6 Hairless Dog Breeds Who Show Us All That Bald Is Beautiful
For people with allergies or those drawn to the unique and unexpected, a hairless dog may be a dream come true. These are pooches who turn heads with their striking looks and win hearts with their pleasing personalities. Could it be that a hairless dog is right for you?
What Does a Hairless Dog Look Like?
Hairless dogs are into showing some skin, although just how much skin they reveal varies. Hairless dogs come in two varieties—hairless and coated. Some are truly hairless, while others have a little hair here and there.
The hairless variety include dogs that are completely hairless, and dogs with hair that grows on their heads, tails, or paws. Coated dogs have very short, fine hair that's barely noticeable on their skin.
What Causes a Dog to Be Hairless?
In short, it's genetics. "The lack of hair in these breeds is caused by a genetic mutation that occurred randomly at some point in history, and was then selected for intentional breeding purposes to create this look," says Elizabeth R. Drake, DVM, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Dermatology; and Associate Professor, Department of Small Clinical Sciences at the University of Tennessee.
Drake says that this gene also affects how other bodily structures develop. That's why some hairless breeds also have missing or abnormally shaped teeth.
How Many Hairless Breeds Are There?
There are at least nine hairless dog breeds in the world. While only a handful may be familiar to you, all of these pups have attributes worthy of consideration and make a unique best buddy.
1. American Hairless Terrier
Smart, playful and friendly, the American hairless terrier is a quick learner and a good companion. This variation of the rat terrier originated in Louisiana in the 1970s.
2. Peruvian Inca Orchid
The Peruvian Inca Orchid (or Peruvian hairless dog) is named after the flowers these dogs were said to be living amidst when discovered by Spanish conquistadors. This dog is hairless except for a mohawk style patch of head hair and sparse hair tufts on his tail and paws.
Named after the Aztec god Xolotl, and the Aztec word for dog, Itzcuintli, the Xoloitzcuintli (or the Mexican hairless dog) has a keen intellect and eye-catching appearance. Xolos may have short coarse hair on their heads, tail, and paws, and teeth that jut forward like tusks which is believed to be a result of their hairless gene.
4. Chinese Crested
The most famous of the hairless breeds, the Chinese crested dog has silky tufts of hair on his head, tail, and paws. This is a friendly little lap dog loaded with personality who's good with everyone from kids to seniors, and even cats!
5. Hairless Chihuahua
Chihuahuas rank number 34 on the AKC's list of most popular breeds, but the hairless Chihuahua may not be as common as the fluffier version. Hairy or hairless, they are the same breed and share the same plucky personality and smart, sassy temperament. The hairless Chihuahua gets their look from a genetic defect.
6. Abyssinian Sand Terrier
The Abyssinian sand terrier (or African hairless dog) is believed to have originated in Africa, but not much else is known about this ancient breed. Except for a tuft on the top of his head, this pup is hairless.
How to Properly Care for a Hairless Dog
Hairless Dog Skincare
While hairless dogs don't require the same type of grooming as their fluffy friends, that doesn't mean pet owners can totally slack off. "Hairless breeds require more frequent and ongoing skincare than most other dog breeds," Drake says. "Bathing twice a week with a shampoo that removes excess skin cells and skin oils is recommended, followed by a moisturizing spray, cream rinse, or conditioner."
She recommends using a dog shampoo containing benzoyl peroxide in combination with a conditioning product to avoid irritated dry skin.
Another reason to keep your hairless dog's skin clean is to avoid skin conditions. "Hairless dogs have abnormal hair follicles which make them particularly prone to recurrent bacterial skin infections," Drake says. Without the presence of growing hairs to push some of the debris out, hair follicles can become plugged with accumulated oil and skin cells and develop into blackheads, or even small cysts that can become infected.
Caring for a Hairless Dog in Inclement Weather
"Choose a sunscreen that's safe for pets (or babies) and is, ideally, formulated as a spray that goes on clear and dries on contact," Drake says. "It should have a minimum of SPF 30 with protection against both UVA and UVB rays."
She also recommends covering your dog's skin before heading outside. "Clothing can be helpful in [hot] weather, as well as in cold, for reducing sun exposure that can cause permanent skin damage," Drake says.