Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog): Appearance, facts and more

Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog), the dog considered a guide for the dead towards the underworld by the Aztecs. Anubis

The 3,000-year-old Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced “show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee”), the ancient Aztec dog of the gods.

He is one of the most unique dog breeds out there and is still rare even in the US. That is why you may not have heard about him.

It is today a loving companion and vigilant watchdog. The Xolo’s name is a combination of Xolotl, an Aztec god, and Itzcuintli, an Aztec word for dog.

The dog appeared in the Pixar movie called Coco.

Help people understand more about the dog

Xoloitzcuintli recognition

Despite Xolos being more than 3000 years old, they did not receive any official recognition until the 1950s.

FCI that was founded in 1940 was not ready to recognize the breed by then.

It was not until 1956 that the dog was officially recognized by FCI worldwide. This is after the publicized expedition in 1954 when it was realized that the Xoloitzcuintli would go extinct if an action was not taken.

Xolo dog was among the first dog to be recorded by the American Kennel Club. The first Xolo to be recorded was called Mee Too. AKC registered the dog as the Mexican Hairless.

This later changed as AKC decided to drop the breed in 1959 as Xolos became scarce and it was feared that they would become extinct. AKC later re-recognized the breed in 2009.

As all this going on the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America that was founded in 1988 recorded the breed. The Club was founded solely for Xolos.

General Appearance

Xoloitzcuintli summary table

Height 10-14 inches (toy), 14-18 inches (miniature), 18-23 inches (standard)
Weight 10-15 pounds (toy), 15-30 pounds (miniature), 30-55 pounds (standard)
Lifespan 13-18 years
Breed Type purebred
Purpose hunting and companion dog
Suitable For Families with children
Grooming requirements minimal
Color Variations Black, Brindle, Fawn, Dark Brown, Copper & White, Bronze
Health concerns not prone to health and structure problems as other dog breeds
Temperament  Intelligent, Cheerful, Alert, Companionable, Protective, Calm
Other Names Xolo dog, Xoloitzcuintle, Xoloescuincle

Xolo is an ancient dog breed that was modeled by evolution rather than selective breeding.

The alert and loyal Xolo comes in three sizes, and either hairless or coated varieties.

The Xoloitzcuintli (show-low-eats-queen-tlee) comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard, and two varieties: hairless and coated.

All three sizes are sturdy, lean, well-muscled with a spacious rib-cage, and a moderate bone.

Toy Xolos are 10-14 inches tall and weigh 10-15 pounds, the miniature varieties are 14-18 inches tall and weigh 15-30 pounds while the standard variety is 18-23 inches tall and weigh 30-55 pounds.

Xolos can live for quite long with the average lifespan being 13-18 years.

How long your dog lives still depends on his size and the health of the dog. Smaller and healthier Xolos, of course, live longer to the upper end of the spectrum.

The hairless has a tough, smooth, close-fitting skin. The coated variety is covered by a short, flat coat. Hairless Xoloitzcuintli is known for a color that is either brown or brown and pink.

Xolos that have short hair are either black, brindle, bronze, fawn or palomino.

Miniature variety of Xolo dog is the most popular.

Mexican hairless dog

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The Xoloitzcuintli combines grace and strength equally and is moderate in all aspects of their appearance. All three sizes are slightly longer than tall, and they are lean and sturdy with a medium build.

Their gait is effortless with good reach and drive.

The coated variety has a short, flat coat while the hairless variety has no coat or almost no coat, often with short, coarse hair on the top of their head, their feet, and the last third of their tail.

Their skin is tough and protective. Hairless dogs feel warmer to the touch than coated ones, but they have the same body temperature. This warmth may have helped people think they could cure ailments.

Caring and grooming a Xoloitzcuintli 

Xolos are great dogs for people that suffer from allergies.

This is because they shed very little or don’t shed at all. This, however, does not mean that caring for them is easy.

A coated Xoloitzcuintli needs occasional brushing.

A hairless Xoloitzcuintli needs no brushing but does need their skin to be wiped or bathed frequently to prevent acne or blackheads, especially when they’re young. They may need a canine sunscreen to protect their skin.

Hairless dogs also need a sweater in cool weather. The skin of hairless dogs can be very thick, so it can also be surprisingly tough.

He is sensitive to temperature extremes and may need to wear a sweater in cold weather or have access to air-conditioning in hot weather.

Bathe your Xolo weekly to keep his skin clean and healthy and to help prevent acne. You may also need to apply oil or moisturizer to help keep his skin supple. Your dog’s breeder also advises you on grooming needs.

A people-loving and delicate-skinned dog, the Xoloitzcuintli needs to live in the house. Make sure he has soft bedding to cushion his streamlined body and think of him as your living bed warmer during winter.

