Xoloitzcuintle: Everything You Need to Know

Xoloitzcuintli is the owner of an extravagant appearance, who was awarded the title of National Treasure of Mexico. According to legend, these dogs protect the owner’s house from evil spirits.

Xoloitzcuintle is among the most mysterious breeds. Its millennial existence is shrouded in legends. Ancient people considered these unusual animals as guides to the other world and treated them with due respect. According to another legend, the Xoloitzcuintles were considered four-legged healers who could take the disease with them overnight. History also mentions cruel moments: dogs were regularly sacrificed to the Aztec gods, and sometimes they even consumed their meat for food. Today, Xoloitzcuintles successfully cope with the role of loyal companions and friends. And hugging these warm and affectionate creatures is a pleasure!

Mexican Hairless Dogs are unique in every way. They are among the lucky ones who have formed a separate breed due to a common genetic mutation – the lack of hair. In the case of the Xoloitzcuintle, this deviation stuck for generations and became a distinctive feature. The animals turned out to be more adapted to the climate of Mexico than their counterparts. In addition, ticks, fleas, and other parasites were not interested in dogs without hair and rarely bothered them with painful bites.

The extravagant appearance of the animals attracted the attention of the Aztecs. They also came up with the name “Xoloitzcuintle”. It came from the name of the god of the underworld – Sholotl (Xolotl), who controlled thunderstorms and accompanied the daylight. The deity was depicted as a humanoid monster with a dog’s head.

Xoloitzcuintles looked quite frightening in comparison with other animals, so they were mistaken for faithful companions of God and those who died on the way to Mictlan – the afterlife. According to Aztec mythology, the human soul faced several obstacles that could not be overcome without a four-legged helper. The central role of the breed is evidenced by archaeological finds – clay figurines and mummies of dogs. The oldest ones date back to the 5th millennium BC. e. On some figurines, an imitation of a coat is visible: they probably embody representatives of other breeds.

The Aztecs not only believed in the divine power of the Xoloitzcuintle but also strictly followed the instructions of the priests. When a warrior died, the inhabitants of the settlement performed a bloodred ritual, which involved the ceremonial killing of the deceased’s dog. An arrow of its owner was put into the mouth of the animal. After that, the bodies were buried, and sometimes they were previously mummified. Archaeological excavations in Mexico and the modern United States have uncovered dozens of such “mass graves”.

Some finds suggest that the Xoloitzcuintle was kept for further consumption. Dog meat was considered an exquisite dish prepared only for important religious holidays. The Aztecs believed that this meal not only honors the gods but also endows ordinary people with the gift of a seer. Representatives of the sterner gender ate the meat of hairless dogs, as they considered it the main aphrodisiac that strengthens masculine strength.

Xoloitzcuintle was also endowed with magical powers to heal ailments. This was largely due to the hot skin of the animals, which reduced the discomfort due to the warming effect. The myth still “lives” in remote aboriginal villages, where Xolo still “treats” rheumatism and other diseases.

The appearance of the conquistadors was a turning point in the history of the breed. The conquerors considered the New World their property and sought to impose cruel orders on the residents. The first to fall out of favor was the culture of the descendants of the Aztecs. The conquistadors demanded that the aborigines renounce ancient rituals that contradict civilized European religion. Xoloitzcuintle was ranked among the bright symbols of the outdated way of life and thus signed their death warrant. Dogs were massacred, sometimes for food. By the end of the 16th century, the breed could hardly be called numerous. The animals managed to survive only in some of the remote mountain villages of Mexico.

Xoloitzcuintle re-entered the world stage at the beginning of the 19th century – unfortunately, again as a raw material. Their skins were used to make leather items. The unenviable position of hairless dogs changed only by 1850. Adherents of art, having noticed the unusual appearance of animals, did everything possible to stop their merciless exploitation. Dog breeders-enthusiasts organized massive expeditions to remote mountain villages, which had a fairly large population of Xoloitzcuintles. In 1887, the Xolo was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The first registered animal was a female named Mi Tu.

After this event, the breed was forgotten for a long time. Even the victory of the Xoloitzcuintle at the 1940 exhibition did not save the situation. As Mexican hairless dogs have lost their former popularity, the AKC has removed them from the breed register. The number of Xoloitzcuintles was decreasing, and their owners were less and less likely to attend dog shows. The fate of the animals was again in jeopardy, but there were lovers of this extravagant breed who sought to continue the breeding work.

