The Xoloitzcuintli is a rare, spectacular breed with a long history, generally hairless body, and striking appearance. Today, the breed is the official dog of Mexico but this dog breed goes back thousands of years in Mexico and Central America and has deep ties to the Aztec empire. Care for these dogs differs from other breeds, as their lack of hair/fur requires a different grooming routine but like many other dogs, the Xolo (pronounced “show-low”), as they are sometimes known, is intelligent, loyal, and very loving.
While Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced “show-low-eets-queent-lee”) is the official name, this breed is also known as the Mexican Hairless or, as mentioned, the Xolo. These dogs originated in what is now Mexico several thousand years ago and it’s believed that some Aztec tribes revered the dogs. One indigenous group, the Nahuas, believed that Xolos helped guide souls through the underworld. In fact, the dogs are named after Xólotl, the god of the underworld and death.
There are three size groups of Xolos – the standard (18-23 inches tall and 30-55 pounds), miniature (14-18 inches tall and 15-30 pounds), and toy (10-14 inches tall and 10-15 pounds). These dogs can either be hairless or coated but even coated Xolos have a smooth, close-fitting coat and they can come in a variety of colors, like black, slate, red, or fawn. Their coats, combined with wrinkled brows, wedge-like heads, satellite dish ears, and small tails mean these dogs don’t have the same white Americana charm as a Golden Retriever. Despite that, Xolos are incredibly wonderful dogs with amazingly unique looks.
Certain aspects of care for these dogs are just like aspects for any other dog. Nail trims and regular dental care are important, as are annual vet visits and a solid diet. But these dogs are hairless or have extremely short coats,which means their skincare and coat maintenance routines are a bit different than most other dog breeds. Because they don’t have that protective furry coat, Xolos are prone to skin problems, like scarring, acne, and sunburns, so regular care like baths and preventative routines are vital. Special shampoos and pet wipes can help keep their skin clean while dog-friendly lotion and sunscreen can make sure their skin is moisturized and doesn’t burn in the sun.
Temperament-wise, Xolos are loyal, affectionate dogs that love their families but they can be wary around strangers, which does make them great watchdogs. However, that same wariness of strangers means these dogs definitely need socialization to make sure they aren’t too suspicious or reactive to new people or situations. Positive reinforcement training is also important but because Xolos are smart and loving, training can be a lot of fun and . They do have the tendency to be velcro dogs and would absolutely try to escape something only to try and find their people.
Despite their long history in Central America dating back thousands of years, Xoloitzcuintli dogs are a rare breed today, particularly outside of Mexico. Finding a reputable breeder of Xolos could prove to be incredibly difficult and expensive. But if you do meet a Xolo and win them over or add one to your family, you have a unique looking and loving friend for life and long after!