Xolo Dog – The #1 Dog of the Aztecs: A Very Clever Man’s Best Friend!

xolo dog

Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Kunthida

xolo dog
Xolo Dog Breed

Meet the Xolo Dog – Mexico’s enigmatic, hairless heart-stealer! This unique canine not only moonlights as a living hot water bottle but is steeped in mythical lore. In this article, we’ll unveil the Xolo’s fascinating heritage, endearing quirks, and why they’re the best “naked” companion you never knew you needed!

The complete name of the Xolo dog is difficult to pronounce, in fact, it is often called Mexican Naked Dog or abbreviated to Xolo. Sometimes it’s also spelled “Cholo”.

This peculiar name comes from Xolotl, alias the god of lightning of Aztec mythology represented and he was the god who accompanied the dead on the journey to the other world (called by the Aztecs Mictlan).

Not by chance, some specimens were found in the tombs where the deceased had been buried.

The Sacred Xolo Dog

The Xolo dog was considered a sacred animal. In ancient Mexico, dogs were also involved in special ceremonies, where they were often sacrificed to the gods, in the same way as humans, or brutally eaten since their flesh was much appreciated.

The ancient Mexicans believed that the Xolo dog had healing powers: legend has it that it absorbed the disease of the infirm after four days in close contact with the dog.

The Xolo dog was decimated by the Spanish invasion because the intruders disregarded the indigenous culture it represented.

This dog seriously risked extinction, but in the 1950s an expedition to the highlands of Mexico was organized by the Mexican Dog Federation in search of Xolo dogs.

It ended successfully by finding some dogs that helped the beginning of modern breeding.

The Cholo dog breed is a still primitive breed, little manipulated by the human hand, which boasts iron health and certain longevity.

Childbirth and weaning are processes not at all problematic for the breed, indeed the puppies develop a certain autonomy early.

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3 Sizes & 2 Types: The Xolo Dog Breeds With & Without Hair

There are three sizes: miniature, medium, and standard, there is a Xolo for every aesthetic need.

The gene responsible for the absence of the hair is dominant, in fact, usually, it tends to cross two naked subjects but, because of the reduced diffusion of the breed, it would be really complicated for the breeders to find breeders exclusively without hair.

This is the reason why matings between the different varieties are allowed, provided the subjects are valid and well built.

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The Naked Variety of Xolo Dog

The naked variety of Xolo dogs has a dry and muscled physique and the almost total absence of hair leaves no room for the imagination, every single muscle and wrinkle is highlighted.

A delicate and superior soul, its, even if at times it may appear also haughty and detached, in fact, the Xolo dog shows a great self-confidence, usually, it is indifferent to the strangers, whilst with the members of its herd, it is different.

With them it will show a more lively and playful side, it will become fond of all the members of the family and will be willing to protect them, if necessary.

The Xolo dog is usually quite sociable with the like and should have no problems in accepting other animals, but these are character nuances that can vary from subject to subject.

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A Great Video About The Xolo Dog, the Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)

If you don’t want to watch this long video about the Xolo dog, you can easily scroll down and quickly read the text transcription below…

My name is, Kay Lawson. My kennel name is, Azuwyn, I’m the Judges Education Coordinator for the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America.

I’m the guy that has the job of teaching judges what they should be looking for in my breed. Xolos are great pets for somebody who has a personality and a lifestyle where they can keep up with them.

They are clean because they either don’t have hair or they have a very short coat and it’s a single coat so they don’t do a lot of shedding. They’re very, very loyal to their owner once they bond. It’s a very deep personal spiritual bond.

They are very anticipatory and they can read their people very well. So they make very good therapy dogs, service dogs, because they can kind of anticipate what you want.

 We have dogs that can smell, they can smell for cancer and we have dogs that work with seizure people.

They are very strong-willed, they are very intelligent so they are not a first-time dog for anybody and you really need to have time to be with them, they require a lot of time especially when you first get them.

They need very consistent training. In America, we say Xoloitzcuintli, in Mexico it sounds more like “zcuintli“, the end of it, Xoloitzcuintli, it’s the same word we just don’t pronounce it very good.

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 This breed was not developed for anything. It evolved in a jungle. The first, or the oldest digs that we’ve been able to find, go back to Colima, in Mexico, and they have found them in the tombs of royalty when they have dug them up, but there’s been a further study of dogs in Mexico…

So the archeological digs show us that the dog started to evolve, or change, probably closer to 4,000 years ago than we ever thought.

We used to tell people about 3,000, 3500 years, but those digs now show, that the bred was the way it is now with no hair, 4,000 years ago.

And something happened in the jungle, I wasn’t there. I’ve heard the words, skin pest used, so there was some kind of thing happening where it was advantageous for them to lose their hair.

