The Xolo Breed
Xoloitzuintle or Xoloitzcuintli
The breed name is spelled Xoloitzcuintle by the FCM (the main kennel club in Mexico, (equal to AKC in America) and the FCI (the main kennel organization of the World). Some breeders and clubs spell the name with an 'i' on the end instead of an 'e'. AKC has adopted the spelling ending with an 'i'. Both spellings are correct. The name comes from the Aztec God, Xolotl. The hairless Aztec dog was considered to be a representative of Xolotl, guiding and protecting the souls of the dead to their unearthly destinations.
What is a Xolo like - Adult
Adults: The Xolo is a faithful and caring breed. They usually bond to one member of the family; however, they are extremely loving to every family member. They do not like being away from their owners. Xolos are very good and patient with well-behaved children. However, as with all dogs, they do not appreciate having their ears and tail pulled and eyes poked. They are extremely active as puppies and must be exercised or they can become destructive if allowed to become bored. Xolos mellow out as they get older, but still need a fenced yard to exercise in or taken for a daily walk. Their favorite pastime is sunbathing and snuggling. All Xolos are good watch dogs as they are always alert, even when sleeping. They usually are not yappy dogs and only bark when provoked by situations not normal to their environment. Xolos can be territorial. Some people use the standard Xolos as guard dogs. Xolos are naturally leery of strangers as stated in the breed standard. Early socialization is a must. With early and continual socialization to well-behaved strangers both adults, children and other dogs, the Xolo can live a happy well adjusted life. It is when individuals refuse to put the time and effort into the socialization of this breed that the Xolo ultimately is placed in a shelter. The un-socialized Xolo can become aggressive towards strange dogs and will display extreme anxiety around strangers. Xolos are still a 'primitive' breed which is manifested in some of their behaviors and reactions. Some have a very high prey drive. They require respect and structure in their daily routine. Consistency is important when training a Xolo. Training should be more like play than like strict training. Xolos respond well to positive gentle training, not strict forceful training. Xolos are very in tune to their owner's mood and usually just a look is all that is needed to correct a trained Xolo. They are extremely intelligent and can be manipulative if you are not an experienced dog owner. Xolos are strong and athletic. They can scale fences easily, even at a young age. I've heard of a standard Xolo scaling a six foot high fence. I've had 10 week old intermediate puppies who thought nothing of scaling a three foot high fence. The hairless Xoloitzcuintle is a wonderful option for the allergic individual looking to own a dog. They are very clean animals and clean themselves like a cat. They do not get fleas. The Xolo feels very warm to the touch, but despite what people think, their body temperature is the same as other dog breeds. Most adult hairless Xolos do not have their molars and/or premolars. This is not considered a fault in the show ring. Xolos do well in cool weather with many living in areas of the world that get very cold; like Russia. These Xolos appreciate a sweater and/or coat when the temperature is very cold. Xolos do well in hot weather too. The Xolos skin produces pigment just as our own skin does; they tan in the sun. The lighter colored Xolos need sun protection in the form of sunblock and/or the ability to get out of the sun. Once they have a good base tan, the sunblock is not usually needed. Xolos with white spots need extra protection on these areas to keep them from burning.
What is a Xolo like - Puppy
Puppies: Xolo puppies are very active. They like to investigate everything in their environment and will put everything in their mouth, including chewing on electrical cords. Socialization is of the utmost importance. Puppies are usually wrinkly and fat. Their ears are down at birth. Some puppy ears go up nice and straight by three or four months without help and some need encouragement with tape or binding. Generally the ears should be up by the time the puppies have their adult teeth at six months. Ears not up at one year are a fault in the show ring. I take my puppies out in public, in a dog stroller, when they turn 7 weeks old. If you wait until your puppies are 16 weeks old (usually the age of the last inoculation) to introduce them to the public, then you have waited too long and your task of socialization will be harder.
