Xoloitzcuintli

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Xoloitzcuintli portrait
Meet the Xoloitzcuintli, an ancient breed that captivates hearts with its hairless charm and warm, velvety skin. Loved for their loyalty and intelligence, Xolos are more than just dogs, they're a delightful blend of history, mystery, and canine companionship. Let's dive into their world!

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Xoloitzcuintli is a perfect match for those who value uniqueness and history. Ideal for individuals or families seeking a loyal, intelligent, and low-allergen companion. If you love the idea of a gentle watchdog with an ancient lineage and a heart full of affection, the Xoloitzcuintli could be your perfect pet!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEXoloitzcuintli
OTHER NAMESXolo, Xoloitzquintle, Xoloitzcuintle, Perro Pelón Mexicano, Mexican Hairless Dog
ORIGINMexico
BREED GROUPNon-Sporting Group
BREED SIZEToy & Miniature: Small
Standard: Medium
HEIGHTToy: 10-14 inches
Miniature: 14-18 inches
Standard: 18-23 inches
WEIGHTToy: 10-15 lbs
Miniature: 15-30 lbs
Standard: 30-55 lbs
LIFESPAN13-18 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERHigh
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSLow
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK116th
Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dog standing in a park
Photo: TaynaPanova/Getty Images

Appearance

The Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short, is a striking and distinctive dog breed that comes in three different sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. The toy variety typically stands between 10 to 14 inches tall and weighs 10 to 15 pounds. Miniature Xolos range from 14 to 18 inches in height and weigh 15 to 30 pounds, while the standard size measures 18 to 23 inches tall and weighs between 30 to 55 pounds.

The Xolo’s body is lean, muscular, and well-proportioned, with a strong, flexible spine and a deep chest. Their legs are long and slender, ending with hare-like feet that are characterized by elongated toes and webbing between them. The tail of a Xolo is long and tapers towards the end, often held in a curve when the dog is alert or excited.

One of the most striking features of the Xoloitzcuintli is their head, which is wedge-shaped and broadens gradually from the muzzle to the back of the skull. Their eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, and set wide apart, giving them an intelligent and expressive gaze. Xolos have large, bat-like ears that stand erect and contribute to their alert appearance.

The hairless variety of the Xoloitzcuintli is perhaps their most iconic feature. These dogs have smooth, tough skin that is mostly devoid of hair, except for a few sparse tufts on the head, tail, or feet. The coated variety, on the other hand, has a short, sleek coat that covers their entire body. Both varieties come in various shades, including black, gray, bronze, brindle, and even a pale fawn color known as “palomino.”

Xoloitzcuintli dogs have an elegant and graceful appearance, coupled with an air of dignity and calmness. Their expression is often described as thoughtful and serene, reflecting their intelligence and sensitivity. Despite their seemingly delicate appearance, Xolos are robust and sturdy dogs, possessing great stamina and agility.

Overall, the Xoloitzcuintli’s unique physical characteristics make them stand out in a crowd, with an appearance that is both alluring and unforgettable. Whether hairless or coated, toy or standard-sized, these dogs possess a charm and elegance that is truly captivating.

Xoloitzcuintli's face up close
Photo: TaynaPanova/Getty Images

Temperament

The Xoloitzcuintli is a unique and captivating breed that has a personality as rich as its ancient history. Like a mysterious and intriguing character from a long-lost civilization, the Xolo carries an air of enigma that draws people in. This breed’s temperament is a fascinating blend of independence, loyalty, and affection, making them a truly one-of-a-kind companion.

The Xoloitzcuintli is a dog with a deep sense of individuality. They are not ones to conform to societal norms; instead, they march to the beat of their own drum. Like an old soul, they have a contemplative and thoughtful nature, observing the world around them with a watchful eye. Their quiet dignity and self-assuredness give them an aura of wisdom beyond their years.

