Xoloitzcuintli Breed Guide

The Xoloitzcuintli comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. The breed also comes in two varieties: hairless and coated. The hairless variety has smooth, tough, protective, and close fitting skin, while the coated variety is covered by a layer of short and flat coat. These dogs are dark and uniform in color, although some may have white markings. Colors include black, slate, gray black, red, liver, and bronze. The eyes are medium and almond shaped, the ears are large, and the skull is wedge shaped. Toy Xoloitzcuintlis measure 10 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 9 to 18 pounds; Miniatures measure 14 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 13 to 22 pounds; Standards measure 18 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 20 to 31 pounds.

Xolos are protective and wary of strangers, making them good watchdogs.

Calm, aloof, tranquil, and clever, the Xoloitzcuintli makes an excellent companion animal. These dogs have moderate grooming and exercise needs, and they love their human family members very much. They are highly adaptable and do well in most living situations, but they tend to be dependent and needy.

The Xoloitzcuintli's name is pronounced show-low-eets-kweent-lee, or "Xolo" for short. These ancient dogs hail from Mexico, and their name is a combination of Xolotl, an Aztec god, and Itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog. The breed is also referred to as the Mexican Hairless.

Calm, watchful, and devoted, the Xoloitzcuintli makes a great companion animal for families with older children and a lot of free time. These dogs are affectionate, loving, and sweet, and they bond strongly with their human family. They are highly adaptable, but they are a delicate-skinned breed that needs to live indoors. Xolos are protective and wary of strangers, making them good watchdogs.

Xolos need plenty of exercise every day. A 30-minute walk, romp through an open field, or play time in a securely fenced yard are all good ways to exercise the Xolo. Mental stimulation is just as important when it comes to keeping these dogs happy, though. Dog sports, puzzle toys, and regular human interaction are all very helpful.

These dogs have a reputation for being needy. They can become depressed if boarded or left alone for long periods, and they may act out when lonely or bored. Destructive behaviors, such as digging, chewing, and climbing, tend to worsen when the Xolo is feeling unloved or underappreciated.

Xoloitzcuintlis are a generally healthy breed and are not known to suffer from very many genetic diseases or other health problems. However, this is no guarantee that any individual dog will be free of health concerns. Also, Xolos are sensitive to the sun and should wear sunscreen when outdoors. They are also sensitive to extreme temperatures; a dog sweater will help keep the breed warm during winter, and air-conditioning is essential during warmer months.

Xolos, like other hairless dogs, are prone to missing teeth; hairlessness and missing teeth are genetically associated. The breed is also prone to skin problems, including acne. Most health problems in Xoloitzcuintlis are easily manageable.

Xoloitzcuintlis typically live a long life of 12 to 14 years, provided they receive routine veterinary care, daily exercise, balanced nutrition, and timely vaccinations.

Quick learners, Xolos take well to both obedience and housetraining. They respond very well to positive reinforcement techniques, including play, praise, and food rewards, but training sessions must be kept short and interesting in order to hold the breed's attention. Harsh corrections and criticisms are generally not effective when training these dogs.

Training should continue throughout life to keep these dogs mentally and physically stimulated. Generally, most negative behaviors in this breed are a result of boredom, neglect, or restlessness. Ongoing training will not only help correct inappropriate behaviors, but it will also help treat the underlying causes of such behaviors.

Socialization is important when it comes to caring for this breed. Without it, Xolos may become fearful when presented with unfamiliar people or situations. Having people visit the Xolo's home, trips around the neighborhood, trips to local businesses, and time at the dog park help ensure these dogs grow into and remain sociable, sensible, and tolerant dogs.

Easy to groom, the Xoloitzcuintli needs weekly brushing if any coat is present. This should be done gently with a soft brush. Areas without coat require no brushing or other care, other than bathing.

Bathing the Xolo will keep the skin clean and help prevent acne development. A warm, dampened cloth will remove most dirt from the skin on a daily basis. Weekly, a mild dog shampoo should be used to thoroughly wash the skin. Following each daily wipe-down, application of a moisturizing lotion helps the skin remain supple. Because some hairless breeds are sensitive to lanolin, consult a veterinarian before choosing a moisturizing product.

The nails need clipping every week or two to avoid potentially painful snags, and the ears should be checked weekly for signs of ear infection. Excess ear wax is removable with a veterinarian-approved otic cleanser and cotton balls. Also, daily brushing with a doggy toothpaste and toothbrush will keep the breath fresh and prevent cavities and gum disease from developing.

Xoloitzcuintlis are one of the rarest and oldest dog breeds in the world. They are also entitled to being called the first dog of the Americas. Archaeological evidence, including reports from Spanish conquistadors and depictions on pre-Columbian pottery, point to Xolos accompanying man on the first migrations across the Bering Straits.

The breed's name comes from the Aztec Indian god, Xolotl, and the Aztec word for dog, which is Itzcuintli. Xolos had a reputation as healers, and their warm skin was used to ward off evil and to cure various ailments, including asthma, insomnia, rheumatism, and toothaches. People in remote Central American and Mexican villages believed these dogs protected the home from intruders and evil spirits.

Popular dogs during the 1930s and 1940s, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and other artists often portrayed the dogs in their works. Over time, though, the breed's popularity declined and its numbers dropped so low that the AKC eliminated the Xoloitzcuintli from its studbook.

The American Kennel Club didn't officially recognize the Xoloitzcuintli until 2011.