendly and loyal.
- Excellent companions who love to be lap dogs.
- They can be very playful.
- They’re known to be very good at reading their owner’s emotions.
- Crested dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if they are left alone too long or too often.
- Not the best choice for a person who works a great deal or travels a lot.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 15 years
Ecuadorian Hairless Dog
- The Ecuadorian Hairless is considered one of the rarest recognized breeds of hairless dogs in the world.
- Medium-sized dog, generally around 15-18 inches tall.
- The Ecuadorian is known for it’s long legs.
- Known for it’s lack of premolar teeth.
- Most easily distinguished by it’s sole tuft of hair on top of the head, while the rest of it’s body is completely bald.
- It’s thought to be a relative of the Peruvian Hairless.
- The Ecuadorian Hairless is reported to be a graceful dog, with some of the same carriage and behaviors as a poodle.
- Require a fair amount of exercise to maintain their health and happiness.
- Originally bred as a hunting dog, and retains the hunting instincts.
- Not recommended for families with small children, unless it is socialized at a young age.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 14 years
American Hairless Terrier
- The American Hairless Terrier (short name AHT) is one of the only breeds that has the hairless variant as a fully recessive gene, according to experts.
- This frequently leads to fewer health problems.
- The American Hairless Terrier comes in multiple sizes and colors, much like it’s furry counterpart.
- It’s known to be a lively and friendly dog.
- Intelligent and very playful.
- They are said to be somewhat stubborn, and require incentive based training to be coaxed into obedience.
- Good family animals, great with children.
- Experts say they often regard the entire family as their pack. This not only makes them good companions, but excellent watchdogs.
- One of the few hairless breeds officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.
- The breed is said to have originated in Louisiana.
- It was further bred as a hypoallergenic alternative to regular terriers.
- The American Hairless is a breed of Rat Terrier.
- They usually grow to a height of about 15 inches.
- They have V-shaped ears, and frequently sport whiskers and eyebrows.
- Life Expectancy: Around 16 years.
Abyssinian Sand Terrier – African Hairless Dog
- The Abyssinian Sand Terrier is considered one of the oldest hairless breeds in the world.
- One of the rarest breeds, and not well known.
- Sometimes have patches of fur on the hair and tail, but are usually completely bald.
- Skin color tends to be dull pink or gray.
- In build, they are fairly slim dogs, and easily identified by their bat-like ears.
- Historians believe they were revered for supposed healing powers in ancient days.
- It’s thought that many other hairless breeds began with the Abyssinian Sand Terrier.
- Experts say they are somewhat more resistant to dry skin, or skin diseases.
- They are quieter than most other terrier breeds. Some experts even say they have to be taught to bark.
- They are reputed to be fearless dogs, who serve as great guards and watchdogs.
- They are loyal to their family, and will do well with adults, children and other animals in their ‘pack’. With familiar people, they are highly affectionate.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 15 years
Argentine Pila Dog
- The Argentine Pila is one of the rarest hairless breeds originating in South America.
- Except for its whiskers, it’s often completely bald.
- Sometimes these dogs are aphonic – they cannot produce sound, so they don’t bark like a regular dog.
- Considered excellent companions.
- The Argentine Pila has a build similar to a Miniature Pinscher, with a short back and an elevated tail.
- Very agile dogs that can run, jump and climb with ease.
- These are considered playful and energetic dogs.
- Can be very stealthy when the situation calls for it.
- Can adapt easily to small spaces, such as apartments.
- Aren’t as sensitive skinned as some other breeds, and require less grooming and care.
- They adapt well to many environments, though they don’t do well in the cold.
- The Argentine Pila can be an excellent guard dog.
- They do very well as playmates and companions for children.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 20 years
Bolivian Hairless Dog – Hairless Khala
- The Hairless Khala is unique in that it comes in two distinct types – the Medio and the Grande.
- The Khala Medio is the stronger of the two types.
- The Khala Grande, with it’s longer legs, is usually faster.
- The Hairless Khala usually possesses dark gray skin, and is almost completely bald.
- Known to be very good companions and loyal to their owners.
- While they are generally sweet-tempered, some say they can be unfriendly to strangers.
- These dogs are considered primitive dogs – not bred for a role in society. They eventually became hunting dogs, but no one is sure when and how.
- These dogs are rare, found only in a few places in Mexico and Central America.
- Require a great deal of socialization to raise and tame.
- Often shy and standoffish, especially around strangers.
- Require a great deal of positive reinforcement and praise to become used to an owner or family.
- They need an owner who establishes their leadership early in the relationship.
- The Hairless Khala tends to avoid confrontation.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 20 years
- The Hairless Chihuahua is a relatively new breed.
- Some say that Chihuahua breeders have been deliberately breeding for hairlessness, along with certain skin colors and coats. Others say that it’s a genetic defect that is rarely encountered.
- The Hairless variant of the Chihuahua has much the same temperament and size as it’s furry counterparts.
- One of the smallest of the hairless breeds.
- Some experts say they need more care, and can be more susceptible to skin diseases.
- Hairless Chihuahuas are known to be sassy little dogs.
- Like the furry variant, they are highly territorial and protective of their families.
- They can be somewhat stubborn.
- They aren’t really recommended as pets or companions for younger children, but they do all right with older kids.
- This dog is known as the only Indian breed still in existence.
- Originally bred in the Andhra Pradesh state of India.