History knows only one name – Norman Pelham Wright. In 1954, he went in search of Xoloitzcuintli in remote Mexican settlements, mainly in the south of Guerrero and in the Rio Balsas region. Norman Wright managed to acquire more than a dozen dogs from the Indians. While engaged in animal breeding, the naturalist published the works “The Riddle of the Xolo”, where he described in detail the wards and formulated a preliminary standard for the breed. Wright’s work bore decent fruit: in 1956, the “Mexicans” were officially recognized in their historical homeland.

In 1986, the first hairless dog appeared in Russia, but the breed did not gain dizzying popularity. Meanwhile, in European countries, the United States and Mexico, clubs of Xoloitzcuintle lovers appeared. Together with the addition of the breed standard, its participants urged dog breeders not to forget about the difficult fate of the Indian “natives” and no longer use them for selfish purposes. Educational activities have been successful. Xolo became a national treasure of Mexico, and their number in the world exceeded 30 thousand individuals – a record figure for a breed that was twice on the verge of extinction.

In 2011, the AKC re-registered the Xoloitzcuintle. These animals are also notable for their accurate hit in the Guinness Book of Records, where they are recorded as the oldest of the same type and have the highest body temperature.

Xolos are of three types:

  • standard. Height at the withers – 46-60 cm, bodyweight – from 9 to 14 kg;
  • middle. Height at the withers – 36-45 cm; bodyweight – 6-10 kg;
  • miniature. Height at the withers – 25-35 cm; bodyweight – 4-8 kg.

Dog breeders believe that the ancestors of modern Xoloitzcuintles belonged to the first type. Animals with such proportions could easily survive in the wild, unlike their smaller counterparts. In addition, individual medium and miniature hairless dogs tend to increase their size, which cannot be said about the standard variety of the Xoloitzcuintle.

The breed is distinguished by a pronounced gender type: females look more graceful and light in comparison with males.

Xolo is characterized by a high headset. Its size is proportional to the body. The type of skull is wolf: being quite graceful and at the same time strong, it tapers towards the nose. A small protrusion is visible in the back of the head. The frontal line is parallel to the muzzle of the animal.

The muzzle has a smooth outline. The under-eyes of the dog are well filled, but the cheeks remain flat. The stop is weak. The pigmentation of the nose depends on the base color. In Xoloitzcuintle with dark skin, it is almost black. The golden yellow and bronze animals boast coffee or flesh-colored noses. The nose in spotted dogs is notable for partial pigmentation. The lips of the Xoloitzcuintle are dry, do not create a rasping effect, and fit tightly to the jaws. Wrinkles are acceptable.

The high set of large and long ears of the hairless dog gives it a bat-like appearance. In an excited state, the animal holds them almost at right angles. The ears are soft and delicate to the touch.

The eyes of the Xoloitzcuintle are almond-shaped. The color of the iris varies depending on the basic color tone. The most common varieties are yellow, amber, reddish-brown, coffee, or black. On dry and dense eyelids, a gray, brown, or black edging is noticeable. The look is attentive and at the same time wary.

The strong jaws of the animal form a scissor bite. Having a complete dental formula is desirable but not required. The completely naked Xoloitzcuintle has weaker teeth than dogs with short hair-like bristles. The last copies are extremely rare.

When looking at the Xoloitzcuintle, a high-set, graceful neck is noticeable. It gradually widens towards the base, passing into the line of the withers. The scruff is elegant and lightweight. In adult dogs, the skin is tight to the throat, while in puppies small folds are noticeable.

The body of the breed is moderately stretched. Its length is 1.1 times the height of the animal at the withers. The comparatively narrow chest drops down to the level of the elbows. The ribs are not flattened. The backline is straight and short. Strong shoulder blades set obliquely. The loin is slightly convex in comparison with the back, it is distinguished by more prominent muscles. The dog’s croup is directed downward at an angle of 40 °. The belly and groin are moderately tucked up.

The tip of the Xoloitzcuintle’s slender tail can be decorated with a small tassel. Slightly rounded when lowered. In motion, the animal raises its tail but does not touch its back. Owners of hairless dogs note an interesting feature: when the Xoloitzcuintle freezes, it draws its tail between its legs. The same movement may indicate fright (as in most relatives).