The National Dog of Mexico Xoloitzcuintle, pronounced "Show-low-squint-lee". Archeological findings show the Xoloitzcuintle is an ancient breed that has been around for 3500 years. The hairless dog is probably the first domesticated animal in the Americas. Proof of their early existence has been found in the ruins of pre-Colombian in Mexico, South and Central America. In the graves they have found articles associated with the Xolo like: murals, statues and embalmed dogs. Archeologists have collected and identified their remains and done comparative studies between the Xolo and the "common" dogs of Mexico. Their remains have been found with the Aztec, Inca, Mayan, Colima, Toltec and Zapotec Indians. The "Xolo" (short for Xoloitzcuintle) were cherished by the Aztecs. After the Spanish conquest many of the indigenous people along with their Xolos, took refuge in the mountains in the most remote parts of the country. The Xolos that were left behind became a mixed breed. Fortunately, the hairless gene was strong enough to endure. In 1731, Fray Xavier de Clavijero noted that the Xolo was hairless with smooth skin. The Aztec people used Xolos for food, sacrifice, companionship, hunting, protection and also for medicinal and curative purposes. The Xolo was used as a sleeping companion for warmth and was believed to have curative powers for arthritis and other painful ailments. The flesh of the Xolo was consumed for food and also in the hope that it would aid in the cure of various physical problems. The Xolo provided the ancient people with a convenient source of protein and they raised them in large numbers much like we now raise cattle, sheep and goats. It was the fattened puppy meat that was relished and not the adult meat. These young dogs were castrated and fattened for sale in the public market. The consumption of this meat, they believed, warded off anguish and bad dreams and protected one from evil influences. It was also believed that this meat increased a man's potency. When an individual was sick, a Xolo was put in the bed with the sick person. The Xolos have also been used as "hot-water bottles" in the cold nights, to help with arthritis and menstrual cramps. The breed's name is a combination of two Aztec words. The breed was regarded as the earthly representative of the god "Xolotl", and "itzcuintli" which means dog, from which the breeds name obviously originates. Their task was to accompany the souls of the dead to their eternal resting place. Dog artifacts have been found at archaeological sites. Some tombs called shaft tombs have produced evidence of the relationship with the dogs we know today. Pre-Colombian pottery of these dogs has been found many places and can be seen at museums. In Nahuatl (Aztec) mythology, the Xolo was the representative of the god Xolotl (pronounced: Show-low-tull). His twin brother was Quetzalcoatl the plumed serpent (pronounced: Ket-sal-coe-wah-tull). The name Xolotl means "the one who snatches food with teeth sharp as obsidian". Xolotl was represented by the image of a dog's head. This dog's head is easy to find on the Aztec Calendar. It is at about the "7 o'clock position". The Aztec people called the "underworld", Mictlan and believed that the dead spent four years traveling its nine levels, enduring and overcoming a series of trials and obstacles to pass into Ameyoacan, (The happy place in the interior of Heaven.) To reach this paradise, they believed that the company of the Xoloitzcuintle was essential. He, the Xolo, was the guide who knew how to cross the unknown rivers and lakes and find the way to eternal happiness and rest. The Xolo shared the life of his master as well as his death and was buried with him. He protected against all evils, both temporal and spiritual. In view of these age-old beliefs and a certain loss of identity among the Mexican people after the Conquest, nevertheless, much lives on and the Xoloitzcuintle is not treated as a mere dog in Mexico. One never sees an abandoned hairless Xolo roaming the streets in Mexico as a stray and they are still highly regarded by the indigenous people of the remote areas of the country. They are still used for the treatment of rheumatism and female disorders. Their warmth makes them a desirable companion to snuggle up to. The Xolo is a rare breed, even in Mexico. There are approximately 4000 in the world. In 1956 the members of the FCM (Federacion Canofila Mexicana) began registering and breeding the Xolos. Prior to that the Xolos were considered nearly extinct. The FCM uses a Xoloitzcuintle in its logo. The number of Xolos at the shows has gradually been increasing. There are Xolos at almost every show held in Mexico. Serious breeders in the United States who follow the F.C.I. Standards have helped to increase the stock. These breeders bring their Xolos to Mexico to compete in shows throughout the country.
COLOR: The skin of the Xoloitzcuintle contains a great number of cells that produce pigment. With exposure to the sun, these cells increase the color of the skin. It is not uncommon to have a puppy born with a large amount of white on its body, that later fills in with pigmentation. Therefore, it is common for puppies to look a different color as adults than when they were born. The solid and dark uniform colors are preferred; however, all colors are permitted in to show. Do not discount a show quality dog that has spots or unusual markings. Many dogs with these characteristics have gone one to win World Championship Titles.
A hairless Xolo that has never been registered can be inspected and given an initial registration through FCM by visiting the FCM facility in Mexico City. Xoloitzcuintle are given this special opportunity to receive a registration upon inspection in Mexico because of their rarity and their importance to the people of their country of origin. This practice of visual inspection and registration is also a very real necessity because there are many undocumented Xolo bloodlines. It is common practice for Xolo breeders in Mexico to seek out new breeding stock in the isolated villages of the Mexican countryside. The larger cities of Mexico are very modern but many small villages remain extremely isolated. There are many Xolo bloodlines that remain undocumented because of this, perhaps some of the best. I am hopeful that FCM will provide this service to register new Xolos for many years to come. A Xolo registered in Mexico with FCM can be shown in any FCI country of the world. Unfortunately, they cannot be shown in AKC; only Xolos with a 3 generation pedigree can be shown in AKC shows.