xoloitzuintli Image courtesy of Yo Soy Flashh

Image courtesy of Anders_Mejlvang 


The Xoloitzcuintli, also known as the Mexican Hairless dog, is a unique and fascinating breed that has a rich history and a distinct appearance. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of this breed, from its origins and size characteristics to its temperament and health issues. Whether you are considering bringing a Xoloitzcuintli into your family or are simply intrigued by this ancient breed, this article will provide you with all the information you need to know. So, let’s embark on a journey to discover the world of the Xoloitzcuintli and everything that makes it truly one-of-a-kind.

History and Origins of the Breed

The history and origins of the Xoloitzcuintli breed are deeply rooted in ancient civilizations and hold a significant cultural and historical importance. Let’s explore the fascinating journey of this breed through time.

Ancient Origins

The Xoloitzcuintli can trace its lineage back thousands of years to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, particularly to the Aztec and Maya civilizations. These ancient civilizations revered the Xoloitzcuintli and considered it more than just a companion; it held spiritual and sacred significance.

Sacred Status and Purpose

The Xoloitzcuintli was believed to possess mystical qualities and was often associated with various rituals and ceremonies. It was considered a guardian of the soul and was commonly depicted in ancient artwork and pottery. The Aztecs believed that the Xoloitzcuintli played a crucial role in guiding the deceased through the underworld to the afterlife.

Role in Aztec Society

Apart from its spiritual significance, the Xoloitzcuintli played a practical role in Aztec society. It was highly valued as a companion and guard dog, protecting homes and crops from intruders and providing companionship to its owners. The Xoloitzcuintli’s alert nature and keen senses made it an excellent watchdog.

Near Extinction

With the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, the Xoloitzcuintli faced a significant decline in numbers. The Europeans brought their own dog breeds, which interbred with the native Xoloitzcuintli, leading to a loss of purity in the breed. Additionally, the Spanish colonization led to a decline in the indigenous cultures that held the breed in high regard.

Resurgence and Recognition

Despite the challenges, a small population of Xoloitzcuintli managed to survive in remote areas of Mexico. In the mid-20th century, efforts were made to revive the breed and preserve its unique characteristics. Dedicated breeders worked tirelessly to establish breeding programs and promote the Xoloitzcuintli’s recognition.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

In 1959, the Mexican Kennel Club officially recognized the v as a breed. The breed gained further recognition when it was admitted to the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2010. Today, the Xoloitzcuintli continues to captivate dog enthusiasts worldwide with its intriguing history and distinctive traits.

The history and origins of the Xoloitzcuintli breed offer a glimpse into a bygone era and the cultural significance that this breed holds. Understanding its ancient roots helps us appreciate the breed’s unique qualities and its enduring legacy.

Size and Appearance Characteristics

The Xoloitzcuintli breed is known for its distinct size and appearance characteristics. In this section, we will explore the various factors that contribute to the breed’s unique physical traits.

Size Varieties

The Xoloitzcuintli comes in three different size varieties: Toy, Miniature, and Standard. Each size variety has its own set of characteristics, but all maintain the breed’s distinctive appearance.

  • Toy: The Toy Xoloitzcuintli stands at around 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35 cm) at the shoulder and typically weighs between 5 to 15 pounds (2.3 to 6.8 kg). Despite their small size, Toy Xolos are sturdy and well-proportioned.
  • Miniature: The Miniature Xoloitzcuintli is slightly larger than the Toy variety. They range in height from 14 to 18 inches (35 to 46 cm) and weigh between 15 to 30 pounds (6.8 to 13.6 kg). Miniature Xolos are known for their compact and athletic build.
  • Standard: The Standard Xoloitzcuintli is the largest of the three varieties. They stand at a height of 18 to 23 inches (46 to 58 cm) and weigh between 30 to 55 pounds (13.6 to 25 kg). Standard Xolos have a robust and well-muscled body structure.

