Say it with us: “show-low-itz-queent-lee”

By Southern Living Editors
April 03, 2020
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When it comes to welcoming a new dog into your home, there are so many factors to consider, such as size, temperament, expense, lifestyle, space, and more. One of the biggest decisions facing future pet owners is the type of dog they choose. Yes, dogs are lovable and make great companions but there are other things to keep in mind. Will he shed? Will she play well with my children? Will he get along with another dog or animal in the household? Does he need a lot of exercise? Like humans, dogs have distinct personalities, which makes it more important than ever to do thorough research on the type of breed you decide to bring into your life. There are so many wonderful types of dogs, from Daschunds and Dalmatians to Boston Boxers and Border Terriers to Collies and Pugs. Some breeds we know well (think: Scottish Terriers and Golden Retrievers), while others we are not so familiar with…

Enter the Xoloitzcuintli. The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced “show-low-itz-queent-lee”), is also called the Mexican Hairless or just Xolo (pronounced “show-low”).

A Storied Past

Xolo is one of the world’s oldest and rarest dogs with a deep history and storied past. The 3,000-year-old (some say maybe even 4,000-year-old!) is an ancient Aztec dog. The Xoloitzcuintli originated in Mexico during the time of the Aztec Empire. The hard-to-pronounce name comes from two words in the language of the Aztecs: Xolotl, meaning the god of lightning and death, and Itzcuintli, or dog. The Aztecs considered the Xolo sacred, and invested them with mystical healing abilities, according to AKCorg. The Aztecs believed the Dog of Xolotl guarded the living and guided the souls of the dead through the Underworld. Xolos are considered one of the national treasures of Mexico, and even appear in works of art painted by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. At one point, this dog breed was almost extinct.

Get to Know Them

Xolos have a reputation for being alert, intelligent, and calm. It has been said that when they bond with their family members, they are loyal to a fault. Some even refer to them as Velcro dogs, meaning they stick pretty close to their owners.

They are also a very popular choice for allergy sufferers because they shed little to none. Xoloitzcuintli are typically hairless with either brown or brown and pink skin. If they do have hair, it is extremely short. Be extra careful during scorching hot summers as sunburns are more likely with the hairless breeds. And if you live in an area with cold winters, make sure to provide layers as they will need the extra warmth. According to National Geographic, the fur-free bodies of these dogs also serve as excellent heat conductors.

Xolos come in three different sizes: Toy (about 10 to 14 inches tall), Miniature (about 14 to 18 inches tall), and Standard (about 18 to 23 inches tall). They typically weigh from 10 to 60 pounds. They are athletic dogs with a typical life expectancy of 13 to 18 years. If you are interested in adopting a Xolo, you do have limited options because these pups are so rare. Consider contacting a rescue group for more details and information.

Like all dogs, they need exercise, but they don’t necessarily need a big, sprawling yard so they might be a good option for apartment dwellers too. Since bringing a dog into your home is a big decision, we suggest doing research and talking to experts to help guide your planning.

Fun Fact

If you watched the Disney Pixar film COCO, you are probably already a fan of the breed. Dante, Miguel’s funny and faithful sidekick is a Xolo. Now, if he didn't win you over, not sure what else might do the trick.