Xoloitzcuintli: 3,000-Year-Old Dog Breed

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Xoloitzcuintli is one of the oldest dog breeds alive today. This breed is unique, alert, and playful. Read on to discover more.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
1 foot, 6 inches to 1 foot, 11 inches tall at the shoulder
10 to 50 pounds
Life Span:
14 to 20 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Xoloitzcuintli is often described as a loyal, calm, and alert dog, with an unusual exterior. This is a hairless dog that leaves a strong impression no matter where he shows. This is one of the oldest dog breeds alive as they are about 3,000 old.

This ancient Aztec dog of the gods is today busy being a companion and full-time pet. This particular dog comes in three sizes and in either hairless or coated varieties, although the hairless variety makes a stronger impression.

Quick Facts

Real name: Xoloitzcuintle, Mexican hairless dog
Other names: Xolo
Origin: Mexico
Breed type: Hunting Dogs
Weight and height: Standard, Miniature, and Toy sizes
Lifespan: 15 – 20 years
Litter Size: On average 5 puppies
Color: Black, grey, bronze, yellowish-blonde, blue, and red
Coat: If coated, the coat will be short and soft. Another option is hairless

Xoloitzcuintli History

Xoloitzcuintles are considered to be a real treasure within the borders of Mexico. This breed is one of the oldest, dating back to 3,000. In some documents, this breed was often described as ‘strange hairless dogs.’

Even Columbus and other European explorers encountered this breed and wrote about these ‘strange hairless dogs.’

If 3,000 years doesn’t seem like a lot, bear in mind that this breed lived with ancient Aztecs. They are the ones who named the breed Xoloti.

Xolos were much respected by the Aztecs. They were so much respected and loved that they were considered sacred. Moreover, they were often sacrificed in various ceremonies or buried alongside their owners to serve them in the afterlife and protect them.

Today, these dogs are great watchdogs and companions.

Xoloitzcuintli Physical Appearance

The Xoloitzcuintli is an ancient breed, shaped more by evolution, than selective breeding.

This breed can best be described as – moderate. This breed is moderate in all aspects. The Xolo has a great and lean outline, elegance, and strength.

There are two varieties of the breed, hairless and coated. In the hairless variety, the Xolo is absent of hair, while the coated variety is covered by a short and flat coat. All thee sizes of Xolo are sturdy, lean, and moderate bone.

The Xolo outline is rectangular. Eyes are almond-shaped, medium size, and overall expression is blessed with noble and faithful character. The color may vary, from black to yellow, while the darker being preferred in the dog shows.

The neck is long and may seem even longer in hairless variety. In dogs less than one year of age, wrinkled skin may be present.

In adult dogs, the skin is dry and smooth, without any wrinkles. Overall, the body is well developed, while the tail is set low.

In dog shows, a short or curled tail is a serious fault. Legs are long and straight.

The main characteristic of the hairless variety is the complete absence of hair; however, a small amount of short coat is permitted at the top of the head.

The hair on any other areas isn’t allowed. The skin is smooth, protective, and tough. The bones are equal in length, and legs are muscled and straight.

Xoloitzcuintli Personality

The Mexican hairless is considered to be an intelligent, playful, and affectionate dog. This breed is also known for being protective and strong barking at strangers.

Some Xolos’ can tremble easily, and that is often related to a lack of warmth, or it can be linked to nervousness or some type of anxiety.

Because of the dog’s smaller size, especially with miniature variety, this breed may not do well with children who want to play with them roughly. This breed is a house pet best suited to warm climates.

Owning this breed and living in color areas would just be cruel. Even when it gets colder in warmer areas, a sweater or coat is mandatory.

When exposed to the sun, this breed should be well-protected, and sunscreen should be applied to protect his skin. Talk to your veterinarian on how to bath your Xolo – this breed might need a non-oily lotion to keep his skin from becoming dry.

The Xoloitzcuintli is extremely attentive to his owner and other family members and needs a lot of personal interaction. This breed thrives on love and attention.

They tend to have moments of total independency when they will try to push things their way. In those moments, it’s important to use positive reinforcement and show your Xolo that you are a leader.

