The Xoloitzcuintle (pronounced show-low-eats-queent-lee) or Mexican Hairless Dog is a rare, ancient dog breed that originated in Mexico, during the Aztec Empire. The history of the breed goes back more than 3,500 years. The Xoloitzcuintle is thought to be one of the first dog breeds ever and is considered a natural breed that was created as a result of a spontaneous genetic mutation. Historians believe that these dogs reached the American continent together with the first human beings who crossed the Bering Strait. “Strange hairless dogs” were mentioned in the 1492 journals of Columbus and other European explorers.
FUN FACT: A Spanish missionary named Bernadino de Sahagún described how the Aztec would tuck Xolo dogs in blankets at night to keep them warm.
The Xoloitzcuintle - history
This breed got a name from the Aztec deity Xolotl, the god of fire and the escort of the dead to the underworld, and “itzcuintli,” the Aztec word for dog. These dogs were believed to be miraculous and with healing powers (they would help in cases of asthma, toothache, insomnia and rheumatism). Xoloitzcuintle dogs were also believed to be the guides for the dead, on their way to the next world. They would frighten away evil spirits. The Aztec believed these dogs were sacred. This had its downside too. These dogs were often sacrificed and buried alongside their owners, as they were helping them to go to the other side.
FUN FACT: The Xoloitzcuintle dogs were also considered good eats and were occasional food source.
The first time the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club was in 1887 and the first Xoloitzcuintle registered with the AKC was named Mee Too. However, up until 1956 the breed was not officially recognized by the rest of the world. Today, the Xoloitzcuintle dogs are companion dogs and are considered a national treasure in Mexico.
The Xoloitzcuintle - dog breed
The Xoloitzcuintle comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. Toy sized Xolo can reach 10-14 inches in height and weights 10-15 pounds. Miniature sized Xolo can reach 14-18 inches in height and weights 15-30 pounds. Standard variety can reach 18-23 inches and can weight 30-55 pounds. The Xoloitzcuintle has a sleek body, almond-shaped eyes, large bat-like ears, a long neck and tail.
FUN FACT: All Xoloitzcuintle dogs have one dominant hairless gene and one recessive coated gene. Because of this, about one third of Xoloitzcuintle dogs actually have coats.
The Xoloitzcuintle has a sturdy, muscular body and if there is a coat on that body, the coat is short and easy to care. The coat requires occasional brushing and in comes in variety of colors (black, gray-black, slate, red, liver or bronze). Hairless version of this breed often has some hair only on the top of their head, their feet, and the last third of their tail. This version requires more care because their smooth skin is exposed at all times. When it’s sunny outside, the Xoloitzcuintle needs to have sunscreen applied to his body. The skin needs to be frequently washed and moisturized. These dogs are best suited to warm climates. In cold weather, they should be walked in a sweater or a coat to keep them warm.
FUN FACT: Although their body temperature is the same, hairless Xoloitzcuintle dogs feel warmer to the touch than coated ones and this is probably what helped people think they could help with ailments.
The Xoloitzcuintle’s nails should be trimmed regularly, teeth brushed few times a week, and ears cleaned every few days to prevent buildup. The Xoloitzcuintle, unlike other dogs, sweats through the skin and paw pads, so it is important to keep those areas clean.
The Xoloitzcuintle - training
The Xoloitzcuintle is highly athletic, active and agile, but needs only moderate daily exercise. Long daily walks and occasional jog will be sufficient to keep them happy and healthy. The Xoloitzcuintle is intelligent, sensitive and devoted breed. This breed is one of the noblest and most loyal breeds in the world. These dogs love their families, and they bond very tightly with the person who feeds them and spends time with them. They desire attention and need a lot of personal interaction with their humans. These dogs are sensitive to stress, yelling and arguing; they need to be a part of a harmonious home. They are also very protective of their family and they make excellent watchdogs. Downside is that these dogs will bark at almost anything, they are too quick to sound the alarm at everything new, so important thing is to teach them to stop barking on a command.
The Xoloitzcuintle - behavior
The Xoloitzcuintle has a strong pray drive so you should keep an eye on this dog because he will probably chase other animals they see outdoors. However, if raised together, this dog can live peacefully with cat or some other animal.
The Xoloitzcuintle require extensive and early socialization and training. Socialization is extremely important because these dogs are high-strung or and timid of new people and new, unknown situations. These dogs are easy to train. However, they have an independent mind and can me manipulative. Important is to show your Xolo that you mean what you say. The dog needs to respect you in order for a training to be a success. Also, the Xoloitzcuintle breed is hard to housebreak. Consistent crate training is mandatory.
FUN FACT: The Xoloitzcuintle breed became very popular when Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera adopted few of them in 1920s.
The Xoloitzcuintle - health issues
The Xoloitzcuintle has a life expectancy of 13-18 years and is one pretty healthy breed. There aren’t any breed-related health concerns known. However, responsible breeders will screen their Xoloitzcuintle dogs before breeding them, including screening for hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, as well as heart and eye disorders. Also, some hairless Xolos don’t have a full set of teeth. They are often missing their premolars, the bicuspids located between the canines and the molars. Dentition is believed to be genetically linked to the gene that causes hairlessness. This is not faulted in the show ring.
The price of a purebred Xoloitzcuintle is somewhere between $600 and $800.
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