- Some say the Xolo resembles a hot water bottle with pig eyes, bat ears, and a rattail.
- Not every Xolo is hairless – there is also a variety with a short, smooth coat.
AKC group: Non-sporting
UKC group: Sighthound and Pariah
Average lifespan: 16 – 20 years
Average size: 5 – 45 pounds depending on size variety
Coat appearance: Soft and smooth if hairless or short and flat if hairy
Coloration: Black, gray, gray-black, red, bronze
Other identifiers: Unique look with bat-like ears and features; dark, almond-shaped eyes; long tail and strong, athletic legs
Sometimes called the first dog of the Americas, the Xolo is a hairless breed that has been in existence for many centuries, as evidenced by depictions on pre-Columbian pottery and reports from the Spanish conquistadors. The warm-bodied dogs were prized for their healing properties and were known for helping with toothaches, insomnia, and ailments that benefit from warmth, such as rheumatism and asthma. They also warded off evil spirits and intruders.
Xolos were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera often portrayed the breed in their works. But as so often happens, the Xolo lost popularity. The breed’s numbers dropped so low that the American Kennel Club eliminated the Xolo from its stud book.
However, Xolos recently made a comeback. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1993, and The American Kennel Club brought it back into the fold in 2011 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
The Xoloitzcuintli love people – in fact, they are often called “Velcro dogs” because they are so attached to their owner. They will want to be with you always, so your Xolo will never run away from home. Don’t be surprised if your dog is emotionally tuned into you. If you’re sad, your Xolo will know and want to comfort you. He makes a great watchdog, but not a good guard dog. When strangers come over to visit, your Xolo may be aloof to their presence.
Because of their size, you may want to coddle your Xoloitzcuintli, but resist the urge. This could lead to behavioral problems or little dog syndrome. Even though they aren’t yappy, they can be pushy if you let them get away with everything.
If you’re away from home for long periods of time, the Xoloitzcuintli is not the dog for you. He needs to be with people and can’t be left alone all day. If fact, if he is left alone too long, your Xolo may try to climb or dig their way out – separation anxiety can be an issue with this breed. They work well with a schedule and will become upset if it changes.
Most of the Xolo’s health concerns are due to its lack of hair. In the summer, this dog is susceptible to sunburn, so he’ll need protection such as a shirt or sunscreen. In the winter, he’ll need protection from the cold – a sweater, jacket and boots will help protect him.
As well, the Xolo should not be overly bathed or rubbed with lotion. This causes acne and other infections in the pores. Another interesting health fact about Xoloitzcuintlis is that the breed has fewer teeth than most other dogs – they are often missing their missing their premolars and bicuspids.
The Xoloitzcuintli needs very little grooming. Generally, a soft, warm cloth to cleanse the skin is sufficient. Exercise needs are moderate. Daily walks or jogs and outdoor play during warm weather will benefit the Xolo’s health. Skin care should be undertaken carefully, with regular checks to make sure the skin has not become too dry. Skin care products, lotions, shampoos or anything that has the potential to irritate the skin should be avoided.
With these precautions in mind, keeping your Xolo safe from harsh sunlight, as well as protecting it from cold temperatures will be main concerns. Because they are sensitive to climate, Xolos are considered indoor dogs. They should never be left outdoors for long periods of time. During cold seasons, your Xolo may be more comfortable wearing a sweater, and of course, spending as little time outdoors in the cold as possible.
Young Xolos require a lot of exercise, discipline and attention, lots of toys and things to do to keep them happy and out of trouble. If you do not have the time required for the first year, you may consider a trainer, dog walker, or doggy day care while at work all day. Or an older Xolo. As they mature, they calm down and are very easy going, quiet and laid-back, and are content to stay at home while you work. However, they would prefer to go with you if they can and do very well at work with you. This does not mean they are not game to go jogging, hiking or any other activity, it just means they don’t require as much as, say, a working breed or terrier breed.
