Showing skin is in fashion, which is great news for hairless dogs. Hairless dogs are exactly what their name suggests - dogs that lack hair. Some are completely hairless, while others exhibit partial hairlessness with fur growing on their head, tails, or paws. Diving deeper, here are 10 hairless dog breeds and how to care for bald or hairless dogs.
What Causes Hairlessness In Dogs?
Hairlessness in dogs is typically caused by genetics, often stemming from a genetic mutation at some point in a dog's lineage. In the case of hairless breeds, breeders deliberately chose dogs who were naturally born hairless and bred them together.
Pro Tip: It's worth noting that the gene responsible for hairlessness also affects the development of other body parts, which explains why many hairless dogs may have abnormal or missing teeth.
Hairlessness can also be attributed to various medical conditions such as alopecia, as well as burns, trauma, and injuries that damage the hair follicles and impede hair growth.
Are Hairless Dogs Hypoallergenic?
Hairless dogs are often regarded as hypoallergenic and generally more suitable for individuals with allergies compared to other dogs, thanks to their lack of fur and consequent reduction in shedding. Nevertheless, it's important to note that many people are allergic not only to dog fur but also to dog dander and saliva. In such cases, hairless dogs may not provide significant relief from allergies.
Hairless And Bald Dog Grooming And Skincare
Because hairless dogs lack fur, their grooming needs differ from those of other dogs (such as brushing or deshedding). However, this doesn't mean they require less maintenance. In fact, hairless dogs need more care for their skin, much like humans do.
For instance, they require more frequent bathing - typically twice a week - to eliminate debris, skin cells, and oils. It is advisable to use a mild dog-friendly shampoo specifically formulated to remove excess skin cells and oils, followed by a dog-friendly moisturizer. This regimen helps reduce and prevent skin conditions that hairless dogs are prone to and prevents the skin from drying out. Due to their abnormal hair follicles and lack of hair to expel dirt and debris, hairless dogs are susceptible to persistent bacterial skin infections. This leads to a buildup of oil and skin cells, which can result in clogged follicles and the development of blackheads, acne, or cysts. It is crucial to use only products designed specifically for dogs to avoid potential skin irritation or toxicity caused by chemicals.
Pro Tip: Dog shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide, when used in conjunction with a dog-friendly conditioning product, can help prevent dry and irritated skin. However, be aware that benzoyl peroxide has the potential to bleach fabric. Additionally, since a hairless dog's skin is exposed, it is important to safeguard it from irritants such as perfumes, cleaners, laundry detergents and more.
Hairless And Bald Dog Care When Outside
Because hairless dogs have exposed skin, they require additional protection when outdoors, regardless of the season or weather conditions. One significant concern is their susceptibility to sunburn, as they lack the protective layer of fur. Therefore, it is crucial for hairless dogs to wear dog sunscreen or UV-protective clothing - preferably with a minimum SPF of 30 that provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunburns can result in redness, tenderness, sensitive skin, blisters, skin ulcers, dryness, cracked skin, and pain. Moreover, they can lead to more serious issues such as scaly skin, skin infections, and even skin cancer. Hairless dogs are particularly prone to developing skin cancer due to their lack of fur. Hence, if feasible, it is advisable for hairless dogs to avoid the sunniest hours of the day.
Pro Tip: Regularly monitor your hairless dog's skin for any changes. If you notice anything new or concerning, contact your veterinarian.
Additionally, hairless dogs are more sensitive to cold and wet weather, making them more susceptible to hypothermia. This is because dog coats assist in thermoregulation, helping dogs keep cool in warm weather and insulating them during cold weather. Therefore, it is essential to provide them with raincoats and warm clothing during rainy potty breaks and winter walks. Moreover, it is important to avoid prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures or heavy rain.
Hairless Dog Breeds In The American Kennel Club
American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier is the only hairless breed originating from the U.S. It descended from the Rat Terrier, so was unsurprisingly bred for rodent hunting. In the late 1800s, Rat Terriers were brought to rural America from their native England by British miners seeking a new life. They were crossed with Smooth Fox Terriers, which stabilized the Rat Terrier breed. However, in 1972, a hairless Rat Terrier was born. She was then bred and, over eight years, gave birth to three hairless dogs (two females and one male). The final two were bred, producing several hairless offspring, and thus the American Hairless Terrier arose.
