Naturally hairless cats and dogs are a rare and, to some, unsettling sight. Wrinkled and bald they look like extraterrestrials set adrift on an alien and inhospitable planet. These unusual animals are so vulnerable to extremes of temperature and excess sunshine that hairless cats are almost always kept indoors and hairless dogs are usually only let out under carefully monitored conditions.
There are a number of recognized varieties of both hairless dogs and cats, and while most of the dog breeds have long and well established histories, the hairless cats are relatively new breeds developed through selective breeding during the past century. For many people their only exposure to the world of hairless cats and dogs is through watching Mr Bigglesworth, Dr Evil’s Sphynx in Austin Powers and Fluffy, the Crested Chinese dog in 102 Dalmatians.
The recognized breeds of hairless cats include:-
Sphynx (Canadian Hairless Cat) first bred in 1978
Don Sphynx (Donskoy) first bred in 1987
Peterbalt first bred in 1994
Hairless cats are said to be unusually social with humans, demonstrating little of the aloof independent nature commonly associated with domestic cats. They usually have soft warm skin coated in downy “peach fuzz” which generally has many wrinkles. Hairless cats are expensive and those who choose them tend to take care of them. However hairless cats may still end up in the care of the animal welfare community due to the fact that two well known ‘facts’ about hairless cats are actually unfounded myths.
Myth #1 – Hairless cats are hypo allergenic – while they are less likely to induce allergic reactions due to the lack of hair and dander, their skin produces large amounts of oil that may also trigger strong reactions in allergy sufferers;
Myth #2 – Hairless cats are easy to care for – although these cats do not require brushing and combing, they do require weekly bathing to remove the oil and dust that builds up on their skin. Their ears need regular cleaning as they have no hair to stop dust and dirt from entering their ears. They have a comparatively high metabolism and require a lot of high quality food to enable them to keep their core temperature up.
The recognized breeds of hairless dogs include:-
Mexican Hairless Dogs (Xoloitzcuintle, Xolos), evidence suggests that their history stretches back thousands of years
Peruvian Hairless Dogs, similarly they are believed to have originated prior to the Incas
Chinese Crested Dogs –they are thought to have arrived in China on trade ships from the African coast, in which they were used to kill rats
American Hairless Terrier – the only “new” hairless breed of dog, first bred in 1972
Hairless dogs may find their way into the safety of the animal welfare community due to a mixture of both health issues and character traits that may not have been properly considered by new dog owners.
1) Both the Mexican and the Peruvian Hairless Dogs demonstrate strong personalities that require training from a young age if their negative traits are not to become a problem. While both breeds are good family dogs they can be overly protective of the family. In addition the hunting instinct is quite strong and may result in the dogs running away from home to chase other small animals;
2) While hairless dogs do not require such frequent bathing as hairless cats, it is recommended that they be washed twice a month to avoid skin irritation. They also need to have moisturizer applied to their skin to keep it from drying out and sunscreen to avoid sunburn;
3) Many hairless dogs have problems with their teeth which can be crooked, crowded, prone to decay or in many cases they will not have a full set of teeth, which can lead to problems eating;
4) Hairless dogs do appear to be less likely to cause allergic reactions in allergy sufferers than hairless cats.
Should one of these cats or dogs end up at your organization we hope that you will find the special someone who will take care of their unique needs and make them part of their Forever Family.