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We’re proud to share Xolo info about the endearing qualities of this extraordinary dog to help you learn about the Xolo – its origin, history, culture, features of the breed, and other fascinating facts.
A living symbol of Mexico’s ancient civilizations, the Xoloitzcuintli has an extensive history.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Xolos accompanied man on his first migrations across the Bering Straits. Archaeologists have discovered clay and ceramic statues of dogs nearly identical to the current-day Xolo in tombs of the Toltec, Aztec, Mayan, Zapoteca, and Colima peoples. The famous pottery dogs of Colima provide evidence of the intricate bond which has existed between man and Xolo for centuries. The Florentine Codex documented dogs as the chichi itzcuintle, the tehui, the talchichi, and the xoloitzcuintle.
Around the same time Xolos showed up in civilizations, they started to appear in art throughout Mesoamerica. The sculpture and paintings of early South American cultures include representations of dogs that look an awful lot like modern-day Xolos. Because the dogs were celebrated for their healing properties and connection to the spirit world, they’re represented in a lot of sacred art such as burial icons and representations of the gods.
Xolos are also part of 20th century art history, having appeared in the life and works of famed artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Rivera and Kahlo, who are famed for their respective artwork as well as their long, tumultuous relationship, raised Xolos in their shared homes. In fact, the Dolores Olmedo Museum continues to host Xolos on its grounds, and continues to be popularized by artisans and contemporary artist in a variety of expressions.
According to Aztec legend, the Xolo came about when the god of death, Xolotl, created a dog from the Bone of Life. Xolotl gave the dog to Man and instructed him to guard it with his life. In exchange, the dog would guide Man through the underworld on the way to the heavens. The word Xoloitzcuintli combines “Xolotl”, the Aztec god of the underworld, with “itzcuintli,” the Aztec word for dog. Xolos were often sacrificed and buried with their masters in order to guide the soul on its journey to the underworld.
In recent mythology, Xolos have been connected to the Chupacabra, a figure in Latin American folklore that preys on farm animals. Chupacabras don’t exist, but some urban legend enthusiasts believe their origins may lie in the unusual-looking hairless dog. The chupacabra legend is so pervasive that frightened farmers have mistaken Xolos for the mythological creature.
In Aztec tradition, Xolos were viewed as guardians, warding off both intruders and evil spirits. They were also believed to have healing properties, and it’s easy to see why; without fur to hold in body heat, they radiate more warmth than other dogs, and are effective “heating pads” on cool nights.
Xolos are still used as comforting healers. While modern science has debunked the idea that Xolos can cure ailments, like any dog they can offer health benefits like lower blood pressure and stress, and ease loneliness. Overall, it’s hard to deny the magical qualities of a hairless dog.
Hairless: The most important characteristic is the complete or almost complete lack of any hair in the body, with a smooth and soft skin. The particular feature is that the dentition is nearly always incomplete, associated to the congenital hairless gene.
Coated: A very attractive, completely short coated dog. Coat should be tight, flat and smooth with no undercoat. The coated variety should have the same harmonious proportions as the hairless variety in conformation, the dentition must be complete (42 teeth) normally developed and in a normal position.
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.
- Toy – Height at withers (shoulder) at least 10, and up to and including 14 inches.
- Miniature – Height at withers over 14 inches, and up to and including 18 inches.
- Standard – Height at withers over 18 inches, and up to and including 23 inches.
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 Fédération Cynologique Internationale (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.
Federación Canófila Mexicana (FCM – Mexican Canine Federation) adheres to the FCI norms but does not accept coated Xolos without genetic proof; the coated variety is not permitted to compete.
Breed Name: XOLOITZCUINTLE
Breed Number: 234
Group: Group : n°5 – Spitz and primitive types
Section: Primitive type
Date of acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI: 11/6/1961
Official authentic language: Spanish
Date of publication of the official valid standard: 10/8/2012
Breed status: Recognized on a definitive basis
Country of origin of the breed: Mexico
Working trial: Not subject to a working trial according to the FCI breeds nomenclature
Varieties: Miniature, Intermediate, Standard
Date of publication of the standard: 1/28/2014
Xolos are generally a healthy, happy companion that enjoys outdoor walks and play. Xolos need a consistent training regiment and clearly defined boundaries. Good nutrition is very important, especially considering its typically week dental condition, but easy care & little grooming.
Coated Xolos require occasional brushing of short hair, and hairless Xolos should be cared with a non-comedogenic lotion to hydrate the skin. Despite its cautious approach to strangers and loud noises, their peaceful and loyal nature makes the Xolo great as a guardian, friend, and playmate for children as well as adults. Xolos enjoy an expected lifespan of 14-20 years.
Contrary to belief, the hairless variety is not considered hypoallergenic; the hairlessness is only less likely to affect people with allergies. The Xolo does produce dander, saliva and urine, which carry allergens and can produce diverse effects in humans.
- Black* 007
- Brindle* 057
- Bronze* 060
- Dark Brown* 078
- Fawn* 082
- Gray* 100
- Liver* 123
- Palomino* 282
- Red* 140
- White* 199
- Black & White 019
- Black, White & Tan 034
- Merle 131
- Pink & Brown 518
- Tan 195
- White & Black 202
Accepted Markings are:
- Black Markings* 002
- Spotted Marking* 021
- Tan Markings* 012
- White Markings* 014
*Standard Colors. Numbers refer to Registration Code.
- The Xoloitzcuintli was the American Kennel Club’s 170th officially-recognized breed, admitted in 2010 and competed in 2011.
- The name is pronounced show-low-etz-queent-lee.
- Other names for the breed include Mexican hairless and Tepezcuintli.
- Look carefully – acceptable alternate spellings of the Xolo are Xoloitzcuintli, Xoloitzcuintle, Xoloitzquintle, and Xoloescuincle.
- The breed was first recognized by the Mexican Kennel Club (now, FCM) on May 1st, 1956.
- Xolos appear in paintings by famous Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
- The professional football (soccer) club in Baja California Norte is known as the Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente.
- The Xolo has been recognized as Mexico’s National Dog (year unknown), the state dog of Colima (year unknown), and as Mexico City’s Official Dog (2016).
- The Xolo has 3 sizes – toy, miniature (intermediate), and standard – and 2 varieties, hairless and coated.
- The word Xoloitzcuintle is derived from the name of the Aztec god Xolotl (twin brother of the god Quetzacoatl), and the Aztec word for dog, itzcuintli.
- The Kennel Club of Great Britain registers and allows Xolos to be shown – but they are still known as “Mexican Hairless”.
- Xolos enjoy an expected lifespan of 14-20 years.