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According to the French breed standard, the Sphynx is part monkey, part dog, part child, and part cat. The breed does seem to possess some personality traits of each, despite what geneticists might say about such a combination. To say Sphynxes are lively is an understatement; they perform monkey-like aerialist feats from the top of doorways and bookshelves. Very devoted and loyal, they follow their humans around, wagging their tails doggy fashion and purring with affection. They demand your unconditional attention and are as mischievous (and lovable) as children. And despite all that and their alien appearance, they are completely cats, with all the mystery and charm that has fascinated humankind for thousands of years. While the Sphynx may not be for everyone, his unique appearance and charming temperament has won him an active, enthusiastic following.
When the first matings of the breed occurred, breeders discovered that the Sphynx's lack of hair is governed by a recessive gene. It takes two copies of the gene for the trait to express itself and, if each parent has only one copy of the hairless gene, the number of hairless kittens in any litter is approximately one in four. This makes establishing a large gene pool more difficult. However, it was also discovered that the hairless gene is an incomplete dominant over the gene governing the Devon Rex's wavy coat. Crosses between the Sphynx, Devon Rex, and the American Shorthair widened the gene pool.
The Sphynx only appears hairless, its skin, or parts of it, is covered with a fine, almost imperceptible vestigial covering of down that gives the skin the texture of chamois. Heterozygous Sphynxes (those that possess only one copy of the hairless gene) usually exhibit more hair than homozygous Sphynxes (those possessing two copies).
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