At first glance, the Xolo may seem reserved and aloof, but once they form a bond with their human, they become incredibly loyal and affectionate. They cherish their loved ones deeply and are not afraid to show it. Like a devoted friend, they will stay by your side through thick and thin, providing comfort and support during life’s ups and downs.

Despite their independent streak, the Xolo craves the love and attention of their family. They are not the type to seek the spotlight, but they enjoy being part of a close-knit pack. Their gentle and caring nature extends beyond their immediate family, as they are often good with children and other pets when properly socialized.

While they may not be overly outgoing, the Xolo is a social creature that enjoys the company of familiar faces. They may be cautious around strangers, but with time and patience, they warm up and become more open. Their reserved nature should not be mistaken for aggression; they prefer to approach new situations with a calm and composed demeanor.

As a breed with a history deeply intertwined with human culture, the Xolo has an inherent ability to connect with their human family on a profound level. Their sensitivity to emotions is uncanny as if they can sense when you need a comforting presence. They have a way of understanding your feelings, making them excellent therapy dogs and loyal companions during difficult times.

With their distinctive appearance and unique personality, the Xoloitzcuintli is a breed that leaves a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to know them. Like a rare gem, they are a precious find, a companion that brings a touch of mystery and elegance to your life. With their quiet charm and profound affection, the Xolo stands tall as a captivating and enigmatic friend, forever etching their mark on your heart.

Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dog standing on grass
Photo: bruev/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The Xoloitzcuintli is a highly adaptable breed that can thrive in various environments, as long as their basic needs for physical and mental stimulation are met. They can comfortably adjust to both city and country living, making them versatile companions for a wide range of households.

Ideal Owner

Xolos are well-suited for pet parents who are attentive, patient, and willing to invest time and effort into training and socialization. These dogs form strong bonds with their families and require a nurturing environment where they feel safe and loved. As sensitive and intuitive animals, Xolos respond best to gentle guidance and positive reinforcement during training sessions.

Other Pets

When it comes to coexisting with other pets, Xolos generally get along well with fellow dogs and even cats, provided they have been appropriately introduced and socialized. However, households with smaller animals such as rodents or birds should exercise caution, as the Xolo’s natural hunting instincts might be triggered by these creatures.

Physical Environment

One crucial aspect of the Xoloitzcuintli’s ideal environment is climate. Due to their hairless skin, Xolos are more sensitive to temperature extremes than other breeds.

In hot climates, they are prone to sunburn and overheating. To prevent this, provide them with access to shade, fresh water, and even sunscreen specifically designed for dogs. During outdoor activities, avoid exposing them to direct sunlight for extended periods, especially during peak hours.

In cold climates, Xolos require extra protection to stay warm and comfortable. Providing them with a cozy bed and blankets is essential, as is dressing them in dog sweaters or coats when venturing outside in cold weather. It’s important to monitor them closely during winter walks, as their delicate skin is susceptible to frostbite.

Another consideration for the ideal environment is ensuring your Xolo has a safe and secure outdoor area, preferably a fenced yard, where they can explore and play without the risk of wandering off or getting injured.

Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dog's face
Photo: bruev/Getty Images

Grooming

The grooming needs of the Xoloitzcuintli breed differ depending on whether they are hairless or coated. However, both varieties have relatively low-maintenance grooming requirements compared to many other breeds.

Coat Care

For the hairless Xolo, their most significant grooming need is skincare. They should be bathed every two to four weeks using a gentle dog shampoo to keep their skin clean and moisturized. Be cautious not to over-bathe them, as this can strip the skin of its natural oils, causing dryness and irritation. After bathing, it’s essential to thoroughly dry your Xolo’s skin, paying special attention to any skin folds where moisture can become trapped and lead to infections.

Hairless Xolos may also require occasional application of a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free moisturizer to prevent dry skin. However, avoid over-moisturizing, as this can cause clogged pores and acne. It’s crucial to monitor your Xolo’s skin for any signs of irritation, sunburn, or infection, and consult a veterinarian if you notice any issues.

