Xoloitzcuintle (Mexican Hairless Dog)
The Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog) is a truly ancient breed and has been used as a trustworthy companion dog in Mexico for over 3000 years. It has little to no hair and may be considered as quite suitable for allergic sufferers (though there is no such a conception as hypo-allergic dog). The breed will make up a wonderful home pet but it’s recommended for the households with older children.
The Xoloitzcuintli comes in three sizes:
· standard – 46-60 cm;
· intermediate – 36-45 cm;
· miniature – 25-35 cm.
Each of the above-mentioned breeds’ variety have two types – the hairless and the coated.
It’s a well-established fact that the Xoloitzcuintle has been living in Mexico, Central America, and the northern coastal areas of South America for over three thousand years. The name of the dog consists of two Aztec terms: Xolotl, which designates the Aztec Indian god, and Itcuintli, which is translated as dog or puppy from the native dialect. Due to its complete isolation from other breeds the Mexican Hairless preserved its peculiar look and its modern version has the same build and lack of hair as the one depicted on the ancient Aztec artefacts. The absence of hair gave to the dog certain advantages in the hot climate and protected it against ticks, fleas and other parasites. Thanks to natural factor and intentional human selection the hairless type of the Xoloitzcuintle thrived well until the European invasion in Northern America in the early XIV.
Indigenous people deemed that the Xoloitzcuintle had supernatural healing power. It was a common belief that the dog was capable of curing a wide variety of disease including rheumatism, asthma, insomnia, etc. Its fame of a talented healer still lingers on in some distant Mexican and Central American settlements where folks attribute to the breed the force of warding off evil spirits from their homes.
The Xoloitzcuintle was highly valued not only for its reputation of a magical doctor but the Mesoamericans also considered its flesh as delicacy. The dog was purposefully fattened for slaughter and eating its meat was supposed to deter misfortune, pain and bad influences. The European conquerors positively appraised the taste of the dog’s flesh and by the end of XV century the Xoloitzcuintles could have only been found in the secluded, highland villages of Mexico. Thus the colonization of Mesoamerican territory brought the dog on the edge of extinction.
In the wake of the Mexican Revolution the nation realised the true value of cultural legacy and grew increasingly interested in its restoration in every aspects. The dog’s survival provided a couple of Mexican artists, namely Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. They oftentimes portrayed the Xoloitzcuintle on their paintings and invested much time and effort in popularization of the breed.
The Xoloitzcuintle was one of the first breeds that got recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1887. Unfortunately the breeding of the dog was pretty chaotic and unorganized and that caused its exclusion from the AKC Stub book. In the last decade the breed was rehabilitated and it was recognised by the AKC in 2011. The Mexican Hairless has a right to participate in the club’s event as the member of the Non-Sporting Group.
Today the popularity of the Xoloitzcuintle is increasing. The breed is kept as companion dog, can be used a great therapy dog and participates successfully in Dog Show as well as in various canine competitions: agility, obedience.
The Xoloitzcuintle will become an excellent family dog since it used to be its essential role for centuries. It also served as great therapy and service dog. The breed is considered to be highly people-oriented meaning it can’t stand being alone and needs the constant company of a human being. It’s predisposed to choose one person for the master so be sure that the dog spends enough time with every family member in order to establish a tight bond with them. The Xoloitzcuintle can become an extremely faithful and affectionate fiend, which will always be by your side. It gets along with children just fine but as any dog it requires a correct socialization with them.
The rumours about the supernatural power of the Xoloitzcuintle are not a 100% false since it’s truly able to effectively guard your house against all unwelcomed guests. This dog is deprived of the annoying tendency to bark without any reason and it usually warns its owner about the intruder positioning its ears in a special way or furrowing its brows. As a rule it communicates with strangers in reserved manner but it isn’t apt to show aggressiveness toward them.
The Xoloitzcuintle is a friendly creature and will greatly enjoy a company of other canines. When the dog has been properly educated about acceptable behavioural patterns with other non-canine animals, it will happily co-exist with a home cat and won’t bother it in any possible way.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· teeth problems;
· skin problems;
· genetic diseases.
There are two varieties of the Xoloitzcuintle: hairless and coated. The hairless one evidently won’t need much grooming but the coat of the second one will require brushing once or twice a week. Both types of dogs should regularly pass such usual procedures as nail clipping and teeth brushing.
Additionally the hairless Xoloitzcuintle will demand a special care as far as its skin concerned. Majority of skin problems stem from insufficient attendance or misuse of bathing and lotions. The owner is allowed to bathe the dog only once a month, which will help to avoid most of the skin issues.
Moreover in sunny weather the dog’s body (for more brighter dogs) should be covered with specialized sunscreen in order to protect it from burning as this breed can sunbathe as people do. Actually some owners if the show Xolos visit with their dogs the solariums so that its skin will look darker and more beautiful.
The Xoloitzcuintle has high learning abilities due to its overall intelligence and willingness to please. You won’t need too much time to teach it even most sophisticated tricks if you keep training sessions short and fun.
The trainer should always resort to mild persuasion and praise and never use abusive methods, which will only result in intimidated or wilful animal. The great advantages of this dog are that it can be easily and quickly housebroken and won’t require as much socialisation as other breeds.
As primarily companion dog the Xoloitzcuintle is very adaptable and can do quite well with average amount of exercise. But the owner should definitely reserve minimum thirty minutes a day for a walk with the dog. Under exercised animal is prone to manifest various behavioural problems for example excessive howling or destructiveness.
The breed is extremely sensitive to heat and cold influences so it would be wise to shorten walks in adverse weather conditions. When the weather is fine the Xoloitzcuintle will eagerly spend as much time outdoors as you may offer.