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Mexican Hairless Dog

The Xoloitzcuintle (/zoʊloʊ.iːtsˈkwiːntli/ ZOH-loh-eets-KWEENT-lee), or Xolo for short, is a hairless breed of dog, found in toy, miniature and standard sizes. It is also known as Mexican hairless dog in English speaking countries. In Nahuatl, from which its English name originates, its name is xōlōitzcuintli /ʃoːloːit͡sˈkʷint͡ɬi/ (singular) and xōlōitzcuintin /ʃoːloːit͡sˈkʷintin/ (plural). The name xōlōitzcuintli comes from the god Xolotl and itzcuīntli /it͡skʷiːnt͡ɬi/, meaning dog in Nahuatl. A genetic study was recently conducted in order to determine the origin of the Xoloitzcuintli breed. The study did not find a close genetic relationship between Xoloitzcuintli and the Chinese Crested Dog. However, the study showed that this breed did not result from a separate domestication of dogs in the New World. Xoloitzcuintli appear to have been a result of a mixture of several Old World dog breeds.


The Xolo is native to Mexico. Archaeological evidence shows that the breed has existed in Mexico for more than 3,000 years. Most likely, early forerunners of the Xolo originated as spontaneous hairless mutations of indigenous American dogs. Hairlessness may have offered a survival advantage in tropical regions. Indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central and South America had Xolo dogs as home and hunting companions, and today they are still very popular companion dogs. They are also the national dog of Mexico. Their value in ancient native cultures is evidenced by their frequent appearance in art and artifacts: for example, those produced by the Colima, Aztec and Toltec civilizations in Mexico. Xolos were considered sacred dogs by the Aztecs (and also Toltecs, Maya and some other groups) because they believed the dogs were needed by their masters’ souls to help them safely through the underworld. They were also useful companion animals. According to Aztec mythology, the god Xolotl made the Xoloitzcuintli from a sliver of the Bone of Life from which all mankind was made. Xolotl gave this gift to Man with the instruction to guard it with his life and in exchange it would guide Man through the dangers of Mictlan, the world of Death, toward the Evening Star in the Heavens. Some people in Mexico continue to believe this breed has healing qualities. The Aztecs also raised the breed for their meat. Sixteenth-century Spanish accounts tell of large numbers of dogs being served at banquets. Aztec Merchant feasts could have 80-100 turkeys and 20-40 dogs served as food. When these two meats were served in the same dish, the dog meat was at the bottom of the dish, either because it was held in higher regard or because it was increasingly considered a step above cannibalism. The Aztecs consumed few domesticated animals like Xolos or turkey. Over 90% of the bones found at archeological sites are of deer that were hunted. When Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492, his journal entries noted the presence of strange hairless dogs. Subsequently, Xolos were transported back to Europe.

The breed is not well known in the United States. As a result, the Xolo has been mistaken for the mythical Chupacabra of Mexico. The Xoloitzcuintli is the symbol of Club Tijuana, a Mexican professional football club.


Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)

Despite the Xolo's more than 3000 year history in Mexico, the breed did not receive any official notice in its homeland until the 1950s. The FCI, founded in 1940, was not prepared to declare the Xolo an official purebred at that time. According to breed historian Norman Pelham Wright, author of The Enigma of the Xoloitzcuintli, Xolos began to turn up at Mexican dog shows in the late 1940s. While they were recognized as indigenous specimens of a native breed, interest in them was minimal at that time, because information was scarce and no standard existed by which to judge them. Within a decade the FCI realized that the breed would become extinct if drastic action were not taken to save it. This led to the widely publicized Xolo Expedition of 1954. With the official sanction of the FCI, Wright and a team of Mexican and British dog authorities set off to discover if any purebred Xolos still existed in remote areas of Mexico. Eventually ten structurally strong Xolos were found and these dogs formed the foundation of Mexico's program to revive the breed. A committee headed by Wright authored the first official standard for the breed; on May 1, 1956 the Xolo was finally recognized in its native land and, as Mexico is a member of the FCI, worldwide.

American Kennel Club (AKC) Xolos were among the first breeds recorded by the American Kennel Club (AKC). A Mexican dog named 'Mee Too' made breed history as the first AKC-registered Xolo in 1887. 'Chinito Junior', bred and owned by Valetska Radtke of New York City, became the breed's only AKC champion to date. He earned his title on October 19, 1940. In 1959, the Xolo was dropped from the AKC stud book due to the breed's scarcity and perceived extinction. The Xoloitzcuintli Club of America (XCA) was founded in October 1986 to regain AKC recognition for the breed. On May 13, 2008, AKC voted to readmit the breed to its Miscellaneous Class starting January 1, 2009. The XCA is the official parent club for the breed, founded on October 26, 1986 for the purpose of regaining AKC recognition for the Xoloitzcuintli. The founding members voted unanimously to recognize all three sizes (toy, miniature and standard) and both varieties (hairless and coated) at their initial meeting. Since then, the XCA has compiled a stud book modeled on requirements for eventual AKC acceptance, held an annual independent specialty show, published a quarterly newsletter, The Xolo News, and maintained an active national rescue network, National Xolo Rescue (known before 2009 as The Xolo Rescue League). As of January 1, 2007, FSS registered Xolos are eligible to compete in AKC performance events. The breed will be moved into the AKC Studbook in December 2010 and will be eligible to be shown in the AKC Non-Sporting group as of January 1, 2011. The first AKC Group Winning Xolo was Bayshore Mole who won a Group 4 placement February 2, 2011 and this was followed by his littermate Bayshore Georgio Armani receiving back to back group placement. On August 8, 2011 Bayshore Georgio Armani became the first Xolo to be named Best in Show in AKC competition. Bayshore Mole became the first Xolo to win back to back Best in Shows on September 3 and 4, 2011. Both dogs were bred by Bayshore Kennel in Virginia. In February 2012, the Xolo was one of 6 new breeds to make their first appearance at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Characteristics of the Xolo


