It is very rare that a German Shepherd is born completely without hair. But back in 2019, two amazing GSDs showed up at the local shelter in NC totally hairless. At first the employees at the shelter thought the hair loss was simply the result of abandonment or neglect. But the story evolved and it turned out they were quite the anomaly. This is the story of those two amazing dogs including an interview with Tyler Poe, the owner of Apollo, the hairless German Shepherd.
The Story Behind The Hairless German Shepherd Puppies:
Although extremely rare in German Shepherds, Alopecia can cause a GSD to be born without hair. Such was the case with Zander and Xavier, two adorable German Shepherds who were dropped off at a shelter back in early 2020.
Originally the North Carolina shelter thought the two puppies might have mange. But it turns out they suffered from Alopecia, a form of hair loss that can be genetic or evolve at any time during a dog’s life. It is an infection of the hair follicles that causes it not to grow.
While these two dogs suffered a complete loss of hair all over their bodies, normally Alopecia happens in bald patches in different areas of a dog’s body. However, they can also be a sign that something more prominent is going on with their health.
When Alopecia is caused genetically, there is no cure. But when it is caused by an underlying issue, certain treatments can help heal the hair loss. Certain medications are used such as antibiotics, anti-parasitics, and anti-fungals.
In the case of Zander and Xavier, no cure was available and they are bald and hairless to this day. They have since been adopted. Xavier now goes by Apollo and was ironically adopted by a man with Alopecia named Tyler.
Zander, now known as Mylo, was adopted by a couple named Aida and Tyler. The couple, who also own a German Shepherd named Tank, said it was love at first sight when they saw the pups in The Dodo’s YouTube video.
Interview With Hairless German Shepherd Owner Tyler Poe
Tyler Poe, the current owner of this amazing dog, was kind enough to do a ten question interview with us. He is an avid animal lover and dogs are no exception. He tells us the story of his first hairless German Shepherd and what life is like for the two of them.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your love for dogs.
I grew up in a small mountain town in North Carolina, from a young age my family always had multiple dogs in the household. We always had an affinity for having all sorts of pets in my home, from turtles, to rabbits, to dogs. So, I grew up with a love for all animals, but dogs were always my particular pet of choice.
I went to Appalachian State University, and due to my course load, I could never justify getting a dog of my own while I was in college. After college I moved to Charlotte and from there work only kept me busier. I finally made time in my schedule at the beginning of 2020 to really begin looking for a pet of my own.
2. Tell us about your hairless German Shepherd.
Apollo is a German Shepherd as they come. He is full of energy from the moment he opens his eyes in the morning until he plops down for bed at night. He LOVES tennis balls, going for runs, and especially his squirrel friends that inhabit his backyard.
Other than being hairless, he is no different than any other dog, believe it or not. He’s mischievous, but with the perfect amount of cuteness so you really can’t be mad at him if he occasionally nibbles the corner of a couch pillow.
3. Tell us about the first time you saw Apollo and the impression he made on you.
I had just been diagnosed with alopecia a few weeks before The Dodo released the first video of Apollo and his brother. When I saw the video, I couldn’t believe the timing.
I immediately knew that I had to at least apply for this puppy because our situations were so similar, and I knew I could provide the best life for him.
4. How old is he now and how is he doing?
He just turned 2 years old in October. He could not be thriving better than he is now! People told me that dogs normally slow down a bit when they hit the two-year mark, but I don’t think anyone told him!
5. What does a daily routine look like for him?
Apollo has learned the phrase “good morning”, so when I wake up, I always say good morning to him and he instantly springs out of bed and runs around the entire house, waiting for me to crawl myself out of bed.
From there, it’s straight outside for his morning potty and his favorite morning route: chasing the squirrels up the trees. After that is breakfast, once breakfast is over, we normally walk 3-4 miles, or run 3-3.5 miles before I head off to work.
If I don’t work, the morning looks very similar, but we will usually go to a greenway or nature preserve to walk some trails in the afternoon. Sometimes we change things up and will find an empty field to bust out the Chuck-It and throw tennis balls for a little while.
