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Xoloitzcuintli

xoloitzcuintli[1]

Xoloitzcuintli

Overview

Say his name like this: show-low-eats-queent-lee.” Or just call him the “show-low.” Whatever you call him, you’re sure to be intrigued by his unusual looks and restful but attentive personality.

At first glance — and sometimes second and third glance — the Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo does not have an attractive appearance. A wrinkled brow, squinty eyes, satellite-dish ears, a mohawk bisecting the top of the head, and a ratlike tail, not to mention the mostly hairless body, make the Xolo a dog that only his mother could love. Well, except for the people who prize the very differences that make him stand out from other dogs.

Take a closer look, however, and you will see a lean, sturdy, well-muscled dog, with a body that is slightly longer than it is tall. A wedge-shaped skull gradually tapers to the muzzle. The expression is that of a smart and lively dog whose brow wrinkles when his attention is focused on something. Almond-shaped eyes range in color from yellow to black. The big ears, carried erect, have an elegantly thin and delicate texture. Puppies may have a wrinkly body, but as they grow into their skin the body smooths out. The feet are webbed, and the tail is long and fine.

The Xolo has advantages that might be obscured by his unusual looks. He comes in three sizes — small, medium and large — and he has a calm personality and moderate exercise needs. This is a dog that won’t run you off your feet. The fact remains, however, that the Xolo is a primitive breed with the drive to chase other animals, including the neighbor’s cat, and an assertive and protective nature. In other words, he can be predatory, stubborn, and inclined to bite first, ask questions later if he thinks his person is in danger.

You might think that the Xolo’s bald body makes him hypoallergenic, but hairlessness alone doesn’t mean he won’t make you sniffle and sneeze. He might be less likely to affect people with allergies, but he still produces dander, saliva and urine, all of which carry allergens. Be sure you meet several Xolos to make sure you don’t react to them.

The Xolo is not an easy dog to rehome if you decide he’s not the right fit for you. Not everyone wants a dog with such unusual looks. But if you like the idea of having a living hotwater bottle with a reputation for a healing touch and the wherewithal to drive away evil spirits, the Xolo might be your dog.

  • Highlights

    • The Xolo comes in three different sizes, so the breed is adaptable to any type of home.
    • Native to Mexico and Central America, the Xolo is also known as the Mexican Hairless.
    • The Xolo is thought to date to pre-Columbian civilizations.
    • Although he’s known as a hairless breed, the Xolo also comes in a coated variety.
    • The Xolo’s body is slightly longer than it is tall.
    • In addition to being a great companion, the Xolo is also a protective watchdog.
    • The Xolo’s lack of an insulating fur coat makes him feel warm to the touch, even though his body temperature is not any higher than that of other dogs.
    • The Xolo was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2011 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
    • There are fewer than 1,000 Xolos in the United States, with approximately 30,000 worldwide.
    • The Xolo is not hypoallergenic, although his hairless body may be less likely to trigger allergies in susceptible individuals.
    • The Xolo can have a strong prey drive and is likely to chase other animals.
  • History

    Unlike dogs that were created by crossing or mixing two or more breeds, the Xolo is considered to be a natural breed, probably the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation. For centuries, the breed was molded by natural selection, not by human manipulation.

    Archaeological evidence suggests that the ancestors of the Xolo were dogs that accompanied migratory peoples across the Bering landmass — now submerged — from Asia to the New World. The dog we now know as the Xoloitzcuintli takes his name from the Aztec deity Xolotl, the god of fire and the escort of the dead to the underworld, and “itzcuintli,” the Aztec word for dog. These dogs of Xolotl were said to have healing powers, especially effective in cases of asthma, rheumatism and insomnia. In life, they frightened away evil spirits and intruders, and they were believed to serve as guides for the dead as they made their way from this world to the next. Unfortunately, that guide job usually involved being sacrificed to accompany the dead. Even less fortunately, Xolos were also considered good eats.

    Nonetheless, they thrived and went through periods of popularity, beginning in 1887, the first time the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club, which at the time referred to it as the Mexican Hairless. A Mexican dog named Mee Too was the first Xolo registered with the AKC. After that first flush of interest, little was heard from the breed, except for a brief time in the spotlight in 1940, when a dog named Chinito Jr. became the first and only Xolo to earn an AKC championship. Pet stores could barely keep the dogs in stock. Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo portrayed them in artwork. Fashion is fickle, though, and the Xolo again dropped from view, so much so that the AKC deregistered it in 1959.

    The breed might have disappeared altogether, but fans have brought it back from the brink of extinction. Today it is considered a national treasure in Mexico and was named dog of the year there in 2010. Approximately 30,000 are known to exist worldwide. The American Kennel Club brought the breed back into the fold in 2011. The Xolo currently resides at the intersection of rarity and popularity and sells for $2,000 to $2,500.

  • Size

    Xolos come in three sizes: Toy (at least 10 through 14 inches tall at the shoulder), Miniature (more than 14 through 18 inches tall) or Standard size (more than 18 through 23 inches tall). Their weight ranges from 10 to 50 pounds.