Coat Types

The Xoloitzcuintli is famous for its unique coat, or lack thereof. This breed comes in two coat varieties:

  • Hairless: The Hairless Xoloitzcuintli has smooth, hairless skin that is soft and warm to the touch. The skin can range in color from black, gray, red, bronze, to a mottled pattern. Despite their lack of hair, Hairless Xolos require regular skincare to keep their skin healthy and protected.
  • Coated: The Coated Xoloitzcuintli has a short, flat, and dense coat that ranges in texture from coarse to soft. The coat can come in various colors, including black, gray, liver, and various shades of red. Coated Xolos have a low-maintenance coat that requires regular brushing to keep it in good condition.

Physical Features

In addition to their size and coat varieties, the Xoloitzcuintli has several other physical features that contribute to its unique appearance:

  • Head: The Xoloitzcuintli has a distinct head shape with a slightly domed skull. It has a long, tapering muzzle and strong jaws. The breed’s ears are large and upright, giving them an alert and attentive expression.
  • Eyes: Xolos have almond-shaped eyes that can be various shades of brown, ranging from dark to light. The eyes are set wide apart, enhancing their alert and intelligent expression.
  • Tail: The Xoloitzcuintli tail is long and slender, tapering to a fine point. It is usually carried low and is often described as a “rat tail” due to its appearance.

The Xoloitzcuintli’s size and appearance characteristics make it a truly distinctive breed. Whether hairless or coated, and in varying sizes, this breed’s unique physical traits contribute to its allure and charm.




Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of a Xoloitzcuintli can vary depending on various factors such as genetics, overall health, diet, exercise, and veterinary care. In this section, we will discuss the average lifespan of a Xoloitzcuintli and factors that can influence their longevity.

Average Lifespan

On average, the Xoloitzcuintli has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may live shorter or longer lives depending on their specific circumstances. Providing proper care and attention can help maximize a Xoloitzcuintli’s lifespan.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

  1. Genetics: Like any other breed, genetics play a crucial role in determining a Xoloitzcuintli’s lifespan. Responsible breeders strive to produce healthy puppies by breeding dogs with good genetic backgrounds, free from hereditary health issues.
  2. Health Care: Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and preventive care are essential for maintaining a Xoloitzcuintli’s overall health. Early detection and treatment of any health concerns can greatly impact their lifespan.
  3. Nutrition: A balanced and nutritious diet is vital for a Xoloitzcuintli’s well-being. Providing high-quality dog food that meets their specific nutritional needs can contribute to their overall health and longevity.
  4. Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Regular exercise helps keep a Xoloitzcuintli physically fit and mentally stimulated. Engaging in activities such as daily walks, play sessions, and training not only improves their physical health but also enriches their lives.
  5. Dental Care: Dental hygiene plays a crucial role in a Xoloitzcuintli’s overall health. Regular teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings can help prevent dental diseases that may impact their lifespan.
  6. Spaying/Neutering: Many owners choose to spay or neuter their Xoloitzcuintli for various reasons, including population control and health benefits. Spaying or neutering can help prevent certain reproductive-related health issues in both males and females.
  7. Environmental Factors: A Xoloitzcuintli’s living conditions and environment can also impact their lifespan. Providing a safe and comfortable home, protection from extreme temperatures, and minimizing exposure to toxins and hazards is essential for their well-being.

Promoting Longevity

To promote a Xoloitzcuintli’s longevity, it is crucial to prioritize their overall health and well-being. This includes providing them with a balanced diet, regular exercise, routine veterinary care, mental stimulation, and a loving and safe environment. By addressing these factors, you can help ensure that your Xoloitzcuintli enjoys a long and fulfilling life by your side.


The Xoloitzcuintli breed is known for its unique and distinct temperament. Understanding the temperament of a Xoloitzcuintli is essential for potential owners to ensure a good match with their lifestyle and preferences. In this section, we will explore the typical temperament traits of the Xoloitzcuintli.

