Xoloitzcuintli

Want to know more about the hairless dog of Mexico? Then read on for all the information you’ll ever need on this ancient canine!

Xoloitzcuintli standing on dirt

Height: Toy 10-14 inches, Miniature 14-18 inches, Standard 18-23 inches
Weight: Toy 4.5-7 kilos, Miniature 7-13.5 kilos, Standard 13.5-30 kilos
Lifespan: 13-18 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Check out the pros and cons of the Xoloitzcuintle below:

Pros:

  • Excellent watchdog
  • Low grooming maintenance
  • Hypoallergenic, good breed choice for allergy sufferers
  • Suitable for apartment living

Cons:

  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • Not ideal for first-time owners
  • Strong prey drive
  • Curious, may wander off

Overview

The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced Show-low-itz-queent-ly) is one of the most ancient dog breeds of the Americas. Whilst the Xolo is commonly hairless, they can also be coated.

Both varieties can be born into the same litter. These canines are also found in toy, miniature, and standard sizes.

Xolos are a natural breed which is a rarity. Many of the canines we know today have been created through cross-breeding. Due to a genetic mutation, the Xolo has a lack of hair and teeth. The Chinese Crested dog shares this same mutation and is also hairless.

The Mexican hairless dog is mostly found in dark colors such as bronze, liver, black, gray, red, and slate. Coated Xolos have short fur and share the same color varieties. Deep wrinkles will appear on the face of a Xolo when they change their facial expressions.

Xoloitzcuintli

These domesticated pooches were used to keep their owners warm! Their hairless bodies created extra heat during the cold winters.

It’s a trait that modern Xoloitzcuintli owners benefit from to this day, especially those suffering from arthritis. Despite their unusual features, the hairless Mexican dog is slowly gaining back popularity.

Xolos are often described as high-strung and alert. They can feel timid in different environments and around new people.

Socialization is important to prevent fearfulness. Although Xolos are generally quiet, they will use their voice when feeling uncomfortable.

History

The Xoloitzcuintli is listed as the national dog of Mexico and is deeply treasured in their native land. Archaeologists have discovered proof dating back 3,500 years ago of the Xolos existence.

Evidence was discovered in the tombs of the Aztec, Zapotec, Colima, Mayan, and Toltec people who inhabited Mesoamerica.

Xolos were buried in tombs as it was believed they could ward off evil spirits, and could protect their families in Mictlan.

This, according to Aztec mythology is the name given to the underworld. The dog was also thought to contain healing powers, so it wasn’t uncommon for the Xolo to be sacrificed and then eaten!

Xoloitzcuintli

The name Xoloitzcuintli is taken from the language of the Aztec people. Xolotl is the God of fire and lightning, in Aztec mythology.

This God was illustrated as a dog-headed man and he would guide the spirits of the dead. ‘Itzcuintli’ means dog, and is a day in the Aztec calendar linked to the God of death, Mictlantecuhtli.

Over the years famous explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Francisco Hernandez have described seeing the Xolo on their journeys. Two famous painters Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were proud owners of the Xoloitzcuintli.  They would also depict the breed in their artwork.

Despite being one of the first breeds to register with the AKC in 1887, the Xolo wasn’t recognized in Mexico until 1956.

By this time, they were on the verge of extinction. In 1959, Xolos were removed from the AKC’s studbook. Today, the breed has re-established its popularity and in 2011, the AKC welcomed Xolos into the non-sporting group.

Related: Learn everything you need to know about the Norwich Terrier.

Personality

Xolos are loyal and deeply affectionate towards their owners. Due to this, the breed can’t be left alone for long periods as it could lead to separation anxiety.

These canines can be a little needy and destructive if they’re feeling bored! Xolos can also be protective of their families and make excellent watchdogs.

Headstrong with a mind of their own, this breed will need an experienced owner to take the lead. Their stubborn nature could be overwhelming for first-time owners.

Xolos are inquisitive and may wander off on an exploration so their home must be escape-proof.

Is the Xoloitzcuintli Good with Strangers?

Xolos tend to be wary of people they don’t know. During their years across the Americas, Xolos were used as both a guard and watchdog.

