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Unusual Breeds: The Xoloitzcuintle

 by danielle on 28 Apr 2014 |
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Otherwise known as the Mexican Hairless or Xolo, the Xoloitzcuintle has existed in South America for over 3000 years but is now one of the rarest breeds in the world. The breed’s unusual hairlessness is thought to have originated due to a mutation of dogs in the region. These dogs may have had a survival advantage in the hot, tropical environment causing the mutation to spread. 

 


Image credit

 

Xolos were considered sacred by the Aztecs and other indigenous cultures and many artefacts survive depicting the breed. In Aztec mythology, the Xolo was created by the god Xolotl. He instructed that man guard the dog with his life. In return, the dogs would guard their master’s souls through the dangers of the underworld to the heavens. 

 

Skin colours in the Xolo range from black, to blue, to red. Occasionally, Xolos with a coat are born amongst a litter of hairless siblings. 

 


Image courtesy of
Jacqi Dinis

 

For many years, the Xolo remained largely ignored by dog breed authorities, only sporadically making appearances in Mexican dog shows of the 1940s. By the 1950s interest had increased at it was realised, unless drastic action was taken, the breed would go instinct.

 

In 1954 the FCI (the World Canine Association) began the ‘Xolo Expedition’. Mexican and British dog enthusiasts set off to the remote regions of Mexico to discover and preserve purebred members of the breed. Ten were found and formed the foundation of Mexico’s program targeted at a Xolo revival. 

 


Image courtesy of Diana Andersen - AnimalImages

 

Interestingly, Xolos were one of the very first dogs recognised by the American Kennel Club. In 1887, ‘Mee Too’ was registered and in 1940, ‘Chinito Junior’ owned by a Mrs Radtke of New York became the breeds first, and only, American Kennel Club champion. As of 2012, the Xolo has been included in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. 

 


Image courtesy of
Jacqi Dinis

 

Xolos tend to be healthy dogs and are well-known for their intelligence. As an ancient breed largely unchanged from its early roots, it has many ‘primitive’ characteristics that have been lost in many more popular dog varieties. They are inquisitive, high energy and have keen hunting and guarding instincts. 

 

The Xolo is the national dog of Mexico and the symbol of the popular Mexican football club Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente.

Feature image courtesy of
Jacqi Dinis
 

 

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