So it’s a natural process, it’s not manipulated, it’s very, very dominant in this breed. Even now if a Hairless Xolo was to breed with another breed of dog you would end up with hairless specimens of that breed.

When it lived with the indigenous people, when it first came out of the jungle it would have a very religious significance, it was something they had never seen before.

And they would have been hairless and coated at that time, but they wouldn’t have regarded the coated variety truly a Xolo. They believe that the dog was sent to take you to the afterlife. The name was derived from the God of the afterlife, Xoloti, and Itzcuintli is what the word is in Aztec for the dog.

So they would have kind of wanted the hairless ones to stay the same way wolves kind of moved in with men. They threw things away the dogs came and they ate so the dogs figured out if they stayed where they could get food.

At the same time they guarded and they alerted when there were things of danger in the jungle. So it became a very cooperative relationship. When they first came out they would have been in general a more medium-sized dog.

Cholo Dog Breed - 2 Puppies
Xolo Dog Breed – 2 Puppies

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So either what we call now a large mini or maybe a small standard. Over time, because they did start to make use of the dogs being there, they kept the smaller ones for village dogs, they would have been the ones that we call, pot dogs, they would have eaten them in times when they couldn’t find food.

They also put them in the bed with the babies ’cause they’re warm and it keeps you company. Same thing they do with sick people: when you don’t feel good there’s nothing like having a dog with you. And they kept the bigger ones to work with them and travel with them. Indigenous people survived by trade.

So you went from the inland, you know the compounds there, to the sea to trade for fish or shells and those dogs accompanied you in probably pretty good-sized packs. So they hunted with them. They’ll run the game, you got to see mine do that.

They were protected in a large pack, they would warn if something was coming. You could give them as gifts because that’s something indigenous people do, they gift when they stay with people. So there’s nothing bigger than you could give as a guide to the afterlife, so you could gift them.

If you got hurt and you didn’t have food you could kill a dog and eat it, but it would have protected you from anything that might have preyed on you during your injury, you know, or being incapacitated. So eventually, yes, they all came to have purposes.

The bigger ones traveled with the runners and they would have been used for guard dogs and the smaller ones for more in the village.

The difference between modern breeding is that we are trying to make them fit into a standard which is the blueprint for dogs. So there is a standard and we all try to breed to match that. Where the dogs in the jungle wouldn’t have been put in any kind of direction.

So they might have been a little bit more coarse, or a little bit heavier in the body. We’re not really sure, we can only go by the bones that we’ve seen in the digs.

I think probably the wild Xolo dog had to have a lot of cunning and we see that in our breeds, but it isn’t like it would have been in the jungle, you wouldn’t have been able to survive unless you were cookin’ all the time, everything was working. Some of the dogs, I don’t know if you noticed, will use their ears.

They will turn them back and forth and they can put them completely flat or they’ll throw them all the way up in a pricked ear. Those ears worked in the jungle kind of like a satellite.

You had to be able to hear if something was coming for you so you were still prey animal even though you were pretty good sized. Also, you needed all those senses to be able to chase smaller things.

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So I think they probably would’ve been slightly more sturdy, like maybe a little bit heavier. Xolos didn’t have the run game like the Peruvian Inca Orchid has to actually get out and run something down, so I think they would have been a little heavier, maybe a little more, we say, funky, or coarse.

I think over time breeding to keep them all kind of uniform and stuff has made them maybe a little bit more elegant looking, possibly, but it kind of, we’re preservation breeders so we’re trying to keep them as true as what we can find in history.

Xolos were first recognized in the 1800s, I think it was in 1886 that the first little dog got a championship and they were known as Mexican Hairless.

And at that time the breed standard did not include the standard size, they only included minis and toys, range of sizes in there. And in the ’50s, ’40s or ’50s, the number was so low, and there was no interest in the breed, and there were just no breeders, probably because there were no bloodlines they just dropped them out.

So then it was up to the group that continued on interest in that breed to keep stud books, and to keep the records, and to try to find the old information on them…

And of course, tons of history went in at that time to find out what was happening in Mexico with them, what sizes did they have, what did their standards say, what do we know from history was the size of the dog.

So they were reintroduced in 2011 I think we got full recognition back into AKC.

The AKC standard calls for three sizes, the toy is 10 inches and up to, including, 14 inches, the miniature size, we call the minis, is 14 up to, and including 18 inches, and the standard size is over 18 and up to, and including, 23 3/4, at 24 they are to tall for the breed and that is a disqualification.

Primarily the reason we got into the breed, or at least I got into the breed, why there’s a Parent Club, was the hairless variety. A coated Xolo could be mistaken as something else and they have a very common look amongst street dogs in all countries. The pricklier look, the kind of wedge-shaped head, the rectangular body, and the short coat.