If I’m lucky, we will work a nap into the day, though he would probably rather chase tennis balls all day, he’ll settle for a mid-afternoon snuggle session on the couch on some occasions. I keep him very well exercised throughout the day so that he isn’t quite the normal maniac that he is when nightfall comes.
As the day winds down, he gets his dinner. Once dinner is over, it’s normally pretty close to bedtime. He is a stickler for being under the covers (little guy gets chilly being hairless), so he will stand next to me once I’m in bed and push me with his nose until I lift the blankets up for him.
6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning a hairless German Shepherd?
Number one advantage: no shedding, period. Other than having no fur to clean up, he really is like any other dog. Some disadvantages are that he gets cold very easily, and he also despises the rain if he doesn’t have any clothes on. With that being said, it can be very difficult to get him to go outside to potty if it’s raining.
7. Has your own experience with Alopecia helped you better take care of him?
I would say that my condition has made me feel a stronger bond with him than I would have ever thought a human and a dog could share. I would definitely say that having alopecia probably made me a little more cognizant of keeping him safe from the elements, whether that be cold temperatures or the blazing sun.
8. Do you have any cute or funny stories about Apollo you can share with us?
Every day is a new adventure with him. I know everyone thinks their pet has the most personality and is the quirkiest thing in the world, but with him I truly feel that is the absolute truth.
Just the other day, he was running zoomies in the house and for whatever reason, he chose to grab one of my socks out of my dirty clothes hamper and dropped it near his toy bin, just the one sock!
About four hours later, Apollo was back to zooming around the house again and after about ten minutes I walked into the living room and found the exact same sock next to his toy bin again. He literally had to dig past other clothes to grab this one sock, but for whatever reason he decided that was the exact piece of clothing he wanted.
It’s daily that if I am sitting on the couch, Apollo will meander over and lay directly next to me and without a doubt he will lay his head on my shoulder with his snout pointing directly into my ear, apparently this is his preferred position of comfort.
Another thing he is big on, if he is sleeping and anyone is talking or happens to make too much noise for Apollo’s liking, he will let out the worlds loudest and most obnoxious sigh, just to make sure we all know that we are keeping him awake.
9. You helped him find a new home. In what ways has he helped you in your life?
He was one of the biggest saving graces in what is probably the most vulnerable time of my life. When I was diagnosed with alopecia and went from a full head of hair to being completely bald in less than two months, I had an identity crisis. People that had known me for years were passing me in hallways, unable to recognize me due to my drastic change in appearance. He helped me accept the new look that had been thrust upon me and helped me remember that it truly is the inside that matters.
Apollo looks different than 99.9% of all dogs, yet he could not care less about that fact. He lives his life like any other pup in the world and doesn’t waste a second worrying about what anyone else thinks of his appearance. He helped me to adopt the same attitude for life, to accept myself however I looked and to not be bogged down with what other people might think when they look at me.
I can’t put into words how much he has helped me, and how much he continues to help me every day. We’ll forever share one of the most unique bonds that I believe a dog and their owner can possess, and I am eternally grateful for that.
10. Is there any advice you can give to a potential hairless German Shepherd dog owner?
Be prepared for weekly baths with special shampoo. I also wouldn’t recommend getting a hairless dog if you live in a really cold climate, it is hard to keep them warm and if he has clothes on for too many consecutive days, his skin breaks out very badly.
In general, I would also just urge people thinking about getting a dog to really do their research on the breed. So many people get a dog because of cool stories they hear or because they think the dog “looks cool”, but people should really look for what dog fits their lifestyle and personality the best.
We want to thank Tyler Poe for taking the time to do this amazing interview. It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about the two of them. Hopefully they will inspire others to adopt or rescue a dog instead of purchasing from a breeder. There are plenty of dogs who need a good home.
The hairless German Shepherd is an amazing specimen and most people will probably never get to see one in person. But although they are unique and interesting looking on the outside, they are just like any other German Shepherd on the inside. They are playful, loyal and full of love! Apollo is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Also remember that bald spots or hair loss can have a lot of other causes besides Alopecia. If you notice any on your German Shepherd, be sure to get them checked out as soon as you can with your local vet. That could be something as simple as an allergy but they could also be due to a more serious underlying cause.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Have you ever seen another hairless GSD? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!