Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog): The ancient gods’ Aztec dog

Xoloitzcuintli is an ancient and rare dog breed that was originally used as a guide for the Anubis. This Xolo dog has two coat varieties (hairless and coated) and comes in three main sizes, toy, miniature, and standard. Xolos are intelligent and great family dogs that can also be protective.

He is an ancient pooch that is adorable and has got many people fascinated and that many dog lovers do not know about. From the outside appearance, he might look mean and even look dangerous to some people but he is a friendly and affectionate doggo.

You might also be having some questions like where he came from and or why you should get him as the next family addition.

Well, you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to look at all you may need to know about this adorable canine friend.

We will cover everything from appearance, to personality and even tell you how you can take care of him.

So, let us get right into it.

About the Xoloitzcuintli

Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog), the dog considered a guide for the dead towards the underworld by the Aztecs, Anubis. 

The Xoloitzcuintli is a 3000 years old dog breed that is also known as the ancient Aztec dog of the gods.

He is one of the most unique dog breeds out there and is still rare even in the US.

It is today a loving companion and vigilant watchdog. The Xolo’s name is a combination of Xolotl, an Aztec god, and Itzcuintli, an Aztec word meaning dog.

You may also be interested in the hairless Peruvian Inca Orchid.

How to pronounce Xoloitzcuintli

This Mexican Xoloitzcuintli name is pronounced as “Show-low-eats-queen-tly” or you can simply refer to him as Xolo dog or the Mexican Hairless dog. 

The dog appeared in the Pixar movie called Coco.

Help people understand more about the dog

Xoloitzcuintli recognition

Despite Xolos being more than 3000 years old, they did not receive any official recognition until the 1950s.

FCI which was founded in 1940 was not ready to recognize the breed by then.

It was not until 1956 that the dog was officially recognized by FCI worldwide. This was after the publicized expedition in 1954 when it was realized that the Xoloitzcuintli would go extinct if the action were not taken.

Xolo dog was among the first dog to be recorded by the American Kennel Club. The first Xolo to be recorded was called Mee Too. AKC registered the dog as the Mexican Hairless.

This later changed as AKC decided to drop the breed in 1959 as Xolos became scarce and it was feared that they would become extinct. AKC later re-recognized the breed in 2009.

All this going on the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America was founded in 1988 solely for the preservation and correct breeding of Xolos.

9 Fun Facts about Xoloitzcuintli

  1. The breed’s name is from the Nahuatl language. Xolotl is the Aztec god of life and death, and “itzcuintli” is “dog”.
  2. Xolos were considered sacred by ancient Aztecs and Mayans and were believed to be guides for the dead to Mictlan, the underworld.
  3. Xolos are the Mexican cultural symbol and national icon.
  4. When pre-Hispanic art had a major revival in Mexico, Xolos were frequently featured in artifacts and art pieces.
  5. This dog is similar in appearance to a Pharaoh Hound with a sleek body, almond-shaped eyes, large bat-like ears, and a long neck.
  6. Xolos were the loyal companions of the famous Italian voyager, Christopher Columbus who was taken back to Europe after visiting the Caribbean.
  7. The gene responsible for hairlessness also causes the dog to miss some teeth.
  8. Because these pooches are known to be ‘spirit guides’ and are usually seen in Mexican streets parading during Day of the Dead.
  9. Xolos are still used as comforting healers in the remote parts of Mexico and some Central American villages.

Pros and cons


✓ Great for allergy sufferers.

✔ Gentle and affectionate.

✓ Easy to maintain.

✔ Highly adaptable.


✗ Prone to separation anxiety.

✘ Great escape artist.

✗ Xolos are mouthy.

General Appearance and characteristics

Xoloitzcuintli summary table
Height 10-14 inches (toy), 14-18 inches (miniature), 18-23 inches (standard)
Weight 10-15 pounds (toy), 15-30 pounds (miniature), 30-55 pounds (standard)
Lifespan 13-18 years
Breed Type purebred
Purpose hunting and companion dog
Suitable For Families with children
Grooming requirements Low
Color Variations Black, Brindle, Fawn, Dark Brown, Copper & White, Bronze
Health concerns not prone to health and structure problems as other dog breeds
Temperament  Intelligent, Cheerful, Alert, Companionable, Protective, Calm
Other Names Xolo dog, Xoloitzcuintle, Xoloescuincle


The physical appearance of the Mexican hairless dog is mainly attributed to evolution rather than selective breeding like most of breeds.

The alert and loyal Xolo comes in three sizes, and 2 coat varieties;

  • hairless
  • coated

The three sizes are toy, miniature, and standard.

All three sizes are sturdy, lean, and well-muscled with a spacious rib cage, and moderate bone.

  • Toy Xolos are 10-14 inches tall and weigh 10-15 pounds
  • Miniature varieties are 14-18 inches tall and weigh 15-30 pounds
  • The standard variety is 18-23 inches tall and weighs 30-55 pounds.

