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There are many factors to consider when choosing a dog breed. You could go with one of the most popular breeds, such as golden retrievers or poodles, or perhaps you’ll turn to one of the rarer breeds.
Whichever breed you choose, it’s essential to understand their instincts, health, and care needs to ensure they are a good fit.
At Spot Pet Insurance, we’re here to help every step of the way, starting with informative breed guides to make choosing your next dog a little easier.
Today, we’re talking about a rare but striking breed from Central America: the Xoloitzcuintli.
Also known as the Xolo (pronounced show-low) or the Mexican hairless dog, these dogs are unusual both in appearance and their impressive propensity for long life and good health. If you’re looking for a long-time companion, these dogs might just be for you. However, there are still some challenges to be aware of if you’re considering this breed. Read on to learn what it takes to take care of a Xoloitzcuintli properly!
Where do Xoloitzcuintli come from?
Looking back at the Xoloitzcuintli’s history, we go back over 3000 years to what is now Mexico. Though some historians attribute the breed’s ancestry to dogs from Asia brought across the Pacific Ocean, the surest origins lie with the Aztec peoples.
An Aztec god, Xolotl, claiming domain over fire and death, is the breed’s namesake. The end of the name, itzcuintli, is the Aztec word for dog.
These hairless dogs were believed to hold mystical healing powers and protect against evil spirits. They were sometimes even sacrificed by ancient peoples to act as guides for spirits on their way to the afterlife.
Fast forward a few thousand years, and the primitive breed has changed very little. Xolos were not created by intentional breeding, so all their traits result from nature, not mankind’s design.
These dogs were particularly popular in the 1930s and 1940s when artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo portrayed Xolos in their work.
Xolos made their way to the United States in the late 19th century and experienced something of a roller coaster in terms of popularity across the world. The breed almost went extinct at times but would be rescued by a surge of popularity and breeding efforts.
Average Sizes and Life Expentancy of The Breed
- Toy: 10-14 inches
- Miniature: 14-18 inches
- Standard: 18-23 inches
- Toy: 10-15 pounds
- Miniature: 15-30 pounds
- Standard: 30-55 pounds
- 13-18 years
What are the potential health conditions for Xoloitzcuintli?
Xoloitzcuintli are quite sturdy thanks to thousands of years of healthy, natural evolution. Of course, health issues can still arise with their health.
If you’re buying a Xolo from a breeder, seek out medical records to prove that their parents received health tests for eyes, hips (or patella in miniature and toy breeds), and the heart. Shelters sometimes have access to this information as well.
A unique health concern that doesn’t affect other breeds is the hairless Xolo’s need for skincare. Be sure to protect their skin from sunburn, the elements, and chemicals.
What is it?
While hip dysplasia is most common in large breeds, it can still affect smaller breeds like Xolos.
If your dog does have hip dysplasia, the hip joint will not align with the thigh bone as it should. This results in a painful grinding at the connection point where it should be smooth and painless.
% Dogs affected:
- Lack of energy for physical activity
- Favoring front legs over hind legs
- Avoidance of strenuous activities (jumping, running, climbing, playing)
- Limping or other gait abnormalities
- Leg muscle mass deterioration
- Enlarged shoulders due to compensation
- Sounds from the hip (grating, clicking, popping)
- Difficulty laying down or standing up
- Poor coordination
- Inhibited range of movement
- PT (Physical therapy)
- Weight management (if obesity is a factor)
- Limited/restricted exercise
- Surgery: Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
- Surgery: Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)
- Surgery: Total hip replacement (THR)
- Treat as soon as possible to minimize risks of long-term damage
- Younger dogs perform better in surgery than older dogs
Average Vet Bill
90% = $2,160
80% = $1,920
70% = $1,680
How well do Xoloitzcuintli get along with their owners?
Xolos can be very affectionate towards family, although they often play favorites. These not-so-furry family members crave attention and enjoy playtime and cuddling time equally.
Are Xoloitzcuintli aggressive towards strangers?
This breed developed its watchdog instincts over thousands of years. Socialization training is key – without it, a Xolo may likely be aggressive towards unfamiliar people.
How well do Xoloitzcuintli adapt to new situations?
Xolos can easily adapt to different homes, from tiny apartments to large houses.
Extreme climates can be a challenge for them, however. Whether hairless or short-coated, they’ll need plenty of AC and shade to protect them from the blazing sun and a sweater or heated home during cold winters.
Make sure you have plenty of time for your Xolo in your schedule as well. They don’t adapt to routines that include long hours of isolation from their owners.
