The dog of the Aztecs, the Mexican Hairless Dog is also called Xoloitzcuintli
This is a very ancient breed, over 3,000 years old, and was worshipped by the Aztecs. The Mexican name ‘Xoloitzcuintli’ is pronounced ‘show-low-eats-queen-tlee’, often shortened simply to ‘Xolo’ (pronounced ‘show-low’). Confusingly, there are 3 sizes – Toy, Miniature and Standard, AND they can be hairless OR with hair. This page is about the hairless breed.
Mexican Hairless Dog – Temperament
Adult dogs are usually calm and dignified, but it can take 2 years for a Xolo puppy to develop from a boisterous clown to adulthood. Puppies can be very energetic and noisy, behaving like rowdy teenagers.
After the age of 2 years, Mexican Hairless Dogs are quiet, rarely barking, and make good apartment dogs as long as you can give them enough exercise every day. The Standard size dogs will need more exercise than the Toy and Miniature sizes.
This is an intelligent and sensitive breed, and needs company and mental stimulation. They do best when they can play with another dog or 2, are included in the family group, and are allowed to spend time and sleep indoors.
They do NOT do well if left outside alone for long periods of time, and they will do their best to escape from uncomfortable or boring situations. They can dig under fences and jump over obstacles that you might think would keep them contained.
Mexican Hairless Dog – Breed History
First appearing in Mexico over 3000 years ago, this breed was admired by the Mayans, the Aztecs and the Toltecs. It was believed that they could protect a household from evil spirits and human intruders alike.
Living in isolated communities, the Mexican Hairless has bred true for a very long time. Even after the arrival of Europeans, who took some dogs back to Europe with them, the ones left in Mexico continued to breed true without any crossing with other breeds.
By the 1940’s, some examples of this breed had begun to appear at Mexican dog shows, but interest was minimal. They were rare dogs, and there was no official breed standard. Numbers were low, and extinction was a possibility.
By the mid 1950’s a breeding program had been set up, and the Mexican Hairless finally had recognition in it’s own country. In the USA, the ‘Xolo’ had been registered with the AKC in 1887, one of the first breeds on the list.
But the breed was removed in 1959 due to fears of extinction. Subsequently, the “Xolo” was re-instated to the list in 2009.
- 10 inches to 14 inches (Toy)
- 14 inches to 18 inches (Miniature)
- 18 inches to 23 inches (Standard)
- 10 lbs to 15 lbs (Toy)
- 15 lbs to 30 lbs (Miniature)
- 30 lbs to 55 lbs (Standard).
- 13 years to 18 years
Most are black or Blue-Grey, although lighter colors are possible.
Ease of Training
This is not a difficult breed to train, compared to other dogs. They are intelligent and smart, and pick up new ideas quickly. However, like all dogs, they respond best to positive reinforcement. Harsh treatment will not work.
Ideally you should take your Mexican Hairless puppy to puppy training classes, as an introduction and also for early socialization to other people, dogs and new situations.
When your ‘Xolo’ is 12 months old, you could start with adult training classes, but remember that this breed doesn’t really mature until 2 years, so your 18-month old may well goof off at times if it gets bored!
As this breed comes in 3 sizes, the degree of protection varies. The Toy and Miniature sizes are less able to provide effective intimidation, but will certainly not back down from a threat and will bark continuously to alert you.
On the other hand, the Standard size Mexican Hairless makes a good guard dog. As well as alerting you to a threat, they are able to deter an intruder, and will take on an unwelcome guest if needed. While not as effective as, say, a Belgian Malinois, the Xolo will do it’s best to protect you.
This breed does not bark much, usually, so if your Mexican Hairless dog starts barking insistently, you’d better go and see what’s happening!
The Mexican Hairless dog does not have a coat like other dogs, but extremely fine hairs may be visible on the head and the tail. Nevertheless, they don’t shed, and are good for people with allergies to dog hairs or dander. The Hairless just needs the occasional rub down with a damp cloth, and perhaps a bath every few months.
One thing to remember about this breed is that their skin has no protection against sunlight. If you are going to take your dog out in strong sunlight for any period of time, you will need to apply a sunscreen to the dogs body, head and ears. Be careful not to get any sunscreen in the dogs eyes!
General grooming requirements include inspecting the ears each week for any foreign objects or signs of infection, such as redness, swelling or a bad smell. The dogs teeth should be brushed each day with a small soft toothbrush and a dog-specific toothpaste – not a human toothpaste. The claws should be checked monthly and trimmed if needed to prevent cracking and splitting.
The Mexican Hairless dog breed is generally healthy, and does not suffer from any breed-specific problems. However, like all dog breeds, there are a few things to be aware of. The National Breed club recommend the following screenings;
- Hip dysplasia (Standard size)
- Patellar luxation (Miniature and Toy sizes)
- Eye conditions (All sizes)
- Cardiac exam (All sizes)
Famous Mexican Hairless Dogs
In the Pixar film ‘Coco’ there is a Mexican Hairless dog called Dante.
In the 2018 film ‘Show Dogs’ there is a Mexican Hairless dog called Persephone.
The Hairless also appears commonly in Mexican culture and art.