Complete Guide To The Xoloitzcuintli: Health, Personality, Feeding and More

The pride and joy of Mexico, the Xoloitzcuintli is the dog of the Americas. An Aztec’s protector in this world and the next, the lovable Xolo has remained unchanged for more than 3,000 years. Pronounced “show-low-itz-queent-li,” this is a dog that many have heard of but few have seen in person.

You may have seen this dog in the movie, Coco, as the character “Dante.” While it was only an animated dog, it shared many of the wonderful qualities of the real thing. Read further to find out more!

How Big Do Xoloitzcuintli Get?

Toy10″ – 14″ at the shoulder10-15 lbs
Miniature14″ – 18″ at the shoulder15 – 30 lbs
Standard18″ – 23″ at the shoulder30-55 lbs

What Does The Xoloitzcuintli Look Like?

Xolos come in three sizes — toy, miniature and standard — and the AKC lumps all 3 versions of this dog into one in the show ring. They all vie against each other rather than splitting up the different varieties like they do with Schnauzers and Poodles.

Long and lean, tall ears crown a delicate head and long tapering muzzle. Mid-length tails have a distinct curve, tapering to a fine point.

Also known as Mexican hairless dogs, they come with or without hair in the same solid colors, including:

LiverRedWhite Red

White markings are acceptable but not preferred.

Hairless dogs have tough skin with occasional hairs on the top of their heads and tips of their tails. Coated varieties have a short layer of smooth hair. Xolos strongly resemble other dogs originating in the Americas, including the Peruvian Inca Orchid and the American Hairless Terrier.

What Is The Personality Of A Xoloitzcuintli?

The family-oriented Xolo is playful yet serene. They thrive on routine, preferring life’s ordinary adventures to the new and unusual. Affectionate and devoted, long cuddles are as welcomed as long walks.

Protective, Xolos are reserved with strangers and prefer slow introductions to new people and places. Early socialization and training help them better adapt to new social situations. Ideal apartment dwellers, they’re alert watchdogs and good neighbors, barking only with provocation.

How Much Exercise Does A Xoloitzcuintli Need?

Xolos need only moderate exercise — 20–30 minutes daily will do. But don’t let their placid nature fool you. They’re remarkably athletic, and they love to run, especially with a purpose.

Unlikely to entertain themselves alone in the backyard, they prefer structured activities with their owners. Always ready for a walk, nothing gets their attention faster than throwing a ball to fetch. Backyard obstacle courses are flexible and fun — the more twists and turns, the better.

Is The Xoloitzcuintli Hypoallergenic?

As a dog who doesn’t really have any hair to shed, the Xolo might be a good fit for a house where some are allergic to dogs. These dogs do have dander that can be removed by simply wiping them daily with a damp cloth or unscented baby wipe.

However, they aren’t a perfect choice (no dog is) for someone who is allergic but still wants a canine companion. Meeting a Xolo and spending some time with one may help you see if you do have any allergy issues with them as well as getting to know them as a breed.

Do Xoloitzcuintli Need Any Grooming?

Coated Xolos require little grooming. An occasional brushing and bath is all they need to look their best. But without the protection of fur, hairless Xolos need extra care when it comes to their skin.

Older dogs benefit from a bath every few months, but young Xolos are prone to acne. Light, pH-balanced shampoos with delicate moisturizers are ideal. Overdoing it can dry their skin, but oily products can clog their pores — it’s a balancing act.

Hairless Xolos are vulnerable to UV rays and should wear sunscreen to avoid skin damage. Use only products made for dogs — people formulas can be toxic. Like humans, avoiding the outdoors when the sun is brightest between 10 AM and 2 PM is also a good strategy.

Ear infections are less likely in Xolos than in other breeds because their ears are open to air, but check them monthly for redness and odor. Toenails should be trimmed every three to four weeks. Dogs that don’t like the snap of nail clippers respond well to gentle filing.

What Is The Best Dog Food For A Xoloitzcuintli?

Most small kibble dry dog foods will be suitable for a Xolo. Because of the wide variety of sizes that they can come in, you’ll need to make sure you’re feeding the right size kibble.

Grain-free diets are a myth. Please do not feed your dog a grain-free diet unless there are specific food allergies that would benefit from a grain-free diet. Always consult your veterinarian before you decide to make any major diet changes.

Some good brands that I recommend include:

I usually tend to go with the bigger dog food companies because of the amount of time and money they have to research and test their products. They also have a stronger history of safe foods (very rarely will they have recalls) over the newer, more boutique-style dog foods.

It is important always to give your dog high-quality dog food. Monitor the number of treats and “people food” you give your dog to keep him healthy and fit. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is the best and easiest way to extend the life of your Xolo. 

How Long Do Xoloitzcuintli Live?

13 – 18 years – this is directly based on the size of the dog. Toys will be more long-lived than the Standards, etc.

What Health Problems Do Xoloitzcuintli Have?

For a hairless dog one would think that the Xolo would have a multitude of skin problems but that’s just not true. While they may have mild acne as young dogs, that usually is easily cleared up in full adulthood.

Outside of that, they don’t have any specific health issues to be worried about more than any other breed. The smaller the dog, the more I worry about issues such as dental disease and luxating patella, but that’s about it.

Where Can I Learn More About Xoloitzcuintli?

Xoloitzcuintli Club of America

AKC Breed Profile

Where Can I Find A Xoloitzcuintli?

Start first by knowing for sure that this breed is right for you. The national breed club has put together a nice article on selecting the right puppy and breed that I recommend reading first before contacting any breeder.

Then, when you’re ready – check out the Breeder’s Directory of the national club.

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Looking for a Rescue? It’ll likely be very hard to find one but there is a contact with the national breed club where you can get started looking for one.

Interesting Facts About the Xolo

Once found mostly in remote areas, the Xoloitzcuintli’s popularity is limited but growing. Recognized by the AKC in 2011, here’s what you need to know about this up-and-coming breed.

• Their Origins Are Controversial

Archaeological evidence shows the Xoloitzcuintli likely crossed the Bering Strait with the first humans to come to the Americas, taking up residence in the warm jungles of Mexico. Named for the Aztec god Xolotl, they’re depicted in Central American artwork dating back three millennia.

Still, others believe they were Asian imports brought to the Americas by European explorers. Though mentioned in Columbus’s journal, nothing clearly suggests they arrived aboard ship.

• Xolos Weren’t Bred — They Evolved

Xoloitzcuintli are an ancient breed. Unlike most dogs, humans had virtually no role in their development. Shaped only by evolution, they look much the same today as they were pictured in Aztec art.

• They Were Revered as Healers

A healthy breed, Xolos suffer from few genetic disorders, perhaps explaining why the Aztecs revered them for supposed mystical healing abilities. Another explanation is that their warm bodies once served as ancient water bottles, releasing heat when cuddled against sore joints.

They’re Hypoallergenic

All dogs produce dander — the hair, saliva and skin cells are all thought to provoke allergy symptoms. But Xolos are among the most allergy-friendly breeds, coming as close to hypoallergenic as possible.