Mexican Hairless (Xoloitzcuintle)

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The Xoloitzcuintle (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee) was originally recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club in the late 19th century. But the AKC stopped recognizing it in the 1950s because the Xolo was almost extinct. Recently, however, the Xoloitzcuintle was added back to the AKC’s breed registry!

This exotic hairless breed of dog originated in Mexico. Named for the Aztec god Xolotl (“itzcuintle” means dog) it was, according to legend, created from a sliver of human bone. This dog was to be cared for and protected by humans, as it was said to lead the departed to heaven.  The Xolo was used for medicinal purposes for stomach pains and arthritis. Because heat radiates from its hairless body, the Xolo was also used as a bed warmer, as food and as a sacrificial offering. In English-speaking countries, this breed is referred to as a “Mexican Hairless,” and it is one of the oldest and rarest breeds in Mexico generating from Asia. Some artifacts and clay pottery of this breed has been found in the tombs of Colima, Mayan, and Aztec Indians.

They come in three sizes: toy (9 – 15 inches and 5-15 lbs), miniature (15 – 20 inches and 5 -30 lbs), and standard (20 – 30 inches and 30- 40 lbs). The Xolo is generally hairless but may have hair on its head and the tip of its tail. There is also a short-coated variety of this breed.  Xolos look like a combination of chihuahua and Manchester terrier with beautiful almond shaped eyes, which vary in color from light to dark. They come in a variety of colors, while the darkest colors are easier to manage as far as skin care goes.

The Xolo should be lotioned weekly and bathed occasionally. Over-bathing can result in skin dryness. Sunscreen for prolonged sun exposure is a must but applying too much lotion can result in skin breakout and whiteheads. Wiping with baby wipes is an easy way to care for the Xolo’s skin  For winter dry skin, you can apply bag balm or udder butter to problem areas. Darker colored Xolo’s have the hardiest skin.

Loving to be part of the family and very social, Xolos should not be left as an outside dog or kenneled for too many hours. They are quick to learn, they’re alert (they make excellent watch dogs), and they’re not too verbal unless someone is planning on intruding on their territory – then they put up quite the fuss!  They are good with children when given the proper socialization as a puppy. The Xolo can be very protective of their family and aloof with strangers. There is a myth that this breed is vegetarian, but that’s false.

Xolos are smart, easy to train and easy to housebreak. They are sensitive to being hollered at, so training should encompass positive methods. Considered a “velcro” dog, this breed has a great recall and stay. They would much rather hang out with their owners than stray to strangers or environment. They normally get along well with other pets. They are extremely loving to their family.  This is a very healthy, hearty breed, which generally lives 15-20 years. There are no particular health issues common to the breed.  While easy to train, they can be very independent. Training from a puppy is a must.

Because I own Xolo myself, I can tell you this is one of the most playful, happy breeds I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. They love their toys.

Maureen Henderson is a a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a registered nurse who trains in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.  She volunteers at the SPCA TampaBay and Florida Boxer Rescue.  Maureen owns five dogs: an 11-year-old lab/chow mix, a one-year-old boxer, a four-year-old and a five-year-old old chihuahua and a four-year-old xoloitzcuintle (who just finished shooting a commercial for Kahlua!) She is the owner of Sit, Down,Stay Dog training where she does private, in-home training and behavior modification.

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