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Arguably the most unique looking dog breed out there, the Xoloitzcuintli is generally known as an intelligent, alert, and affectionate breed with an unyielding loyalty to their owners. The correct Xoloitzcuintli pronunciation is “show-low-eats-queent-lee” but they can also be known as the Mexican Hairless Dog or “Xolo” for short. This show stopping pup is an ancient breed, with origins dating back to over 3000 years ago.1
Curious to know more about Xolos? Read on to discover all there is to know about this fascinating, unique breed and decide whether or not a Xoloitzcuintli dog may be a good fit for your family.
- History & Origin of Xoloitzcuintli Dogs
- Physical Attributes of the Xoloitzcuintli Dog
- Behavioral Characteristics of Xoloitzcuintli Dogs
- Xoloitzcuintli Breed Health Risks
- Caring for a Xoloitzcuintli
- Final Notes
History & Origin Of Xoloitzcuintli Dogs
These dogs have a particularly captivating history. The name stems from the language of the Aztecs - “Xolotl” the god of lightning and death, and “itzcuintli”, meaning dog.2 This breed had a poignant significance during the ancient period, from the Aztecs to the Mayans, with the Aztec people believing that this dog was created to guard the living and help guide the souls of the dead to the Underworld, Mictlán.2
In Ancient India, these dogs were celebrated for having healing powers that could cure all sorts of ailments, a belief that still resonates to this day.1 This may be due to the fact that ailing humans would sleep amongst these breed during cold nights, as they have extremely warm bodies due to their lack of fur.3
Xolos have also been widely used as watchdogs over the years.4 Although their popularity may have slipped over the years, the relevance of Xoloitzcuintli is making a comeback, with a rise in numbers over the past few years.3 However, they are still considered a rare breed.3
Physical Attributes of the Xoloitzcuintli
Of course, there is one particularly stand out feature of this breed - their lack of fur. Some Xolos can have fur, but the hairless breed is the most popular, with only a very short amount of hair coating their taunt, tough, smooth skin.3 The Xoloitzcuintli has many color variations, including black, gray, red, or bronze.4
This breed has been said to have thoughtful, intelligent expressions, with a tapered muzzle and a wedge shaped head.3 The size of the breed differs according to three categories - toy, miniature and standard. A rough estimate for a toy Xolo size is between 10 - 14 inches, a miniature between 14 - 18 inches and a standard from 18 - 23 inches.4 Weight wise, toy Xolo’s can typically range between 10 - 14 pounds, miniatures between 15 - 30 pounds and standards between 30 - 55 pounds. Xolos have a lifespan of about 12-15 years.4
Behavioral Characteristics Of Xoloitzcuintli Dogs
Every dog is different. Like humans, a dog’s personality differs due to several factors, including the way they have been socialized and bred. These adorable creatures have been companions to humans for hundreds of years, and the reason we love them is because of the unique connection and bond we form with them. Therefore, every single dog will have its own distinct personality, although we can generalize a few things loosely from analyzing individual breeds.
The Xoloitzcuintli temperament is often a calm and affectionate one, with a strong devotion to their family.5 Loyal to their core, Xolo’s often bond with all family members, but generally have a certain member of the family that they choose to stick by at all times.5
Don’t mistake their serious expressions for a serious demeanor, Xolo’s tend to be very playful canines, with a love for cuddles.5 When trained correctly, Xolo’s will play nicely with younger members of the family, growing to be very protective of them.5
The Xoloitzcuintli breed can also be quite emotional.5 With a strong attachment to their owners, leaving them alone or being too harsh with them during training can bring out their sensitive side, making them scared or distrustful.5 Instead, it may be best to introduce them to a friendly face at a pet care center if they will be on their own for an extended period of time.5
Likewise, they can be more reserved around newer faces, not acting with hostility, but not quite bundling into their lap until they have decided they would trust them.5 Alert and protective, these dogs are great for guarding your home, although their loud bark may make you jump from time to time.4
However, one thing about the Xoloitzcuintli dog breed is that they tend to be very territorial and proud of their home - making them less likely to run off!5 With proper socialization, Xolos can be welcoming to new people and pets.
Xoloitzcuintli Breed Health Risks
With proper training and socialization, Xolo’s typically live between 12-15 years and grow up to be strong, healthy dogs.5 Using proper parasite control and taking your four-legged friend on regular trips to the veterinarian is essential in maintaining your dog’s wellbeing and keeping them happy and healthy. However, there are a few health risks that are commonly associated with this breed.
