Caring for a Hairless Dog




This is Momo.  He is my dog.  He is a Hairless American Terrier and is sometimes called a Hairless Rat Terrier.  He has also been called a "naked dog" and a "rubber dog".  He does not know he does not have fur.

Step 1: Origin

Momo is hairless because he has two recessive genes.  These genes are common in rat terriers.  The first American Hairless Terrier had a mama and a daddy rat terrier with fur.  This was back when KISS was still cool and people thought they were the devil.  Momo is not the devil.

No really, he isn't.

Step 2: Hairlessness

Momo is a member of the most hairless breed of dog.  He has tiny microscopic hairs and whiskers.  He had fur when he was little, but it fell out after a few weeks.

Step 3: Size

Momo is small.  He is only 12 lbs.

Step 4: Clothes

Momo is a good model.  He likes his clothes because they keep him warm.  I do not have to feel bad about buying him cute clothes because he needs clothes anyway.  It is hard to find him clothes that fit because he is skinny and is a boy dog.  A lot of clothes are made for girl dogs.

Step 5: Sunscreen

Momo has white and grey skin.  If he is in the sun too long, his white skin can burn.  He needs sunscreen and t-shirts to help protect his skin.

Step 6: Baths

Momo is a good boy in the bath tub because he was bathed since he was little.  He does not need baths so much, but he can have them regularly.

Step 7: Nails

Momo grows long claws.  They must be clipped regularly.

Step 8: Vet

Momo does not like the vet.  He has luxating patillas which is common for a dog with such thin legs.  He has also had mange but is recovered.  The breed is not known for mange.  Besides that, he is a good healthy boy.

Step 9: Food

Momo is always starving.  He would eat a moose if he could.  He eats good dog food with some vegetable oil because he uses so many calories in a day to keep his temperature normal.  He also gets greenies and chews.

Step 10: Children

Momo likes children and not just for breakfast.  Just kidding.  He is very gentle with them.  When he was growing up, he was around children a lot.

Step 11: Prey Drive

Momo is a terrier and has a high prey drive.  He would like to hunt and kill all day long.  He has lots of plush toys that he likes to destroy.

Step 12: Other Dogs

Momo does good around other dogs unless they are on a leash or behind a fence.  Then he does not do that good.  Many dogs do not like Momo because he is different.

Step 13: Water

Momo is not good in the water.  He is skinny and has small paws.  One time he jumped in a swimming pond with other dogs and sank.  He must not have realized it was so deep.  He was able to swim to shore and barf a gallon of water.  He does not like deep water anymore, and he has a life vest for going to the river.

Step 14: Exercise

Momo is small and loves toys, laser pointers, and terrorizing the cats.  He can get all of his exercise inside.  He should not go on very long walks or jogs.

Step 15: Cameras

Momo does not like his picture taken.

Step 16: Summary

The American Hairless Terrier has the same personality traits as a rat terrier and terriers in general.  They must receive some special care due to them being hairless, but generally they're healthy.  Their claws do grow abnormally fast, and they do get gunk in their ears and eyes.  However, they're a breeze to bathe, and that more than makes up for the minimal grooming they require.  Obviously they don't need to be trimmed or shaved.  Originally I was told that he needed weekly baths, but I haven't found that to be the case.  He's generally very clean and really doesn't need all that much cleaning.

The most common questions I get asked are:

Did you shave him?
Does he have a disease?
How do you pet him?

I do not shave him.  He does not have a disease and does not look diseased besides a lack of fur - his skin is very clean and pretty, and dogs with a skin disease will have sores/rashes.  You pet him like you were giving someone a light back rub or like you were petting a dog with fur.

This Instructable is largely inspired by the questions I do get asked and by the misinformation that's currently out there.  I was once asked by a rescue organization worker, "What's wrong with your dog?" as he was trying to intercept my approach to the puppy pen where I could get my puppy cuteness fix.  I had to tell him that there's nothing wrong with my dog - he just doesn't have any fur but is otherwise healthy, social, and happy.



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    52 Discussions

    Slippery arm

    2 years ago

    It's this a children's book


    3 years ago

    I must say, I knew of hairless cats but I have never even heard of a hairless dog before. Momo is adorable! thank you for teaching me something new :) I'm glad he has someone to look after him properly as I can imagine some people not being so caring.


    Hi! I also have an American Hairless Terrier. His name is Shittles, he's about 9 and I adopted him in January. He was an owner surrender...I don't know how someone does that after 9 years...I can't imagine giving him up after 3 months! Anyway, we are working on socialization, he loves to fetch, loves to snuggle, he's very smart and learns quickly. Mine definitely needs the weekly bath because he sweats like a man at the gym. That's partly due to living in AZ but he also just loves to be warm. He'd rather be curled up in a blanket, sweating, than anywhere else. As soon as the AC turns on he shivers so thank goodness he loves his t-shirts. Mine is also a bit larger than yours at 18lbs. He's my handsome little naked man and he's awesome!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome. I have a rat terrier/chinese crested mix. We have had her for 10 years now. Here in MN, Daisy is a completely indoor dog in the Winter. She loves to find the sun shining through the window and lay there soaking it in. We use sunscreen on her but she still gets a tan each Summer. Thanks for educating with your instructable.


    3 years ago

    love the devotion u give to Ur dog


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Hi: I have a regular haired dog, but her hair gets everywhere! Can you tell me how I can make her hairless? :)


    3 years ago

    He is so cute! You seem like a great parent!!!

    Your dog is adorable! And thank you for sharing this instructable, it will help my friend out a lot!

    Clearly Momo is very lucky to have such a great owner who takes such good care of him! What a fabulous instructable and adorable dog! Good boy, Momo!

    1 reply
    Phoenix Flare

    4 years ago

    Cute! I have always wanted a hairless creature!


    4 years ago

    I love your dog! People think hairless dogs r cute but why not my cat? Everyone thinks he's ugly because he has floppy ears


    5 years ago

    Your instructable was great! I have an American Hairless Terrier as we'll and he looks a lot like Momo! He is now 8 and I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about his breed. It's a relief to hear their nails are longer than normal. I'm constantly cutting! Your post had my whole family giggling! Thanks again;)

    1 reply

    Aw, thank you! Da Momo is 8 y/o now as well. I think I've cut approximately 500 linear feet of toenail off of him, and his reign of terror against plushie toys continues!