First things first; this breed of cat is not related to the better known Sphynx (aka “Canadian Hairless”, “Moon Cat” and “Moonstone Cat”). This cat is native to Russia. The Donsky follows the Sphynx in terms of date of origin (1966 for Sphynx and 1987 for Donsky).
OK, the Don Sphynx (aka “Don Hairless”, “Russian Hairless”, “Don Bald Cat”, “Donskoy”, “Donsky”) is not the same as the Sphynx, but how is it different (other than the name)? Obviously, there is a fairly wide variation between cats of the same breed, all of whom could be fine cats. It is therefore, difficult, at least for a layperson, to see an immediate difference.
One difference is hidden. The mutated gene that produces the hairless coat is dominant in the Donsky. This makes breeding easier as at least half the litter on an outcross would be hairless. This has meant a fairly quick development to recognition by the WCF and TICA. The Sphynx mutation is recessive.
The TICA breed standard should give us some clues as to the difference in appearance. In the general description section, the answer to the most outstanding difference is found. The Sphynx “appears” to be hairless, while the Donsky is the “first truly hairless cat”. Looking at the cat above, it is not totally hairless. This is acceptable it seems under the Russian breed standard (different I presume to TICA and FIFE) (see appearance below). Looking at the photograph by Gunnel Hedberg (below) we see skin that is truly hairless. The Donsky above may be under 2 years of age and growing into hairlessness. As to the head there should be an indentation just above and between the eyes. This is not mentioned in the Sphynx breed standard for the head.
There are other descriptive differences, which may be due to different authors or be real differences. For example, the ears are described as being “very large” for the Sphynx and “large” for the Donsky. I am sure that there are other differences.
|1987||“Discovery” of female hairless cat (Varya) in Russia, Rostov-on-Don (a small town) by a cat breeder (see map below).|
|Varya breed to a mixed breed cat resulting in several hairless kittens, one of which, a black female, was breed to European Shorthairs and Domestic Shorthairs creating the foundation cats of the Don Sphynx breed|
|1993||Mating a Don Sphynx with a Siamese/Oriental resulting in another cat breed, the Peterbald.|
|1997||Recognised by the World Cat Federation (WCF) and TICA.|
|2005||Crossed with Scottish Fold to produce Levkoy Cat. Conformation is more rounded than the Donsky and ears are less folded than the Scottish Fold.|
|Present||Don Sphynx not recognised by CFA or GCCF. Preliminary recognised breed in FIFE.|
From a layperson’s point of view the hairless cat breeds look a bit fragile and vulnerable, but this is not the case. This is a strong, medium sized cat with a long body. A noticeable feature is obviously the large ears but also the long toes, which look more like fingers of a person’s hand as the joints are visible (being hairless). In fact FIFE calls then “monkey fingers”.
Being able to see the skin so clearly shows a copious quantity of wrinkles, the same as for the Sphynx. Do Sphynx cats generally have more wrinkles than cats with fur? It seems so, yes. Of course, being hairless the wrinkles are more apparent. The lack of hair also gives us the chance to see the coat pattern embedded into the skin. Click here to see a Black and White (Solid & White) Sphynx (or Pink and White actually:).
Although this cat is truly hairless (ref:TICA), cats under 2 years of age may have short fur on the cheeks, neck and on the muzzle. Kittens may also have the Rex coat and a bald spot on the head.
However the idea that this cat is only hairless when of a certain age is now considered outdated and kittens are most often born hairless. In winter a fine coat may appear. The whiskers are curly, non-existent (see above – cracked off) or cracked (but still on).
Interesting point: if you cross a Sphynx with a Don Sphynx, the offspring are not hairless because different genes are involved in each cat breed in relation to the hairlessness.
As to character. They like to be picked up, which may be associated with a liking for warmth. The Sphynx is athletic. This cat is the same. It is amiable and sociable. To the touch this cat feels warm and velvety. There was a time when I didn’t like the hairless cats now I’ve changed my mind.
As at 2008 – things change.
Cattery Rubin Kaira
Located Moscow, Russia. Nice website again. I know this is provocative, but the Russians build better cattery websites than the Americans.
Abrakadabra’s Don Sphynx – link broken early April 2014.
Located near Hamburg, Germany. Nice site and very informative.
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