The Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)
By Michael Russell
The name of this dog is pronounced show-low-eats-queent-lee. An easier way to spell and say the name of this unusual breed is Xolo (pronounced Show -lo). In common everyday terminology, the dog is known as the “Mexican Hairless”. This name says it all. This is a breed that is born without hair. Consequently it is a breed that has particular difficulties with health which should be understood by anyone wishing to own one of these rare dogs.
First of all, a dog without hair is subject to temperature changes and should be protected from either extreme cold or heat. It will sunburn easily and needs to be kept out of the sunlight. It will become cold quickly and needs to wear an outer coat when it goes outside. The size of the dog is another health consideration for the small toy variety of this breed has a delicate bone structure. Children should be supervised and not allowed to play roughly. Also the dog needs to be protected from jumping off of surfaces which are high for its small leg bones will fracture easily.
The Xolo has a unique history. It is believed that this dog represents the very first association of mankind with the canine world. Representations of the Xolo breed in clay sculpture have been found dating as far back as 3000 years ago. The name “Xoloitzcuintli” comes from a combination of the ancient Aztec word for the Indian god Xolotl and Itzcuintli which is the Indian word for dog. This breed was believed by the Aztec peoples to posses strong powers against evil spirits. He also was supposed to have benevolent healing powers for such ailments as arthritis, toothache and insomnia. The dog was actually often used as a bed warmer, the modern world would call the dog a “heating pad”. Furthermore in ancient times the Xolo was often sacrificed in order to be buried with his master and quide him on his journey in the after life, as it was believed that the dog would faithfully protect his master in death as he had in life from the evil spirits of the world.
Like the Chinese Crested, there are two varieties of the Xolo, the hairless and the coated. There are also three sizes, the toy, the miniature and the standard. The dog comes in nearly every imaginable color. The hairless variety usually appears quite mottled and spotted and often wrinkled. The body type is similar to that of the Italian Greyhound. The breed was actually registered with the American Kennel Club from 1887 to 1959, when the A.K.C. voted to drop the breed from its stud book registry. At that time there appeared to be a lack of direction in the breed standard and a lack of quality in the breeding program, according to the A.K.C.
The Xolo is not especially attractive to many people and often the comment is made that it is an ugly dog. However owners of the Xolo will tell you that the sweetness of its character and the affection that it displays is much greater than its ugliness!
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dogs
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