If you don't want to have to deal with all those dog hairs all over your clothes, your furniture and your car you may well want to consider one of the many different hairless breeds of dogs. Hairless breeds are not a new fad in dog breeding and some have been around for thousands of years. As can be imagined, hairless breeds are originally caused by a genetic glitch or an abnormality and are much more commonly found in warmer climates or in highly selective breeding programs that have evolved over time.
There are at least five recognized hairless breeds that are separate and distinct from each other. In order to get to know the various breeds, a short description of each is provided below.
This is perhaps the most widely known breed of hairless pooch, however several others have become almost equally as famous. The correct name for the Mexican Hairless is actually Xoloitzcuintle, pronounced roughly as show-lo-its-queen-tli. As with most hairless breeds there are actually some dogs that are born hairless and others that have a very short and sleek coat, similar to that of the short coated Chihuahua. The hairless variety may have a slight tuft of hair on the skull between the ears, but should be completely free from hair on the rest of the body.
The skin can be any variety of colors from black to bronze, brindle to red and even spotted coloration of slate or gray or any other standard color. The coated variety has a sleek, shiny coat in the same colors as the skin possibilities. These dogs, both hairless and fully coated, are born within the same litters. There are actually three different sizes of Xolo dogs, ranging from the very tiny Toy at 9-15 pounds up to the standard size that can be up to 60 pounds. Typically most standards are not that large and average weight is closer to 30-40 pounds at maturity.
The Xolo is a highly intelligent dog, considered to be very easy to housetrain and naturally very clean. They bond very strongly with the people that spend time in caring for this dog and they are very affectionate and suited for families that want a cuddly type of pet. These are very athletic dogs and can climb and love to run and play. Despite their lack of hair they are typical canines and do best when they are not pampered and spoiled. The Mexican Hairless is very good with children and when socialized does well with other dogs and household pets.
Not as bare skinned as the Xolo, even the hairless variety of the Chinese Crested has full hair on its tail, head and feet. They also come in a fully coated variety known as the Powder Puff. Both can have an amazing array of coat and skin colors but any solid, mixed or spotted patterns or colors are considered acceptable. The more unique the coloration the more sought after these dogs tend to be.
Like the Mexican Hairless, both the Powder Puff and the Hairless varieties of the Chinese Crested are excellent companion dogs that are not delicate in nature and love a good run, romp and play. They are ideal for living in small spaces and do well with self-exercising indoors as long as they get out a couple of times a day for a longer walk. These dogs only weigh about 10 pounds, with smaller weights more commonly seen as companion pets and show dogs.
The Chinese Crested has extremely sensitive skin that needs to be protected from burning in the hot summer months and kept soft and moist in the dry winters. This means applying an even layer of sunscreen to the exposed skin as well as using lotion to keep the skin from drying in the winter months. Within the breed there is an allergy to lanolin based creams and lotions as well as natural wool, so both items need to be avoided.
Peruvian Inca Orchid
This hairless breed is very rare outside of its native country of Peru. The Spanish explorers first recorded this amazing hairless breed as the dogs seen in royal houses within South America in the early 1500's. Some dog researchers believe that the PIO may actually be the original genetic line for the Chinese Crested as the dogs were used in trade exchanges and as highly prized gifts.
They often have a pinkish tint to the skin and are generally mottled in color in both the hairless and the variety with a coat. They are a fairly large breed of sighthound and can actually weigh up to 50 pounds at maturity. They have a very intelligent looking face with large, prominent eyes that are rather prone to irritations and injury. Many of the breed have a great deal of difficulty in seeing in the sun and are often called Moonflower dogs since they prefer being active in the darker hours of dusk and night.
The Peruvian Inca Orchids in the United States are from a very small group of dogs brought in by early dog fanciers. Since there genetic line is rather small outside of Peru, increased efforts to import breeding stock have been more focused in the last several years.
The skin of the PIO needs constant care. It has to be regularly exfoliated to prevent skin irritations and also requires sunscreen and lotion to keep the skin supple.
Also from South America, particularly along the Andes Mountains, is a hairless breed known as the Khala. They are similar to the PIO in that they are a sighthound and a native dog. Unlike the PIO the Khala dogs are found in most villages and rural areas rather than in kennels and with breeders. There are actually two recognized sizes of Khala dogs ranging from the Medio to the Grande. Both can weigh up to 30 pounds but the Grande is taller through the shoulders.
They are considered a primitive breed of dog and tend to have several fairly significant dental health problems including very early loss of the few adult teeth this breed will develop. They tend to be wonderful, gentle dogs that are not aggressive and are typically very good with children. While the Khala is not an endangered breed in its native region it is rarely found outside of Bolivia, Peru and Argentina.
American Hairless Terrier
The American Hairless Terrier is a newer hairless breed, developed from the Rat Terrier dog in 1972. Just by some genetic accident, a hairless female was born in a normal litter, which formed the first of the breed. Continued selective breeding produced a male and female hairless, which were then bred to coated American Rat Terriers and other hairless puppies produced. Working with researchers and geneticists, selective breeding was continued. The AHT is the only hairless breed that two hairless dogs will produce hairless puppies. In all other hairless breeds a coated dog must be crossed with a hairless, two hairless cannot be crossed together as the genetic combination can be lethal.
The American Hairless Terriers are medium in sized dog maturity at less than 16 pounds, but they are active, playful and great with children and families. Colors can range from black, gray, pink, golden or reddish in color, typically with spots.
Like all terriers, the American Hairless tends to be rather territorial and needs to be well socialized early. Since they have no natural protection for the skin, any injury obtained in fights with other dogs is going to be significant. They are also natural ratters and need to be carefully monitored to avoid them engaging in this activity and possibly becoming scratched or bitten, leading to infections and problems.
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