Learn All About the Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)

Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)

TaynaPanova / Getty Images 

The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee) is sometimes called by its Americanized name, the Mexican Hairless Dog. The breed name is also sometimes spelled Xoloitzcuintle. The Xolo (show-low), as it’s affectionately known, comes in three sizes: standard, miniature and toy. Although the hairless variety is the best known, the Xolo also comes in a coated variety. Coated Xoloitzcuintli sport a short, smooth coat that covers the entire body. Hairless Xolos are completely bare-skinned, although they sometimes sprout a few tufts of hair on the top of the head, on the feet and on the last third of the tail. Although breeders might focus on one size or coat variety, all three sizes and the two different coat types can pop up in the same litter. 

The Xoloitzcuintli is what is known as primitive breed—basically, a very old breed that retains semi “wild” characteristics. This means they require extensive socialization and training in early puppyhood and throughout their lives to counteract shyness or fear. It’s important to note that wariness of strangers is a hallmark of the breed—they make excellent watch dogs and will alert you to any strange happenings in and around your home. This breed does best when given clear boundaries and a consistent routine. These loyal dogs bond very tightly with their family members. They are somewhat needy emotionally, in that they want and need a lot of interaction with their people. Without it, they can become demanding and even destructive in the home. But the Xolo is so charming and engaging, it’s easy to give them the attention they so desire. They usually get along well with respectful family children, other dogs and can even peacefully coexist with the family cat if raised together. 

Breed Overview

Group: Non-Sporting

Weight: Standard: 30 to 55 pounds; Miniature: 15 to 30 pounds; Toy: 10 to 15 pounds

Height: Standard: 18 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder; Miniature: 14 to 18 inches; Toy: 10 to 14 inches

Coat: Hairless: A small amount of short, coarse hair may appear on the top of the head, the feet, and the end of the tail. Coated: Short, smooth and close-fitting coat

Color: A range of dark colors, including black, gray black, slate, red, liver (brown) or bronze

Life Expectancy: 14 to 17 years

Characteristics of the Xolo

Affection Level Medium
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Xolo

The Xoloitzcuintli is an ancient breed that traces its roots back to the time of the Aztecs, making the breed at least 3,500 years old. According to the Xoloitzcuintli Club of American, the breed name is a combination of the name of the dog god Xolotl and the Aztec word Itzcuintli, which means dog. The Xolo is the national dog of Mexico. The Xoloitzcuintli is recognized by the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club, the Mexican Kennel Club and the international kennel club Fédération Cynologique International.

In ancient Mexico, the Xoloitzcuintli was sacred. The dogs were frequently sacrificed and placed in the graves of their recently deceased owners because they were thought to help safely guide their owners’ souls into the land of the dead. They were also thought to cure various health conditions. Although rare, the Xolo is slowly finding its way into pop culture. The 2017 Disney animated film Coco features an adorable, scene-stealing Xoloitzcuintli named Dante. 

Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
TaynaPanova / Getty Images
Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
 TaynaPanova / Getty Images
Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
 All the rights for presented photos are my own / Getty Images

Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog) Care

The Xoloitzcuintli is a wash-and-wear dog. The coated variety requires occasionally baths and minimal brushing (the hairless variety needs no brushing). The hairless variety does need frequent baths to remove oily buildup on the skin, followed by a moisturizing lotion rubbed all over the skin. Some Mexican Hairless might need a pet-safe sunscreen. If you’re wondering what the skin of the hairless variety feels like, it’s not soft or silky. Described as a hide, the skin is in fact thick, tough and protective. In adolescence (typically the during the dog’s first year), acne (skin break outs) and cradle cap (waxy buildup on the skin) is common as the skin goes through a transition. Extra skin care may be required during this time to minimize these issues. Your breeder can coach you through proper skin care until the skin matures. 

The Xoloitzcuintli is active and agile. They are generally calm indoors as long as they get enough exercise in the form of daily walks and romps in the backyard. Intelligent and sensitive, Xolos are easy to train as long as you use positive methods and don’t overwhelm them. Socialization is extremely important for this breed, which can be wary and cautious of strangers. Start socializing early in puppyhood, and continue throughout the life of the dog. 

Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
Ирина Мещерякова / Getty Images 
Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
Ирина Мещерякова / Getty Images 
Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
TaynaPanova / Getty Images 

Is the Xoloitzcuintli Hypoallergenic?

You might think that with no hair, the Xolo is hypoallergenic. Although it’s true that the breed might be good for some allergy sufferers, it depends on whether the individual is sensitive to dog hair or dog dander (dried saliva and material shed from an animal’s skin). The Xolo lacks hair, but has plenty of dander. It’s best for allergy sufferers to spent lots of time with adult Xolos (preferably in a home where Xolos live) in order to determine if they react to them or not. That said, in general, the Xolo is one of the breeds considered good for people who suffer from dog allergies. 

Common Health Problems

The Xoloitzcuintli is quite healthy. Some hairless Xolos may not have a full set of teeth (something that is likely correlated to the gene that causes hairlessness), but this does not usually cause any problems for the dog. Responsible breeders perform standard tests on their Xolos before breeding them, including screening for hip dysplasia and patella luxation, as well as heart and eye diseases. 

Diet and Nutrition

Some Xoloitzcuintli are prone to becoming overweight. Feed your Xolo a high-quality dog food and measure out regular meals with a measuring cup or scale to avoid overfeeding. Free feeding (leaving food out all day), can lead to weight gain. Overweight dogs may experience joint issues hip and other health conditions like diabetes. Ask your breeder or veterinarian to recommend the best food for your Xolo.

Pros

  • Does not shed

  • Bonds strongly with family 

  • Excellent watchdog

Cons

  • Requires regular skin care

  • Can be wary of strangers

  • Require extensive socialization and training

Where to Adopt or Buy

The Xoloitzcuintli is a rare breed. Some adults might find their way into rescue, but usually, people wanting to bring home a Xolo will be buying a puppy from a reputable breeder. The Xoloitzcuintli Club of America publishes a directory of breeders on its website. Be prepared to get on a waiting list.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Xoloitzcuintli, you might also like these breeds:

Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.