Xoloitzcuintlis are smart dogs, which means they catch on to training activities quickly, but they must be taught early and often. Xolos can quickly take over and control a training session, so training must be conducted with absolute consistency, and training should be made as interesting as possible to keep the dog engaged. Xolos respond the best to reward-based training whether that reward is praise or food, and they will shut down if treated with a heavy hand. All family members should take part in the training of a Xoloitzcuintli, that way the dog knows to respect all members of the household.
Some owners have experienced problems trying to housetrain a Xolo. Their hairless bodies are sensitive to extreme weather conditions, so housetraining in the winter can be a challenge. Crate training usually works the best, as Xolos like to have their own personal space and will be less inclined to mess in that space.
To keep boredom at bay, you’ll need to keep your Xoloitzcuintli engaged both mentally and physically… otherwise, you’re asking for trouble! You’ll need to walk your Xolo daily to keep mischief at bay. Indoors, always make sure a rousing play time to help release some of his energy.
The great thing about the Xoloitzcuintli is that they can live in pretty much any kind of house, big or small. As long as they get enough exercise, these dogs are happy and adaptable. As long as you’re involved in the activity at hand, they will gladly participate.
Grooming the Xolo is pretty easy, but there are some special considerations for this hairless breed. If he has a coat, brush weekly with a very soft brush. Wipe the skin daily with a cloth dampened with warm water to remove dirt. A bath with a mild dog shampoo once a week or every few weeks helps keep the skin blemish free. Apply moisturizing lotion daily or as needed, depending on skin condition and climate. Some hairless breeds are sensitive to lanolin, so ask the breeder what lotion she uses on her dogs.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, and brush the teeth frequently with a soft toothbrush and doggie toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears every week and clean them if needed using a cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Hairless breeds are prone to sunburn so apply sunscreen or dress him in a doggy T-shirt. He may need warm doggie clothing in the winter months.
Children And Other Pets
The family-oriented Xolo can be good with children, especially if he is brought up with them. He’s not a big fan of having his ears or tail pulled, however, so supervise any interactions with very young children. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Xoloitzcuintli can get along well with other dogs and cats if they grow up with them. They may be less sociable toward strange dogs, however, and their high prey drive inclines them to chase cats and other furry animals they see outdoors.
Is this breed right for you?
A kind and family-oriented breed, the Xolo should be monitored around young children. Good for apartment living, this dog will need adequate exercise to remain happy. Due to jumping, it’s best that a Xolo has a fenced-in yard. Preferring warmer climates, Xolos cannot be outside pets due to their tender skin, and will not do well being kenneled either. Requiring sunblock and care, a Xolo is easy to groom but will need extra maintenance for his sensitive skin. In addition, he does require a special diet to avoid stomach problems. A nice breed, the Xolo is very attached to his owner and can be emotionally hurt easily. Intelligent, he’s easy to train and will not respond well to harsh leadership. Considered a good watchdog, he will protect and serve his master without second thought.
The Xolo’s name is a combination of Xolotl, an Aztec god, and Itzcuintli, an Aztec word for dog.
In popular culture
- Xolo was featured in Royal de Luxe’s street theater performances in Guadalajara, Mexico (November 2010), Nantes, France (May 2011), and Liverpool (April 2012). A huge puppet of the dog accompanied the company’s famous Giants.
- Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente is a Mexican football club named after the dog breed.
- The Xolo was featured for the first time in the 2012 Westminster Dog Show.
- A Xolo photograph won 1st place in the “Animal Kingdom” Life Framer competition (2015).
A dream day in the life of a Xoloitzcuintli
If the Xoloitzcuintli had his way, he would sit on his owner’s lap from sunup to sundown. However, since this may not be the healthiest way for him to live his life, it would be best to incorporate a walk and playtime in the Xolo’s day. Enjoying playing outside, the breed will like to play with the older children and climb fences or trees if available to him. Going to sleep at his owner’s feet, the Xolo will dream the night away while he keeps his ear out to protect the home.