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Xoloitzcuintle or Mexican Hairless Dog

The Xoloitzcuintle or Xolo for short is a rare breed, numbering only around 20,000 in the world. Often called the Mexican Hairless Dog, the Xolo is a calm, loyal and intelligent dog.


One of the most ancient dog breeds in the Western Hemisphere, they are thought to have originated around 3,500 years ago in Mexico and have changed very little since.

Artifacts and clay pottery depicting the Xolo have been found
 in the tombs of Colima, Mayan and Aztec Indians.
The name Xoloitzcuintle, which is pronounced “Show-low-eats-qweent-lee” combines “Xolotl” the Aztec god of the underworld, with “itzcuintli", the Aztec word for dog.

Xolos served the Aztecs and Mayans as healers, hunters, guard dogs and bed warmers but they were also used as a food source and sacrificial token. The meat of the Xoloitzcuintle (or Xoloitzcuintli in Nahuatl language) was considered a delicacy in pre-Hispanic Mexico, eaten by the indigenous population as a ritual to their beliefs and was regarded as a representative of "Xolotl" - the god of lightning and death - from which its name originates. 

Its task was to guide the souls of the dead to their eternal destination. Therefore the dog became scarce, reaching a point of near extinction in the 1950’s.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her Xolos (1944)
Without the efforts of the Federacion Canofila Mexicana (FCM) and a group of dedicated volunteers, it is quite possible that the Xolo breed would not be here today. 

Early expeditions to remote villages in Mexico were organised to gather breeding stock with a breeding program officially starting in 1956: these dogs were the foundation of the modern day Xoloitzcuintle breed. The Xoloitzcuintle is the national dog of Mexico and is treasured by people.

The first Xolo only arrived in Australia in 2009 followed by 3 more after 2010 and the first litter was born in 2014 which explains why they are still a rare sight here.


All Xolos should display a well-proportioned body, ample chest, well-sprung ribs with long limbs and tail. There are three different sizesMiniature (25-35cm), Intermediate (36-45cm) and Standard (46-60cm, with a 2cm allowance in top quality dogs).
Photo Credit: Diane Andersen - Animal Images Photography
The Xolo comes in two varieties and can be hairless or coated. The hairless Xolo is a very attractive dog characterised by a lack of hair with smooth and soft skinThe coated Xolo is fully coated and displays the same proportions. Both varieties occur in all hair or skin colours, and often marked, splashed, or spotted. The most common colours are termed black with also varying shades of grey and red.

Xolos often have tusk-like canine teeth and a particular feature (in the hairless variety) is that the dentition is nearly always incomplete, associated to the hairless gene whilst the coated dogs have full dentition.

Their well developed interdigital membranes in the toes are somewhat prehensile, allowing them to grip toys with dexterity!

For the full breed standard, please visit the ANKC website


The Xoloitzcuintle's primitive temperament (very high intelligence, sensitivity, high energy, inquisitiveness, strong survival and social instincts) is apparent because the breed's temperament was not modified overall by selective breeding in their native history in Mexico.

The Xoloitzcuintle is a calm dog, cheerful and alert yet reserved towards strangers. He is an intelligent, loyal and extremely devoted companion but he can also be an effective watch dog.

The Xolo makes a wonderful pup however just with all dogs, puppies need to be well socialised. With an intelligent and fast learning attitude, they will require an owner who utilises a consistent and structured training routine to earn their respect.

Photo Credit: Diane Andersen - Animal Images Photography
The Xoloitzcuintle needs a great deal of companionship and does not like being left alone for more than a few hours. Sometimes referred to as “Velcro dogs”, bored Xolos can become anxious and suffer from separation anxiety, which they express by destructive chewing and excessive barking.

They also have a tendency to climb or dig to escape from confinement so high secure fences are a must. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you!

These dogs exhibit well in conformation, they excel in the obedience and agility arenas and they are also used worldwide as therapy and assistance dogs.


Photo Credit: Diane Andersen - Animal Images Photography

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. 

As Xolos came from tropical climates they are not suited for outdoor life in colder temperate and should be considered an indoor dog breed. 

Their average lifespan is between 12 and 15 years.


Xolos enjoy food and are well-known to enjoy chomping on some fruit and vegies.

Because they are hairless, they will require a dog coat during the cooler months and in summer a sun coat and/or sun protection should be used. 
Weekly bathing and skin care is also recommended.
Photo Credit: Diane Andersen - Animal Images Photography

We would like to thank Jacqi Dinis from Wazzat Xoloitzcuintle for her assistance with this story. For more information on this unique breed, please visit the following websites:

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