Chinese Crested Dog
The Chinese Crested Dog dates back so far in time that its exact origins are unknown. It is believed to have origins in Africa, Mexico, and China as large ancient hairless dogs were imported to China and miniaturized over generations. As such, the modern Chinese Crested Dog is believed to be one of the world's few Chinese dog breeds. According to research, the breed is an ancestor of Mexico's most ancient breed - the Xoloitzcuintli or Mexican Hairless Dog. Researchers believe there is a possibility that early ancestors were imported to China, where further breeding resulted in the Chinese Crested we see today. Either way, the Chinese Crested Dog eventually traveled the world on Chinese trading vessels as pest control and exterminators. It became so widespread that European explorers recorded sightings in Central America, South America, Asia, and Africa. The breed can be hairless or "powderpuff," which means they have a soft and silky coat. Interestingly, both varieties are considered hypoallergenic.
The Chihuahua is the most famous and popular of the Mexican dog breeds. Chihuahua-like dogs can be found in artifacts of ancient cultures around the world, but how they came to Mexico is unknown. What is known is that the preferred breed of the Toltecs of Mexico was the Techichi - a larger, heavier ancestor of the Chihuahua. The Aztecs conquered the Toltecs in the 12th century and are credited with refining the Techichi into a smaller dog. In the mid-1800s, Americans found these dogs in the state of Chihuahua, which is where the modern breed gets its name.
The breed is known as one of the smallest dog breeds globally, typically measuring a mere 6 to 10 inches in height and weighing a mere 3 to 7 pounds. They exhibit a wide array of colors and coat types, including hairlessness in rare instances. Hairless Chihuahuas, as their name suggests, are Chihuahuas that are born without hair. They are not classified as a distinct breed but instead are considered a variation of the Chihuahua breed. Hairless Chihuahuas possess a rare genetic anomaly that results in complete or partial absence of hair on their bodies and/or heads.
Peruvian Inca Orchid (Peruvian Hairless Dog)
The Peruvian Inca Orchid, also known as the Peruvian Hairless Dog, boasts an ancient history that can be traced back to 750 AD through Peruvian pottery artifacts from the Moche, Chimu, Chancay, and Incan civilizations. These dogs were considered loyal companions, as evidenced by their depiction in Chancay pottery wearing sweaters. They were also believed to bring good luck and possess healing properties, with the Chimu people utilizing them for warmth and treating conditions such as arthritis and respiratory ailments. It is even speculated that their urine and feces might have been employed in traditional medicine.
When Peru was conquered, these small hairless companion dogs interbred with the dogs brought by the Conquistadors. As a result, three distinct size variations emerged, accounting for the considerable size diversity observed in the breed today. While dogs in the mountain regions - like those belonging to the Andean communities - were safeguarded, those residing in coastal cities were often considered diseased and exterminated. In 1966, an American named Jack Walklin (who is credited with naming the breed the Peruvian Inca Orchid) visited Peru and brought back eight dogs to the United States. The breed was officially registered with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1981 and the Kennel Club of Peru in 1985, who then requested the FCI to change the breed's name to "Perro sin Pelo de Peru" or Peruvian Hairless Dog. Recognizing its significance, Peru designated the breed as a National Patrimony in 2001, providing it with legal protection.
Xoloitzcuintli (Or Mexican Hairless Dog)
The Xoloitzcuintli, also known as the Mexican Hairless Dog, is an ancient Mexican dog breed dating back to the 1300-1500s. They were considered sacred by the Aztecs and bred to be watch dogs and companions. Interestingly, not all of the breed's dogs are actually hairless. Those with hair on their bodies have a sparse coat with short, flat fur. Even the hairless dogs often feature some fur on their head that looks like a mohawk. The Xoloitzcuintli comes in three sizes usually and tends to be affectionate, devoted and protective of their family but can be aloof to strangers.
Hairless Dog Breeds Beyond The American Kennel Club
Abyssinian Sand Terrier (African Hairless Dog)
The Abyssinian Sand Terrier, also known as the African Hairless Dog, is one of several African dog breeds. But it is uncertain if any dogs of this breed still exist, so the breed is considered potentially extinct. The exact origin within Africa remains unknown as well. Historical records indicate that the breed was also associated with Egyptians and Zulus, suggesting its presence throughout the continent. Similar to other hairless dogs, it is believed that the Abyssinian Sand Terrier possessed healing abilities and was utilized as warmth when sleeping in beds as well as for pain relief and arthritis treatment.
Early European accounts from Africa described small hairless dogs, some with tufts of hair on the head and tail. Examples of these dogs were brought to England and exhibited at the London Zoo in 1833 under the name Egyptian Hairless Dogs. Additionally, a specimen dating back to 1903 is preserved at the Natural History Museum in Tring, Herefordshire, England. Experts theorize that these African hairless dogs played a role in the development of modern hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested. Despite the belief that the breed is extinct, no comprehensive or conclusive search has been conducted across Africa to confirm its status.
