Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
The Xoloitzcuintli is one of the most beloved dogs in Mexican history and were revered as sacred by the Aztecs, Mayans, and Toltecs. But despite their revered status in Mexican culture, the Xoloitzcuintli is much less well-known in America and other parts of the world.
So, what is there to know about this hairless breed? Let’s take a deep dive into the Xoloitzcuintli—and learn all there is to know about this beloved breed from Mexico:
Also Known As...
Xolo. Mexican Hairless Dog. "If a Siamese Cat were a dog, it'd be a Mexican Hairless Dog."
The Xoloitzcuintli have a rich history in Mexico, with the breed’s origin dating back over 3000 years. According to ancient Aztec mythology, the Xoloitzcuintli was made from the Bone of Life by the God Xolotl. Xolos were believed to be guardians and were sometimes sacrificed and buried with their owners to help guide their souls through the Underworld.
In Mexico, Xolos remained popular companion dogs throughout the centuries, eventually becoming one of the first dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887. Because of the breed’s scarcity, the Xoloitzcuintli lost its stud status in 1959—ultimately not being reinstated into the AKC until 2009.
The Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog actually comes in a few different sizes—toy, miniature, and standard. The toy category has an average height of between 10 and 14 inches. The miniature category is slightly taller, growing to between 14 and 18 inches. And the standard is the tallest of all the categories, with an average height of between 18 and 23 inches.
Because they grow to be different sizes, each of the different categories of the Xoloitzcuintli has a different weight range. The toy category typically weighs in between 15 and 30 pounds, the miniature category has an average weight of between 15 and 30 pounds, and the standard category typically falls between 30 and 55 pounds.
The Xoloitzcuintli is an extremely loyal dog that will do anything for their family. And that includes watching out for them! While the Xolo is extremely loving, affectionate, and loyal to their family, they also have a protective side—and, as such, can act as great guard dogs.
Intelligence / Trainability
Xolos are extremely smart—but they can also be extremely independent! In order to get the most from their training, Xolos need consistency and boundaries. Also, the earlier you can start training and socializing your Xolo, the better!
Want to make sure you have a successful training experience with your Mexican Hairless Dog? Here are a few training tips you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Use positive reinforcement. As mentioned, Xoloitzcuintlis are extremely loyal and loving towards their humans. They want to make you happy—and the best way to train them is to use positive reinforcement when that happens! When you’re training your Xolo, make sure to layer on the praise (and treats!) anytime they follow directions or obey a command.
- Make it active. Younger Xolos have a ton of energy—and if they don’t have an outlet for that energy, it can turn destructive. Use training as an opportunity to work off some of their excess energy; the more tired they are, the more likely they’ll be to listen!
- Make it challenging. Xolos need physical activity—but mental stimulation is just as important. Make sure your training is challenging enough to keep your dog’s brain just as engaged as their body!
Because the Xoloitzcuintli a) hails from Mexico, and b) doesn’t have any hair, they don’t do well in cold weather—so the ideal environment for a Xolo is one with a warmer climate.
Xolos are also extremely attached to their humans and don’t like being alone. They’ll do best in a household where they can be with their humans most (if not all!) of the day. If you have commitments that keep you out of the house for hours at a time, a Xolo may not be the right breed for you.
Xolos are also great jumpers and climbers, and if they’re going to be outside, they need to be in a fenced-in area—so homes with a fenced-in yard are ideal.
When they don’t have a healthy outlet for their energy, the Xoloitzcuintli can be extremely mischievous, so if you don’t have the time and energy to exercise your dog regularly, you might want to rethink adding a Xolo to your family.
Good For Families And Kids?
The Xoloitzcuintli is a social, loyal breed and typically do well with children—particularly if they grow up with kids in the household. However, every dog is different—so it’s important to always supervise your Xolo when they’re interacting with children.
The Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog’s lifespan can vary by size, but typically, this breed lives anywhere between 13 and 18 years.
Overall, the Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog is a healthy breed. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to certain health issues—and, as a responsible pet owner, it’s important to be aware of exactly what those issues may be.