Alert and Watchful

Xoloitzcuintli dogs are known for their keen sense of awareness and alertness. They make excellent watchdogs and are quick to alert their owners of any potential intruders or unusual activities. This natural instinct to protect their family and territory is deeply ingrained in their temperament.

Intelligent and Trainable

The Xoloitzcuintli is a highly intelligent breed that is eager to please its owners. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement-based training methods. With consistent training and socialization from an early age, Xolos can become well-behaved and obedient companions.

Loyal and Devoted

Xoloitzcuintli are known for their unwavering loyalty and devotion to their families. They form strong bonds with their owners and are often described as being deeply connected and attuned to their human companions. Their loyalty and affection make them excellent family dogs.

Reserved with Strangers

While Xoloitzcuintli are loyal and affectionate towards their families, they can be reserved and cautious around strangers. This breed tends to be wary of unfamiliar people and may take time to warm up to new individuals. Early socialization and positive experiences can help them become more comfortable around strangers.

Independent Thinkers

Xoloitzcuintli have a streak of independence and can be considered independent thinkers. They may display a certain level of stubbornness at times and may try to assert themselves in certain situations. Patient and consistent training methods are essential to establish boundaries and ensure good behavior.

Good with Children and Other Pets

With proper socialization and introductions, Xoloitzcuintlis can get along well with children and other pets. They are known to be gentle and tolerant, making them suitable companions for families with kids. However, as with any dog breed, supervision and teaching children how to interact respectfully with dogs are important.

Activity Level

Xoloitzcuintlis have a moderate activity level and enjoy daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Regular walks, playtime, and interactive activities are necessary to prevent boredom and ensure a well-balanced and happy Xoloitzcuintli.

Understanding the temperament of a Xoloitzcuintli is crucial to provide them with the appropriate care, training, and environment they need to thrive. Their alertness, intelligence, loyalty, and reserved nature make them a unique and fascinating breed for those seeking a devoted and watchful companion.

Trainability and Adaptability

The trainability and adaptability of a Xoloitzcuintli are important factors to consider when welcoming this breed into your home. In this section, we will explore the trainability of Xoloitzcuintlis and how well they can adapt to different environments and lifestyles.


Xoloitzcuintlis are intelligent dogs that possess a strong desire to please their owners. This makes them generally responsive and trainable. However, it is important to approach their training with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques.

  • Positive Reinforcement: Xoloitzuintlis respond best to positive reinforcement methods, such as praise, treats, and rewards. This approach helps to motivate and encourage them during training sessions.
  • Early Socialization: Early socialization is crucial for Xoloitzcuintlis to develop good manners, proper behavior, and positive interactions with other dogs, animals, and people. Exposing them to various environments, sounds, sights, and experiences from a young age can help shape a well-rounded and adaptable dog.
  • Obedience Training: Basic obedience training is important for Xoloitzcuintlis to learn essential commands such as sit, stay, come, and leash walking. Consistent training sessions with clear expectations and rewards will help them understand and comply with commands.
  • Mental Stimulation: Xoloitzcuintlis thrive on mental stimulation, and incorporating activities like puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience exercises can keep their minds engaged. This helps prevent boredom and promotes their overall well-being.


Xoloitzcuintlis can adapt well to different environments and lifestyles, but some considerations should be kept in mind:

  • Climate: Xoloitzcuintlis are more sensitive to extreme temperatures due to their lack of hair or short coats. In colder climates, they may need extra protection, such as sweaters or jackets. In hotter climates, they should have access to shade and fresh water to prevent overheating.
  • Apartment Living: Xoloitzcuintlis can adapt to apartment living if provided with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. However, their alert nature may make them prone to barking at noises or unfamiliar activities outside the apartment. Proper training can help manage this behavior.
  • Family Dynamics: Xoloitzcuintlis are known to form strong bonds with their families, but some may be reserved with strangers. It is important to expose them to different people, places, and experiences early on to promote their adaptability and comfort in various social settings.
  • Alone Time: While Xoloitzcuintlis enjoy being with their families, they can also adapt to short periods of alone time if gradually introduced from a young age. Proper crate training and providing engaging toys or puzzles can help keep them occupied and prevent separation anxiety.
  • Travel: With proper training and acclimation, Xoloitzcuintlis can adapt to traveling and may enjoy accompanying their owners on adventures. However, it is important to ensure they have a safe and comfortable space during travel and adhere to any specific regulations or requirements.

