Dog Breeds: Just What is a Xoloitzcuintli?

More commonly known as the Mexican Hairless, the Xoloitzcuintli (also referred to as Xoloitzcuintle or, simply, Xolo) is one of the world’s oldest and, perhaps, rarest breeds of dogs. Dating back more than 3,000 years, archaeological digs have unearthed clay pottery and various artifacts depicting the Xoloitzcuintli, in the tombs of the ancient Aztec Indians. Believed to have mystical powers, the Mexican Hairless dogs were highly prized for curative abilities, as well as for their loyalty and extreme intelligence. Today, the modern Xolo remains virtually unchanged from his ancient ancestors.

The ancestors of the Xoloitzcuintli were Asian hairless dogs, called Biche (meaning naked), which were first introduced to Mexico by the predecessors of the Aztec Indians. The Aztecs were quick to find numerous uses for the Xolo, beyond that of a loyal companion; the Mexican Hairless dog was also found to be useful as a way to keep the bed toasty warm, a food source, and as a powerful sacrificial offering. The snuggly warm body heat of the Xoloitzcuintli also likened them to ancient versions of a hot-water bottle, good for relieving cramps and other stomach pains, as well as relieving rheumatic joints. Even when one wasn’t feeling sick, the Xolo was welcome to help keep the bed warm; in fact, when it was extremely cold, it wasn’­t uncommon to have a Three Dog Night.

Clay figurines and remains of the Xolo are also commonly found in Aztec burial digs, due to the fact that they were commonly sacrificed in order to help guide to souls of the dearly departed, leading them to a happy afterlife and providing nourishment to the souls until the afterlife was reached. While he is native to Mexico, the Xoloitzcuintli is found across South America as well. Today, his main purpose is that of a companion animal, but they are also used as agility, show, obedience, service and therapy dogs. The Xolo is not only snuggly warm, he’­s also very versatile.

The Xoloitzcuintli comes in 3 different sizes: toy varieties should be no taller than 14 inches at the shoulder and weigh no more than 15 pounds. The miniature variety of Xolo stands no taller than 20 inches at the shoulder and has a maximum weight of 30 pounds and, finally, the standard Xoloitzcuintli stands a maximum of 30 inches tall and has been known to weigh upwards of 60 pounds as a mature adult. They come in two varieties; coated and hairless, with the naked variety being the most popular of the two. The Hairless his virtually naked with short, tufted hair on the head and tail and skin that is soft and smooth to the touch. The Coated Xoloitzcuintli has a full coat of sleek, short fur and they shed very little. They come in a variety of colors, ranging from black to bronze and can be either of solid color or spotted.

The Xolo is an extremely hardy breed of dog and, surprisingly, they have no known health concerns that are directly linked to the breed. The biggest risk for a Xoloitzcuintli is from temperatures; without fur, they are more susceptible to the elements and, like us, can suffer chapped skin, sunburn and acne. Regular bathing and applying a non-perfumed hypo-allergenic lotion once a month will help to protect his skin. Some teenage dogs suffer from acne but it is easy to clean with soap and water and, provided he has good bathing practices, will disappear relatively quickly.

The Xoloitzcuintli has been bred as a companion animal and for protection and, for these reasons, they are very adept at a variety of different life styles. They make poor kennel dogs and love to be included as a part of the family. While they may not be the dog world’­s beauty queens, the Mexican Hairless does earn a special place for having one of the biggest hearts of all canine companions. If looks aren’­t everything, you just might consider one of these beauties for a wonderful new pal.

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