The Xoloitzcuintli or Mexican Hairless Dog, as they call it in English speaking countries, is a Primitive type pariah breed originating from Mexico, Central America. Besides Peruvian Hairless Dog, this is the only such breed in the class of primitive dogs by the FCI, and it’s included in the group 6: Primitive Types. Some experts believe that the Mexican Hairless is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, considering it is more than 3.500 years old. Unfortunately, as of yet, there is no clear evidence about the true origin or exact ancestors of this dog. According to some recent genetic studies of this breed, Xolo dogs evolved naturally through interbreeding and genetic mutation from the ancient dogs that originated in the Old World – they are anatomically very reminiscent of Mediterranean Sighthounds. However, it cannot be accurately determined when or how these dogs reached Central America. An early theory suggests that Xolo dogs came in the Americas over the Bering Strait crossing together with migrating peoples. Another theory suggests that they, under the influence of very humid and warm climate, actually evolved in such way from dogs brought into Mexico by Spanish traders during 1500s.
The experts are divided between these two theories and both groups have their own reasons to support such different opinions. The supporters of the first theory as the main evidence in their favor cite that the Aztecs, Maya, Zapotecs, and other Indians of Central America have respected Xoloitzcuintin as sacred animals long before the arrival of Spanish traders. The main proof for that are supposedly images of hairless dogs in the ancient Aztec ruins. However, supporters of the second theory believe that those images actually represent some indigenous animals that were intentionally made hairless by Indians, who have used a resin for that. This was indeed a custom at some time during the Aztec history, but it is still unclear for what purpose were such animals used – probably for food or as bed warmers. Anyhow, this second theory is also very questionable since the time frame of just a few centuries is hardly enough for such a drastic change in the anatomy of living species. Also, there are no any evidence that similarly hairless dogs existed in Europe or Africa before the Spanish conquest of America. In any case, Xoloitzcuintli is indeed a very old primitive dog breed.
- 1 The Meaning Of Xoloitzcuintli And Its Place In The Aztec Tradition And Beliefs
- 2 Three Types Of Mexican Hairless Dogs
- 3 What Is A Xolo Dog Like
- 4 Physical Characteristics Of A Xolo Dog
- 5 Toy Xolo Dog Characteristics
- 6 Miniature Xolo Dog Characteristics
- 7 Standard Xolo Dog Characteristics
The Meaning Of Xoloitzcuintli And Its Place In The Aztec Tradition And Beliefs
The original name of this dog Xoloitzcuintli is pronounced like “show-low-eets-kweent-lee“. It actually represents a combination of two words – Xolotl, the name of the Aztec god of lightning and death, and Itzcuīntli, the word for dog in the Nahuatl language. The name can be literally translated as “the dog of the god Xolotl,” which is perfectly adequate according to Aztec mythology. Namely, the Xoloitzcuintli was created by the god Xolotl from a silver of the Bone of Life from which all people in the world were also made. This dog was the god’s gift to Man, who had to swear beforehand that he will protect it with his life. In exchange, Xolo would lead Man‘s soul through the dreadful Mictlan, the Aztec underworld to their paradise. For that reason, particularly, these dogs were usually sacrificed and then buried with their owners. Besides, they’re often served as food during important ceremonies like weddings and funerals. Also, the Aztecs and other Indian peoples often regarded Xoloitzcuintin as home guardians against evil spirits. So, as you can see, these dogs have had a really special place in the Aztec tradition and beliefs, although they were not always treated pleasantly.
Three Types Of Mexican Hairless Dogs
There are three types of Xoloitzcuintli dogs – Toy Xolo (smallest), Miniature Xolo (medium), and Standard Xolo (largest). Although these types are different in size and weight, they all have more or less identical temperaments and uses. There are, however, some minor differences, which I’ll explain down under in the separate paragraphs for each type. The one of the most interesting things about this breed is that all three sizes can be born in a single litter. So, don’t panic if a bitch produce a litter with puppies of quite different sizes. This is perfectly normal! Also, at every five hairless dogs, approximately, comes one coated. This is the usual thing for every type of Xoloitzcuintli dogs. However, the “mixed” litter can only occur if you breed hairless to hairless or hairless to coated dogs. Breeding between the two coated dogs will produce only coated puppies due to the lack of the H gene, which is dominant in hairless dogs. These coated dogs are actually identical to the original Xolos before the genetic mutation that caused hairlessness. And now that we now these interesting tidbits, let us examine in detail Mexican Hairless Dog’s behavior traits.
