How do you feel about an ancient dog breed with a strikingly unique appearance? Does a highly intelligent, highly energetic dog sound like a match made in heaven? If so, meet the new talk of the neighborhood, the Xolo!
Pronounced show-low-eets-queen-tli and known as the "Mexican Hairless Dog" or "Xolo," the Xoloitzcuintli originates from Mexico, and its ancestry dates back an amazing 3,000 years! In fact, the Xolo’s were considered a sacred dog and worshiped by the Aztecs, Mayan's, and Toltec's who believed the dogs would help guide their master's souls safely through the underworld - though it seems the dogs themselves were in need of their own help.
The breed was almost completely eradicated when the Aztecs were defeated by the Spanish, but luckily, due to a few breed enthusiast, they made an astounding comeback in the mid-twentieth century and went on to become one of the first breeds to be recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the national dog of Mexico.
Renowned Mexican painter Frida Kahlo famously loved and owned Xoloitzcuintlis.
Hunting for Laps
Although the Xolo was originally bred as a companion dog, this breed falls in the Pariah, or "primitive", category. Being a close relative of the Sighthounds, this is a dog that is a skilled hunting companion and enjoys chasing small animals. Today, they are primarily used as lapdogs.
While the Xolo is known to be quite affectionate towards it's family, they can be slightly reserved side with strangers. They have an innate sense of obligation to guard and protect their family, but they're typically quite calm and easy to train. As long as the Xolo is properly socialized at a young age, they should do fine with children and other animals. However, because of their breed inclination, keeping other small animals in the home may not be the best idea.
Escape from Alcatraz!
The Xolo has a high activity level, which, when combined with their high intelligence, has led to their reputation as "escape artists." They're spry and smart, and they'll gladly digging under or jump over a fence to chase after little critters. If you'd considering a Xolo, be sure your prepared to give this high energy breed the exercise it needs!
All Shapes and Sizes
Don't let the name "Mexican Hairless Dog" fool you! This breed actually comes in both hairless and coated. Closely resembling the Pharaoh hound, the Xolo is characterized by their bat-like ears, sleek body, and almond-shaped eyes. Most of the hairless Xolo's are black or blue in color with a little tuft of hair on the top of their head.
The Xolo comes in three build categories: toy, miniature, and standard. Therefore, it can weigh anywhere between 9 - 31 pounds and can grow to a height between 13 to 23 inches.
Where's Your Coat?!?!
However, care must be taken in cold climates to keep hairless types warm, especially during the winter. Also concerning for hairless varieties are sunburn, acne, and other skin and allergy issues. Yearly dental checkups will be required as the Xolo's tends to have an incomplete set of teeth!
Health Concerns....or Not?
Because the Xolo is a considered a primitive Pariah breed, and their genetics have not been tampered with for thousands of years, they are among the healthiest purebreds out there!
The average lifespan of a Xoloitzcuintli is 15 - 20 years.
As you begin looking for a Xoloitzcuintli, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
With a half decade's worth of "World's Ugliest Dog" titles under their belt, Xolos aren't for everyone. But you're not "everyone," and the Xolo might just be the unique friend you've been waiting for!
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Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005