The miniature variety of the Xolo dogs is the most popular.

The Xoloitzcuintli combines grace and strength equally and is moderate in all aspects of their appearance. All three sizes are slightly longer than tall, and they are lean and sturdy with a medium build.

Xolos can live for quite a long with the average lifespan being 13-18 years.

This dog’s lifespan is affected by his health and his size with smaller Xolos being healthier and of course, having a longer life expectancy.

Mexican hairless dog

Their gait is effortless with good reach and drive.

Coat appearance and colors

Hairless Xolo dogs have tough, smooth, close-fitting skin while the coated variety has a short and flat coat. Hairless Xoloitzcuintli is known for a color that is either brown or brown and pink.

Xolos that have short hair are either black, brindle, bronze, fawn, or palomino.

Their skin is tough and protective.

Hairless dogs feel warmer to touch but they have the same body temperature and it is this warmth is that made people believe that they can cure ailments.

Caring and grooming a Xoloitzcuintli 

Xolos are great dogs for people that suffer from allergies.

This is because they shed very little or don’t shed at all but this does not make taking care of them any easier.

A coated Xoloitzcuintli will occasional brushing.

A hairless Xoloitzcuintli needs no brushing but their skin should be wiped or bathed frequently to prevent acne or blackheads, especially when they are young.

After bathing apply a moisturizer to keep the skin subtle.

During the cold weather, the hairless Xolo will need sweaters to protect him from the cold.

He is sensitive to extreme temperatures and will need access to air-conditioning and sunscreen to protect the dog’s skin.

Xolo dogs should live in the house on soft beddings to cushion their bodies and take care of their delicate skins.

Exercise requirements

All Xoloitzcuintlis need daily exercise which is typically a jog or a walk.

A Xolo needs a moderate amount of daily exercise, such as a 20- or 30-minute walk or active play in a fenced yard. If interested in dog sports, he will be good at agility, obedience, and rally.

You must keep in mind that the hairless Xolo is sensitive to the sun and you should not leave him outdoors for long periods during the day and apply a dog-safe sunscreen to his body before walking him.

The other option is to exercise him in the morning or evening hours.

Daily Exercise Requirements
Minutes 60 minutes
Number of walks 2 (20 minutes each)

How to feed a Xolo dog 

How much your adult dog eats depends on their;
  • size
  • age
  • build
  • metabolism
  • activity level.
You should feed this dog with between 1 and 2 cups of high-quality food that should be split into 2 portions.
Splitting the meals will help reduce the risk of bloat that can occur if you feed the dog in high amounts at one time.

Nutritional requirements

For a healthy Xolo dog make you need to make sure that he gets the important nutrients for his development.

The meals you feed him need to be high in protein and low in fats.

Before buying any meal for your dog check the label to see that one of the ingredients is real meat such as beef, fish, or poultry meat.  These are necessary for your Xolo’s proper growth and development.

Something else that you should check on the label is the fat. The fat should be from healthy sources such as vegetables and fish oil that have omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 for healthy skin.

Fruits and vegetable aid in the transportation of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.

Avoid overfeeding your Xolo dog

Overfeeding a Xolo dog can lead to obesity which can cause stress on the joints.
To keep your Xoloitzcuintli in shape avoid free-feeding him and monitor the calories given to him. The general rule of thumb is to give this dog 30 calories for every pound that he weighs.

Xoloitzcuintli training

Training a Xolo dog is easy and fun because this dog is eager to learn and smart. It would be best if you started training when the dog is still a puppy.

If the dog is not properly trained, he can result in some behaviors that you may not be very happy about.

Just like any other dog, they respond best when you use positive reinforcement training.

Training can also help build a better bond between you and your dog.

Socialization is an important part of the training of your Xolo dog. Socialize the dog with other pets and people. When puppies are socialized consistently from an early age they grow up to be outgoing and friendly.

The first thing is to ensure that the dog understands the house routine.

The next thing would be the basic sit and stay commands before which you will also have to toilet train your dog. We have an elaborate article on how to toilet train your dog or puppy that you may find helpful in this.

Some difficult tricks should wait until the dog is much older.

Frequently asked questions

Are Xolo dogs expensive?

Getting a Xolo dog puppy from a breeder can be expensive when compared to the cost of adoption. A Xolo puppy from a breeder may cost you between $600 and $4000 but with an average cost of $700 while adoption fees may be between $100 and $200.

What kind of dog is a Xolo?

A Xolo dog is a companion canine of Mexican origin also known as the “Mexican Hairless dog.” This Mexican Xolo can come in a coated-variety or hairless variety and also come in 3 different sizes namely: toy, miniature and standard sizes.

How long do Xolo dogs live?

13 to 18 years.

Are Xoloitzcuintlis good dogs?

The Xoloitzcuintli is an energetic, even-tempered, and friendly dog that has no aggressive tendencies. Xolo dogs are calm dogs that make good family dogs but are better suited for families with older children that can match their energy.