What Is A Xolo Dog Like
The Xoloitzcuintli is a lively, affectionate and loyal dog that can be as well gentle and well-mannered. With such qualities it is easy to understand why Xolo is considered a perfect family companion that will cherish every moment spent with his loved ones. That’s why it is important you never leave your Xolo alone for a longer period of time. He will equally enjoy the company of all family members, but will only fully submit to its primary owner. When it comes to children, Xolo can be an excellent playmate for them since he is usually very vigorous and cheerful. This is especially the case if your dog is brought up with kids. However, keep in mind that Mexican Hairless won’t tolerate any abusive behavior like tail pulling, so it would be wise that you, just in case, supervise them while playing. Xoloitzcuintli can also be very protective of his human family. He is aloof and suspicious towards strangers and will usually notify you with loud bark when somebody comes near your property, but won’t shy away from attacking too. Although loud and noisy in such situations, Xolo is usually not prone to excessive barking. So, as you can see, this is an all around excellent watchdog.
Main Xoloitzcuintli dog characteristics are high intelligence, agility, endurance, independence, stubbornness, resourcefulness, inquisitiveness, cheerfulness, playfulness, gentleness, loyalty, sensitivity, and alertness. The usual lifespan of a Xolo dog (all three types) is around 12-16 years. This is a very healthy breed, which was developed through natural selection with almost no human meddling. It is usually not prone to any genetic or structural diseases, but can be susceptible to some skin conditions like acne. This can be avoided with proper bathing and adequate skin care. Even though it might seem, considering their hairlessness, that these dogs are hypoallergenic, it is actually not the case. However, they are definitely less likely to cause allergies than some other coated dogs. In fact because of their hairlessness, these dogs are very warm and soothing to touch like a hotwater bottle. Supposedly, this warmth can have a positive effect to those suffering from rheumatism, arthritis or asthma. It is no wonder some people in Central America still believe Xoloitzcuintin have incredibly powerful healing qualities.
Ideal Indoors Companion
The Mexican Hairless Dog is an ideal indoor pet. He is relatively easy to housebreak, responds well to crate training, has no doggy odour, can’t have fleas, and does not shed (except coated dogs who shed very sparsely). This is why hairless dogs are very popular among clean and picky people. When inside the house, Xoloitzcuintli is usually cozy and gentle, always close to its master. Judging by this, it might seem that this dog is just a lazy pet puppet, but that is definitely not the case. This is in fact a very active, athletic and agile dog with high stamina. He is literally always ready for some games or long hikes. So, make sure you do your dog a favor and exercise him, at least, once a day. Needless to say, this is very important for the dog’s mental and physical health. However, this incredible agility has its bad side too. You see, Xolos are excellent climbers and jumpers, who can easily climb over the wall or fence. On top of that, they are eager to explore the surroundings, so it comes as no surprise that they can become great escape artists. So, make sure your yard is securely fenced if you wish to own this buddy.
The Xoloitzcuintli is definitely not some ideal hunter’s companion (although this breed was used for hunting in the past), but that doesn’t mean he lacks natural hunting instincts. In fact, they are quite strong in this dog and he will gladly chase and even kill animals smaller than him. So, yeah, Xolo can be very dangerous for cats and rodents, especially, if he isn’t brought up with them. Luckily, things are not so tricky when it comes to other dogs. Usually, Mexican Hairless is not dominant with other dogs and will rarely pick a fight with unknown dogs of the same sex. Still, there is a possibility for this to become a real problem, so you will have to treat it appropriately and in time. Like it is case with other pets, the best way to deal with this is to raise your Xolo with other dog(s). In fact, it is highly recommended that you get another dog (or pet) together with your Xolo puppy, especially, if you keep him in a yard separated from his human family. This way you’ll instantly kill two flies with one blow – possible anxiety from separation and unwanted aggressive behavior with other pets. Also, there is another way round – early socialization and training in obedience.
