One of the oldest and rarest breeds, the Xoloitzcuintli made its way to the Americas when it accompanied humans migrating across the Bering Straits. The name combines two Aztec words: God (Xolotl) and dog (itzcuintli). With such a majestic name comes great responsibility. People believed the dog possessed healing characteristics and today they are still used in remote Mexican and Central American villages to “cure” ailment like insomnia, asthma and toothaches. This dog is also used by people in the region to protect homes from evil spirits.
As a pet, the Xoloitzcuintli is loyal and alert, ready to protect their family and their home. They are easily recognizable for their sleek build, almond eyes, bat-like ears and hairless body.
The Xoloitzcuintli was a companion of the Mayan, Toltec, Colima, Zapotec and Aztec cultures dating the breed to over 3500 years ago. These cultures treated their dogs quite differently than we do today. They used them as home and hunting companions but also sacrificed and ate them.
They believed that the Xoloitzcuintli was provided by the gods as a guide through the world of death. They would often be buried with their owners. Their great history has led to them being the national dog of Mexico.
When Christopher Columbus reached the Caribbean in 1492 he wrote about strange hairless dogs which were eventually transported back to Europe.
Xoloitzcuintli Training & Temperament
Xolos are happy and loving. It’s best to socialize them early and begin training to help them develop into a good family dog. They are an intelligent, primitive breed that likes companionship. They have a tendency to develop a strong bond with one person and become protective of them. Early socialization can help prevent them from having issues with strangers in the future.
Xolos are relaxed around the house but do enjoy their exercise as well. They will need some long walks and playtime to get their energy down before relaxing. If not exercised they can become escape artists, climbing fences to run. At about the age of 2 their energy levels start to mellow out some.
There are two variations of Xolos, one with a short coat and one that is hairless. The coated variation requires occasional brushing and bathing and some hair trimming to keep longer hairs out of their eyes. The hairless version may need sunscreen if long exposure to the sun is expected. They also need regular bathing and moisturizing to prevent skin issues. Though, it’s best not to over bathe them. Their natural skin oils can stain light fabrics, so take caution where they lay.
The breed also has fast growing nails which should be trimmed bi-weekly.
The Xolo is typically a healthy dog that avoids many health issues in other breeds because of human selection. This breed has developed more naturally and has more natural vigor. They don’t do well with the cold as they come from tropical climates.