Exercise requirements

All Xoloitzcuintlis need daily exercise. They typically will need a long walk or jog.

A Xolo needs a moderate amount of daily exercise, such as a 20- or 30-minute walk or active play in a fenced yard. If interested in dog sports, he will be good at agility, obedience, and rally.

Remember that the hairless Xolo is sensitive to the sun. So don’t leave him outdoors for long periods during the day and apply a dog-safe sunscreen to his body before walking him. Or, if you can exercise him early in the morning or in the evening, even better.

Mexican-Hairless-Dog

Xoloitzcuintli training

Training a Xolo dog is easy and fun. This dog is eager to learn.

It would be best if you started training when the dog is still a puppy.

If the dog is not properly trained he can result in some behaviors that you may not be very happy about.

Just like any other dog, they respond best when you use positive reinforcement training.

  • Never use negative methods such as punishment when training you Xoloitzcuintli as it could turn out to be problematic.
  • Encourage the behavior that you want to see in your dog by praising and rewarding him with treats, toys or attention and ignore the dog when he behaves in a manner that you don’t want.

Training can also be a way of building a  better bond between you and your dog.

Socialization is an important part of the training of your Xolo dog. Socialize the dog with other pets and people.

When puppies are socialized at a young age they grow up to be outgoing and friendly.

The first thing is to ensure that the dog understands the house routine.

The next thing would be the basic sit and stay commands before which you will also have to toilet train your dog. We have an elaborate article on how to toilet train your dog or puppy that you may find helpful in this.

Some difficult tricks should wait until the dog is much older. You should also learn to stick to the routine.

History

Sometimes called the first dog of the Americas, the Xolo is a hairless breed that has been in existence for many centuries. As evidenced by depictions on pre-Columbian pottery and reports from the Spanish conquistadors.

The warm-bodied dogs were prized for their healing properties and were known for helping with toothaches, insomnia, and ailments that benefit from the warmth, such as rheumatism and asthma. They also warded off evil spirits and intruders.

Xolos were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera often portrayed the breed in their works. But as so often happens, the Xolo lost popularity.

The breed’s numbers dropped so low that the American Kennel Club eliminated the Xolo from its studbook.

However, Xolos recently made a comeback. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1993. The American Kennel Club brought it back into the fold in 2011 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.

xolo dog
a Xolo dog

Feeding a Xolo dog 

Recommended daily amount: Depending on a Xolo’s size, they should eat 5/8 to 1.75 cups of high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.
How much your adult dog eats depends on their size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level.
Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. A highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.
The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference–the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

Nutritional requirements

For a healthy Xolo dog make you need to make sure that he gets the important nutrients for his development.

The meals you feed him need to be high in protein and low on fats.

Before buying any meal for your dog check the label to see that one of the ingredients is real meat such as beef, fish or poultry meat.  These are necessary for your Xolo’s proper growth and development.

Something else that you should check on the label is the fat. The fat should be from healthy sources such as vegetables and fish oil that have omega-6 fatty acids and omega 3 for healthy skin.

Fruits and vegetable aid in the transportation of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.

Avoid overfeeding your Xolo dog

It’s easy to overfeed a Xoloitzcuintli, but obesity can stress their joints, so they shouldn’t be allowed to grow overweight.
Keep your adult Xoloitzcuintli in good shape by measuring their food and feeding them twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time.
If you’re unsure whether they’re overweight, give them the hands-on test.
Place your hands on their back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward.
You should be able to feel but not see their ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, they need less food and more exercise

Xoloitzcuintli personality and temperament

Xolo dog is a calm dog that is generally aloof to strangers but gives his attention to the family.

Adult Xolos are known for their calm demeanor although puppies are extremely noisy and energetic until they reach maturity which takes about two years.

Xolo puppies can be destructive if you do not keep them busy with training and play.

He may choose one of the family members as his favorite but he will still live the other members of the family.

Xolos make great watchdogs and will alert you in case they realize that there is something that is not adding up.

They are not known to be barkers and so if you hear them bark you should probably go and check what is going on.

Xoloitzcuintli’s don’t make friends easily out of the family and are wary of strangers.

If you do not properly socialize this dog he may be aggressive towards other people and dogs that he doesn’t know. He is a territorial animal and does not like it when other animals come into the property that he considers theirs.

Xolo dog can be an escape artist and so you will need to escape-proof your house. This is because they are highly athletic dogs. Adult Xolo dogs can scale up a six-foot fence with a lot of ease and even puppies can scramble over a three-foot fence.

Many factors can affect the Xolo dog’s temperament and personality.

These factors are training, can be hereditary, and even socialization.

Puppies that have a nice temperament are curious, willing to learn and easily socialize with other people.

How they fare with children

Xoloitzcuintles are best with older children, with whom they can match their energy for play and also guard them as though they’re their children.