The breed ranges in size from about 10 to 50 lb (4 to 20 kg). Similar in appearance to a Pharaoh Hound, with a sleek body, almond-shaped eyes, large bat-like ears, and a long neck, the Xolo is notable for its dominant trait of hairlessness. The dominant hairless trait originated in this breed as a spontaneous mutation thousands of years ago. The recessive expression of the trait will produce a coated variety, which is genetically inseparable from the hairless, as the homozygous appearance of the hairless mutation is fatal to the unborn pup. Most litters contain both hairless and coated puppies. The coated variety, covered with a short, flat dense coat represents the original form of the dog, prior to the occurrence of the spontaneous hairless mutation. The hairless variety is completely hairless on the body, with many dogs exhibiting a few short hairs on the top of the head, the toes and the tip of the tail. Most hairless dogs are black or bluish-gray in color. The allele responsible for the Xolo's hairlessness also affects the dog's dentition: Hairless Xolos typically have an incomplete set of teeth while the dogs of the coated variety have complete dentition. The Xolo is moderate in all aspects of its appearance, conveying an impression of strength, agility and elegance. Xolo body proportions are rectangular, slightly longer in total body length than the height measured at the highest point of the withers (top of the shoulders). The breed occurs naturally in two varieties, hairless and coated. Hairless Xolos are the dominant expression of the heterozygous Hh hairless trait. Coated Xolos (hh) are the recessive expression, and breeding hairless to coated or hairless to hairless may produce pups of either or both varieties. Breeding coated to coated will only produce coated pups because they are recessive to the hairless trait and do not carry the dominant H gene. Both varieties occur in all hair or skin colors, and often marked, splashed or spotted. The most common colors are various shades termed black, blue, and red. The breed occurs in a range of sizes, which breeders have standardized into three designations.


Adult Xolos are noted for their calm demeanor, but puppies can be extremely energetic, noisy and often chewy until they reach maturity (after 2 years old), when they settle down and become more calm. The Xolo breed has what is considered 'primitive' temperament traits (very high intelligence, high energy, inquisitiveness, strong hunting and social instincts). Today, Xolos can be escape artists, climbing and jumping fences to chase. Thus they possess guard dog ability and will not back down from a fight. At the same time, adult dogs, when they are raised properly, are known to become steady, well-behaved and affectionate companions. This primitive temperament is apparent because the breed temperament overall has not been modified by selective breeding in their native thousands-years history in Mexico. This has also ensured a sturdy physical nature and vigorous health generally innate in both coated and uncoated Xolos. Xolo behavioral temperament can be similar to that of other Working breeds, with high intelligence, sensitivity, and social instincts. Well-raised Xolos bond strongly with their dog-wise owners. Though physically grown at one year, many dog breeds including Xolos are not 'emotionally mature' until around two years. Like active breeds such as terriers, Xolos need calm, persistent and loving obedience and socialization training during their growing years.

Anyone considering adopting this breed should expect to invest seriously in dog training education for themselves and experience in owning previous active-breed dogs. The adoptor will also need to have in place a spacious, safe physical environment for the dogs' high exercise needs. Problems of behavior are usually the case of the dog 'going crazy' receiving inadequate physical and mental exercise, not the fault of the dog. The Xolo should not be an only dog in most cases, needing social interaction with other dog(s).

Health The Xolo has been developed by natural selection for thousands of years, and is therefore generally not prone to health and structure problems as other dog breeds more modified by human selection efforts. Xolos came from tropical climates and are not suited for outdoor life in colder temperate and northern climates; they should be considered an indoor dog breed. They need bathing, light grooming and skin care as with other dogs of similar physical type, or acne can result. Most skin problems arise from poor breeding, neglect, or over-bathing and over-lotioning, stripping natural protections and clogging pores.

Trivia Xolo was featured in Royal de Luxe's street theater performances in Guadalajara, Mexico (November 2010), Nantes, France (May 2011) and Liverpool (April 2012). A huge puppet of the dog accompanied the company's famous Giants. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente is a Mexican football club named after the dog breed. The Xolo was featured for the first time in the 2012 Westminster Dog Show.

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