- Breed group — Non-Sporting group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 10-14 inches (toy), 14-18 inches (miniature), 18-23 inches (standard)
- Weight — 10-15 pounds (toy), 15-30 pounds (miniature), 30-55 pounds (standard)
- Coat length & texture — Nearly or totally without fur in the hairless variety, or short, flat coats in the coated variety.
- Coat color — Accepted colors include black, brindle, bronze, dark brown, fawn, gray, liver, palomino, red, sable, and slate. Markings include black, tan, white, and spotted.
- Exercise needs — Average
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — When necessary
- Life span — 13-18 years
- Breed temperament — Gentle, aloof, alert, and calm
- Hypoallergenic — Yes
- Origin — Mexico
Xoloitzcuintli temperament and characteristics
While many would consider the Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo, to be a good family pet, there are a few things to remember about this ancient breed. These dogs can be playful and ready to partake in any family activity if properly socialized and raised right, including taking them to new places as a puppy and introducing them to new things. While not the friendliest dog with strangers, they do typically bond closely with one person and see the rest of the family as pack members.
Xolos don’t make the best pets for homes with small children, as they don’t normally have the patience to deal with their ears or tails being tugged on. This breed craves attention and to be with those it has chosen as its pack. That means that Xoloitzcuintli dogs need a family that has a lot of time to spend with them, they don’t do well in homes that have busy schedules or work long hours.
Xoloitzcuintli fun facts
- The name Xoloitzcuintli is made up of two words in the Aztec language. Xolotl is the name of an Aztec god of lighting and death., and itzcuintli is Aztec for dog. The breed name is pronounced “show-low-eats-queent-ly,” commonly shortened to Xolo.
- The Xoloitzcuintli is the Americas’ first dog. This breed has existed in Mexico for over 3,000 years, and this is why they’re also known as the Mexican hairless dog. The Xolo remains a national symbol of Mexico to this day.
- Xolos comes in three sizes and two coat varieties. While many know about the hairless variety, Xolos also come with a sleek, very short coat sometimes.
Common Xoloitzcuintli health problems
While the Mexican hairless dog is normally a healthy breed with minimal worry for serious genetic diseases, there are still some things to keep in mind when it comes to their health.
- Sensitive skin. Because of the hairlessness, a Xolo’s skin is more sensitive to sunlight, environmental irritants that can cause allergies and acne, extreme weather, and dryness.
- Patellar luxation . This condition is a slipped kneecap, where the kneecap slips out of its normal placement on the thigh bone.
- Obesity. This breed tends to have no stopping sense when it comes to food, so overeating is something that can easily happen.
- Hip dysplasia. This condition is where the top of the thigh bone (head of the femur) doesn’t fit correctly into the hip socket. Looseness of the joint can occur accompanied by pain, and can be followed by osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.
Cost of caring for a Xoloitzcuintli
Since this breed is known to be mostly free of any major genetic diseases, the cost for caring for them is typically just made up of routine vet visits. There are a few more significant issues that can develop, like slipped kneecaps or hip dysplasia, and depending on the severity, they may require surgery at some point.
To help offset the cost of those routine vet visits or a surgery, you can always look into pet health insurance when the puppy is young to make sure you get the best benefits. Another wonderful option to help with the costs of being a pet parent is to start a savings account for your pup. The savings account lets you budget a certain amount each month before you ever pick up your new pooch, so you have some money tucked away in case of an emergency.
History of the Xoloitzcuintli
This ancient breed has long held links to mystical powers and the underworld. The Aztec god Xolotl, who lends his name to the Xolo, was a god of death. Aztec belief is that this god created the Xoloitzcuintli as a guard for the living and a guide for the dead through the underworld. Archaeological evidence shows that this breed’s ancestors migrated to the Americas from Asia with the earliest migrants about 3,500 years ago.
Ancient civilizations within Mesoamerica found the Xolo to be so important that there is evidence of small ceramic vessels resembling the dogs being buried with more than 75% of the deceased in the Mexican state of Colima and neighboring states. Modern belief is that these vessels may have acted like a symbolic guide that helped the soul of the recently deceased travel through the underworld and ward off evil spirits.
Christoper Columbus and Spanish missionary Bernadino de Sahagún made records about the Aztecs using the Xolo to help with healing. Noting that because the breed is hairless, the indigenous peoples would use them like a modern day heating pad or hot-water bottle for the ill. They tucked the dogs in with them in bed because of their warm body temperatures.
