Sphynx breed standard – summary plus illustration

This is an illustrated version of the breed standard for the purebred Sphynx cat. This an interesting, intelligent cat that is nice to touch and hold – the feel of warm, silky chamois leather.

The photograph is by the celebrated cat photographer, Helmi Flick. It is protected by copyright, which I ask you to respect, please. Below the photograph I précis the CFA breed summary and make some comments.

There was a time when I thought that the Sphynx cat was a bit weird. But having watched one live at a cat show pretending that he was a monkey, and having held him, I changed my mind.

Sphynx cat breed standard
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

General Description and coat – this is a hairless cat! The standard does say that short, fine hair “may be present” on the ears, feet, tail and scrotum”. “The bridge of the nose should be normally coated”. The whiskers are “short and sparse”. Down hairs are often present on the body. I presume that reference to the coating of the bridge of the nose means a coating of hair. Sphynx cats have skin pigmentation that follows hair pigmentation (if it had existed). If a Sphynx show cat has hair other than as proscribed in the standard it will be penalised in competition. This cat should not be frail looking either.

Head – “modified wedge”. Nose is straight. Muzzle has a “squared appearance”. Strong chin. “Modified wedge” is a phrase that I found baffling. It means the head is wedge shaped but with contours consistent with animal life! It is a phrase that should be disused, I feel.

Ears – “broad at base, open and upright”. The base of the ear on the side of the head should be level with the eye at that side of the head. No ear furnishings. “Ear furnishings” means hair inside the ear.

Eyes – “lemon shaped”. Distance between eyes = one eye width at least. There is no defined eye colour. “Lemon shaped” is rounder than the usual “almond shaped” eyes. The one eye width distance between eyes is not uncommonly encountered in breed standards. The lack of a defined eye colour must be due to the fact that eye colour is meant to compliment the coat. As there is no coat that principle doesn’t count.

Black Sphynx cat
Black Sphynx cat. I don’t have the photographer’s name. Sorry.

Legs and paws – rear legs are longer than the front legs. Well knuckled toes. This is normal in all cats. Although the breed standard doesn’t mention that the toes of the paws appear very long and finger-like. They use them to climb like monkeys if so inclined.

Colours – All colours and patterns are acceptable. The Sphynx breed standard even refers to the classic, mackerel and spotted tabby patterns. These patterns can be seen in the skin and I believe in the downy hair strands. At first glance the reference to “patterns” seems odd but as mentioned above, Sphynx cats do have patterns in the skin that mirror what the pattern would have been in the fur. It is interesting to try and visualise what a calico Sphynx cat might look like or a van patterned Sphynx. See one below!

Calico Sphynx showing the coat through the fuzz
Calico Sphynx showing the coat through the fine hair fuzz. Picture in public domain.

Disqualify – kinked tail. “Structural abnormalities” and aggressive behavior. I don’t like the use of the phrase “structural abnormalities” in the Sphynx breed standard as it indicates that breeders treat cats as inanimate objects.

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