Dogs can come in all shapes and sizes with many coat colors. Some have long hair while others have short hair. But did you know there are only a handful of hairless dog breeds from all over the world? Each is unique in its own right.
In fact, there are just ten hairless dog breeds in this world. And while some are completely hairless, others do have areas with at least some hair (for our criteria, they’ll need to be mostly hairless). In addition, some popular breeds, such as the Chihuahua, have a hairless variation.
Let’s explore all the wonderful dogs with no hair and discover why their hairless coats aren’t the only thing unique and special about them. We’ll also discuss the extra care and attention needed to properly keep a hairless dog breed healthy.
All Hairless Dogs
The most famous hairless dogs are the Xoloitzcuintli, Chinese Crested, Hairless Chihuahua, Peruvian Inca Orchid, and the American Hairless Terrier.
However, other hairless dog breeds include the Ecuadorian Hairless, Argentine Pila, Abyssinian Sand Terrier, Hairless Khala, and the Jonangi. Read on to learn more.
1. American Hairless Terrier
Highlights: Lively, Alert, Friendly
The American Hairless Terrier is one of the few hairless dog breeds that has been recognized by the American Kennel Club. Developed in Louisiana in the 1970’s, the American Hairless Terrier was made for allergy-sensitive owners.
These dogs are Rat Terriers but hairless. As a matter of fact, they’re a natural variation of the Rat Terrier without purpose-breeding needed. Though, breeding for these dogs didn’t happen until a hairless Rat Terrier was born into a litter in Louisiana.
They may seem small, but they actually grow up to 16 inches. Oftentimes, they will even have eyebrows and whiskers with ears that are always V-shaped and erect. Extra care is needed with these dogs, as they’re prone to sunburns but don’t do well in the cold.
American Hairless Temperament
As for temperaments, the American Hairless is very similar to the Rat Terrier (of course). The American Hairless is highly intelligent, curious by nature, and very playful. They’re as lively and energetic as expected from any other terrier breed.
On the downside, the American Hairless are known to be a stubborn little dog. And when it comes to obedience training, they need a lot of patience and consistency. This dog breed won’t do your bidding for the sake of doing it. They need some motivation.
And while they play well with children, they can be a little protective of them (and the rest of the family pack too). That being said, the American Hairless is a great watchdog for all types of people, especially those suffering from allergies.
Highlights: Loyal, Docile, Vigilant
The Xoloitzcuintli, famously known as the Mexican Hairless Dog, is a hairless dog that’s also recognized by the AKC. In fact, they’re part of the non-sporting dog group. They’re Mexican dog breeds, dating back to over 3,500 years ago.
These hairless dogs were the companions and watchdogs of the ancient Aztecs. And much like other hairless breeds, the Xoloitzcuintli also comes in a coated variation. But the hairless dog is much more popular and iconic.
Coated dogs, though, have a short and sleek coat. In addition, there are three size varieties for the Mexican Hairless Dog. These dogs can come in toy, miniature, and standard sizes! Even with the options, the Xolo can adapt to any household.
These ancient Xolo dogs have very “primitive instincts.” For example, their hunting and social instincts are not as many dogs. And because these dogs weren’t “bred” for a certain task, little modification was made to these dogs.
With that said, the Xoloitzcuintli is a very intelligent dog breed, though they weren’t tested in Coren’s smartest dog breeds list. On the other hand, they can be sensitive at times, but they’re typically lively and energetic dogs.
With strong hunting instincts, they’ll need plenty of socialization to get along with other dogs and small pets. They can become excellent companions to children, though some extra training may be necessary. The earlier, the better with the Xolo.
3. Peruvian Inca Orchid
Highlights: Dignified, Loving, Devoted
The Peruvian Inca Orchid is an FCI-recognized dog breed originating from Peru. Similar to the Xoloitzcuintli, the Peruvian Inca Orchid comes in three size variations and a coated version as well. But despite being labeled “hairless,” they’re not completely without hair.
As a matter of fact, they’re famous for their mo-hawk style hair. Plus, they have hair on their tails too. It’s worth noting that the skin of the Peruvian Inca Orchid can be very sensitive and delicate. Proper care is needed to keep them healthy.
