The Xoloitzcuintli dog breed — sometimes called the Mexican Hairless or just Xolo — may well have descended from the first dogs to set paw on the North American continent.

Although these purebred dogs are fairly rare, you may find them in shelters and rescues. Remember to adopt! Don’t shop if you want to bring one of these dogs home.

In their native Mexico and Central America, they were popular “doctors” — the heat given off by their bodies providing comfort to people with arthritis and other ailments. People still like to cuddle with them today!

See below for all dog breed traits and facts about Xoloitzcuintlis!

Xoloitzcuintlis Dog Breed Pictures

Vital Stats:

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

More About This Breed

Say their name like this: “show-low-eats-queent-lee.” Or just shorten the name to “show-low.” Whatever you call them, you’re sure to be intrigued by their unusual looks and restful-but-attentive personality.

At first glance–and sometimes second and third glance–the Xolo may not have an attractive appearance for everyone. A wrinkled brow, squinty eyes, satellite-dish ears, a mohawk bisecting the top of the head, and a ratlike tail, not to mention the mostly hairless body, make the Xolo a dog that doesn’t quite have the universal appeal of a Golden Retriever. Well, except for the people who prize the very differences that make these pooches stand out from other dogs.

Take a closer look, however, and you will see a lean, sturdy, well-muscled dog, with a body that is slightly longer than it is tall. A wedge-shaped skull gradually tapers to the muzzle. The expression is that of a smart and lively dog whose brow wrinkles when their attention is focused on something. Almond-shaped eyes range in color from yellow to black. The big ears, carried erect, have an elegantly thin and delicate texture. Puppies may have a wrinkly body, but as they grow into their skin the body smooths out. The feet are webbed, and the tail is long and fine.

The Xolo has advantages that might be obscured by their unusual looks. They comes in three sizes–small, medium and large–and they have a calm personality and moderate exercise needs. This is a dog that won’t run you off your feet. The fact remains, however, that the Xolo is a primitive breed with the drive to chase other animals, including the neighbor’s cat, and an assertive and protective nature. In other words, they can be predatory, stubborn, and inclined to bite first, ask questions later if they think their human is in danger.

You might think that the Xolo’s bald body makes them hypoallergenic, but hairlessness alone doesn’t mean they won’t make you sniffle and sneeze. They might be less likely to affect people with allergies, but they still produce dander, saliva, and urine, all of which carry allergens. Be sure you meet several Xolos before you adopt to make sure you don’t react to them.

The Xolo is not an easy dog to rehome if you decide they’re not the right fit for you. Not everyone wants a dog with such unusual looks. But if you like the idea of having a living hotwater bottle with a reputation for a healing touch and the wherewithal to drive away evil spirits, the Xolo might be your dog.



  • The Xolo comes in three different sizes, so the breed is adaptable to any type of home.
  • Native to Mexico and Central America, the Xolo is also known as the Mexican Hairless.
  • The Xolo is thought to date to pre-Columbian civilizations.
  • Although they’re known as a hairless breed, the Xolo also comes in a coated variety.
  • The Xolo’s body is slightly longer than it is tall.
  • In addition to being a great companion, the Xolo is also a protective watchdog.
  • The Xolo’s lack of an insulating fur coat makes them feel warm to the touch, even though their body temperature is not any higher than that of other dogs.
  • The Xolo was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2011 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
  • There are fewer than 1,000 Xolos in the United States, with approximately 30,000 worldwide.
  • The Xolo is not hypoallergenic, although their hairless body may be less likely to trigger allergies in susceptible individuals.
  • The Xolo can have a strong prey drive and is likely to chase other animals.


Unlike dogs who were created by crossing or mixing two or more breeds, the Xolo is considered to be a natural breed, probably the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation. For centuries, the breed was molded by natural selection, not by human manipulation.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the ancestors of the Xolo were dogs that accompanied migratory peoples across the Bering landmass–now submerged–from Asia to the New World. The dog we now know as the Xoloitzcuintli takes their name from the Aztec deity Xolotl, the god of fire and the escort of the dead to the underworld, and “itzcuintli,” the Aztec word for dog. These dogs of Xolotl were said to have healing powers, especially effective in cases of asthma, rheumatism and insomnia. In life, they frightened away evil spirits and intruders, and they were believed to serve as guides for the dead as they made their way from this world to the next. Unfortunately, that guide job usually involved being sacrificed to accompany the dead. Even less fortunately, Xolos were also considered good eats.

Nonetheless, they thrived and went through periods of popularity, beginning in 1887, the first time the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club, which at the time referred to them as the Mexican Hairless. A Mexican dog named Mee Too was the first Xolo registered with the AKC. After that first flush of interest, little was heard from the breed, except for a brief time in the spotlight in 1940, when a dog named Chinito Jr. became the first and only Xolo to earn an AKC championship. Pet stores could barely keep the dogs in stock. Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo portrayed them in artwork. Fashion is fickle, though, and the Xolo again dropped from view, so much so that the AKC deregistered it in 1959.

The breed might have disappeared altogether, but fans have brought it back from the brink of extinction. Today it is considered a national treasure in Mexico and was named dog of the year there in 2010. Approximately 30,000 are known to exist worldwide. The American Kennel Club brought the breed back into the fold in 2011. The Xolo currently resides at the intersection of rarity and popularity.

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