Hairless… Horses?

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I’m sure most of you have heard of the Sphynx cats:

and Chinese Crested dogs:

But horses?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a hairless horse.  And this little filly isn’t the only one!  There have been sporadic reported cases over the years.  Records of this phenomena appear to go as far back as 1871, then there was Blue Bell in 1872 and finally Harry made it into the papers in 2003 (the Q&A with Harry’s owner that we linked to, by the way, is amazing – we love to read about people who love their horses as much as this woman did Harry).  We tried to find more information from other sources on the so called “world wide web” however, google let us down this time.  The only sites we found that appeared even remotely credible were (where we found Harry!) which had a page with an email from an Akhal-Teke breeder – which eventually got us here.  Apparently the above filly is actually an Akhal-Teke.  This breed is known to suffer from something called Hairless Foal Syndrome – it ain’t pretty (and we don’t just mean that aesthetically, it’s a lethal and painful disease)

It’s interesting to note that the Akhal-Teke breeder and Harry’s owner both talked about inbreeding.  Is hairlessness really the result of a recessive gene as suggested here, or perhaps a faulty gene (see 3rd paragraph here for info on faulty genes) brought on by inbreeding?  The British royals stopped inbreeding a while ago.  If it’s good enough for the British, it’s good enough for the horses!  We’re just sayin’, 3 eyes happen y’all…

Here’s a pic of Harry – isn’t he adorable?

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  1. Posted by Jodi Cantwell, at Reply

    I have the paint or spotted version. A haired horse w/ hairless spots everywhere. Healthy, mostly roundish, random hairless areas that have warped and grown as she has aged (now 23). Has puzzled vets her entire life! Could be immune or genetic. I work very hard to protect her from sunburn and frostbite (luckily she is dark skinned :-) Godbless her, she is a very odd horse, but I’ve had her since I was a child and she is the light of my life!

    • Posted by snarkyrider, at Reply

      Awww well if she’s healthy and happy then I say let her stump the vets! :)

    • Posted by Monica Morais, at Reply

      Kudos to you for taking such good care of your girl! <3

  2. Posted by Monica Morais, at Reply

    AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! *runs around in circles like a crazy chicken*

    O.M.G.!!! I’ve seen my fair of fuglies (the fugly blog is one of my favorite places to hang, after all), but that is downright creepy! That poor, poor thing!

    • Posted by snarkyrider, at Reply

      It’s a little eerie, but Harry makes a good spokesman for the phenomena!

      • Posted by Monica Morais, at Reply

        True, Harry is a cutie and is lucky to have found such a caring owner.

  3. Posted by Ashley Mutek (@SilverFlame11), at Reply

    I’ve never heard of this before. I feel sorry for the poor babies. Interesting that it’s likely linked to inbreeding, and if that’s the case, I wonder if it’s going to become even more common in the future…especially among individuals who think that just because their fugly has bloodlines dating back to the Great Stallion it needs to be bred. This disease will be interesting to keep an eye on in the future, and I think it’s kind of a shame that there isn’t more research being conducted on it.

  4. Posted by ElynSCA, at Reply

    My husband, the non-horsey: “Poor baby! She must be cold!” I love that man. Seriously, though, it just makes me think WTF? All these weird genetic problems cropping up (Naked Foal, HYPP, HERDA, OLWS, SCID, etc…) are we doing our beloved horses more harm than good?

  5. Posted by Spots, at Reply

    I thought the same thing…too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer and how to keep flies from bitting them. Investing the time and commitment it would take to keep them healthy and comfortable would practically be a full time job. As in all things “different”, sometimes they are so ugly they are cute, in an odd sort of way. Kudos for the owner who invested the time in Harry and it looks like he has repaid her over and over with his personality. Glad he landed into her hands, instead of someone who would have killed him and swept his exsistance under the rug to be quickly forgottten. Feel sorry for the ones who die naturally after such a short little life. Hopefully, their spirits will be re-born in another, healthier body someday.