Meet the Breed: The Xoloitzcuintli



  • Height: Toy: 9"-14”, Miniature: 15"-20", Standard: 20"-30"
  • Weight: Toy: 5-15 pounds, Miniature: 15-30 pounds, 25-40 pounds. Some can be 60+ pounds. 
  • Historical function: Watchdog, hot water bottle, ceremonial sacrifice animal, food 
  • Modern function: Companion, therapy dog, agility, watchdog
  • AKC classification: Non-sporting group

Physical Characteristics:

The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee), or "Xolo," is an ancient breed from Mexico. It comes in three sizes - toy, miniature and standard. In Mexico, the miniature is known as the Intermediate. The breed also comes in two varieties - hairless and coated. The hairless is the more sought-after variety and may have sparse tufts of hair on the head and tail. In the hairless variety, the skin feels warm, sturdy, smooth and tight fitting. The haired variety is covered by a short, flat coat. In both kinds, a dark, uniform color is preferred. Colors range from black, slate, gray, to red, fawn, liver or bronze. White spots and markings do occur. Colors do change as the dog matures. Colors can darken in the sun. The ears are large, upright and bat like and they have very keen hearing.

History of the Breed:

The  Xoloitzcuintli is one of the world's oldest and most rare breeds, dating back over 3,000 years. Ancestors of the Aztec Indians brought hairless dogs with from Asia across the Bering Straits, finally settling in Mexico. The breed's name comes from the name of the Aztec Indian god Xolotl and Itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog.  They were highly prized for their loyalty, intelligence, curative and mystical powers. Xolos were also believed to safeguard the home from evil spirits and intruders.  The Aztecs enjoyed the hairless dogs as pets, but also utilized them as bed warmers, food and sacrificial offerings. The warm body heat of the toy-sized dogs made them popular as ancient hot-water bottles, relieving stomach pains and arthritis. At the end of the nineteenth century, it became completely a companion dog, though the warmth from their bodies is still enjoyed today, particularly by the elderly. The Xolo is no longer in danger of extinction and is not in danger due to lack of interest. The Xolo today is being acknowledged with increased interest for its companionship, loyalty, cleanliness and flexibility to do it all! They make great companions, show, agility, obedience, therapy and service dogs. 


The Xoloitzcuintli is enjoying increased breed interest for its companionship, loyalty, cleanliness and flexibility. They make great companions, show, agility, obedience, therapy and service dogs. They are often reserved and wary of strangers but are not timid nor aggressive. They bond strongly with their owners and are Velcro dogs. They may bond with one family member in particular but enjoy the whole family, including other pets. Xolos have cat-like self grooming rituals and are easy to housebreak.  

  • Best suited for: Active families who will appreciate a very loyal, intelligent companion and need a watchdog.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog is social and prefers to be with his people. Other than that, they are quite adaptable and hardy. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The hairless variety can be bathed once or twice a month or wiped down with a damp cloth. A bit of lotion may be helpful, especially sun screen. Lighter Xolos can burn. Adolescent Xolos may have acne. Trim nails and brush teeth weekly. Use dog clothing in cold weather.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk and playtime.
  • Life expectancy: 14-17 years.
  • Health concerns: This is a very healthy, hardy breed with no known health issues.

Breed Club Links: Xoloitzcuintli Club of America Perfect Pairings: Clothes!

Have any stories about a Xoloitzcuintli? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

This entry was posted by Mary.
Patricia on October 13 at 3:19 PM said:

I never heard of this breed before, I do have a hairless Chinese crested and they seem to have many of the same characteristics.
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