Hairless dogs by Sophie Gamand: Zuko

All photos: Sophie Gamand

The last time we shared the work of pet photographer Sophie Gamand, she was hanging out with some seriously soggy doggies for a photo project titled "Wet Dogs," which explores the uncanny, human-like qualities of drenched canines.

Following the success of the bath time pooches, it wasn't long before Gamand found her next project. Titled "Prophecy," this canine portrait series zeroes in on hairless dogs, including Zuko (pictured above).

It's not uncommon to find these hairless wonders going head to head in the World's Ugliest Dog contest, but Gamand hopes that her series will encourage people to celebrate the unique beauty of these creatures, and "look beyond their physical qualities and into their personality and charisma."

As she began her shoots for this project, she quickly found herself drawn to their unconventional looks and demeanor. Gamand writes on her website:

"I soon realized that their beauty is an 'old wise man' kind of beauty. So I embraced it and photographed my models as if they were philosophers, shamans from a different era, maybe a different universe, prophets or mad scientists, grabbing us and planting their eyes deep into ours, shaking us and shouting, as Philippulus the Prophet in 'The Adventures of Tintin' would: "The judgment is upon you! The end is near!" Nature looking straight at us and begging us to repent."

The two major hairless dog breeds that are featured in Gamand's series are the Chinese crested dog (like Hamster, below) and the Mexican hairless dog (also known as the Xoloitzcuintli or "Xolo" for short), though there are also a few hairless pups with mixed origins included here as well.

Hairless dogs by Sophie Gamand: Hamster

Although both the Chinese crested and the Xolo share similar features, the breeds' origins are quite different. While the Xolo's distinct hairlessness was developed through a random mutation thousands of years ago in Mexico, the Chinese crested is a more modern breed that likely originated in Africa and developed into the dogs we see today just over the past couple of centuries.

Like many other hairless mammals, the proliferation of these dogs' fascinating mutation is most likely a result of their respective environments. From the hot, dry deserts of Africa to the humid tropics of central America, not having to deal with a thick coat a fur was ultimately an advantage for survival.

Gamand collaborated with several hairless dog rescue organizations (such as Bald is Beautiful and Bare Paws Rescue) as well as some private breeders for assistance in finding models for the project.

Continue below for more photos of these remarkable dogs, and be sure to visit Gamand's website to learn more about the project!

Hairless dogs by Sophie Gamand: Schuester


Hairless dogs by Sophie Gamand: Uchi


Hairless dogs by Sophie Gamand: Darla


Hairless dogs by Sophie Gamand: Taco


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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Don't judge a dog by its fur (or lack thereof)
Photographer Sophie Gamand hopes this series will encourage people to celebrate the unique beauty of fur-free pups.