Let's talk Don Sphynx

Exotic yet elegant, the Don Sphynx is quite the looker as far as felines are concerned. It is a separate breed altogether from the Sphynx, yet just as fascinating. This super affectionate breed is known for their hairlessness although certain kittens are born coated in very fine fur that’s chamois-like in texture. Graceful and good-natured, the Don Sphynx has a temperament that’s almost absent of aggression but full of affection, so much so that they’ll stick to you like glue. What’s a human to do?

Official name: Don Sphynx

Other names: Donskoy, Donskoy Cat, Russian Hairless, Don Hairless

Origins: Russia

Close-up of Don Sphynx in black and white

 

 Shedding level  Very low  Warm weather? Very high
 Energy Level*   High  Family pet?* High
 Compatibility with other pets  High    

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behavior. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 

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Side view illustration of Don Sphynx
Male
35 - 40 cm Height
4 - 5.5 kg Weight
Female
33 - 38 cm Height
2.7 - 4.5 kg Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Growing kitten age  2 to 6 months
 Adult age 6 months to 6 years   
 Mature age  6 to 10 years
 Senior age  From 10 years

Close-up of Don Sphynx looking away from camera

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Get to know the Don Sphynx

All you need to know about the breed

Devoted fans of the Don Sphynx abound. This delicate breed has won the hearts of people the world over with their lithe  limbs and incredibly sweet demeanour. That along with their medium-size build and weight helps them fit right into any family unit with ease. They enjoy being in the centre of it all, as long as you’re right there with them.

The Don Sphynx is one of only six hairless breeds that exist, but is not to be confused with their sister breed, the Sphynx, a separate cat altogether. Not truly without tresses, there are in fact four different coat types - rubber bald, which are totally hairless; a flocked coat that may disappear as the baldness gene sets in; velour kittens born with wiry, wooly hair that can also disappear, or remain, after year one; and those with a brush coat, very fine hair like peach fuzz, with patches of baldness on the head, neck, and back. Genes can take different directions and the mutation of this one made for the cat’s hairlessness.

Ironically, because of a lack of hair, grooming the Don Sphynx will take more effort than you’d think! Their hairless body cannot absorb the natural oils that are produced by the skin so they’ll require daily wipe-downs as well as weekly baths. Luckily, their more-than-gentle manner means they’ll be a willing participant.

Highly social, as well as always on the move, the Don Sphynx personality is an inquisitive one. Owners will have just as much fun looking into their world as the cats will looking into yours.

Close-up of Don Sphynx looking towards camera

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2 facts about Don Sphynx

1. BFFF

Possibly your Best Feline Friend Forever, the Don Sphynx cat, like other types of Sphynx cats, is known to be affable, and a few theories abound as to why:  Mothers keep kittens close longer than other breeds, thus possibly promoting a heightened level of affection. Another postulation is their reliance on humans to keep them warm as a result of their lack of hair.

2. Jus like all the others 

The Don Sphynx is not a hypoallergenic cat, contrary to what many believe because of their lack of fur. A non-allergenic breed - one that contains no allergens at all - actually doesn’t exist in the cat kingdom. The Don Sphynx does indeed have an allergen, found in their saliva, as do many of their fellow felines, which can cause an adverse reaction in humans.

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History of the breed

The Don Sphynx’s nine lives started in 1987 when Elena Kovaleva, a Russian professor, happened upon some children playing soccer in the city of Rostov-on-Don. The kick:  They were playing the game with an object in a bag, but it wasn’t a ball. The upside of this youthful cruelty is that Kovaleva heard palpable meows from the bag, only to discover a kitten inside. The professor abruptly stopped their game, took the cat home and named her Varvara and noticed, as she grew, that the kitten was losing her hair.

Varvara gave birth to kittens with and without hair and despite some adopters shying away from them, one - a breeder named Irina Nemikina - did not. Nemikina bred the cat and the Don Sphynx breed was on her way to cat super fandom. Nemikina named the kitten Don, after the river it was found near, and Sphynx, because of her hairlessness.

The breed was recognised by the International Cat Association in 1987.

Don Sphynx looking away from camera in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Don Sphynx

1. Body

Small but sturdy stature with strong little legs.

2. Head

Hairy, often darker muzzle with long whiskers and beard.

3. Eyes

Alert expression, bright eyes and pointed ear.

4. Fur

Thick fur with softer undercoat and resistant topcoat.

5. Colouring

Cream, wheaten, red, nearly black, grey or brindle colouring.

Two Don Sphynx cats lying on carpet

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Don Sphynx
Close-up of Don Sphynx looking towards camera

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Caring for your Don Sphynx

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Grooming will be fairly constant with the Don Sphynx since their bald or near-bald body can’t absorb oils that are  naturally produced all over their skin. They will need to be wiped down every day and bathed each week to steer clear of the slick covering along with any potential skin problems. Make sure to check their large charming ears too for dust or mites. Did someone say exercise? The Don Sphynx is all about it, all the time, since this is one cat that doesn’t stop moving. A very intelligent feline, they will benefit from plenty of toys and living-room stimulation sessions tremendously. As for training the Don Sphynx, it’s pretty much a breeze as well. They are highly attached to their owners and will be more than pleased to do as instructed from kittenhood onward.

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All about Don Sphynx

Sphynx cat breeds have consistently rank high in their country of origin. In celebration of Russia’s National Cat Day (March 1), the website Avito carried out a recent survey that found the breed in the top seven of favorite cats. Users of the site were on a serious search for a cat to purchase, and the Don Sphynx’ popularity has only increased their value over time as well.

The Don Sphynx is a fascinating feline in so many ways:  Their unique coat, huge variety of colourings and patterns, and lithe and graceful body has been attractive to scads of cat lovers worldwide. The Don Sphynx temperament is a winning one as well:  Their propensity to entertain those in their midst and to greet newcomers makes the breed a cherished pet, too.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Cat Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book