That’s very common anywhere you go in the world and you see street dogs they all sort of revert to that kind of look. Shows that there’s probably a lot of primitive breeds all mixed in there. When you breed Xolos you can breed hairless to hairless and you will still get coated Xolos.

 XOLOITZCUINTLI- Top Dog Facts About the Xolo Dog (Video)

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And then if you breed coated to hairless you are definitely going to get hairless, I mean, coated Xolos. And if you go coated to coated you only get coated Xolos. Breading coated to coated kind of defeats the purpose of having a hairless breed, in my opinion, but it is allowed to do that.

These dogs can be a little bit shy, they can be aloof. They are not ever supposed to be aggressive. Don’t forget when AKC writes a standard it’s what they expect to see at a dog show. The reality is you have a very primitive survivor.

They are very intelligent so they pick up on everything whether you’re trying to teach them that or not. They anticipate everything so they will often come to a conclusion before you headed there which often gets them in trouble.

If you don’t keep them exercised, keep them trained, and entertained, they will entertain themselves, and more often than not they’re doing something you don’t want them to do.

They can be really manipulative and they are primitive guardian-type animals so their natural instinct at home is going to be to alert if there’s danger or a stranger, and the bigger ones tend to be guard dogs, they do want to guard.

At a dog show you should never have an aggressive dog, they could be aloof, but they shouldn’t be afraid. They’re like every other dog, if you give them what they need they give it back 10-fold and you have really nice dog.

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There are other breeds that use Xolo dog DNA to help them. We didn’t deliberately add dogs into the Xolo breed. In that long of a history, there were other breeds that got mixed in.

When the Spaniards came they came with the big dogs of war and they were loose and Xolos were not kept in kennels back them so if there was a female in heat they would have bred in.

When the dogs traveled with their owners, a farm dog, or something like that, if you brought a female and she was in heat, or somebody came to your village, and they had a dog, there were lots of breeds that got mixed in, but the Xolo dog breed always goes back to what it looks like.

I do think that the Peruvian Inca Orchid, those two breeds are related. In South America all the way down through all those countries they have naturally occurring hairless dogs.

In, I think it’s Argentina, they have a Khalo, I can’t say it, K-H-A-L-O, Khalo, or something like that, and there are other dogs in the other countries that don’t have hair. I think that’s from the trade with the Xolo and the Indians ’cause there are no lines for Indians in the sand, so they would have taken these dogs wherever they traveled to.

A good pet home for a Xolo dog is somebody that is active, they need good exercise. They need a little bit or room to roam around so a nice fenced property is good. You don’t have to have a huge property as long as you make sure you get out and walk with your dog or entertain them.

You don’t have to show, to keep a dog entertained, there are a million other things you can do.

Hiking in the river, hiking in the mountains, there are barn hunts and all kinds of activities that engage not only the body, but the mind because the mind in this dog is the thing you have to keep in shape. If you don’t pay attention to how they’re developing then you end up with a dog that’s out of control.

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And you got to see today they’re pretty big, they’re very strong, and even dogs that have been raised by me that I’ve had since they came out of the womb, they tell me what they expect me to do, they got me well-trained.

The health issues usually pop up over time in a breed so we’re relatively young. And the Parent Club was cognitive of the fact we would start to see things pop up.

There were just no real good medical records, not even, we never heard anything from Mexico about what they saw.

So for the AKC test, we recommended that you have your hips, OFA, they take pictures and make sure the hip socket is good so they don’t get hip dysplasia. We asked minis and toys to check patellas, which is the knee joint, they tend to luxate in the smaller ones.

We have their eyes checked to make sure they’re not passing down genetic eye problems and we ask that you do cardiac testing simply because this is a dog that is a full-bore dog, needs lots of exercises, we wanna make sure we have healthy hearts.

Also, we know for a fact in their history, at some point in time, that they used Manchester Terriers and they used Min Pins to solidify the sizes. They used Min Pins with toys to solidify that size and they used Manchester Terriers to solidify that middle size.

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That doesn’t mean every breeder did that, well-known breeders who have dogs everywhere in the world did that. In those two breeds, we know there are problems one of which is Von Willebrand’s, so that’s a big caution to watch for being in our breed and we haven’t seen that.

Generally when people call or need help generally we’re having a hip problem, it’s starting to escalate. The more dogs that are bred, the more you’re gonna see it.

So we have seen hip problems. In Mexico, to get a champion, you have to get the OFA test done, so you can show your dog, but if they can’t pass that test they won’t give you the championship.

So we got lucky in that we imported a lot of dogs from Mexico so they had already started that health testing.

We’ve seen a few heart problems, but now with the new dog foods that are causing the cardiomyopathy, the dilated part of the heart, we don’t know if it’s in the breed or if it’s in the dog food.

We’re not seeing a lot of it so we’ve got our fingers crossed it’s the dog food. Well, they’re, each dog is very individual so skincare is strictly by the dog. There are puppies that are born that have absolutely no hair, they don’t even have eyelashes and they might never get one blemish.

