Hairless pets are popular as novelties and for people with allergies to hair. However they have special needs that should be carefully considered before acquiring a hairless animal.
Generally speaking animals that naturally have fur cope better with their environment when they have it. Without fur they may have difficulties maintaining their body temperature and be more prone to cuts, abrasions and uncomfortable skin conditions.
Nevertheless, whether they are a single spontaneous mutant, or hairless breed, some people seem to find bald animals irresistibly endearing.
"The Book of the Cat" by Frances Simpson includes a listing for the Mexican Hairless cat. This is probably the earliest recognized hairless breed but is probably now extinct.
The main modern hairless cats are referred to as Sphynx cats (also know as the Canadian Hairless). They are not a pedigree breed per se as outcrossing is allowed so long as the very sparse fine coat is retained. Sphynx cats are bought mainly as a curiosity or fashion statement, and in some cases owners have even had their hairless cats adorned with tattoos.
There is also a Russian hairless breed called the Donskoy dating from 1987. This line was breed with oriental cats breed to develop another type called the Peterbald.
Each of these three hairless breeds was developed from a separate spontanous mutation in local cats, and then breed and selected for.
Recently there has been a proliferation of designer hairless cats breeds such as the elf cat (sphynx x American curl), Levkoy cat (spynx x fold) and bambino (sphynx x munchin).
Hairless dog breeds include:
- The American Hairless Terrier: developed from rat terriers in the 1970s.
- Chinese Crested (which comes in haired and hairless forms)
- Hairless Khala: Khala translates as "with no clothing" and this general tyoe exists in variation in cluding the terrier-like Khala Medio and the longer legged Khala Grande.
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- and Xoloitzcuintle.
Hairless horses are very rare and often die before reaching maturity. Historical examples include Blue Bell and Wild Nell.
A poem was written about the famous hairless horse Caoutchouk: "Thy miserable stump y'clept a tail, As stiff, unyielding as a thresher's flail."
Hairlessness is known to occur in some breeds such as the Ahkal-Teke.
Nude lines were developed from a spontaneous mutant discovered in 1962. These mice are used in research because they readily development of cancers, and so are useful for cancer research. The 'nude mouse' is interesting not only because it lacks hair, but also because it does not have a thymus. This means it does not produce T-cells and so has an impaired immune system. The nude mouse is an albino, as can be seen by its red eye color.
Hairless rats were developed from curly-hair 'rex' rats. Hairlesness is a recessive trait and so must be carried by both parents. Hence hairless rats are sometimes referred to as 'double-rex'.
The hairless guinea pig is relatively rare on the pet trade. This line was developed for laboratory use. However there are two general varieties of hairless guinea pig that can be purchased as a pet.
One is sparsely haired and sometimes called the 'skinny' pig. It was developed in the 1970s and used in skin research.
The other is fully hairless, sometimes called the Baldwin guinea pig and which was developed from the white crested cavy. Baldwin guinea pigs are born with hair but shed it until the become completely hairless.
Other Domesticated Animals
Genetic hairlessness also occurs in hamsters and rabbits.
Several foxes have been sighted that seem to be genetically hairless. These foxes have been sighted in several locations and seem to lack hair follicles rather than having lost their hair due to a condition such as mange.One particular hairless fox in Steamboat Springs became somewhat famous as a golf-ball thief.
A hairless squirrel was cared for at St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in the United Kingdom in 2008. The male squirrel was named "Smoothie". The cause of his condition was unknown. Hair loss in squirrels typically has the rather mundane cause of mite infestation.
Coyotes often suffer from mange which will cause hair loss. This can cause them to be mistaken for mythical chupacabras.
In humans, complete absence or loss of hair is referred to as Alopecia universalis. It is an automimmune disorder when the the body attacks the hair follicles.
This condition also occurs in other primates such as the chimpanzee.
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