Understanding the trainability and adaptability of the Xoloitzcuintli is crucial for providing them with the necessary guidance, socialization, and environment to thrive. With positive reinforcement training and gradual exposure to new experiences, they can become well-behaved and adaptable companions in various settings.

Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

The Xoloitzcuintli breed has specific exercise requirements and energy levels that need to be met in order to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. In this section, we will explore the exercise needs and energy levels of the Xoloitzcuintli.

Exercise Needs

Xoloitzcuintlis are an active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical health and prevent boredom. Here are some key considerations for meeting their exercise needs:

  • Daily Walks: Taking your Xoloitzcuintli for dailybond walks is essential to provide them with physical exercise and mental stimulation. Aim for at least 30 minutes to an hour of brisk walking each day, adjusting the duration and intensity based on their age and fitness level.
  • Playtime: Engaging in interactive play sessions with your Xoloitzcuintlis is a great way to provide them with exercise and mental stimulation. Play fetch, engage in tug-of-war, or provide them with puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys to keep them active and entertained.
  • Mental Stimulation: In addition to physical exercise, Xoloitzcuintlis benefit from mental stimulation. Engage their minds with obedience training, agility exercises, or interactive games that require problem-solving skills. This helps prevent boredom and promotes their overall well-being.

Energy Level

Xoloitzcuintlis have a moderate energy level, with bursts of activity followed by periods of relaxation. While they are not excessively hyperactive, they still require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. However, it is important to note that individual Xoloitzcuintlis may vary in their energy levels based on age, health, and temperament.

Tailoring Exercise to Individual Needs

It is crucial to tailor your Xoloitzcuintli’s exercise routine to their individual needs and abilities. Factors to consider include:

  • Age: Puppies and young Xoloitzcuintlis may have higher energy levels and require more frequent, shorter exercise sessions. Older Xoloitzcuintlis may have reduced stamina and may benefit from low-impact exercises.
  • Health: Consider any health conditions or physical limitations your Xoloitzcuintli may have when designing their exercise routine. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions regarding their exercise needs.
  • Climate: Due to their lack of hair or short coat, Xoloitzcuintlis may be more sensitive to extreme temperatures. Adjust their exercise routine accordingly, avoiding excessive heat or cold weather and providing them with shade and hydration as needed.
  • Mental Stimulation: Along with physical exercise, make sure to provide mental stimulation through training, interactive toys, or engaging activities. This helps fulfill their need for mental challenges and prevents boredom.

By providing regular exercise and mental stimulation tailored to your Xoloitzcuintli’s needs, you can help them maintain a healthy energy level and overall well-being. Remember to monitor their behavior and adjust their exercise routine as necessary to ensure they remain happy, content, and well-exercised.



Image courtesy of Anders_Mejlvang


Grooming Requirements

The Xoloitzcuintli’ has specific grooming requirements that are essential for their overall health and well-being. In this section, we will explore the grooming needs of the Xoloitzcuintli’ and how to keep them looking their best.

Hairless Xoloitzcuintli

Hairless Xoloitzcuintlis have smooth, hairless skin that requires special attention to keep it healthy and protected.

  • Skin Care: Hairless Xolos have sensitive skin that can be prone to dryness, sunburn, and irritations. Regularly moisturizing their skin with dog-safe moisturizers or oils can help keep it hydrated and supple.
  • Sun Protection: Hairless Xolos are susceptible to sunburn, especially in areas with intense sunlight. Apply pet-safe sunscreen or provide them with protective clothing when they are exposed to the sun for extended periods.
  • Bathing: Regular bathing is necessary to keep the skin of hairless Xolos clean and free from debris. Use a gentle, hypoallergenic dog shampoo and avoid over-bathing, as it can strip the skin of natural oils.
  • Nail Care: Trim your Xoloitzcuintli”s nails regularly to prevent them from becoming too long and causing discomfort. Be cautious when trimming, as the quick (blood vessel) in their nails may extend closer to the tip.

