Breed Profiles

Mexican Hairless

The Mexican Hairless Dog is a rare, hairless breed of dog whose size varies greatly. It is also known as Xoloitzcuintli, Xoloitzcuintle, or Xolo for short, or Mexican Hairless.


Contrary to popular myth, the breed does not have a higher than normal body temperature, does not sweat through its skin and contact with a Xolo cannot heal injuries or illness. These myths are based in the breed's traditional ceremonial use.

Similar in appearance to a Pharaoh Hound, with a sleek body, almondshaped eyes, large bat-like ears, and a long neck, the Xolo is notable for its dominant trait of hairlessness. The dominant hairless trait originated in this breed as a spontaneous mutation thousands of years ago. The
recessive expression of the trait will produce a coated variety, which is genetically inseparable from the hairless. Most litters contain both hairless and coated puppies. The coated variety, covered with a short, flat dense coat represents the original form of the dog, prior to the occurrence of the spontaneous hairless mutation. The hairless variety is completely hairless on the body. Some dogs exhibit a few short hairs on the top of the head, the toes and tip of the tail. Most hairless dogs are black or blue in color. The allele responsible for the xolo's hairlessness
also affects the dog's dentition: xolos typically have an incomplete set of teeth.


The Xolo is native to Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Archaeological evidence shows that the breed existed in the New World for more than 3,500 years. Most likely, early forerunners of the Xolo originated as spontaneous hairless mutations of indigenous New World dogs. Hairlessness may have offered a survival advantage in tropical regions. Their value in ancient native cultures is evidenced by their frequent appearance in the art and artifacts produced by the Colima, Aztec and Toltec civilizations in Mexico.

Xolos were considered sacred dogs by the Aztecs because they believed the dogs were needed by their masters’ souls to help them safely through the underworld. According to Aztec mythology, the god Xolotl made the Xoloitzcuintle from a sliver of the Bone of Life from which all man was made. Xolotl gave this gift to Man with the instruction to guard it with his life and in exchange it would guide Man through the dangers of Mictlan, the world of Death, toward the Evening Star in the Heavens. The Aztecs also raised the breed for their meat. 16th Century Spanish accounts tell of large numbers of dogs being served at banquets.

When Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492 his journal entries noted the presence of strange hairless dogs. Subsequently, Xolos were transported back to Europe.


Adult Xolos are noted for their calm demeanor but puppies can be quite noisy and unruly. The breed has definite primitive temperament traits and requires extensive socialization and training from eight weeks to a year of age. Xolo temperament can be compared to a typical Working breed, with strong guardian instincts. Their primitive heritage also encourages predatory behavior. Xolos can be escape artists, climbing and jumping fences to chase small animals. They are known to possess exceptional guard dog ability and will not back down from a fight. Therefore, basic obedience training and continued socialization is needed until adulthood.


Behaviour Tip

When a dog is presented for behaviour problems to a veterinary ethologist or accredited animal behaviourist it will usually have multiple disorders...

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