Some health issues associated with the Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog include hip dysplasia (particularly for the standard category), eye disorders, and patellar luxation. Improper care and grooming can also lead to skin issues (including acne).
Xoloitzcuintli puppies are extremely high energy—and, as such, will need plenty of exercise and stimulation (both physical and mental) to feel their happiest and healthiest. However, the Xoloitzcuintli’s energy tends to calm down as they get older—and adult dogs are known for having a much calmer demeanor. The adult Xoloitzcuintli will still need plenty of exercise (including long daily walks), but once they get that exercise, they enjoy nothing more than relaxing at home.
Friendly with…(Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Breeds?)
The Xoloitzcuintli is a friendly breed—but like most dogs, they need early socialization and training in order to get along with strangers, cats, and dogs. As long as you expose your Xolo to other people and pets early and often, they should be able to get along and interact with anyone they meet—whether they have four legs or two.
Coat & Grooming
If you were ever looking for a dog with low maintenance grooming needs, a hairless dog would be it! Because the Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog doesn’t have any hair, there’s no need to worry about brushing. (If you happen to get a coated Xolo, they have an extremely low maintenance short coat that will only require minimal brushing). The biggest grooming need for the Xoloitzcuintli is skin care. Younger Xolos in particular are prone to acne and may need medicated skin products from the vet.
You should also plan to give your Xolo a bath every few weeks to get them looking and feeling their best (and cleanest!).
Xolos, unlike most (all?) other breeds, sweat from their plentiful skin! This also means that they don't pant quite as much after strenuous exercise. Weirdos, right? In a good way, of course.
Toys Mexican Hairless Dogs Would Like Best
Xoloitzcuintlis are energetic, intelligent, and engaged with their people. And the best way to play to all of those personality traits? With plenty of play, of course!
If you want to keep your Mexican Hairless Dog happy and healthy, you need to schedule regular playtime—and to make the most out of playtime, you need to right toys.
Here are some toys that you’ll definitely want to consider getting for your Xoloitzcuintli:
- Fetch Toys. The Xoloitzcuintli is a high-energy dog—and a great way to work off that energy? An active game of fetch! Fetch Toys like the "Best Balls Ever" are a great way to help your dog get the exercise they need to feel (and behave) their best—and have fun in the process!
- Tug Toys. Xolos are extremely engaged with their humans. Tug toys are a great way to play with your dog one-on-one—and give them the engagement and attention they crave.
- Treat-Dispensing Toys. Again, Xolos are smart pups—and they need mental stimulation to feel their best. Treat-dispensing Super Chewer Toys are a great way to engage your dog’s intelligence!
Recommended Diet or Supplements
Like all dog breeds, the Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog will feel its best when fed a diet of high-quality dog food that is free from any unnatural ingredients, fillers, or preservatives.
This breed may also benefit from additional supplements to support their overall health and well-being as they age.
These veterinarian-formulated supplements are made with all natural glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, all packed into a delicious soft chew. ($32.99.)
Xolos, just like any dog, love to take a load off after a long day of...napping or whatever. That's why they deserve their own bed, especially if they have joint issues.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog Of Your Dreams
If you’re thinking about adding a Xolo to your family, the best thing you can do is go to a rescue. There are plenty of Mexican Hairless Dogs out there in need of a loving home—so adopt, don’t shop!
In addition to checking your local shelters and rescues, here are a few notable Xoloitzcuintli rescues to help you find the perfect pup for your home:
- Xoloitzcuintli Primitive Breed Rescue, serving the entire United States
- Bald is Beautiful Dog Rescue, specializing in hairless dogs (including Xolos) and serving the Eastern United States
- Adoptable Xolos on Petfinder
Notable Instagram Xoloitzcuintlis
Want to flood your Instagram feed with some of the cutest Xolos in the social media space?
Of course you do—and here are the notable Instagram Xoloitzcuintli/Mexican Hairless Dog’s you need to follow in order to make that happen:
***Looking for a gift to blow your Xolo's mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <-- This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)
Featured image via MilotheXolo/Instagram