About Xoloitzcuintin Training
So, how well does a Xoloizcuintli accepts training and socialization? The proper answer is not so well, but not so bad either. It is not a secret that this is one of the smartest primitive dogs in general, but that doesn’t mean he is easy to train. You see, there is one thing common for all primitive dog breeds – they are all headstrong and very independent! Xolo dog is no exception and yes, he can be very, very stubborn, especially, if not treated adequately. That’s why it is important that you never use any harsh or rude methods when you train a Mexican Hairless Dog. You will have to be patient, consistent and rational while working with this dog. The recommended time to start with the training is when a puppy is eight weeks old. This way your dog will have enough time to soak all the commands you have in store for him. Once you start with his training, remember to always apply short and focused lessons on a daily basis. Positive reinforcement techniques work best with a Xolitzcuintli, so make sure you prepare some tasty treats. This way your dog will easily figure out and remember even the most complex commands. In the end, I have to say that this breed is probably not the best choice for the first time dog owners.
Physical Characteristics Of A Xolo Dog
The Xoloitzcuintli is a dog of rectangular shape – he is visibly longer than tall at the highest point at shoulders. It has the compact, sleek and muscular body, which is well defined. The close fitting skin is tough and elastic, but smooth to touch. Like I said, there are two varieties of Xolos – hairless and coated. Hairless dogs are more common and more popular. They can have sparse short hair on the forehead (tuft), toes and the tip of tail, but the rest of the body must be completely “naked”. Experts believe this hairlessness is a “product” of evolutionary adaptation to the tropical climate of Central America. However, this is the reason these dogs are not used to cold weather. So, if you live in the northern hemisphere and wish to own a Xoloitzcuintli, it would be wise to buy a sweater or a thick shirt for your dog, or even better, to keep him indoors during cold winter days. It is obvious that hairless dogs need no brushing, but regular skin care and bathing once in a month with gentle dog shampoo are a must, especially, when it is hot and sunny. The coated dogs have short and sleek hair that requires light weekly grooming. Both varieties of Xolo dogs can occur in various colors – slate, black, tan, gray, bronze, etc. They can be marked, spotted, or solid.
The Mexican Hairless Dog has the slightly broad, wedge-shaped head that tapers towards the muzzle. The muzzle itself is long and straight with scissors-like jaws. The interesting thing is that coated dogs have complete dention, while the hairless ones can lack molars and premolars. The nose is rounded and its color, usually depends on the dog’s color – if the Xolo has darker skin (or coat), the nose is usually black or dark brown, while the opposite it is usually pink or light brown. The similar thing is with its almond-shaped eyes – the lighter the dog, the lighter the eyes and vice versa. So, they can be yellow, red-brown, black, fawn, etc. Mexican Hairless Dogs have bat-like ears that are very large, upright and very movable. You should regularly inspect and clean your dog’s eyes and ears. The relatively long neck is slightly arched and flexible. The back is strong and straight. The sabre-like, pointy tail is often carried low. The chest is relatively deep with well sprung ribs. The front legs are straight and muscular. The hind legs are bony, strong and parallel. The feet with arched toes and hard pads are webbed. The nails should be trimmed few times a month. The light moving Xoloitzcuintli has an quick and elegant trot.
Toy Xolo Dog Characteristics
The Toy Mexican Xoloitzcuintli is the smallest of the three. These toy-sized Xolos have been increasingly popular ever since a breeding programme during the 1950s that was initiated by the Mexican Kennel Club in the purpose of saving this entire breed from extinction. Some are of the opinion that these smallest dogs were actually developed at that time, but that is highly unlikely. The funny thing is that in Mexico this Xoloitzcuintli is called miniature, while the term for Miniature Xolo is intermediate. Anyway, apart from being the smallest, this is also the least energetic of all Mexican Hairless Dogs, which is kind of expected considering its size. Usually, a daily hike will suffice. Unlike his two bigger relatives, Toy Xolo has been primarily used as a companion, although he too can be a reliable watchdog since he is very alert. Be sure he will alarm you with loud bark as soon as somebody comes near your property. Also, of all three types of Xoloitzcuintin, these Toy-sized dogs are the most commonly used as bed warmers and “healers”. This is understandable since they are quite similar to cats in size. As such, they are fitting for everyone.
