The Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo for short, is a hairless breed of dog, found in toy, miniature, and standard sizes.The Xolo also comes in a coated variety and all three sizes can be born to a single litter. It is also known as Mexican hairless dog in English-speaking countries, and is one of several breeds of hairless dog.
In Nahuatl, from which its English name originates, its name is xōlōitzcuintli and xōlōitzcuintin. The name xōlōitzcuintli comes from the god Xolotl and itzcuīntli, meaning dog in Nahuatl.
A genetic study was recently conducted in order to determine the origin of the Xoloitzcuintli breed. The study did not find a close genetic relationship between Xoloitzcuintli and the Chinese Crested Dog, another hairless breed that is cited by the American Kennel Club as an ancestor to the Xoloitzcuintli. However, the study showed that this breed did not result from a separate domestication of dogs in the New World. Xoloitzcuintli appear to have been a result of a mixture of several Old World dog breeds.
Archaeological evidence has been found in the tombs of the Colima, Mayan, Toltec, Zapotec, and Aztec Indians dating the breed to over 3500 years ago. Long regarded as guardians and protectors, the indigenous peoples believed that the Xolo would safeguard the home from evil spirits as well as intruders. In ancient times the Xolos were often sacrificed and then buried with their owners to act as guide to the soul on its journey to the underworld.
These dogs were considered a great delicacy, and were consumed for sacrificial ceremonies–including marriages and funerals. Most likely, early forerunners of the Xolo originated as spontaneous hairless mutations of indigenous American dogs. Hairlessness may have offered a survival advantage in tropical regions.
Indigenous peoples of Mexico had Xolo dogs as home and hunting companions, and today they are still very popular companion dogs. They are also the national dog of Mexico. Their value in ancient native cultures is evidenced by their frequent appearance in art and artifacts.
Xolos were considered sacred dogs by the Aztecs, Toltecs, Maya, and other groups. They were also useful companion animals. According to Aztec mythology, the god Xolotl made the Xoloitzcuintli from a sliver of the Bone of Life from which all mankind was made. Xolotl gave this gift to Man with the instruction to guard it with his life and in exchange it would guide Man through the dangers of Mictlan, the world of Death, toward the Evening Star in the Heavens.
Some people in Mexico continue to believe this breed has healing qualities. The Aztecs also raised the breed for their meat. Sixteenth-century Spanish accounts tell of large numbers of dogs being served at banquets. Aztec Merchant feasts could have 80–100 turkeys and 20–40 dogs served as food. When these two meats were served in the same dish, the dog meat was at the bottom of the dish, either because it was held in higher regard or because it was increasingly considered a step above cannibalism.
The Aztecs consumed few domesticated animals like Xolos or turkey. Over 90% of the bones found at archeological sites are of deer that were hunted.
When Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492, his journal entries noted the presence of strange hairless dogs. Subsequently, Xolos were transported back to Europe.
The Xoloitzcuintli is the symbol of Club Tijuana, a Mexican professional football club.
- Loyal, Alert, Calm
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 140 of 193
- Height: 10-14 inches (toy), 14-18 inches (miniature), 18-23 inches (standard)
- Weight: 10-15 pounds (toy), 15-30 pounds (miniature), 30-55 pounds (standard)
- Life Expectancy: 13-18 years
- Group: Non-Sporting Group
Xoloitzcuintli Club of America, Inc