For coated Xolos, grooming is even simpler, as their short coat requires minimal care. Weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or a grooming mitt is sufficient to remove loose hair and dirt, keeping their coat looking sleek and healthy.

Dental Care

Both hairless and coated Xolos benefit from regular dental care. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily or at least several times a week using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. This will help prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. In addition to brushing, providing dental chews and toys can assist in maintaining good oral hygiene.

Nail Trimming

Nail care is another essential aspect of Xoloitzcuintli grooming. Their nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks, depending on their growth rate and activity level. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and increase the risk of injury. If you’re not comfortable with trimming your dog’s nails, a professional groomer or veterinarian can assist with this task.

Ear Care

Xolos are known for their large, erect ears, which require regular cleaning to prevent infections and maintain good ear health. Check your Xolo’s ears at least once a week for any signs of redness, odor, or excessive wax buildup. To clean their ears, use a dog-specific ear cleaner and cotton balls or pads, gently wiping the outer ear canal. Never use cotton swabs or insert anything into the ear canal, as this can cause damage.

Additional Grooming Tips

Lastly, it’s essential to establish a grooming routine early on in your Xolo’s life. This will help them become accustomed to the process and make grooming an enjoyable bonding experience for both of you. Regular grooming sessions also provide an opportunity to monitor your Xolo’s overall health, as you can check for any skin issues, growths, or changes in their appearance during these times.

three Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dogs standing in a park
Photo: TaynaPanova/Getty Images

Exercise

The Xoloitzcuintli is an energetic and agile breed that requires regular physical activity to maintain their overall health and well-being. Exercise not only keeps them physically fit but also provides mental stimulation, helps prevent boredom, and strengthens the bond between you and your Xolo.

Exercise Amount & Types

Xolos typically require about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily, depending on their size, age, and energy level. This can be divided into two or more sessions throughout the day. Keep in mind that puppies and senior dogs might have different exercise requirements, so it’s important to tailor the activity to your dog’s specific needs.

A variety of activities can be incorporated into your Xolo’s exercise routine. Daily walks are essential for all dogs, and Xolos are no exception. They enjoy exploring their surroundings and benefit from the socialization opportunities that walks provide. You can also engage your Xolo in more vigorous activities like jogging, hiking, or playing fetch, which helps build their stamina and endurance.

Dog Sports

Xoloitzcuintlis are intelligent and agile dogs that excel in dog sports and competitions. Activities like agility, obedience, rally, and even canine freestyle (dog dancing) are great ways to challenge and engage your Xolo both mentally and physically. Participating in these activities will not only help keep your dog fit but also strengthen the bond between you and your Xolo through teamwork and cooperation.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Xolo, especially if they are hairless, it’s crucial to be mindful of weather conditions. In hot climates, avoid exposing them to direct sunlight for extended periods, as their delicate skin is prone to sunburn. In cold weather, provide your Xolo with a sweater or coat to keep them warm and comfortable during outdoor activities.

Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dog rolling a snowball
Photo: alkir/Getty Images

Training

Training a Xoloitzcuintli can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, as they are intelligent, eager to please, and highly trainable dogs. Their sensitivity and perceptiveness make them quick learners, and they generally respond well to consistent and positive training methods.

Positive Reinforcement

When training your Xolo, it’s crucial to establish a strong bond and mutual trust. These dogs thrive on praise and affection, so using positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards, treats, and verbal encouragement, will yield the best results. Avoid harsh or punitive training methods, as they can be counterproductive and damage the bond between you and your Xolo.

Basic Obedience & Socialization

Begin training your Xoloitzcuintli from a young age, starting with basic obedience commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” Early socialization is also essential for this breed, as it helps them become well-adjusted, confident, and comfortable in various environments and situations.

Expose your Xolo to different people, animals, and experiences during their formative months to ensure they grow up to be a well-rounded and sociable adult dog.

Consistency

Consistency is key when training a Xoloitzcuintli. Be patient and maintain a regular training schedule, as repetition and practice will help reinforce desired behaviors. Keep training sessions short, fun, and engaging to hold your dog’s attention and prevent boredom.