In 1956, Mexico recognized the primitive breed as the national dog of Mexico. To this day, the Xolo or Mexican hairless dog remains an important cultural symbol in its homeland.
Caring for your Xoloitzcuintli
New Xolo puppies take a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. To make it a little easier in the beginning, make sure to make your first vet trip early on as well as scheduling your new pup’s vaccinations. Get a head start on puppy-proofing your home and stocking up on all kinds of toys to help with teething.
Xolos are intelligent enough to be able to open doors and crates, so it’s a great idea to go ahead and get a free FidoAlert ID and tag just in case your Xolo gets out alone.
With above average energy levels and a playful nature with their family, Xoloitzcuintli need about an hour a day of upbeat play. A couple of 30 minute walks and some time to run off leash and play in a fenced-in area will keep these dogs happy and healthy.
While heat isn’t always a problem for these dogs, make sure to use dog safe sunscreen to help protect their sensitive skin. In the winter months, these pups need some extra clothes to help them stay warm.
While Xolos can make wonderful apartment dogs because of their calmness inside the house, when outside it’s important to keep them on a leash. They have a high prey drive and have been known to easily get over a 6-foot fence.
Just because Xolos are hairless doesn’t mean there is no grooming that needs to be done. Xoloitzcuintli need regular baths to help keep their skin clean, especially since they are prone to canine acne from clogged pores. Make sure though not to over-bathe them so you don’t dry out their skin.
Their nails tend to grow fast so keeping up with a nail trimming routine is important, especially if they like to play outdoors and run the risk of breaking a nail. Like other breeds, these dogs may have missing teeth and need extra dental care and proper teeth brushing. It’s also important to keep an eye on their ears to make sure that they don’t get too dirty and infected, implementing a good ear cleaning routine is definitely a good idea.
While hairless Xolos are considered to be a hypoallergenic dog, it’s important to remember that no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic. What causes the allergic reaction to dogs is a protein found in their dander, hair, and saliva. So dogs that are considered hypoallergenic are just simply breeds that tend to shed less and have a smaller effect on owners with dog allergies.
Diet and nutrition
Xolos run the risk of becoming overweight so it’s really important to make sure that they aren’t being overfed. One way of doing this is to use a measuring cup or kitchen scale to portion out the dog’s food. Free feeding, which is leaving the food out where the dog can get to it all day, is not recommended for this breed.
Your Xoloitzcuintli should typically eat between half a cup to one and three quarters cup of food a day depending on size and activity level. Make sure to check with your veterinarian on your dog’s personal dietary needs and food portions.
Training your Xoloitzcuintli
It is especially important that this breed gets a consistent training routine which includes well-defined boundaries. They react the best to positive reinforcement and are adept learners who will easily learn cues and tricks, but can bore quickly. Because they can be a little strong-willed when it comes to training, they need someone who is confident and consistent. Proper socialization, like introducing them to all kinds of new people, places, sounds, and smells, is very important in puppyhood since this breed can take its guard dog job a little seriously at times.
Xolos are normally best suited for experienced dog owners who have the time to spend with them. They don’t do so well in homes where they are left alone for long periods of time. If you’re willing to put in the work to learn how to train them and socialize them the right way though, they make great pets for anyone looking for a loving companion dog.
Breeds similar to the Xoloitzcuintli
Not quite sure that a Xoloitzcuintli is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are small and loving with a somewhat sassy personality. They love to be with their humans and share that trait with Xolos.
- Chinese crested. This breed shares some of the same temperament qualities, physical traits like hairlessness, and exercise needs, so they make a great alternative option.
- American hairless terrier. The AHT is curious, alert, and energetic. They make great family dogs because they’re very affectionate and good with children.
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Frequently asked questions
How do you say Xoloitcuintli?
The proper way is show-low-eats-queent-ly for the full name, or SHOW-lo for the nickname Xolo.
Are Xoloitzcuintlis good pets?
Xolos make good pets and good family pets as long as young children are supervised. Because of their quiet nature and low exercise needs, they even do good in apartments. This breed is very affectionate and loving.
Are Xolos considered a rare breed?
Xolos are one of the rarest and oldest dog breeds today. They have been around for over 3,500 years and were considered one of the first breeds to reach the Americas.
Are Xolo dogs vocal?
Xolos tend to be on the quieter side. They can and will alert their family to a stranger, but they aren’t talkative.