Do Xoloitzcuintli make good guard dogs?
Being a watchdog is a natural fit for a Xolo, who is vigilant and vocal when threats appear. However, guard dogs typically have the physical means to enforce protection against intruders, which even the largest Xolos might not be able to do (although that does not mean they won’t try).
Will a Xoloitzcuintli be a fun dog to have around?
Some owners will find the mellow demeanor of this Mexican dog perfect for their lifestyle, mixed with an occasional burst of playfulness. The Xoloitzcuintli breed can be a lot of fun for the right family!
Are Xoloitzcuintli good with children?
You are more likely to find a Xolo friendly towards adult humans than children, but anyone in the family is still family.
How are Xoloitzcuintli with other dogs?
Interacting with other dogs is one of this hairless breed’s weak points. Socialization is a must if your Xolo may be around other animals in any capacity.
Coat:There is a hairless variety and a coated variety. When coated, the Xolo’s hair is very short and smooth. They might also have a tuft of hair on top of the head. Coat/skin colors include: Black Brindle Bronze Dark Brown Fawn Gray Liver Red White Slate Palomino Markings can include: Spotted White markings Tan markings Black markings
Grooming:Daily brushing, occasional bath, regular nail trims
Training:Easy to train.
Life Time Care Cost:
Are Xoloitzcuintli hypoallergenic?
No, the Xoloitzcuintli is not hypoallergenic.
Unfortunately, truly hypoallergenic dogs are a myth. Hair shedding is only one of many factors that contribute to allergic reactions. Others include saliva, urine, and dander.
The fact that hairless Xolo’s don’t shed and short-haired Xolo’s shed very little helps their case, but other allergens could still cause reactions.
How often do Xoloitzcuintli have to be groomed?
Grooming needs are low whether your Xolo is coated or hairless.
Hairless Xolo’s don’t need any coat care, although skincare is still necessary as acne is common, especially in younger individuals. If they’re spending a lot of time in the sun, you might need to apply a specially formulated dog sunscreen.
Coated Xolos should be brushed occasionally (every week or two).
As with all breeds, nails should be trimmed, teeth cleaned, and ears monitored/occasionally cleaned regularly for best health.
What is the lifetime care cost of Xoloitzcuintli?
Caring for a Xolo over its long lifetime typically costs around $25,910.
How to be the best pet parent for a Xoloitzcuintli?
Understanding your breed is key to being a good pet parent. Xolos require an open mind and willingness to adapt to their ancient instincts.
You can find tons of helpful resources, including more breed guides, at our Spot Pet Insurance Blogbowl!
To continue learning about the Xoloitzcuintli, read on for a few more pieces of important pet parent info.
How much does a Xoloitzcuintli dog or puppy cost?
Adoption fee (puppy): $800-4,000
Yearly care cost (first year): $5,210
Yearly care cost (following years): $1,380
Basic training and behavior etiquette for your Xoloitzcuintli
Training a Xolo is absolutely necessary due to their ancient instincts that remain strong today. However, the process also has the potential to be very rewarding and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Use the tips below to help the process go smoothly:
- Xolos are highly intelligent and can quickly pick up on obedience training, but they still need consistent routines and clear expectations.
- This is a high-sensitivity breed, which means harsh dog training methods, including yelling, should be avoided. Use firm but loving techniques and let positive reinforcement guide most of your lessons.
- Due to their strong instincts, socialization is perhaps the most important form of training for this breed. Without it, they can be unfriendly and even aggressive towards strangers. Their friendliness can significantly improve with proper training, although they will always be a little standoffish.
What types of foods should Xoloitzcuintli never eat?
Xolos should avoid the same toxic foods that are on the naughty list for all dog breeds, including some of the examples below:
- Macadamia nuts
Exercising tips to keep your Xoloitzcuintli fit and healthy
Xolos are well known for their balanced demeanor when it comes to exercise. They have a generally calm temperament but still do best with a moderate amount of exercise. They’ll still need daily walks. Even if they get them riled up during play, they will calm down easily once they’re back inside.
Exercise needs are typically higher when your dog is young. This offers a perfect opportunity for training, which is essential with a Xoloitzcuintli puppy.
Xoloitzcuintli life stages
Puppy: 1 - 2 years
Adult: 2 - 12 years
Senior: 12 years - end of life
Xoloitzcuintlis are a rare breed deserving of an owner who understands them and can care for them to the fullest extent. Consider adding Spot Pet Insurance to your family as well to help keep your dogs (and cats) safe and healthy! Check out our FAQs and get a quote today to learn more.