- Jonangi dogs have many talents. They were originally bred to hunt, and to herd ducks.
- They also hunt fish.
- They prefer to expend energy by digging holes or small ditches to rest in.
- Jonangi Dogs tend to be one-person dogs.
- They can be acclimated to a family, but it takes a great deal of socialization from a young age.
- Very loyal, especially to their chosen person.
- Highly active and energetic.
- They can swim and run for long periods of time.
- They are faster than many other mammals out there, and are very agile.
- Life Expectancy: Up to 14 years
How to Care for Hairless Dogs
When it comes to the care of hairless dogs, you’ll find they do have a few special needs. However, in other ways, they’re a lot like regular dogs.
Aside from a few special needs, Hairless dogs require much of the same things as their furry counterparts:
- A Balanced Diet
- Regular Baths
- Regular Veterinary Visits
- Dental Care
- Regularly Trimmed Nails
- Plenty of Exercise
However, you’ll find that with Hairless dogs, you’ll also need to do the following:
- Regular Moisturizing:
Exposure makes Hairless dogs susceptible to dry skin and cracking. Regular moisturizing is essential to keep hairless dogs healthy and happy. It’s also a necessity to maintain the soft skin that many breeds are well known for.
There are available moisturizers on the market, but some experts contend you can do just as well with a regular household oil. Some options include things like coconut oil or sunflower oil.
Warning: Experts say to avoid products with Lanolin. Hairless dogs have been known to have allergic reactions to them.
- Make Sure They’re Well Covered:
Lack of fur means that Hairless Dogs are much more susceptible to low temperatures.
If you live in a colder area, you may want to invest in dog clothing. Dog sweaters and mavins are good for keeping a furless friend warm and healthy.
- Invest in Dog-Safe Sunscreen:
Hairless Dogs are susceptible to sunburns, just as humans are. If you plan to spend a great deal of time outside with your Hairless Dog, you’ll need to invest in sunscreen.
You don’t want to pick just any sunscreen. Chemicals in regular sunscreen may not be safe for dogs. Ask your vet for the best option for your dog.
- Special Shampoo:
Hairless dogs often have sensitive skin. Because of this, standard shampoos may not be your best option. You’ll want to check with your vet for the best choices.
When washing your dog, you can clean the skin with a soft brush and dry them with a microfiber cloth. This can reduce the risk of irritation.
Experts say Hairless dogs should have a bath about once a week.
- Maintain Clean Bedding:
Easily irritated skin means you’ll want to make sure their sleeping spots or favorite places are clean and comfortable for them.
Wash blankets and pillows regularly. Ensure that any doggy bed you buy is easy to wash, or has a removable covering.
- Checking for Blackheads or Rashes:
Like humans, hairless dogs are susceptible to skin conditions like acne. Regular checks for rashes and acne symptoms are important.
If you encounter acne or blackheads, don’t try to pop or drain them. This can leave your dog vulnerable to infections.
You can reduce the risk of acne with regular baths and gentle grooming.
- Cleaning Ears and Trimming Fur:
Dogs need their ears to be regularly cleaned. This keeps away mites and prevents ear infections.
Not all hairless dogs are completely bald. For those that might have a little bit of fur around the face or feet, regular trimming and grooming are important.
Benefits of Hairless Dogs
Hairless dogs may require some extra care and equipment. However, hairless pets do have benefits. Many of these breeds are considered good companions. Some of them also make excellent watchdogs.
In addition, hairless dogs have the following things going for them:
- Properly cared for, their skin is very soft and warm.
- They shed very little, if at all.
- They may have dog dander, but regular bathing and moisturizing will keep that to a minimum.
- Hairless breeds are not a hypoallergenic dog even though some may say they are. However, a hairless variety may cause less of an allergic reaction than other breeds for allergy sufferers.
- They are less likely to acquire pests like fleas, according to some experts. And even if they do pick them up, the problem is much easier to spot and treat.
Related Hairless Dog Breed Questions
How Much Do Hairless Dogs Cost?
The cost will vary greatly depending on the breed and how you acquire it. Rescue dogs will be much less expensive than a dog obtained from a breeder. Prices can be as low as $50 or as high as $4000.
Do Hairless Dogs Need Special Foods?
Opinions are mixed in this regard. If your dog has abnormal development of its teeth then it may need a special diet. Or it may not. Consult with your vet or breeder to be sure.
Can Hairless Dogs Become Service Dogs or ESA Dogs?
Evidence suggests that Hairless dogs are well equipped to be ESA dogs, and Service Animals in some cases. Like any other breed, however, they require the proper training.
How Often Should Moisturizer be Applied to a Hairless Dog?
The answer depends on the climate you live in, how often your dog is outside, and other factors. Check daily to make sure their skin is smooth, soft, and supple. If you find rough or dry patches, moisturize.
What Are the Most Common Health Problems for Hairless Dogs?
The most common health problem for hairless dogs is skin lesions or rashes. However, a close second is likely to be dental issues, since many breeds have abnormal dental development, such as missing premolar teeth.
Hairless dogs are far less popular than their furry cousins. However, they’re an excellent option for individuals who want a dog, but have issues with fur and suffer from dog allergies..
They may require a little more attention, but it’s well worth it.
Having a hairless dog in your household is much like any other pet. You need to know their requirements and have the time and energy to care for them.
However, their care and companionship are highly rewarding and will gain you a loyal companion for many years. Hairless dogs make great family pets!