Coated Xoloitzcuintli

Coated Xoloitzcuintlis have a short, flat coat that is low-maintenance but still requires some grooming care.

  • Brushing: Regular brushing helps keep the coat of Coated Xolos clean and free from loose hair. Use a soft-bristle brush or a grooming mitt to remove any tangles or mats.
  • Bathing: Coated Xolos typically require bathing every few weeks or as needed, depending on their activity level and lifestyle. Use a mild dog shampoo and ensure thorough rinsing to prevent skin irritations.
  • Nail Care: As with hairless Xolos, regularly trim the nails of coated Xolos to maintain their length and prevent discomfort or issues with mobility.
  • Ear Cleaning: Check and clean your Xoloitzcuintli”s ears regularly to prevent the buildup of wax and debris. Use a dog-specific ear cleaning solution and gently wipe the outer ear with a soft cloth or cotton ball.

Dental Care

Regular dental care is important for all Xoloitzcuintlis to maintain good oral health.

  • Brushing Teeth: Brush your Xoloitzcuintli”s teeth regularly using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. This helps prevent dental issues such as tartar buildup and gum disease.
  • Dental Chews and Toys: Provide dental chews or toys designed to promote good oral health. These items can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup while providing mental stimulation.

Professional Grooming

While Xoloitzcuintlis do not require extensive professional grooming, some owners may choose to take them to a professional groomer for occasional bathing, nail trimming, and overall coat maintenance.

By following a regular grooming routine and providing proper care, you can help keep your Xoloitzcuintli”s skin, coat, and overall hygiene in optimal condition. Regular grooming sessions also serve as an opportunity to bond with your dog and monitor their overall health.

Health Issues

Like any breed, the Xoloitzcuintli is prone to certain health issues that potential owners should be aware of. In this section, we will explore some of the common health issues that can affect the Xoloitzcuintli breed.

Dental Problems

Xoloitzcuintlis can be prone to dental issues such as periodontal disease, tooth decay, and gum infections. Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth and providing dental chews or toys, can help maintain good oral hygiene and prevent these problems.

Skin Conditions

Due to their unique hairless or coated skin, Xoloitzcuintlis may be more susceptible to skin issues. These can include sunburn, dryness, allergies, and skin infections. Proper skin care, such as moisturizing for hairless Xolos and regular bathing, can help prevent and manage these conditions. Regular vet check-ups can also help identify and address any skin-related problems.

Eye Problems

Xoloitzcuintlis can be prone to certain eye conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), glaucoma, and cataracts. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian can help detect and manage these conditions, ensuring the overall ocular health of your Xoloitzcuintli.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition that affects the hip joints of many dog breeds, including the Xoloitzcuintli. This condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to discomfort and mobility issues. Responsible breeding practices and obtaining a Xoloitzcuintli puppy from a reputable breeder who performs health screenings can help reduce the risk of this condition.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap (patella) slides out of its normal position, causing discomfort and difficulty in movement. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding excessive jumping or strenuous activities can help reduce the risk of patellar luxation.

Urinary Stones

Xoloitzcuintlis may be prone to urinary stones, which are mineral formations that can develop in the urinary tract. Providing a balanced and appropriate diet, ensuring proper hydration, and regular veterinary check-ups can help prevent and manage urinary stone formation.

Genetic Testing

Responsible breeders often perform genetic testing on their breeding dogs to identify and minimize the risk of passing on hereditary health conditions to their puppies. When considering a Xoloitzcuintli, inquire about the health testing performed by the breeder to ensure the best chance of obtaining a healthy puppy.

