Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Unusual Breed: Xoloitzcuintle

Two Xolos, one hairless and one coated.
The Xolo, or Mexican hairless, is one of several hairless dog breeds. So, how do you pronounce the only breed name that begins with an "X?" It's pronounced "show-low-eets-queen-tlee" and the name is derived from the ancient Aztec language. Like all hairless breeds, there is a coated variety. Because of the nature of the hairless gene, coated Xolos can be born in any litter born from two hairless dogs. It comes in three sizes: Toy, Miniature, and Standard. It is a rather healthy breed, but is prone to issues that are very unusual in dogs, such as acne.

The three sizes
The FCI recognizes the Xolo as a pariah or primitive breed, a group which also includes the basenji, Canaan dog, pharaoh hound, and Thai ridgeback dog. As such, they have a particular temperament that can make them a bit difficult to train. It is likely that the Xolo was the first American breed, with evidence pointing toward them crossing the Bering Straight land bridge along with humans.

In Mexico, these dogs were used to treat numerous ailments, acting as living hot water bottles because of their warm skin. In certain areas, the dogs still serve this exact purpose. They were also used as guardians, and sometimes sacrificed on the death of their owner in the belief that they would guide the soul to the afterlife. They were also eaten, considered a delicacy before the arrival of the Spanish.

The Xoloitzcuintle was featured in a rather amusing spot on Animal Plant's Dog's 101.

Sources are the AKC and FCI breed standards and Vet Street. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under creative common licenses: one, two


  1. Xolos have a normal body temperature, they just feel warmer because of the lack of coat. The Dogs101 bit has some misinformation in it, which seems par for the course for that show.

  2. Yeah. I watched their spot on the basenji and cried out "they don't hunt lions!"