Advanced Training

Xolos have a natural affinity for dog sports and activities that challenge their intellect and agility. They excel in disciplines such as agility, obedience, rally, and even canine freestyle (dog dancing). Engaging your Xolo in these activities not only provides an outlet for their energy but also strengthens the bond between you and your dog through teamwork and cooperation.

Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dog sitting on green grass
Photo: eAlisa/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the overall health and well-being of your Xoloitzcuintli. To ensure your Xolo receives all the necessary nutrients, it’s recommended to choose a high-quality dog food that adheres to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the minimum nutritional requirements for your dog’s specific life stage.

There are various types of dog food available, including dry kibble, wet food, and raw diets. Each type has its pros and cons, and the choice ultimately depends on your dog’s individual preferences and any specific dietary needs they may have. It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable diet for your Xolo.

The amount of food your Xolo requires will depend on their age, size, activity level, and metabolism. Generally, puppies need more frequent meals than adult dogs due to their rapid growth and development.

Puppies should be fed three to four times a day, while adult Xolos can be fed twice daily. Be sure to follow the feeding guidelines provided on the dog food packaging or consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations.

It’s important to monitor your Xolo’s weight and body condition regularly, adjusting their food intake accordingly to prevent obesity or malnutrition. A healthy Xolo should have a visible waistline when viewed from above and a slight tuck in the abdomen when viewed from the side. You should be able to feel their ribs without pressing too hard but not see them protruding.

Treats

Treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding good behavior, but they should be given in moderation, as excessive treats can contribute to weight gain and nutritional imbalances. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats and remember to account for them in your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Xoloitzcuintli. Make sure to provide clean water in a bowl that is easily accessible and check it regularly to ensure it remains full and fresh.

coated Xoloitzcuintli puppy
Photo: Winslow-foto/Getty Images

Health

The Xoloitzcuintli is generally a healthy and robust breed with a life expectancy of 13 to 18 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be susceptible to certain health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise will help maintain your Xolo’s overall health and well-being.

Here are common health issues associated with the Xoloitzcuintli:

Dental Problems: The hairless variety of Xolos often has dental issues due to their unique genetic makeup, which can result in missing or misaligned teeth. Regular dental care, including brushing and providing dental chews, is essential to prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth loss.

Skin Issues: Hairless Xolos are prone to skin problems such as acne, dryness, and sunburn due to their lack of protective fur. Maintaining a regular skincare routine, including bathing, moisturizing, and applying sunscreen when needed, can help prevent these issues.

Hip Dysplasia: Like many dog breeds, Xolos can be susceptible to hip dysplasia, a congenital condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly. This can lead to arthritis and pain in the affected joint. Regular veterinary check-ups, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing joint supplements can help manage this condition.

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal position, causing discomfort and lameness. It can be congenital or the result of trauma. Treatment options include weight management, anti-inflammatory medications, and surgery in severe cases.

Eye Issues: Xolos can be prone to eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and glaucoma. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian can help detect and manage these conditions early on.

Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dog standing in a meadow
Photo: creativebird

History

The Xoloitzcuintli is an ancient breed with a rich history that dates back over 3,000 years. Believed to have originated in Mexico, this unique breed has been revered by various Mesoamerican civilizations, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, and Maya.

The breed’s name is derived from the Aztec god “Xolotl” and the Nahuatl word “itzcuintli,” which means dog. According to Aztec mythology, Xolotl was the god of lightning, fire, and the underworld, who created the Xoloitzcuintli from a sliver of the Bone of Life to protect and guide the souls of the deceased through the challenges of the afterlife.

This association with the afterlife led to the widespread belief that Xolos had mystical and healing powers, providing comfort and warding off evil spirits.

In addition to their spiritual significance, Xolos were also valued for their practical purposes. Their body heat made them natural bed warmers during cold nights, and their keen hunting instincts made them efficient vermin controllers in households and on farms.