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  • Personality

    The adult Xolo is a calm dog who is aloof toward strangers but attentive toward his family. He usually chooses one person as his favorite but does not stint on affection toward other family members. A daily walk or an energetic playtime in a fenced yard satisfies his exercise needs. The rest of the time, he’ll enjoy lying in the sun or snuggling with you in an effort to stay warm. Take him with you whenever you can; he’s not fond of being left home alone.

    Xolos are excellent watchdogs and will alert you to anything that seems of concern. They are not nuisance barkers, however, so if they sound off, it’s a good idea to see what has disturbed them. Xolos are wary of strangers and are not the type of dog to make friends easily with people outside their family. They are also territorial toward other animals that come onto their property. Xolos that have not been well socialized may be aggressive toward people or dogs they don’t know.

    Bring up a Xolo with consistency and structure. Train using gentle positive reinforcement techniques, and this smart and sensitive dog will quickly learn what you like and don’t like. Once he knows that, a stern glance is generally all that’s needed to correct any misbehavior. An inexperienced dog owner can be easily manipulated by this breed, however, so a Xolo may not be the best choice for a first-timer.

    The Xolo is also highly athletic. Scaling a six-foot fence is nothing to an adult Xolo, and even puppies can scramble over three-foot fences. Be sure that your yard is escape-proof.

    Puppies are highly active and can be destructive if they aren’t kept busy with play and training. As they mature, they start to become the mellow dogs that typify the breed.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents-usually the mother is the one who’s available-to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, Xoloitzcuintli need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Xoloitzcuintli puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Xoloitzcuintli appear to be a healthy breed, and buying from a responsible breeder will help ensure that you get the healthiest Xoloitzcuintli possible. A puppy from a reputable Xoloitzcuintli breeder will be vaccinated and dewormed before you take him home. Responsible breeders use only physically sound, mature (at least 2 years or older) dogs, and test their breeding stock for genetic diseases pertinent to the breed.

    Health clearances are not issued to dogs younger than 2 years of age. That’s because some health problems don’t appear until a dog reaches full maturity. For this reason, it’s often recommended that dogs not be bred until they are two or three years old.

    Although the Xolo is not known to be prone to any serious genetic diseases, he has some traits that can affect his appearance and how you care for him. The first, of course, is hairlessness. A Xolo needs protection from the sun and from extremely cold weather. Apply sunscreen all over his body, especially if he is light-colored, and don’t leave him outdoors for long periods unless he has a shady place where he can retreat from the sun’s rays. In snowy or bitter cold weather, he’ll appreciate a sweater or coat to keep him warm. Indoors, let the Xolo go naked so he doesn’t overheat or develop skin problems from having his pores covered up. The good news is that his tough skin heals quickly if he gets a cut or abrasion.

    Another interesting facet to the Xolo is that hairlessness and dentition are genetically linked. Many adult hairless Xolos are missing their premolars, the bicuspids located between the canines and the molars. This does not affect their ability to eat and is not faulted in the show ring. Coated Xolos have full dentition.

  • Care

    The hairless Xolo has smooth but tough skin that fits closely to his body. What little hair he has adorns the top of the head, the feet and the last third of the tail, up to the tip. A coated Xolo is completely covered with short, smooth, close-fitting hair. In both varieties, the hair may be any color. Typically, it is black, gray-black, slate, red, liver or bronze. Some Xolos have white spots and markings.

    You might think that a hairless dog needs little to no grooming, but think again. It’s true that the Xolo often cleans himself like a cat and is unlikely to get fleas, but because he sweats through his skin and paw pads, it’s important to keep those areas clean. Wash the feet weekly to make sure the sebaceous glands remain unclogged. Bathe the dog every couple of weeks with a gentle dog shampoo. It is usually not necessary to apply oils or lotions to the skin. Wipe off any sunscreen after the dog has been outside.

    Trim the Xolo’s fast-growing nails weekly. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. The earlier you introduce your Xoloitzcuintli to nail trimming the less stressful the experience is for both of you.

    Brush the teeth at least two or three times a week — daily is better — to remove tartar and bacteria. Start when your puppy is young so he’ll be used to it.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: Depending on a Xolo’s size, he should eat 5/8 to 1.75 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.

    How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

    It’s easy to overfeed a Xoloitzcuintli, but obesity can stress his joints, so he shouldn’t be allowed to get fat. Keep your adult Xoloitzcuintli in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the hands-on test. Place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Xoloitzcuintli, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Children and other pets

    The family-oriented Xolo can be good with children, especially if he is brought up with them. He’s not a big fan of having his ears or tail pulled, however, so supervise any interactions with very young children. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Xoloitzcuintli can get along well with other dogs and cats if they grow up with them. They may be less sociable toward strange dogs, however, and their high prey drive inclines them to chase cats and other furry animals they see outdoors.

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Xoloitzcuintli

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