They may be somewhat primitive in behavior, tending to rely on their instincts more than anything else.

These dogs are smart and sensitive and respond amazingly to reward-based obedience training.

Never use any harsh discipline on your Xolo. Since this breed is a great athlete and agile, your fences should be well secure and high.

Xoloitzcuintli Grooming

You may think that there’s no maintenance, but the truth is that every dog – no matter his traits, will need proper grooming. Even in hairless dogs, grooming is a serious process.

Coated Xoloitzcuintli have an easy-care coat that’s short and requires an occasional brushing.

With hairless Xoloitzcuintli, it’s imperative to talk with your veterinarian and know what products to use for bathing and as sun protection. Adult dogs require minimal grooming, while younger dogs may suffer from adolescent acne when the skin may need special care.

Everything else is regular grooming, including:

Don’t forget: Hairless dogs need sunscreen with prolonged exposure to direct sun.

Xoloitzcuintli Training

The Xoloitzcuintli needs constant training and defined boundaries.

Like with any dog breed, early socialization is the key to a well-behaved dog.

If you think that you might need professional help, think about hiring a professional dog trainer, or join puppy classes. Xolos are serious when it comes to their watching duties.

They aren’t excessive barkers, but when they bark, know that it’s not without reason. Overall, they are affectionate pets and love spending time with their human family.

If you, or a family member, have allergies but you want to welcome a dog into your life, the hairless Xolo should be yon your list of breeds to consider.

Xoloitzcuintli Exercise

Xolos likes to spend time outdoors. They are active dogs, no matter their size, and they enjoy long walks and upbeat play. Xolos are known for being tranquil around the house.

Know how much exercise dogs need per day, and how often they should do their business. Do your best to make exercise sessions fun and well-structured. Exercise time is important to keep your dog healthy and happy, especially if you have a senior dog.

Xoloitzcuintli Health

The Xoloitzcuintli is marked as a healthy breed, and responsible breeders will always screen litter for most common health concerns.

Still, genetic problems may occur, which is why it’s important to take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as you welcome your furry friend to your home.

As with all breeds, the Xolo’s gums and ears should be checked regularly. You should provide food that’s good for Xolos teeth. Also, you should know which human foods are safe for dogs and what should be avoided.

Regular parasite control, regular vaccination, and check-ups, next to a good diet should be enough to keep your Xoloitzcuintli healthy and happy.

Provide regular walks, cuddle sessions, and entertainment to ensure the dog along and healthy life.

Xoloitzcuintli Nutrition

The Xoloitzcuintli should do well on high-quality food, both commercially manufactured or home-prepared.

Never serve your dog a home-prepared and raw food without talking to your veterinarian first.

As expected, any diet should be appropriate for the dog’s age. Some dogs are prone to obesity, so make sure that you know how much you should feed your dog.

Treats are great training addition, but when served in large portions can lead to weight gain. If you have any concerns about your dog’s weight, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.

10 Fast Facts on Xoloitzcuintli

  • They are officially the oldest dogs in the Americas
  • Xolo is pronounced “show-low”
  • They come in three sizes: Toy, Miniature, and Standard
  • They may come in the hairless and coated variety
  • Xolo demands serious and dedicated skincare routine
  • They have a strong prey drive, which proper exercise and walk are needed
  • They can enjoy city living in a small apartment as long as their needs are met
  • Xolos are better watchdogs than guard dogs
  • They thrive as pack animals
  • Allergy sufferers won’t have a problem with Xolos
  • Although they are ancient, Xolos are a healthy breed

The Bottom Line

The Xoloitzcuintli is a very special and unique dog. Don’t think that the hairless variety of this breed will require no maintenance, because there is no heavy hair. This breed is sensitive, requires your time, energy, and proper maintenance.

Xoloitzcuintli is often described as high-spirited, sensitive, smart, and peaceful with other animals.

If you are ready to deal with a breed that demands much attention, has an independent personality, and can react highly emotional to stress, a Xoloitzcuintli may be right for you.

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