It’s important for owners to be aware of these potential health issues and to provide regular veterinary care, a nutritious diet, and a safe environment to help minimize the risks. Monitoring your Xoloitzcuintli’s health and seeking prompt veterinary attention when needed will contribute to their overall well-being and longevity.

Comparable Breeds

While the Xoloitzcuintli is a unique and fascinating breed, there are several other breeds that share certain similarities in terms of appearance, temperament, or characteristics. In this section, we will explore some breeds that are comparable to the Xoloitzcuintli.

Chinese Crested

The Chinese Crested is a small breed that also comes in hairless and coated varieties. Like the Xoloitzcuintli, Chinese Cresteds are known for their affectionate nature and make excellent companion dogs. Both breeds require similar grooming care for their skin and have a moderate energy level.

Peruvian Inca Orchid

The Peruvian Inca Orchid, also known as the Peruvian Hairless Dog, is another breed with a hairless variety that resembles the Xoloitzcuintli. Like the Xoloitzcuintli, they are intelligent, loyal, and have a moderate energy level. They also require similar skin care due to their hairless nature.


The Basenji is a breed known for its unique traits, including being a barkless dog and having a curly tail. While their appearance is different from the v, they share some common temperament characteristics. Both breeds are intelligent, independent, and may require patient training methods due to their independent thinking.

Thai Ridgeback

The Thai Ridgeback is a breed that shares some physical similarities with the Xoloitzcuintli, particularly in their coat and body structure. Both breeds have a short coat and a muscular build. They are also known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective nature.


The Azawakh is a sighthound breed that shares some traits with the Xoloitzcuintli, such as their lean and elegant body shape. While the Azawakh has a short coat and the Xoloitzuintli can be hairless or coated, they both have a similar appearance in terms of their physique. Both breeds also have an independent nature and require regular exercise.

These breeds are comparable to the Xoloitzcuintli in certain aspects, such as appearance, temperament, or characteristics. However, each breed has its own unique qualities and considerations. When considering a comparable breed, it is important to thoroughly research and understand their specific needs and requirements to ensure a good fit for your lifestyle and preferences.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

The Xoloitzcuintli breed has produced several notable dogs throughout history. These dogs have not only made their mark within the breed but have also gained recognition in various fields. In this section, we will explore some of the notable Xoloitzcuintlis.


Chacha, also known as “Amigo’s Chacha Nehru,” was a Xoloitzcuintli who gained fame by becoming the first Xoloitzcuintli to earn the American Kennel Club (AKC) championship title. Chacha’s success in the show ring helped bring recognition and visibility to the breed.


Beyoncé, a Xoloitzcuintli owned by actress Salma Hayek, gained attention when she accompanied Hayek to several red carpet events. Beyoncé became a symbol of elegance and beauty, showcasing the unique charm of the Xoloitzcuintli breed to a wider audience.


Xolette, also known as “Ch. Bayshore Xolette,” was a notable Xoloitzcuintli who achieved great success in the show ring. She earned multiple Best in Show titles and became a top-winning Xoloitzcuintli, contributing to the breed’s recognition and popularity among dog enthusiasts.

“Mexican Hairless Dog in Space”

In 1957, a Xoloitzcuintli named “Mexican Hairless Dog” became the first dog of the breed to make a journey into space. This achievement was part of the Soviet space program’s efforts to study the effects of space travel on living organisms.

These notable Xoloitzcuintlis have made significant contributions to the breed’s recognition and have left a lasting impact within the dog community. Their achievements serve as a testament to the breed’s capabilities and unique qualities.

It is important to note that while these dogs have achieved fame and recognition, every Xoloitzcuintli is special in their own right. Whether they are working as therapy dogs, participating in dog sports, or simply providing companionship, each Xoloitzcuintli brings joy and love to their owners’ lives.

The Xoloitzuintli, also known as the Mexican Hairless dog, is a unique and fascinating breed that has a rich history and a distinct appearance.

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