Perhaps having the most complicated and unique breed name, the Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced “show-low-eetz-KWEENT-lee”) is an ancient and usually hairless breed originating in Mexico. They are often called “the first dog of the Americas.”
History and Origin of the Xoloitzcuintli
The Xolos (as they are known for short) have been around for several centuries and have been depicted on pieces of ancient pottery; additionally, Xolos were referenced in written letters of Spanish conquistadors. They were originally revered by the Aztecs as sacred guides of their masters’ souls through the underworld, and their name originates from the Aztec god Xolotl, the god of lightning and death. Interestingly, Xolos have been often mistaken for the mythical Chupacabra.
Appearance and Size of the Xoloitzcuintli
Xolos come in three sizes: toy (9-18 pounds), miniature (13-22 pounds), and standard (20-31 pounds). Most Xolos are hairless; however, some do have short, smooth coats. They have lean bodies, large perked ears, and a wrinkled brow. Their color ranges widely, with some being splotched or spotted in areas.
Personality of the Xoloitzcuintli
Xolos are true companion dogs, and crave the affection and attention of their humans. Their cautious temperament and alertness enables them to be a good watchdog. Early socialization can help to reduce fear in unfamiliar situations.
Home and Family Relations with the Xoloitzcuintli
While the Xolos bond strongly with their family, they can be sensitive and do best in families with adults or older children able to treat them respectfully. They can take a while to become accustomed to strangers and may have difficulty adapting to boarding situations. Xolos are ideal for families with other pets, including cats.
Training of the Xoloitzcuintli
A quick learner, the Xolos take to basic obedience and housetraining well. Short, frequent training sessions using positive reinforcement is the key to making training a snap, and they respond well to rewards like food, play, or praise.
Grooming of the Xoloitzcuintli
Weekly bathing is recommended, even for the hairless Xolos, in order to keep the skin clean and blemish-free. For the hairless Xolos, applying a moisturizer will help keep their skin well-hydrated.
Special Care of the Xoloitzcuintli
Xolos can be sensitive to sun; therefore, it is imperative to apply a dog-safe sunscreen when they will be spending time in the sun. Off-peak exercise times (early morning or later evening) may be of benefit during sunny seasons.
Common Diseases and Disorders of the Xoloitzcuintli
Conditions more commonly found in Xolos include skin problems such as acne and incomplete sets of teeth, both found in the hairless variety. Hairless Xolos frequently are missing some teeth, particularly the premolars.
Life Span of the Xoloitzcuintli
The average life span of the Xoloitzcuintli is approximately 12-15 years.