As with any breed, it is recommended that your child is always supervised when interacting with your Xoloitzcuintle to keep both the child and dog safe.

How they fare with cats

The Xoloitzcuintle is a primitive dog, which doesn’t make them the best around smaller animals such as cats. Of course, each dog (and cat) has his preferences and temperament, but you can feel fairly confident your Xoloitzcuintle if properly socialized to your cat and/or introduced at a young age, should get along just swell.

Xolo dog ideal living

Xolos are not extremely outgoing or rowdy but are extremely social dogs.

The ideal home for them would be a home with an owner that perfectly understands that this is a sensitive dog.

If you are a dog lover that loves to cuddle Xolo dog will be a great fit for you.

Also if you are planning on becoming a Xolo dog owner you should be ready to care for their sensitive skin.

The ideal home should offer the following;

  • A calm environment that does not have small children.
  • Positive reinforcement training is a good idea for all dogs.
  • Sunscreen in summer as they are prone to sunburns and coats in winter.
  • Occasional baths and frequent moisturizing to take care of the hairless coat.
Xoloitzcuintlis
Xoloitzcuintli

Xoloitzcuintli health issues

This is a generally healthy breed with a few health issues. He may suffer from acne and may even miss some premolars which are genetic.

Coated Xolos should, however, have all their teeth intact. Other than that there is not much I can say about this dog being unhealthy.

The sensitive skin should be protected from the elements and chemicals. You may also need to check with your Vet before getting any skin products for the hairless Xolo. Also, make sure that your dog does not get obese as this could lower his lifespan.

Getting a Xoloitzcuintli

Adopting a Xolo dog should always be your first option.

This is because it has some advantages over buying one. One is that adult Xolo dogs are at most times usually housetrained, they have already gone through the destructive puppy stage and you will not have issues training them as they may have already received obedience training.

if you are planning on buying yourself a puppy the price may differ depending on the breeder, where the breeder is located, litter size, training, how popular the breed is, and many more.

The average price for getting a Xoloitzcuintli is $700.

You should also not overlook the price of taking care of the dog. This is something that many people usually overlook.

The most important things to look at are vaccines, training, vet bills, deworming, food, training and supplies such as toys and leashes.

All these costs could add anywhere from $500 to $2000 or even more for the first year. For the years that will follow the cost will be anywhere from $500 to $1000 or more and these will be the costs for growing and loving your Xolo dog.

What should know:

Xolos are sometimes bought with potential owners not having a clear understanding of what goes into owning a Xoloitzcuintli.

They then end up in rescue shelters in need of rescue or adoption.

The advice that I could give anyone that intends on owning a Xoloitzcuintli is that he/she should go out of the comfort zone, meet and spend time with the dog that they are planning on buying or adopting.

Get to know if the dog will be a perfect fit for you.

Facts about Xoloitzcuintli

  • The breed’s name is from the Nahuatl language. Xolotl is the Aztec god of life and death, and the term “itzcuintli” literally means “dog”.
  • Xolos were considered sacred by ancient Aztecs and Mayans and were believed to be guides for the dead to Mictlan, the underworld. Also, these pooches were sacrificed and buried next to the body of their deceased owner so that they could set out on their spiritual journey together.
  • Xolos originated in Mexico and is the national icon and cultural symbol. Till today, they are still popular home and hunting companions.
  • When pre-Hispanic art had a major revival in Mexico, Xolos were frequently featured in artifacts and art pieces. Many Mexican artists, like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, kept Xolos.
  • It has similarities in appearance to a Pharaoh Hound. It has a sleek body, almond-shaped eyes, and large bat-like ears and a long neck. The breed’s most distinguishable feature is their lack of fur, which is said to be because of a hereditary genetic malformation of the skin. Their hairlessness may have offered a survival advantage in tropical regions where they reside.
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  • Xolos were the loyal companions of the famous Italian voyager, Christopher Columbus. When Christopher arrived in the Caribbean in 1492, his journal entries noted the presence of strange hairless dogs, that were revealed to be Xolos. Subsequently, these hairless canines were transported back to Europe.
  • The allele responsible for the breed’s hairlessness also causes the dog’s dentition: Hairless Xolos typically have an incomplete set of teeth, unlike most coated dogs that have complete dentition.
  • Because these pooches are known to be ‘spirit guides’, they can be widely seen in Mexico parading the streets on Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead.
  • They have a lifespan of 13 to 18 years and are said to be loyal and mellow. They make excellent watchdogs and are said to be extremely wary of strangers.
  • Xolos are still used as comforting healers in the remote parts of Mexico and some Central American villages where they are believed to prevent ailments such as asthma, rheumatism, insomnia, and toothaches.

There you go WOOF!!

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