The forelegs appear dry and the articulation angles are balanced. The elbows are pressed to the chest, directed straight back. The forearms are straight while the pasterns are set at a slight angle. Hare-type paws, sometimes covered with short coarse hairs. The color of the claws depends on the main color of the Xoloitzcuintle. Dewclaws are removed in the first week after the puppy is born.

The musculature is more pronounced in comparison with the forelimbs. Muscles are best seen on the hips of the animal. The angles of the articular joints are moderately expressed. The hocks are parallel to the body of the dog. Straight metatarsus set vertically. “Hare” paws are formed by arched toes, which end in the dark or light shade of claws. The pads are firm and firm. Removing the fifth toes in the first seven days after birth is mandatory.

The Xoloitzcuintle moves at an accelerated trot, keeping his head high and his back straight. With greater acceleration, the dog’s paws move to the center of gravity, under the body. Strong hind legs provide the animal with a good push.

The “Mexicans” are characterized by a complete absence of wool. In some dogs, the scruff and forehead are decorated with coarse, sparse hair, reminiscent of a foal’s mane. The length of the hairs does not exceed 2.5 cm.

The color of the Xoloitzcuintle is monochromatic, mostly solid. Dark colors are desirable: gray, bluish-gray, gray-black, and black. There are dogs with a lighter color: golden, bronze, liver, or reddish. The presence of points is permissible if they do not occupy more than ¼ of the surface of the animal’s body.

The slightest non-compliance with the standard is considered a breed defect. Among the main ones, there is a slight deviation from the gender type, overly timid or excitable behavior, as well as pigmentation of the eyelids in beige or pink colors.

The disqualifying faults of the Xoloitzcuintle are as follows:

  • a crest on the top of the head (like a Chinese crested dog);
  • loose skin that forms numerous folds;
  • hair on areas of the body not mentioned in the standard;
  • short or fully docked tail;
  • graceful and feminine proportions in males;
  • excessive lack of melanin (albinism);
  • aggressive or cowardly behavior;
  • bulging eyes of a round shape;
  • hanging or cropped ears;
  • light pigmentation of the iris;
  • undescended egg-shaped glands into the scrotum;
  • the presence of dewclaws;
  • pronounced dewlap;
  • wide head format;
  • undeveloped muscles;
  • large females
  • overshot or undershot mouth;
  • cat shape of paws;
  • lordosis or kyphosis;

Mexican Hairless Dogs have a balanced and friendly disposition with a spicy pinch of temperament. If puppies are inherent in excessive playfulness, adult Xoloitzcuintles behave with dignity, as if to this day they proudly serve the Aztec deity. The Mexicans make great companions – quiet, attentive, and calm. Making friends with a dog is not difficult.

Like many relatives, Xoloitzcuintles are attached to the people with whom they live. For an animal to grow up outgoing and loving, all family members must take part in its life – as they say, from young to old. In this case, the dog will still single out one person, who will be considered a full-fledged owner.

If this happened to you, feel like an international lottery winner: a more loyal friend is hard to find! Xoloitzcuintle will not step back a step so as not to miss a single event in the life of the owner. The dog can be intrusive, but do not offend him by giving up the traditional dose of “hugs”. For the representatives of the breed, bodily contact with the owner is very important – as, indeed, joint leisure. If possible, take your pet with you when going anywhere. This will make your Xolo the happiest on the planet!

Representatives of the breed do not like the company of strangers and are extremely wary of them. Perhaps it was not for nothing that the Aztecs used the Xoloitzcuintle as a talisman against evil forces: these dogs are excellent watchmen. Thanks to their developed hearing and sense of smell, the “Mexicans” sense a stranger long before his appearance. The delicacy of the Xolo is manifested even in their manner of warning the owner about unwanted guests: the animal will bark quietly and begin to actively spin at your feet as if attracting attention. In case of danger, the dog will rush to the attack without hesitation.

Xoloitzcuintle owners have different opinions about the ability of pets to get along with children. If you are looking for a friend for your child, it is better to pay attention to the Golden Retriever, Corgi, Irish Setter, or Giant Schnauzer. Xolos are suitable for families with older children who know how to handle dogs.

Representatives of the breed easily find a common language both with their relatives and with cats. Fights between females or males are quite rare but can be a necessary measure when defending territory or self-defense. Adult Xoloitzcuintles are intolerant towards stranger dogs, so it is not recommended to let the animal off the leash if you are not sure of its ability to behave in a four-legged society.