In addition, the skin is often a solid color with spots, though it depends on the dog. Still, they’re very good sighthounds, similar to the Greyhound. This means they’re hunting dogs that help their owners spot game or track them down.
Peruvian Inca Orchid Temperament
The Peruvian Incas are great family dogs because they serve as both companions and watchdogs. Owners tend to describe them as loving and affectionate with family, though it takes a while for them to warm up to strangers.
Like most sighthounds, the Peruvian Incas are lively and energetic. Additionally, they’re agile and athletic too! This means they’ll need moderate exercise to keep them from bad behaviors. We recommend around 30 minutes per day.
Peruvian Incas are fairly obedient and intelligent dogs. Although these sight hounds get along with other dogs, it’s not a good idea to put them in a room with cats. The hunting instinct of these dogs is strong and will require heavy socialization.
4. Chinese Crested
Highlights: Loving, Alert, Energetic
To be fair, the Chinese Crested has more hair than all the other “hairless” dogs on this list. Their heads are usually full of hair, maybe even more than some dogs. In addition, they’ll also have hair on their feet, though the body is hairless.
The fur variation of the Crestie is called the “powderpuff” and is a recessive gene. This means you will likely find both in the same litter. But because hairless Chinese Cresteds tend to have sensitive skin, they are prone to the same skin issues we experience.
For example: not only can they get sunburns, but also rashes and even blackheads or acne. Aside from the coat, there is very little difference between the two variations. They have pretty much the same temperament and personality.
Chinese Crested Temperament
These dogs are fun little companions – no doubt. They were bred to be excellent lap dogs, and that’s what they love doing best. Though the Chinese Crested has a playful side, they’re quite affectionate and loving when it comes to family.
They’ll stand by your side no matter what! Chinese Crested dogs are famously known for being very attentive dogs as well. Thanks to their high adaptive IQ, they’re outstanding at reading emotions and people. It’s why so many owners love them.
However, these dogs are likely to suffer from separation anxiety. They were bred to keep you company, but they require human companionship too. If you’re a busy person with little time, a Crestie may not be a good fit.
5. Ecuadorian Hairless Dog
Highlights: Elegant, Loving, Lively
As the name says, the Ecuadorian Hairless is a hairless dog originating from the Santa Elena Peninsula in Ecuador. Even today, the Ecuadorian is considered to be one of the rarest and most unique among all hairless dog breeds.
They can grow up to 18 inches tall with very little hair. In fact, a small amount of fur can often be found on the top of the head, and that’s it. But what makes this hairless dog even more unique is that they have no premolar teeth.
For reference, most dogs have around 16 of these teeth. Also, the Ecuadorian Hairless is a descendant of the Peruvian Hairless dog. It makes sense since the two countries are next to one another and share similar qualities.
Ecuadorian Hairless Temperament
Unfortunately, these dogs are so rare that there is very little information on the temperament or personality of the Ecuadorian Hairless. However, we do know that these dogs tend to present themselves in an elegant manner.
That is, they run around with grace, much like a Poodle would. Ecuadorians are also lively and energetic dogs, requiring a decent amount of exercise on a daily basis. But we would bet they’d love to lounge around with the family.
Much like the Peruvian, this hairless breed was originally used as hunting dogs. So expect to see the same prey drive and instincts. This means they aren’t suited for small children unless you plan to socialize them early on frequently.
6. Argentine Pila Dog
Highlights: Playful, Affectionate, Cheerful
The Argentine Pila dog is a hairless breed that’s like the Hairless Khala in both looks and personality. However, they’re great companion dogs that come in three sizes. These dogs can be as small as 10 inches but as large as 18 inches.
The build of their frame resembles a Miniature Pinscher, with a shorter back and an elevated curly tail. Because of their unique body structure, they’re very agile dogs that can run, jump and climb trees with little effort.
Like many other hairless dogs, there are coated versions of the Pila dog. They’ll have a fur coat similar to that of a Chinese Crested Powderpuff. Though, they were seen as “impure” dogs and thus, were not purposely bred for.
Argentine Pila Dog Temperament
The Argentine Pila is a playful and energetic dog that loves to run and play hard. On the field, they can be sneaky athletic, and they know it too. So, expect them to be all over the place. Even so, these dogs are easy to raise.
