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
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.