It’ll be hard for a stranger to enter their territory unnoticed due to the Xolo’s vigilance. These canines will often bark towards an outsider. Xolo’s that haven’t been socialized could become aggressive.

Is the Xoloitzcuintli Good with Children?

Yes, this breed can be a fantastic companion for older children. Families considering the Xoloitzcuintli as a pet should introduce the dog to child/children during puppyhood. Toddlers can be overwhelming for the generally quiet and calm Xolo.

Is the Xoloitzcuintli Ok with Other Dogs?

This breed isn’t known for its sociability around other canines. Aggressive behavior may be shown towards strange dogs if the Xolo lacks socialization.

The Xolo can live with other dogs but they should be raised together from puppyhood. Avoid cats and smaller animals due to the breed’s prey drive.

Xoloitzcuintli 3

Exercise

Xolos aren’t very energetic, but they will appreciate a long walk with their owner. Both miniature and standard Xoloitzcuintlis should receive up to one hour of exercise each day. This breed will also benefit from mental stimulation and excel in agility.

During their working life amongst the people of Mesoamerica, the Xolo was an avid hunter. Today they will show signs of a strong prey drive.

This pooch must stay on a leash as their impulse to roam factored with their prey drive, could lead them to trouble.

Xoloitzcuintli puppies will require more activity outdoors. They can become troublesome when bored so should be taken outdoors multiple times a day.

Adult Xolos are naturally peaceful indoors, provided their exercise needs are being met.

Recommended: Learn about the Wire Haired Dachschund in this guide.

Health

Typically, the Xolo is a healthy breed and doesn’t have any particular genetic health conditions. Below are the health issues that may be found in the toy, miniature, and standard Xoloitzcuintle.

  • Patella Luxation- The toy and miniature Xoloitzcuintli is more prone to Patella Luxation than the standard size.
  • Hip Dysplasia- The ball and socket of the hip joint rub together due to poor development. Symptoms include pain, difficulty when climbing, pain, stiffness, and shoulder muscle enlargement. Standard Xoloitzcuintlis are more prone to hip dysplasia than Miniature and Toy Xolos.

Xoloitzcuintli 4

Intelligence & Training

A prospective owner will need to understand the stubborn and headstrong personality of the Xoloitzcuintli. Boundaries mustn’t be crossed and consistency will be needed to enforce this. It is best to start training as soon as possible, anywhere between 8-12 weeks of age.

Xolos may be intelligent but they aren’t known to be easy to train. Sessions should be kept short and interesting with positive reinforcement.

Food-based rewards and toys are the best way to keep a dog’s attention during training. Offer praise and affection every time they master a command. Xolos are quick learners, they just require patience.

Xoloitzcuintli 5

Socialization is an important part of a Xolos upbringing. Group puppy classes are one way of socializing a dog with both new people and canines. Visit different environments and introduce the Xolo to new sounds to prevent fear when they enter adulthood.

Respect training should be established before introducing obedience. Once the Xolo has understood their owner’s leadership, they will be more impressionable during obedience training. Thankfully, these clever canines won’t be too tricky to housebreak.

Recommended: Discover the Rough Collie Dog in this guide.

Grooming

Xolos are hypoallergenic due to their hair-free body. Perfect for any allergy sufferers hoping to become a dog owner. The coated variety will require a quick brush now and again as the fur is short and flat. A brush with soft bristles is needed to prevent skin abrasions.

Baths should be given fortnightly using a sensitive shampoo that’ll prevent skin irritation. Don’t remove all of the body’s natural oils as it protects the skin.

The Xolo dog can be prone to skin issues, so keep them moisturized. Use specially formulated products for hairless pets. Xoloitzcuintli puppies will require extra skincare.

Some Xolos may have white spots on their body. These areas are prone to sunburn and must be protected during hot weather.

Sunburn can be uncomfortable and painful so be sure to keep some doggy sun cream to hand. Overexposure to the sun could lead to skin cancer.

Nails grow super fast on the Xolo so ideally these should be filed and trimmed every week. This must be maintained to prevent overgrowth and pain when walking.

Despite the Xolo’s lack of molars their teeth still need brushing weekly, if not daily.

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