Not only are they great apartment dogs, but there is little care and grooming needed for their skin and fuzz. Plus, they’re quite adaptable as long as they’re not dealing with a colder climate. The eagerness of the Pila makes them highly obedient too.
Argentine Pila dogs can make fantastic watchdogs. With a guard dog mindset, they’re curious and cautious around strangers. They will bark, but they’re non-aggressive dogs. And if you have kids, they’re superb companions and playmates for them.
7. Hairless Chihuahua
Highlights: Alert, Affectionate, Sassy
Hairless or not, the Chihuahua is one of the most popular toy dog breeds in America. Most will sport a short single (sometimes double) coat, but did you know there’s a hairless version too? They’re much rarer, but they do exist.
There’s often a lot of confusion between the hairless Chihuahua and a Xoloitzcuintli. People will often call either dogs the Mexican Hairless dog. But despite popular belief, the Xoloitzcuintli is the true Mexican Hairless dog.
People don’t breed Chihuahuas to be hairless; rather, it’s a genetic defect that occurs far less than with other hairless dogs. So if you get the opportunity to keep or even meet a Hairless Chi, then you’re quite the lucky person!
Hairless Chihuahua Temperament
Temperament and personality between a hairless and coated Chihuahua are the same. The only difference is in dog care, as the hairless may be more susceptible to skin conditions and will require more attention.
Although one of the smallest breeds, Chihuahuas have a big personality. They’re bold, spirited, and sassy. Many owners describe them as dogs with “terrier-like” demeanors. Chihuahuas can be very protective of the family and have strong territorial instincts.
If you’ve ever been barked at by a Chihuahua then you know exactly what we mean. They can get along with older kids as long as there’s no rough play. Also, they’ve been unfairly labeled as “dumb dogs.” In reality, they’re just stubborn but very smart.
8. Abyssinian Sand Terrier
Highlights: Fearless, Obedient, Affectionate
This ancient and rare hairless terrier originates from Africa and is not well known on the international level. While some are completely hairless, few have clumps of fine hair on the top of the head and tip of the tail.
The physical trait that makes the Abyssinian unique are the ears that resemble that of a bat. They tend to come in a dark gray with patches of pink throughout the body. They’re slim dogs but can be as lively as dogs come.
The origins of these hairless breeds are unclear. In the past, these dogs were revered because they were thought to have healing powers. Plus, historians believe they were used to develop many hairless dog breeds on this list, including the Chinese Crested.
Abyssinian Sand Terrier Temperament
For the most part, Abyssinians are quiet terriers – which isn’t a very terrier-like quality. In fact, owners claim these dogs are born without knowing how to bark. They have to be taught to do so, according to experienced owners.
And like the Chihuahua, the Abyssinian Sand Terriers are fearless and courageous. Being small won’t stop them from defending their family and house. As such, they can make great watchdogs, though they’re too small to be guard dogs.
Part of the reason why they’re so keen on protecting family is being of their unwavering loyalty and affection. They love familiar people and get along great with them. Typically, they do well with kids and other dogs of the same “pack.”
9. Bolivian Hairless Dog
Highlights: Alert, Loyal, Protective
The Bolivian Hairless, also called the Hairless Khala, is a rare hairless dog breed from Bolivia. There are two variations. The Khala Medio is a small stubby dog, while the Khala Grande is the larger sighthound-type Khala.
Bolivian Hairless dogs are primitive dogs. In other words, they weren’t purpose-bred for a job or role in society. Instead, these dogs are believed to have naturally transitioned into hunting and companion dogs.
Today, it’s quite difficult to find these dogs, even on the South American continent. However, few can be found in Mexico and Central America. They have not been recognized by any major kennel clubs, thus they’re almost non-existent in North America.
Hairless Khala Temperament
The Hairless Khala has many typical characteristics and qualities of a primitive dog, which they are. Though they can grow to love the family in time, they’re generally standoffish and alert around strangers. They’ll need time to warm up.
That being said, these dogs need a lot of socialization at an early age. Only then will these dogs learn to differentiate “good and bad” people. These dogs need positive praises with a firm yet gentle, and consistent hand.
