Affectionate, playful, and intelligent—the Xoloitzcuintli has it all. Except for hair, that is. Xolos carry a dominant hairless trait, which means they're often bald aside from a little hair on the head or tail. There is a coated variety, and both hairless and coated Xolos can be born in the same litter. This breed is an ancient one, and was considered a protector who could lead spirits on their journey to the underworld, ward off evil spirits, and protect the home. This rare breed is a character—a sense of humor is required with the Xolo.
The Xoloitzcuintli is the proper name for the Mexican Hairless Dog; other names include Xoloitzquintle, Xolito, and Xolo. The name is pronounced show-loh-eets-KWEENT-lee. The plural of the name is Xoloitzcuintin, but Xolos is also acceptable.
Xoloitzcuintlin may be hairless or coated. Hairless varieties may have some coarse hair on the head and tail, and usually have solid-colored, thick, warm skin. Coated varieties have a short, usually solid-colored coat. Hairless and coated varieties may be born in the same litter. Though no dog truly possesses zero risk of causing a reaction in allergic people, Xolos are considered a hypoallergenic breed.
Average Height: 10-23 inches
Toy: 10-15 pounds
Miniature: 15-30 pounds
Standard: 30-55 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Xoloitzcuintli should sport a natural appearance with a clean, graceful outline. The breed may be hairless or coated. The hairless Xolo is bald with hair allowed atop the head and tail, while the coated variety has a short, flat coat. The Xolo is rectangular, and taller than she is long. She bears a thoughtful expression, with wrinkles allowed on the head. Her body should be muscular, with a rounded rib shape. The low-set tail may be carried in a curve while in action, but never over the back. Hairlessness often means missing teeth or improper bites, while coated Xolos will usually have a full set of teeth. The ears should be high set and bat-like, never dropped. Three sizes—toy, miniature, and standard—are all included in this breed standard. – AKC Breed Standards
An ancient breed, the Xoloitzcuintli developed 3,500 years or more ago—without the selective breeding that guides most breed development. The Xolo is named for the ancient Aztec god Xolotl, who was associated with fire, lightning, and death. Dogs were said to accompany the dog-headed Xolotl nightly to protect the sun on its journey through Mictlán, the underworld.
Because of the strong connection with the god of death, ancient civilizations regarded the Xolo as a sacred companion who would lead loved ones through the underworld and into the next world. The Xolo was considered to have healing powers as well.
Christopher Columbus wrote of these hairless dogs in the 15th century, and may have brought some back to Europe. And Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera kept Xolos and featured them often in their art.
The American Kennel Club first recognized the type as the Mexican Hairless Dog in 1887, but due to the scarcity of the breed removed it from the stud book in 1959. After an effort to revive the Xoloitzcuintli, the AKC readmitted it into the Miscellaneous Group in 2010, then into the Non-Sporting Group in 2011.
Dante the Xoloitzcuintli accompanied Miguel during his journey through the underworld in the 2017 movie Coco.
AKC Breed Category
Though the Xolo can be stubborn, she's also lovable and affectionate with family. This breed tends to bond most closely with the person who provides daily care, but makes a wonderful companion for every member of the household. They may be shy with new people, but are friendly when given time to warm up. Xoloitzcuintlin hold on to their puppy-like energy and behaviors into adulthood. Expect clownish antics from Xolos throughout their lifetime.
Are Xoloitzcuintlin Good with Kids? Though Xolos are friendly and affectionate, they can be protective. She may take it upon herself to break up roughhousing and spats between children, so they're better suited to homes with older kids.
Are Xoloitzcuintlin Good with Other Pets? Xolos are affectionate pack animals who do best with other dogs in the household. They may coexist with cats in the household, but their prey drive may make them incompatible with rodents and other small pets.
Xoloitzcuintlin are protective and make impressive watchdogs. They'll alert you of newcomers, but range from timid to accepting of new people, so they aren't likely guard dogs.
Energetic Xoloitzcuintlin need plenty of exercise to prevent undesirable behaviors.
- The Xolo is an intelligent breed who needs plenty of mental stimulation.
- This breed doesn't grow out of puppyhood until at least two years of age.
- Xolos are incredible climbers and jumpers—which means they're talented escape artists.
- Without proper socialization, Xolos may be timid.
- This rare breed is difficult to find.