Mexican Hairless Dogs are known for their athleticism and love of active walks. Every day you need to set aside at least an hour for a run with your pet in the city park. Bring your favorite Xolo toy with you: it will brighten up your joint leisure. In clear weather, allow the animal to bask in the sun, but be careful not to cause burns or heatstroke.

Representatives of the breed are especially delighted when doing “dog” sports, so you should pay attention to the obstacle course (agility), the relay race with the ball, or the chase for the frisbee. Dancing with an animal – aka cynological freestyle – will also give Xolo and its owner a lot of positive emotions.

Xoloitzcuintle, albeit miniature, cannot be called “sofa” dogs. They manage to combine royal nobility and indomitable activity. If you prefer to spend your leisure time in front of a TV screen, consider adopting another pet.

Along with positive character traits, Mexican hairless dogs are distinguished by stubbornness and willfulness. It is necessary to accustom a pet to manners already from puppyhood. Do this logically and gradually, using only positive parenting methods. With gentle and delicate handling, the Xoloitzcuintle will easily learn what its owner likes and what does not. To suppress pranks, a stern look is enough.

When you take a puppy home, be prepared to make it the center of your little universe. The pet needs constant communication, so do not leave it alone. If your work schedule is rather busy, take care of having a second pet to keep the Xolo from getting bored.

Remember: representatives of the breed need a firm hand from the owner. You should not treat the animal as an equal being: this will make it disobedient and even aggressive.

Mexican hairless dogs need early socialization. If possible, create a suitable atmosphere for the baby in which he can interact with other people and animals, perceive new images and sounds, and gain experience. Cynologists recommend inviting guests and walking with your pet in busy parks as often as possible so that Xolo can develop and further improve social skills.

Xoloitzcuintle training is easy with a creative approach to business. The dog needs to be motivated so that it agrees to learn new commands. If necessary, supplement the training process with private lessons with a professional. Do not stop training in the winter season, citing the lack of fur in the animal and the risk of catching a cold. Mexican hairless dogs tolerate the cold well with consistent hardening.

During training, you can not resort to physical punishment of the pet: the Xolo will be frightened and will completely refuse to follow the command. If the result is positive, be sure to reward the dog with a treat or affection. Noticing that you are happy, the animal will make every effort to please the owner again with his obedience.

The Xoloitzcuintle is one of the breeds that need minimal maintenance. The reason for this is the almost complete absence of hair. The dog does not require regular brushing. For individuals with sparse and coarse hair, it is enough to remove dead hair once every one to two weeks. To do this, use a brush or massage glove.

Like its “clothed” relatives, Xolos need regular bathing. Use lotions with a mild formula: more “aggressive” hygiene products often cause skin allergies. Bathe your pet no more than once every two weeks. Frequent water treatments are fraught with a violation of the natural defenses of the skin and clogged pores. If necessary, it is enough to rinse the dog with warm water or remove surface dirt with wet, alkali-free wipes. After bathing, take care of the absence of drafts so that the animal does not catch a cold.

Xoloitzcuintle owners often face an unpleasant problem: pimples and blackheads (acne) form on the dog’s body. This is normal for puppies up to eight months old. It is easy to get rid of defects with the help of scrubs with fine abrasives and lotions. At the age of one year, a rash is considered the main symptom of allergies, vitamin deficiency, or an inappropriate diet.

Representatives of the breed often suffer from sunburn. Even before a short walk, smear the body of your pet with a protective cream, which must be wiped off with a washcloth upon returning home. It is recommended to moisturize the skin of the Xoloitzcuintle with olive or almond oil. Many dog ​​breeders add a complex of vitamins A and E to the liquid for a more effective result.

Remember to check your pet’s ears weekly, especially after walking in windy weather. It is necessary to remove excess sulfur with a cotton pad dipped in water. For a drying effect, you can use a weak boric acid solution or a special product from pet stores.

Xolo eyes also need to be flushed regularly. For this procedure, strong black tea or chamomile decoction is suitable. The eyes should be free of clouding and redness. Regular and abundant “souring” is a reason to contact a veterinarian who will help identify a possible disease at an early stage.

Oral care is equally important. Brush your Mexican hairless dog’s teeth about twice a week with pet toothpaste. It is necessary to use a brush or a fingertip; a bandage folded in several layers will do. From childhood, teach your puppy to this procedure so that in the future the animal does not experience discomfort. As a preventive measure, treat the Xoloitzcuintle with hard treats. They will help to avoid the formation of tartar and the active growth of bacteria.