Toy Xoloitzcuintli Size And Weight
– Height between 11 and 14 inches (28-36 cm)
– Weight between 10 and 16 pounds (4,5-7,5 kg)
– Height between 10 and 13 inches (24-33 cm)
– Weight between 8 and 14 pounds (3,5-6,5 kg)
Miniature Xolo Dog Characteristics
The Miniature (Intermediate) Xolitzcuintli is a medium-sized variety of this breed. Some experts believe that these moderate dogs arrived in Central America at the same time as Standard Mexican Hairless Dogs, but others are of the opinion they were developed some time later with a minor human meddling. Also, these two types of Xolos are supposedly not just bigger, but older “cousins” of toy-sized Xolo. However, this is all highly debatable and yet unclear. But the thing that’s certain is that the Miniature and Toy dogs are much more common and popular in Mexico and North America than the Standard ones. This medium-sized Xoloitzcuintin are equally used as companions and watchdogs. They are usually gentle and cheerful, but can be very cocky and headstrong if need be. So, it comes as no surprise that they can be as well used as guard dogs. They are much more vigorous and hardier than toy-sized Xolos. Apart from regular daily walks, you will have to play some games with your dog as often as you can. This way you’ll be sure your Xolo will stay healthy in every way, especially, if you keep him indoors.
Miniature Xoloitzcuintli Size And Weight
– Height between 18 and 22 inches (46-56 cm)
– Weight between 18 and 25 pounds (8-11,5 kg)
– Height between 16 and 20 inches (40-51 cm)
– Weight between 15 and 22 pounds (7-10 kg)
Standard Xolo Dog Characteristics
Based on some scientific evidence, Standard Xoloitzcuintli is probably the oldest and most primitive of the three. This type is an almost authentic copy of the ancestors of the entire Mexican Hairless Dog strain. Apart from that, this is as well the largest of three Xolo types, but unfortunately it is also the least favorite and rarest of them. The Standard Mexican Hairless Dogs are physically very similar to Mediterannean Sighthounds, such as the Cirneco dell’Etna or Podenco Canario, but in spirit they are almost identical to European Terriers. These dogs are very brave, agile and fierce. In the past, they were often used as sentinels or hunting dogs, while today they are mainly used as watchdogs. Apart from being an excellent watchdog, this larger medium-sized dog has proved its worth as a reliable guard dog too. In other words, he will confront anything that comes at owner’s property uninvited. So, if you buy one, make sure you put a proper warning at your front gate. The Standard Xolo can be as well an excellent companion since he can be very gentle and affectionate. However, in order to keep you Standard Xolo as a companion only, you’ll have to put him through extensive socialization.
Standard Xoloitzcuintli Size And Weight
– Height between 20 and 26 inches (51-66 cm)
– Weight between 24 and 32 pounds (11-14,5 kg)
– Height between 16 and 22 inches (40-56 cm)
– Weight between 20 and 28 pounds (9-12,5 kg)
National Dog Of Mexico
The Xoloitzcuintli, as you can clearly see, is a beautiful and authentic dog breed that is unique for so many reasons. These dogs have had a special place in the Aztec pantheon. They were the messengers of gods with incredible healing powers as well as a spiritual guide in the afterlife. Also, they have always been known as home guardians and protectors from evil spirits. Even today, Xolos are still considered sacred in some parts of Central America. With such mythical significance, it comes as no surprise Xoloitzcuintin were part of various ceremonial and ritual rites. They have regularly been the source of artistic inspiration too. Now, Mexican Hairless Dogs are mainly known as wonderful companions and reliable watchdogs. They are as well often used as bed warmers and healers because of their hairlessness. Unfortunately, to the majority of people this hairlessness seems quite unappealing and you can often hear them calling this breed “the ugly Mexican Hairless Dog“. However, this is the very reason they are so special and attractive to some people. Remember, tastes differ and there are many people out there looking for something unique, something extraordinary. If you are one of those, then the National Dog of Mexico is your perfect choice :)