- Though grooming needs are minimal, Xolos need sunscreen applied to their skin to prevent sunburn.
- Xolos aren't recommended for first-time dog owners.
- Without enough physical exercise and mental stimulation, Xolos may become destructive or exhibit undesirable behaviors.
When given plenty of exercise and attention, the Xoloitzcuintli makes a lovable indoor companion, who can also adapt to apartment life. Xolos need to be near their people and they crave attention. They're likely to curl up near—or on—whichever family member is available. Plenty of chew toys will help prevent destructive chewing while indoors. They do not like to sleep on the floor—drafts are chilly for hairless dogs—so provide a comfortable dog bed, especially if furniture is off limits.
The outdoor life is not ideal for this hairless breed. Though they're thrilled to run and play while accompanied outside, Xolos are not meant to live outdoors. They are sensitive to cold, will burn in the sun, and are likely to escape and wander. Sunscreen is necessary in sunny weather, and warm dog jackets and boots in cold weather. Fenced areas and leashed walks are musts.
Xolos are perpetual puppies who need at least half an hour of exercise per day, more for larger, higher-energy dogs. Walking, easy runs, and romps in the yard will help meet this breed's exercise requirements.
The versatile Xoloitzcuintli has a high endurance level, but her size should be considered when planning outdoor adventures. Standard-sized Xolos will handle longer treks better than mini or toy Xolos.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Depending on size, the Xolo may be able to accompany you on short jogs. Toy Xolos are not able to run as far as standard-sized dogs.
- Hiking Miles: Xoloitzcuintlin are energetic little adventurers who may appreciate half a day on the trail, but they are likely to suffer from sunburn, so slather them with sunscreen before setting foot outdoors.
Hairless Xoloitzcuintlin are often missing teeth—consider this when choosing food for your Xolo. Softened food may be necessary. As this breed is prone to weight gain, food should be measured based on weight. The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food to feed an average weight Xolo is anywhere from a half to two and a half cups per day, based on weight and activity level. This should be split between two meals.
While Xoloitzcuintlin don't tend to guard their food more than other breeds, children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.
Xoloitzcuintlin are social dogs who prefer spending time with their people. Some Xolos may be left home alone for four to six hours per day. Plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and the use of a crate can help prevent destructive behaviors.
Health and Grooming
Brushing isn't necessary for hairless Xolos, but coated varieties may need to be brushed weekly. Veterinarian-recommended sunscreen should be applied before going outside, to prevent sunburn. Bathe your Xolo only occasionally, to prevent dry skin or irritation. A warm, damp cloth is usually plenty for a quick bath, but some gentle shampoo may be used if necessary. Lotion may be applied if necessary. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or breaking a nail.
Common Health Issues
Because the Xoloitzcuintli is a naturally-developed breed, there are few major health concerns, but the breed may have some health issues, including:
- Missing teeth
- Skin irritation
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Xoloitzcuintli by purchasing her from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
The comical Xolo is intelligent—but occasionally too smart for her own good. Basic obedience training may be met with goofy behaviors and refusal to cooperate. Approach training with positive reinforcement methods—and a sense of humor—for the best results. Early socialization, leash manners, and basic obedience should be priorities to achieve a well-balanced Xolo.
Keeping training sessions entertaining is the best way to win over a Xolo. Agility may be an energy-burning activity the Xolo enjoys. The legend of the Xolo's healing powers may have some weight to it—Xolos have a higher body temperature and are comforting to hold. They can be good candidates for therapy dog training.
Sporting Dog Training
The Xoloitzcuintli is not a sporting dog, but you can give her prey drive some direction with barn hunt or Earthdog trials.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Xoloitzcuintlin.
Though both the Xolo and Chinese Crested are hairless breeds, they developed separately—DNA does not reveal a close genetic relationship between the two breeds. Hairlessness is a trait that a number of breeds share.
Hairlessness was likely a gene mutation that persisted in Xolos as it was advantageous in the hot climate where the breed developed. The gene that is linked to hairlessness may also cause dental concerns—either missing teeth, crooked teeth, or even tusk-like, protruding teeth. The hairlessness, combined with a mouthful of odd-looking ivories and exaggerated features may be why the Xoloitzcuintli has been mistaken for the chupacabra, a popular cryptozoological myth.