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What is a Xoloitzcuintlil?

By: Katrina

img040-smallA Xoloitzcuintlil, or Xolo for short (pronounced Sho-Lo) is a hairless breed of dog from Mexico. I really love interesting breeds of horses, dogs, etc; and this is pretty unique.

The breed comes in three sizes: the Miniature, Intermediate and Standard. The one in the photo is a Miniature, Karmen, shown by my mother, Barbara Hamilton. Karman is a World Champion and has Championships in 11 different countries.


The Xolo is native to Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Archaeological evidence shows that the breed existed in the New World for more than 3,500 years. Their value in ancient native cultures is evidenced by their frequent appearance in the art and artifacts produced by the Colima, Aztec and Toltec civilizations in Mexico.

Xolos were considered sacred dogs by the Aztecs because they believed the dogs were needed by their masters’ souls to help them safely through the underworld. The Aztecs also raised the breed for their meat. 16th Century Spanish accounts tell of large numbers of dogs being served at banquets.

When Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492 his journal entries noted the presence of strange hairless dogs. Subsequently, Xolos were transported back to Europe.

Xolos were among the first breeds recorded by the American Kennel Club. The first AKC registered Xolo was in 1887. The first AKC champion was in 1940. In 1959 the Xolo was dropped from the AKC studbook due to the breed’s scarcity and perceived extinction.

As of 1/1/09, the breed has just been introduced into the Miscellaneous Group at AKC dog shows, with exhibitors working towards full AKC recognition in the near future.

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