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Xoloitzcuintle

Xoloitzcuintli is the "Hairless Mexican Dog," an Ancient Breed with a Calm and Affectionate Disposition

The Xoloitzcuintli Dog, also known as the Hairless Mexican Dog for those who only speak English, is an ancient breed originating at least 3000 years ago. Native to Mexico, the Xoloitzcuintli Dog comes in standard, miniature, and toy sizes. The English name comes from Nahuati, a type of Aztec language, where the name refers to the god "Xolotl" and "itzcuīntli" which stands for "dog." The breed’s origins are likely the result of a mixture of several Old World breeds of dogs.

History

Native to Mexico, the Xoloitzcuintli Dog, also known as the Xolo, has been found in archaeological digs that are believed to have existed in Mexico for more than three centuries. Experts surmise that early ancestors of the breed were actually spontaneous hairless mutations of indigenous dogs in the area. Surprisingly, although being hairless can be seen as a drawback in other regions that are cold or even simply less mild, being hairless actually offered an advantage in tropical regions from which the breed originates. Indigenous people in Central and South America and Mexico had Xoloitzcuintli Dogs as hunting companions and home-based dogs. Today, these remain very popular dogs in the region. As the national dog of Mexico, this breed represented value in ancient cultures, and often appeared in artifacts and arts as used by the Toltec, Aztec, and Colima civilizations in Mexico.

The Xoloitzcuintli Dog was actually considered a sacred dog by the Aztecs, Toltecs and Mayans who believed these dogs served to lead their masters' souls through the underworld. Also useful in the ancient world as companion animals, Aztec mythology states that the god Xoloti made the breed from a sliver taken from the Bone of Life – the bone from which all humankind comes. These dogs were also noted by Columbus in his 1792 journals, who took many Xoloitzcuintli Dogs back to Europe.

The Xoloitzcuintli Dog is commonly mistaken as the mythical dog to the Chupacabras of Mexico. It is also a mascot for Club Tijuana, which is a Mexican football club. It was registered by the FCI in the 1950s in its homeland. Although registered with the AKC in 1887, it was dropped from the stud book because the breed was perceived as nearly extinct at the time. Today, the Xoloitzcuintli Dog can be registered for eligible competition with AKC performance breeds. The breed was moved to the AKC stud book in December of 2010 and it was shown beginning January 2011 within the AKC Non-Sporting Group.

Appearance

Ranging from 10 to 50 pounds depending on breed size from "toy" to "standard" respectively, the Xoloitzcuintli Dog is sleek of body, with large ears that resemble those of a bat, almond-shaped eyes, and a long neck. The striking hairlessness became a dominant trait thousands of years ago, thanks to a spontaneous mutation.

Xoloitzcuintli Dogs have fully-furred recessive genes, and there's nothing wrong with puppies who are born with hair. The hairless variety is simply the truly "non-mutation" norm. Even if hairless, Xoloitzcuintli Dogs can display a few hairs on the toes, tip of the tail, and top of the head. These dogs are usually bluish gray or black in color. Mexican Hairless Dogs that are truly hairless often have missing teeth, while puppies born with coats have normal teeth. Xoloitzcuintli Dogs with hair who mate with other fully-coated Xoloitzcuintli Dogs will always have coated offspring.

An athletic, elegant and strong species, the Xoloitzcuintli Dog is rectangular in shape, slightly longer than it is wide. Both hairless dogs and dogs with full coats come in all colors and markings, but are often spiced, marked, or splashed. Most commonly, dogs are shades of red, blue, and black.

Temperament

Intelligent, inquisitive, very high energy and with strong social and hunting instincts, a Xoloitzcuintli Dog will desire your company at all times. Despite its usually hairless appearance, this dog is hardy and healthy. A very affectionate breed blessed with a calm demeanor, this dog can be very energetic until it reaches adulthood, usually after two years. Until then, expect a noisy, active, and "oral" dog who likes to chew things – so give it plenty of appropriate toys and bones to chew on.

Training is imperative for this high-energy pet, because it is so active and intelligent. Provide a safe physical environment with a well-fenced and spacious yard, plus daily walks. If the dog is larger than toy-sized, very rigorous physical and mental exercise is advised – especially if you buy a standardsized Xoloitzcuintli Dog that can easily weigh 50 pounds in adulthood. Such a pet will be happiest if it has another pet companion – another dog is ideal – to keep it company when you're not home.

Health

Very healthy thanks to thousands of years of natural selective breeding, the Xoloitzcuintli Dog is not the typical "purebred" dog with health problems related to inbreeding. However, keep in mind that the Xoloitzcuintli Dog is a tropical dog by nature and may have trouble in climates that are colder or in northern areas. These dogs are meant to be indoor dogs for the most part, regardless of climate. They may also naturally be missing some teeth, usually premolars; the missing teeth are genetically related to the hairless trait. Life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.

Grooming

Unlike many breeds, this dog will need regular baths but very light grooming. Provide regular skincare to keep skin healthy, to prevent acne and other skin problems which may appear. Don't over-bathe or over-lubricate skin; instead, simply gently bathe once a week or every other week with mild non-soap shampoos and lightly moisturize to prevent both clogging pores and the stripping away of natural skin oils that protect the dog’s coat. Use sunscreen to protect from sunburn if you take your pet outdoors.

References

Grooming and Skin-Care Tips for Your Hairless Dog Breed.

http://www.dogchannel.com/dog-grooming/grooming/grooming-tips-for-hairless-dogs.aspx. Retrieved March 6, 2015.

Mexican Hairless Dog.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Hairless_Dog.

Retrieved March 6, 2015.

Xoloitzcuintli.

http://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/xoloitzuintli.

Retrieved March 6, 2015.

Xoloitzcuintli.

http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/xoloitzcuintli.

Retrieved March 6, 2015.

Xoloitzcuintli Dog Breed.

http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Breeds/Xoloitzcuintli.aspx.

Retrieved March 6, 2015.

Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless) (Tepeizeuintli) (Xoloitzcuintle) (Xolo).

http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/xoloitzcuintle.htm.

Retrieved March 6, 2015.

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