There are other puppies that have hair on top of their head or their feet, some puppies are pretty hairy all over their body, the more hair they have means they have open hair follicles which then gather oil, dead skin, so that can start to cause blackheads.

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As adolescents through each hormonal change, they will have breakouts where oil builds up under the skin and it erupts up and it’s just like blackheads, whiteheads that we get.

So what I tell my puppy owners is hang on you’ve got a year, a year of adjusting to this. You’re going to see a breakout, we’re gonna get through the breakout, we’ll clear it up. Four or five months later when we go through the next hormonal change we’re gonna have another one.

It’s an individual to the dog. I’ve been in it now for 20 years so I’ve done every potion you can imagine. We use antibacterial soap when we wash them just to get that off of their skin. If they’re having an acne breakout, I’ve used acne, like Stridex, the acne soap, and stuff usually for the face.

Neutrogena makes a good one. If the breakout gets really bad we do ask that they go and have their skin tested because they don’t have any protection.

They can get bacterial infections that get under the skin and they can get staph infections. But for the most part, it’s just about giving ’em a good scrub now and then, not overdoing it because you’ll make the skin produce more oil and not using heavy oils on them.

We do put, when it’s really hot like this, actually they get dry so we do use oil. Some people like coconut oil, some people like almond oil, the recommendation is no heavy oils because that just blocks those pores and makes that worse.

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And usually, around nine months to 12 months, you’ll start to see it really slow down and as adults, my dogs just really don’t have any. We would tell people about 15 to 17 years would be a normal life span of a healthy dog, but everything depends.

Keep ’em active, feed ’em good food, you know, that’s gonna lengthen out your time with them. Where it lives is gonna dictate how much time it can be outside. I do, I believe it’s mentally good for them to be outside.

I know there are people who don’t let their dogs go out at all, they’re worried about hawks getting them, or people stealing them. As we encroach on nature we have coyotes get in yards.

As far as being able to handle the weather they can handle pretty good heat. They come from a very, you know, hot area. They can handle heat pretty well, they love to bake in the sun.

Often you will have to call a Xolo dog in when they’re out sunbathing ’cause they just conk out in the sun and just layout there it doesn’t matter how hot it is.

And they come back in panting and they’re hot, but they love the sun, they love to just soak that up. They will go out and play in the snow, 20 minutes or so, and then they come back ’cause their feet are cold.

If you live in Canada you have six months of winter so obviously, they’re not gonna be out there and they can’t be left out with that kind of snow.

A new pet owner’s adjustment is going to be in that first, the first time when you bring them in. You can’t leave stuff out. All puppies chew on stuff, you have to be cognitive of that, amp it up tenfold.

No purses out, no shoes out. I tell my clients to roll up their rugs. If you can roll your rugs up and get ’em off your floor, put ’em up in the rafters, you don’t wanna leave anything where they can chew and they cannot be unsupervised, they eat the furniture. Coffee table corners will disappear.

They’ll tear up your couch, they’ll eat the corners of the cabinets in the kitchen.

So you have to have time to supervise them. The hairless ones are fairly clean, obviously, you don’t have to deal with the shedding and stuff like that. Their tails are very muscular and they’re like a whip. So if you’re used to having a lot of decorations on coffee tables, that’s gotta go.

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They are very unusual, I mean, if you have the time to train and the patience ’cause it has to be firm every day. They will ask you every day, are the rules from yesterday are still in place, for about a year and then they’ll push.

They’ll see how far those rules, did you really mean I couldn’t do this and they’ll do it anyway even though you just told them not to do it.

So you have to have patience and you have to have a very good routine and you have to be able to give them exercise. They are loyal like no dog I’ve ever known.

They’re, every breed of dog has its loyalty to its owner. Every dog owner in the world will tell you why their dog is special in how they are. You have to live with a Xolo to understand how different they are.

They, the way they have, they cognitive think, they anticipate you, they’re constantly searching inside of you. There’s nothing like sitting and looking over and your dog is staring at you because it feels like they can look right inside of you.

And, I’m biased obviously, this is my breed, I love this breed, it will be my last breed. But the indigenous people thought they were spiritual and I can understand that in the modern-day while they feel that way. They know when you’re sick and they will take care of you.

They know when I am gonna get a migraine before I know and they will start to do behaviors that tell me I need to get myself to a place where I can sit down and just conk out. The loyalty is to death and that causes in some of them anxiety, they just can’t stand to be without you, they want their person.

Once they become secure in the fact that you’re not going to go away, they’re not deserted, they haven’t been put out in the yard, they’re not whatever, then they’re more independent, but there’s just something about ’em that is beyond other dogs I’ve ever been around. They are good dogs, but they’re not for everybody. 

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