By establishing leadership, you’ll have no problems training this breed. They can appear shy at first, but that’s because they try to avoid confrontation. So while they can make good watchdogs, they’re probably not great guard dogs.
10. Jonangi Dog
Highlights: Spunky, Alert, Devoted
The Jonangi is the only Indian hairless dog breed still in existence. Originating from the Andhra Pradesh State of India, the Jonangi is a skilled multi-purpose dog. Not only are they first-class hunting dogs, but they’re excellent at herding ducks.
Unfortunately, duck farming has drastically declined in India during the past decades, leaving many of these dogs “jobless” and abandoned. As a result, many of them became stray dogs and eventually learned to survive without humans.
After living on their own for years, they had to develop new skills, such as an effective fishing tactic. Because they’re now fish-hunting dogs, local farmers weren’t happy and eventually put them on the brink of extinction.
Jonangi dogs are one-person dogs, though they can still thrive in a big family setting. They’re famously known to develop a strong attachment to one person in a family. With this breed, you will need to provide a lot of socialization early on.
Interestingly enough, Jonangi dogs have the quirky habit of digging large holes. It’s just their way of expending all their energy. When they’re just relaxing or lounging around, expect them to be hanging out in a large ditch that they proudly dug.
A working Jonangi will be very active and energetic. After all, they were bred to swim in water for long periods tirelessly. They’re known for being agile and lightning-fast–on both water and land. And with huge long strides, they’ll outrun most animals.
Extinct Hairless Dogs
Hairless dogs, as you may have guessed, are not nearly as popular as their coated furry counterparts. And when demand for these unique dogs is low, so are suppliers (breeders).
Because of this, many hairless dog breeds have gone extinct. Aside from the Chinese Crested and Hairless Chihuahua, there aren’t any hairless breeds considered anywhere close to being popular today.
The list of extinct hairless dogs is long. These extinct dogs include the African Elephant dog, African Sand dog, Ceylon Hairless dog, and Egyptian Hairless dog (the cousin of an African Sand dog).
In addition, the Guatemalan Hairless dog, Indian Hairless dog (sighthound), Mayan hairless dog, Nubian dog, Small African Greyhound, Thai Hairless Boran dog, and Turkish Hairless dog are all extinct too.
Taking Care of a Hairless Dog
Taking care of a hairless dog breed isn’t the same as with a fully coated dog. They require more attention and care. Plus, there are different things to do and to look out for. As the owner, the health and happiness of your dog is in your hands only.
So if you’re planning to bring home a hairless dog, here’s everything you need to know to give your dog the proper care and necessities they’ll need.
Things to Consider
The first thing that comes to most owners’ minds is the lack of protection for the skin. Unless you plan to dress up your dog every day, there are things you’ll need to be aware of.
Hairless dog breeds are susceptible to all types of skin conditions due to their obvious lack of protection. For instance, they can develop rashes, become sunburnt, and even develop acne in rarer cases.
With little to no fur, there is little insulation on their skin. Hairless breeds need to be protected from extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot. They’ll freeze in cold, snowy climates but can’t stay under the harsh sun for long.
Hairless dogs are unique, but they come with a price (figuratively and literally). Most of the extra care and attention is related to grooming.
Grooming Hairless Dogs
There’s a common misconception regarding hairless dog breeds. If you think hairless dogs will not need grooming, you’re wrong. Though they may be hypoallergenic dogs, the grooming can sometimes be even more difficult.
Because there’s no fur coat, you’ll need extra precautions, especially if they spend a great deal of time outside. Believe it or not, a hairless dog will need to get some sunscreen for necessary protection from the sun.
However, if you already have children’s sunscreen at home, that’s also a good choice. Those will usually be non-toxic while remaining gentle on the skin.
And because a hairless dog is constantly exposed to the elements of the environment, you’ll need to keep up with regular bathing. Never use a human’s shampoo or condition on your dog, let alone a breed with sensitive skin.
The best choice may be an all-natural oatmeal-based shampoo. In fact, we recommend this with all dogs, regardless of the coat. This type of dog shampoo can be very mild and keep your dog’s pH in balance.