The representatives of the breed grow claws very quickly, and dogs do not have time to grind them down during walks. Use the nail clipper once or twice a month so that the Xolo does not experience discomfort when moving. The sooner the pet gets used to this procedure, the easier and calmer it will be in the future.

Nutrition should be given special attention: Xoloitzcuintles are susceptible to allergies. You can feed your pet with natural food or premium food. Toothless dogs or animals with few teeth need high-quality canned food or ordinary food, ground to a mushy state. With a slight absence of teeth (no more than five to six), the use of solid food is not only recommended but also mandatory.

The Xoloitzcuintle diet should be 70% high in protein. If you are feeding your dog natural food, look for foods such as turkey, lamb, rabbit, and lean, pitted sea fish. The remaining 30% are sour milk products, cereals, seasonal fruits, and vegetables. After eating, it is necessary to allow the Xolo to rest: excessive mobility is fraught with the volvulus of the stomach.

Note: Mexican Hairless Dogs tend to overeat. Be sure to control the volume of each serving. The amount of food consumed should directly depend on the age, size, and degree of activity of the animal.

It is necessary to exclude from the Xoloitzcuintle diet:

  • raw and/or fatty meat (in particular, pork and lamb);
  • milk (relevant for animals over four months old);
  • salty, spicy, sour, and pickled foods;
  • foods high in carbohydrates;
  • river fish in any form;
  • raw yeast dough;
  • caffeinated drinks;
  • seeds with seeds;
  • legumes;
  • tubular bones;
  • food “off the table”;
  • smoked meats;
  • sweets;

Do not forget to fill your pet’s bowl with water every day – bottled or infused for at least six hours.

Mexican Hairless Dogs are not suitable for keeping in an enclosure on a chain. The ideal option is a cozy apartment with a dedicated bed, far from possible drafts. It is necessary to walk your pet daily, starting from four months. Cynologists recommend purchasing warm clothes for adverse weather. In severe frosts, it is better to refrain from walking.

Since the breed has developed independently, its representatives are distinguished by stronger immunity than their relatives bred artificially. Common “canine” diseases have become increasingly evident after the intervention of breeders. Among the frequent ones are:

  • the appearance of plaque on the skin with an unhealthy color and odor;
  • weakness of the cartilage (the effect of “drooping ears”);
  • burns from direct sunlight;
  • allergic rashes;
  • loss of teeth;

The rest of the Xoloitzcuintle is healthy and cheerful dogs. They easily take root in any climatic zone, but at low temperatures, they need additional “uniforms”.

How to choose a puppy?

Mexican Hairless dogs are a rare breed, so the number of kennels that specialize in breeding them is limited. It’s still worth spending time looking for a breeder. He will help you choose Xoloitzcuintles for different purposes: participation in exhibitions, breeding, or for warm (in every sense) communication.

Pay attention to how the breeder answers your questions, whether he is ready to confirm his reputation and show the necessary documents, whether he is interested in the further fate of the wards. At the same time, pay attention to the conditions of keeping the dogs. Animals should be well-groomed, enclosures cleaned, bowls always full. The absence of drafts is imperative, otherwise, you risk getting a cold puppy.

After that, start getting to know your potential friend’s parents. It is necessary to observe the behavior of the female and the dog, to assess their character and state of health. It would be useful to ask the breeder to present documentation that confirms the absence of genetic diseases.

Sometimes in one litter, several varieties of Xolo are born: standard, medium, and miniature. Because of this feature, it is rather difficult to choose a puppy for further participation in exhibitions, since it will not be possible to predict its size. This can only be done by those who breed and observe dogs for a long time. If you are interested in a show-class Xoloitzcuintle, ask the breeder to point out potential candidates.

The appearance of babies can be repulsive: plumpness, numerous folds on the body, short and clumsy legs, dull muzzle … However, when choosing a puppy, you should not focus solely on this: Xolo grows up into graceful dogs with smooth skin and light elongated legs. Look for a friend by character – and you won’t go wrong!

Look out for playful and curious toddlers who are not afraid to approach strangers. In this case, it is best to choose a moderately active puppy: he does not bully his relatives but also does not cowardly huddle in the corner. Xoloitzcuintles inherit temperament from their parents, so a couple of minutes of communication with a female or dog will help you understand how easy you will get along with a puppy. Gender does not matter, because all dogs show amazing loyalty to the owner.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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