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Breed Spotlight: Hairless Dogs and Cats

Everyone loves a fluffy dog or cat, but did you know the hairless breeds are also adored? Despite their biggest fans, they’re still much less well-known than their furry counterparts.

Learn about the coolest hairless dogs and cats out there, and give them some love!

1. Mexican Hairless

The Mexican hairless dog, officially known as the Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced: show-low-eats-queen-tlee) or the Xolo, is one of the rarest breeds in the world. It’s also one of the oldest. The name Xoloitzcuintli is ancient! It’s a combination of Xolotl, an Aztec Indian god, and itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog.

Native to Mexico and Central America, Xolos are considered to have been one of the first dogs to live on the North American continent.

Xolos are most often hairless, although they can occasionally be born with a very short coat. Many are blue-gray, but they can come in a variety of colors, including:

  • Slate
  • Black
  • Spotted
  • Brindle

Due to their lack of hair, the dog developed warm skin. Thanks to their warm bodies, they made excellent cuddle companions for those with arthritis. They were also believed to ward off other ailments and evil spirits.

What’s the Mexican Hairless Like?

Today, Xolos are known for being extremely loyal dogs, devoted to their families. A common name for them is “Velcro dog” because they won’t leave your side! They are also intelligent and athletic, making them trainable and excellent guard dogs. Xolos love exercise and long walks, though they will remain calm in the house.

It’s usually recommended that Xolos be supervised if you have other dogs or children, but they’re excellent companions if you’re allergic to dogs as they’re hypoallergenic!

COOL FACT ABOUT XOLOS! Mexican hairless dogs are commonly seen at the “World’s Ugliest Dog” competition!

2. Chinese Crested

hairless dogs and cats

The Chinese crested’s origins are first in Africa and later in China. Bred to be small, they were soon all over the world, becoming popular in the United States by the 1900s. They did not become an AKC breed until 1991 and are usually companion pets today.

Although they are considered hairless, they often have fur on their heads, paws, and tails. There is also a variation of the Chinese crested known as a powderpuff, which is entirely covered in silky fur. This variation is rare, since the hairless crested is often preferred. A toy breed, the Chinese crested weighs about 10 pounds and comes in 11 different colors.

What’s the Chinese Crested Like?

Like a Xolo, your crested will become extremely close to you once it overcomes its shyness. Affectionate, playful, and goofy, cresteds are also considered “cat-like” because they love high places. They’re great with children, so long as the kids are taught to be gentle.

If you’re considering adopting a Chinese Crested, keep in mind that the hairless variety will need regular treatment for its skin to avoid sunburn and other injuries. The powderpuff version requires regular brushing. 

COOL FACT ABOUT CHINESE CRESTEDS! As the ancestors of the Chinese crested left Africa, they were often used to hunt rats on ships!

3. American Hairless Terrier

The American hairless terrier (AHT) is a relatively new breed of dog, especially when compared to the Chinese crested and Xolo. In the 1970s, a hairless dog was born to a purebred rat terrier in the United States. Named Josephine, the owners wished to have more like her, and the American hairless terrier came to be after an extensive breeding program. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 2016.

The AHT can come in 19 different colors, with 7 variations in markings. There is also a coated version of the American hairless (known as the coated carrier). A smaller dog, they weigh up to about 16 pounds.

What’s the AHT Like?

Since it originated from the rat terrier, the urge to hunt and rat still exists for the AHT. But because they don’t have a coat, they can’t take part in those activities. They still have an energetic streak, though, so they love to play and explore. They’re intelligent and territorial, making great watch dogs for the family.

As with the Xolo, American hairless terriers are hypoallergenic, making one a great choice if you suffer from allergies. They also get along wonderfully with other pets.

COOL FACT ABOUT AHTS! They are the often considered the first hairless breed to start in the United States. 

4. Sphynx

The sphynx cat is a relatively new breed of hairless cat. The original one was born in 1966 in Toronto, Canada to a domestic cat. Recognized as unusual, cat breeders began a program to create a healthy version of the hairless cat through selective breeding with various furred cats, like the devon rex. The results are a beautiful sphynx with fewer genetic problems.

A truly unusual cat, a sphynx is born with plenty of wrinkles that start to disappear as it grows older. Its body can be either smooth and hairless or with a very fine down, like a peach! Sphynxes come in a variety of colors, from white to chocolate to calico. If they have any fur, it will often be the same color as their skin. 

hairless dogs and cats

What’s the Sphynx Like?

If you love an attentive cat, you’ve found it in the sphynx. Affectionate and cuddly, it will not leave your side. Sphynxes are also clever, fearless, and friendly, even to strangers. There’s no doubt they make excellent companions.

If you’re looking for a cat that will truly capture your interest and heart and even keep you laughing, the sphynx is an excellent choice. They even do extremely well with other pets and children. It’s highly recommended that you adopt two if you work away from home, as they do love companionship at all times.

COOL FACT ABOUT SPHYNXES! Several variations and experimental breeds have come from the sphynx, including the bambino and the Ukrainian levkoy.

5. The Donskoy

Although the donskoy is often mistaken for the sphynx, it’s its own breed! Also known as the Russian hairless, don sphynx, or don hairless, this kitty got its start in 1987 when a bald cat had kittens, just as bald as their mother. A breeding program began soon after, and the donskoy went on to become recognized by the World Cat Federation in 1997 and The International Cat Association by 2005.

This hairless cat comes in four different types:

  • Rubber bald
  • Velour coat
  • Brush coat
  • Flock coat

The rubber bald is completely bald from birth, while velour, brush, and flock coats have a variety of fur and textures. Flock coat, for example, appears to be bald, but does have soft fur. Donskoys also come in a variety of colors, from blue to lilac to auburn.

What’s the Donskoy Like?

The donskoy is very similar to the sphynx in behavior:

  • Loyal
  • Friendly
  • Active

If you’ve always wanted a dog, but love cats, you may find your soulmate in this hairless breed. Extremely intelligent, they’re trainable and have some of the best qualities of both cats and dogs.

A wonderful lap cat, this is a kitty that won’t leave your side. It also gets along with everyone in the family—from kids to adults—and has excellent social skills with all other pets in the home.

COOL FACT ABOUT DONSKOYS! The donskoy’s paws are quite unusual: Their webbed toes and thumbs allow them to pick up items!

Hairless dogs and cats may look unusual, but there’s no doubt they make excellent additions to homes, especially with owners who have allergies! If you’re interested in adopting one of these dogs or cats, check out your local shelter first. Many purebreds in shelters have their documentation! If you’re considering breeders, always ensure they have the proper paperwork and the animals are well taken care of.

If you take home a Mexican hairless, a Chinese crested, an American hairless terrier, a spyhnx, or another pet, congratulations! Make sure they see a vet for their first appointment! Call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387 to schedule your fur(less) baby’s checkup!

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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