Argentine Pila Dog
The Argentine Pila is a rare breed that originated in Argentina and shares close ties with other South American hairless breeds, like the Peruvian Inca Orchid. In fact, the Pila and the Peruvian Inca Orchid bear a striking resemblance to each other. Both breeds come in three sizes (small, medium, large) and can produce both hairless and coated puppies. As a result, it is not uncommon to find Pila dogs with tufts of fur on their heads and tails.
Records of the Pila breed in Argentina do not appear before the 15th century, but evidence of their existence in Central and South America can be traced back 3,000 years. As the Inca empire expanded its influence north and south, they offered their hairless dogs to distant populations to build ties. However, the exchange of dogs gradually declined and eventually ceased altogether after the Spanish conquered the region. Consequently, various types of hairless dogs emerged in isolation, including the Argentine Pila Dog. Throughout the 20th century, these dogs were highly valued by indigenous communities, the middle class, and peasants as loyal guardians and sources of warmth. Their naturally warm skin served as bed warmers and heating pads, particularly for the elderly and those with arthritis.
However, in the latter half of the 20th century, foreign dog breeds gained popularity and displaced the Pila. Today, the Pila breed is exceptionally rare, with an estimated population of 1,700 dogs primarily concentrated in the Salta province of Argentina. Nonetheless, the breed is officially recognized by the Asociación Canina Argentina, and there is a small movement dedicated to rescuing and revitalizing this ancient breed.
Ecuadorian Hairless Dog
The Ecuadorian Hairless Dog is an ancient breed originating from Ecuador. It is believed to be closely related to the Peruvian Inca Orchid, who was potentially crossed with Xoloitzcuintli. Consequently, the Ecuadorian Hairless Dog is typically hairless, although some individuals may have small tufts of fur on the top of their heads. Despite its ancient roots, this breed remains both rare and unrecognized by any kennel clubs. In fact, it is considered the rarest of all hairless breeds. It has a background in hunting, which explains the breed's long legs for its size and strong prey drive, particularly towards small critters. Additionally, this breed has the shortest tails among hairless breeds and lacks premolar teeth.
The Hairless Khala, also known as the Bolivian Hairless Dog, is a rare and ancient breed that originated in Bolivia. The term "Khala" derives from the indigenous Bolivian Quechua language, meaning "naked" or "without clothing." This breed bears a resemblance to the Xoloitzcuintli and is believed to share common ancestors with it. But the exact origins of the Hairless Khala are uncertain, as pedigree documentation was infrequent and mostly passed on through word of mouth.
Following the Spanish conquest of the Incas and subsequent disruption of trade routes, the local development of hairless breeds arose due to geographic isolation. Consequently, the Hairless Khala emerged as the Bolivian hairless breed. Historical evidence suggests that these dogs served as companions, guard dogs, sources of food, objects of religious significance, and providers of warmth. Their importance in society seems to be why Hairless Khalas form deep bonds with their owners and exhibit protectiveness, making socialization essential to prevent unfriendliness towards strangers.
Hairless Khalas have notable variation within the breed. They come in two sizes, exhibit two skin patterns, and can either be fully hairless or have tufts of fur on their heads. The medium size (also known as Hairless Khala Medio) stands 14 to 17 inches tall, weighs 15 to 30 pounds, and possesses shorter legs. While the large size (also known as Hairless Khala Grande) measures 17 to 20 inches tall, weighs 18 to 30 pounds, and features longer legs reminiscent of a Greyhound. Interestingly, both sizes can be found within the same litter, as no efforts have been made to selectively breed for a specific size. The variation in skin patterns includes both spotted and solid patterns, with the former appearing to be historically favored as companions, while the latter tended to spend more time outdoors.
The Jonangi, also known as Jonangi Jagilam and Kolleti Jagilam, is a rare and ancient hairless dog breed from India. It is believed to have originated over 2,000 years ago in the Krishna and Godavari river deltas of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Local farmers and fishermen bred these dogs as hunting and fishing companions as well as guard dogs for farms and properties. They also served as valuable allies to duck farmers in the Kolleru Lake and Pulicat Lake areas, where they herded and protected waterfowl from predators. However, with the decline of duck herding, the dogs' purpose diminished.
Left to navigate their own existence, the intelligent Jonangi developed a unique fishing technique involving hole digging. Unfortunately, this behavior caused the same farmers who once relied on their assistance to view the dogs as pests, pushing the breed to the brink of extinction. However, chicken breeders and other farmers recognized the value of Jonangis in safeguarding their livestock. As such, there was a resurgence in the breed's popularity, particularly in parts of the Nellore district and regions of Tamil Nadu. Nonetheless, the Jonangi breed remains rare to this day.
Two interesting facts about Jonangis: Firstly, they emit a yodel-like sound instead of barking. Secondly, several Jonangis are actually born with fur - but its an extremely short coat that appears nearly invisible.