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Is the Donskoy right for you?

The basics:
Whether you think they’re handsomely hairless or eerily ET, there’s no denying the Donskoy is a show-stopper. Their suede-like, wrinkly skin may not be the first thing you think about when considering a new furry friend, but you’ll have a hard time finding a more affectionate, people-friendly breed. The Donskoy is extremely loyal, and loves to be handled and held. Inquisitive and intelligent, you’ll also find yourself with a curious companion that will try to include themselves in your daily activities.

The Donskoy, also known as the Don Hairless, Russian Hairless, or Don Sphynx, originated in Russia in the city of Rostov-on-Don, near the Don River. Rescued from a group of cruel children, her savior originally thought the small female cat was losing her hair due to stress or infection. When she later had kittens, they also started losing their hair, and a genetic link was suspected. This fortunate feline became the foundation for two Russian hairless breeds: the Donskoy, and the Peterbald.

Don’t be fooled by the Donskoy’s lack of hair – they actually require quite a bit of extra grooming. Oils build up on their skin, and dirt sticks to the oils, necessitating frequent wipe-downs, or baths. Their nose, nail beds, and ears seem to be particularly susceptible to dirt, and should be kept clean. In addition, the Donskoy should not spend much time outside, but when they do, they’ll need sunblock – their hairless skin burns easily.

Appearance / lifespan:
The Donskoy is a medium-sized cat with a fairly strong-boned, muscular build. They have a broad chest, and a peculiarly rounded belly, as if they’ve just eaten a big meal. Some have speculated that the extra belly fat is there to keep them warm, but regardless, it is a trait of the breed, and not necessarily indicative of over-eating. The tail is medium length, tapering towards the tip with a whip-like appearance. The Donskoy has web toes, which some think contribute further to their alien-like appearance.

The head is a rounded wedge-shape with a flat forehead and chiseled cheekbones and eyebrows. The head is longer than it is wide, with a medium length muzzle, slightly rounded. The flat-nose is described as “Roman”, and seen in profile, there is no downward curve from forehead to tip. The Donskoy’s whiskers may be long, or short, sparse or even absent, and may be curly or thick, and prone to breakage. The eyes are medium to large, almond-shaped with an upward slant. The Donskoy’s naked skin is “elastic” with plenty of pronounced wrinkles, especially on the cheeks, jowls, and under the chin. There will also be wrinkles on the forehead, above the eyes, at the base of the neck, the base of the tail, and on the under belly. Wrinkles are considered a valued trait in the Donskoy.

Though the Donskoy is characterized as a hairless breed, that definition is not as simple as it seems. The Donskoy may be born bald with soft, wrinkly skin, or they may be born with a “velour” coat, in which their body is covered in wavy, soft fur that usually disappears within the first year. With the velour coat, they may be born with a bald spot on the top of their head, and as they lose hair over the rest of their body, some residual hair may remain on face, legs and tail, though that has usually disappeared by 2 years of age. In addition, the Donskoy may be “flocked”, in which they appear to be hairless, but have a very fine peach-fuzz coat. And finally, some hairless are not very hairless at all, and are born with bristly, wiry fur over the whole body, with only a bald spot on the head, upper neck, or back. The Donskoy are currently accepted and bred in all colors. patterns and eye colors.

The Donskoy is largely a healthy cat, though they are prone to skin conditions including acne, rashes, and sunburn. Because they lack hair to absorb the oils produced on the skin, they may need to be bathed or wiped-down frequently.

Behavior / temperament:
If you’re not intimidated by the look of such an unusual cat, the Donskoy is a truly loveable, good-natured, and social breed. They value relationships with both the people and other animals around them, and are not happy if left alone for a long time. It’s not uncommon for owners of the Donskoy to keep two cats for the added company they can give one another. Without a warm coat, the Donskoy gets cold easily, and having a buddy to curl up with will feel ideal to them. The Donskoy is the type of cat who will happily greet you at the door when you come home.

Intelligent, active, and irrepressibly curious, the Donskoy will be your own personal assistant, eager to take part in everything you do. They’re fairly athletic, and though they may explore every cupboard top and bookcase, they are not the “climb the curtains” type. They respond well to training, and enjoy the chance to interact. The love to be held, touched, and petted.

The Donskoy is very sensitive to temperatures, and does best in a warm, dry environment. If you’ve always wanted to dress your cat up, the Donskoy gives you a good reason: particularly during colder months or when the air conditioning is going, they may need a little t-shirt or sweater.


bald appearance, gentle cat, loving lap cats, sweet little ball


high maintenance cat, ear cleaning, frequent baths

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