Due to their lack of fur, this breed can be prone to skin issues and problems.5 For this reason, you should take care when taking your Xolo out in hot weather, as they can be extremely prone to sun damage and intensive sunburn.5 They may also have sensitive teeth, so their teeth should be brushed often and examined regularly.5
Disorders such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, patella luxation, and eye disorders should be noted during the breeding process and discussed with their potential owner accordingly.5 Xolos should be fed with a food type that is appropriate for their age. Although this breed is not known for obesity due to their love of exercise and running, it is still important to monitor the amount your dog eats so that they remain a healthy weight.5
Caring for a Xoloitzcuintli Dog
Because Xolos are a very active breed, these dogs will need lots of exercise and running around. Their hunting instincts provide an innate need to run and explore, so proper obedience training is crucial in keeping these pups well behaved during walks. However, these low maintenance pups are also infamous for being very peaceful around the house, providing they have had a good run around at some point during the day.4
Due to their lack of thick fur, the Xoloitzcuintli requires very minimal brushing, with no brushing at all required in the cases of the hairless breeds. However, to substitute, these hairless dogs require extra attention to their skin. Regular baths are important in upkeeping this breeds smooth skin and avoiding painful lesions through acne, especially after they have turned one year old.5 If you notice any abrasions on your dog’s skin, make sure to notify your veterinarian for advice on how to ease any pain your dog may be feeling.
However, regular bathing may then dry their skin too much, so a light, dog-friendly moisturizer should be used to keep your dog’s skin soft and supple, alongside a light sunscreen where necessary. Discuss a skincare routine that will best suit your dog with your veterinarian.
Are Xolo dogs rare?
The Xoloitzcuintli dog is a very rare, unique breed, with only 1,000 Xolos in the United States and an estimated 30,000 worldwide.6 Expect heads to turn during your dog walks!
Why are Xoloitzcuintli dogs so special?
This dog breed is special for so many reasons. Whether it’s unique, hairless design giving it such a regal, intelligent air, its devoted loyalty to the family, or its rich history embedded in many ancient civilizations, it’s not hard to see why so many people are fascinated by this breed.
Rare, striking and thought by many to have some spiritual resonance, Xolos are a beautiful companion to have by your side, after all, they’re one of the first renowned breeds of man’s best friend!
Do Xolos smell?
This is a misconception about this hairless breed. A clean and healthy Xolo will not smell or have any particularly offensive odor.
Do Xolos bark a lot?
Although Xolos are not known for barking without cause, they do have a loud bark that is sure to get your attention. Due to their upbringing as watchdogs and guard dogs, many of these pups can be protective and so they may bark if they feel there is a threat. However, a properly trained Xoloitzcuintli dog can be trained out of this if necessary.
Are Xolos hypoallergenic?
Although no dog breed is considered completely hypoallergenic, yes, Xolos are considered a hypoallergenic breed. Therefore this dog breed is a great one to consider if you have allergies, but discuss this through with your doctor and a licensed veterinarian before making the decision.
Unique in many ways, whether it’s appearance, history and origin, or care, the Xoloitzcuintli is a simply magnificent breed of dog. Majestic with roots in ancient customs, it's clear to see why the Xolo dog’s popularity is on the rise. Great for first time dog owners and experienced pet parents alike, if you’re in the market for a dog, then the Xolo might be one to seriously consider.
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D. Clark, Ross. “Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Risk Factors of Xoloitzcuintli” America’s Showdog Veterinarian
Romey, Kristen. “This Mexican Dog Has A Storied, Ancient Past” National Geographic, 22 Nov. 2017 https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/hairless-dog-mexico-xolo-xoloitzcuintli-Aztec#:~:text=With%20a%20history%20going%20back,significant%20role%20in%20Precolumbian%20life.&text=To%20the%20ancient%20Aztec%20and,importantly%2C%20guide%20to%20the%20Underworld
“Xoloitzcuintli” Wisdom Panel https://www.wisdompanel.com/en-us/dog-breeds/xoloitzcuintli
“Xoloitzcuintli” American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/xoloitzcuintli/
Mitchell, Cody. “Xoloitzcuintli Dog Breed - Your Most Loyal Partner” World Animal Foundation, 27 Oct. 2022 https://worldanimalfoundation.org/dogs/xoloitzcuintli/
“The Xoloitzcuintli Dog Breed - Top Facts & Guide” Animal Corner https://animalcorner.org/dog-breeds/xoloitzcuintli-dog-breed/#:~:text=There%20are%20less%20than%201%2C000,and%20have%20been%20since%202011