Formerly known as the ‘Don Sphynx’ due to its baldness, the Peterbald is believed to have developed in St. Petersburg, Russia in late 1994. Thought initially to be the result of a dominant genetic mutation causing hair loss, this was later disproved when kittens started appearing with hair. The truth of the Peterbald’s genetics is still contested, but it is quite possible that more than one gene is involved in the mutation, or else the gene codes for a coat that is sparse or altered in some way. The Peterbald of today is thought to have descended from the original litter of four, born to a Don Sphynx male and an Oriental Shorthair female. The Peterbald was recognised by the International Cat Association in 2005.
Depending on the genes of its parents, a Peterbald kitten can be born with a variety of different coat types. It might appear without a coat entirely, or with very fine hair on the extremities and around the face. Otherwise, the hair might be downy, short and suede-like, kinky or of varying lengths. A Peterbald may also be born with a completely normal coat, which may or may not be lost over time. The appearance of a Peterbald is similar to that of the Siamese, with wide-spaced ears, a long nose, a slender body on long, nimble legs, and slightly oblique eyes. The tail is often described as resembling a whip and is long and narrow. All colour varieties and patterns are observed in the breed.
The Peterbald is a highly intelligent and active-minded breed that needs plenty of mental stimulation to lead a happy and fulfilled life. Very vocal like the Siamese, the Peterbald will communicate loudly when it wants your attention. Generally speaking, the Peterbald is harmonious and affectionate, demonstrating love and loyalty towards its family. Some owners and enthusiasts have mentioned that the Peterbald can sometimes act aggressively if confronted with new people or situations, and does not appreciate being left alone for long periods of time. On average, a fully-grown Peterbald will weigh 8-10 pounds, with a typical life expectancy of 12 years.
Due to the rarity of the Peterbald, determining any breed-specific or genetic health complaints is difficult. There are many people that believe the genetic make-up of the Peterbald makes for an inherently unhealthy breed, although there is little evidence to support this.