Sometimes called the “first dog of the Americas,” the Xolo is a hairless breed that has been in existence for many centuries. As evidenced by depictions on pre-Columbian pottery and reports from the Spanish conquistadors.

The warm-bodied dogs were prized for their healing properties and were known for helping with toothaches, insomnia, and ailments that benefit from the warmth, such as rheumatism and asthma. They also warded off evil spirits and intruders.

Xolos were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera often portrayed the breed in their works. But as so often happens, the Xolo lost popularity.

The breed’s numbers dropped so low that the American Kennel Club eliminated the Xolo from its studbook.

However, Xolos recently made a comeback.

The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1993. The American Kennel Club brought it back into the fold in 2011 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.

xolo dog
a Xolo dog

Xoloitzcuintli personality and temperament

Xolo dog is a calm dog that is generally aloof to strangers but gives his attention to the family.

Adult Xolos are known for their calm demeanor although puppies are extremely noisy and energetic until they reach maturity which takes about two years.

Xolo puppies can be destructive if you do not keep them busy with training and play.

He may choose one of the family members as his favorite but he will still live with the other members of the family.

Xolos make great watchdogs and will alert you in case they realize that there is something that is not adding up.

They are not known to be barkers and so if you hear them bark you should probably go and check what is going on.

Xoloitzcuintli don’t make friends easily out of the family and are wary of strangers.

If you do not properly socialize this dog he may be aggressive towards other people and dogs that he doesn’t know. He is a territorial animal and does not like it when other animals come into the property that he considers theirs.

Xolo dog can be an escape artist and so you will need to escape-proof your house. This is because they are highly athletic dogs. Adult Xolo dogs can scale up a six-foot fence with a lot of ease and even puppies can scramble over a three-foot fence.

Many factors can affect the Xolo dog’s temperament and personality.

These factors are training, which can be hereditary, and even socialization.

Puppies that have a nice temperament are curious, willing to learn, and easily socialize with other people.

How they fare with children

Xoloitzcuintles are best with older children, with whom they can match their energy for play and also guard them as though they’re their children.

As with any breed, it is recommended that your child is always supervised when interacting with your Xoloitzcuintle to keep both the child and dog safe.

How they fare with cats

The Xoloitzcuintle is a primitive dog, which doesn’t make them the best around smaller animals such as cats.

Of course, each dog (and cat) has his preferences and temperament, but you can feel fairly confident your Xoloitzcuintle if properly socialized to your cat and/or introduced at a young age, should get along just swell.

Xolo dog ideal living

Xolos are not extremely outgoing or rowdy but are extremely social dogs.

The ideal home for them would be a home with an owner that perfectly understands that this is a sensitive dog.

If you are a dog lover that loves to cuddle Xolo dog will be a great fit for you.

Also if you are planning on becoming a Xolo dog owner you should be ready to care for their sensitive skin.

The ideal home should offer the following;

  • A calm environment that does not have small children.
  • Positive reinforcement training is a good idea for all dogs.
  • Sunscreen in summer as they are prone to sunburns and coats in winter.
  • Occasional baths and frequent moisturizing to take care of the hairless coat.

Xoloitzcuintli health issues

This is a generally healthy breed with a few health issues. He may suffer from acne and may even miss some premolars which are genetic.

Coated Xolos should, however, have all their teeth intact. Other than that there is not much I can say about this dog being unhealthy.

The sensitive skin should be protected from the elements and chemicals. You may also need to check with your Vet before getting any skin products for the hairless Xolo. Also, make sure that your dog does not get obese as this could lower his lifespan.

Finding a Xoloitzcuintli

Adopting a Xolo dog should always be your first option.

This is because it has some advantages over buying one. One is that adult Xolo dogs are at most times usually housetrained, they have already gone through the destructive puppy stage and you will not have issues training them as they may have already received obedience training.

How much does a Xoloitzcuintli cost?

If you are planning on buying yourself a puppy the price may differ depending on the breeder, where the breeder is located, litter size, training, how popular the breed is, and many more.

The average price for getting a Xoloitzcuintli is $700.

You should also not overlook the price of taking care of the dog. This is something that many people usually overlook.

The most important things to look at are vaccines, training, vet bills, deworming, food, training, and supplies such as toys and leashes.

All these costs could add up to between $500 to $2000 or even more for the first year. For the years that will follow the cost will be anywhere from $500 to $1000 or more and these will be the costs for growing and loving your Xolo dog.

What you should know:

Xolos are sometimes bought with potential owners not having a clear understanding of what goes into owning a Xoloitzcuintli.

They then end up in rescue shelters in need of rescue or adoption.

The advice that I could give anyone that intends on owning a Xoloitzcuintli is that he/she should go out of her comfort zone, and meet and spend time with the dog that they are planning on buying or adopting.

Get to know if the dog will be a perfect fit for you.

There you go, WOOF!!