Moreover, their hairless skin was believed to possess curative properties, and they were often used in traditional medicine to treat ailments such as rheumatism, asthma, and insomnia.

Despite their esteemed status in pre-Columbian America, the arrival of European colonizers in the 16th century brought new dog breeds to the continent, leading to a decline in the Xolo’s popularity. By the 19th century, the breed was on the brink of extinction, with only a few isolated populations remaining in remote areas of Mexico.

Efforts to revive the breed began in the early 20th century when Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo started featuring Xolos in their paintings, sparking renewed interest in the breed. In 1954, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) officially recognized the Xoloitzcuintli, and dedicated breeders began working to preserve and promote this ancient dog.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Xoloitzcuintli in 2011, adding it to the Non-Sporting Group. Since then, the breed has gained popularity in the United States as a unique and intelligent companion. Today, the Xoloitzcuintli is still considered a rare breed, but its numbers are steadily increasing thanks to the dedication of passionate breeders and enthusiasts.

In popular culture, the Xoloitzcuintli has gained recognition through its appearances in art, literature, and film. In recent years, the breed has also made its way into Hollywood, with a Xolo named Dante starring in the 2017 animated movie “Coco.”

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Xoloitzcuintli in the United States is the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America (XCA). Founded in 1986, the XCA is dedicated to preserving and promoting the unique and ancient Xoloitzcuintli breed.

The club focuses on education, responsible breeding practices, and fostering a community of enthusiasts who share a passion for the breed. For more information about the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America, you can visit their official website.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Xoloitzcuintli’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Xoloitzcuintli/mexican hairless dog and her puppies playing
Photo: Ekaterina Gorokhova/Getty Images

Acquiring

Planning to welcome a Xoloitzcuintli into your home? Start by arranging a cozy bed, high-quality food, engaging toys, grooming essentials for their unique skin, and locating a top-notch vet.

If purchasing is on your mind, remember to choose a reputable breeder to ensure a healthy, well-socialized pup. But, have you considered rescue? Numerous Xolos in shelters are waiting to share their warmth and loyalty with a new family. The American Kennel Club and the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America can guide you through this rewarding journey.

Whether you adopt or buy, you’re gaining more than a pet. You’re inviting a piece of ancient history, a loyal companion and an intriguing conversation starter into your life. With a Xolo, every day is an exploration filled with affection, intelligence, and that irresistible warm-to-the-touch charm!

FAQs

Are Xoloitzcuintli dogs rare?

Yes, the Xoloitzcuintli is considered a rare breed, with relatively few breeders and limited availability. However, their popularity is growing, and dedicated breeders are working to preserve and promote this ancient breed.

Are Xoloitzcuintli dogs aggressive?

Xolos are not inherently aggressive, but they can be protective of their family. Early socialization and proper training are essential to ensure that they become well-adjusted and sociable pets.

Are Xoloitzcuintli dogs hypoallergenic?

The hairless variety of Xolos is often considered hypoallergenic, as they produce fewer allergens due to their lack of fur. However, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, and individual reactions to dogs may vary.

Why are Xoloitzcuintli dogs so special?

Xolos are unique due to their ancient origins, hairless appearance, and fascinating history in Mesoamerican culture. Revered for their mystical associations and practical uses, these dogs have captivated people for thousands of years.

Do Xoloitzcuintli dogs require a lot of grooming?

Hairless Xolos require regular skin care, including bathing, moisturizing, and sun protection. Coated Xolos have minimal grooming needs, only requiring occasional brushing to remove loose hair.

How much exercise do Xoloitzcuintli dogs need?

Xolos typically need about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily, depending on their size, age, and energy level. This can include activities such as walks, jogs, hikes, or dog sports like agility and obedience.

Can Xoloitzcuintli dogs adapt to apartment living?

Yes, Xolos can adapt well to apartment living, as long as they receive adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation. They are relatively quiet dogs and can be comfortable in smaller living spaces.

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