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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
The usually hairless Xoloitzquintli is as exotic, interesting, and clever as his name. He loves his family dearly but requires a certain amount of exercise, grooming, and attention.
The Xolo’s name is a combination of Xolotl, an Aztec god, and Itzcuintli, an Aztec word for dog.
The Xoloitzquintli -- what a name. It's pronounced “show-low-eetz-kweent-lee.” Or take the easy way out and just call him the “show-low.” He’s also known as the Mexican Hairless.
The Xolo once served as a prophet and guide to the underworld, but these days he is best known for being a calm and watchful companion. Sweet and affectionate, he bonds strongly to his family and likes to be physically close to them.
Besides his bare-naked body, the Xolo is distinguished by a lean, smooth head; a wrinkled brow; large, thin-skinned ears that stand erect; thick but satiny skin; and a jaunty but low-set tail that wags behind the Xolo but not over his back. He can be black, grayish black, slate gray, red, liver, or bronze. Some have white spots and markings, but a dark, uniform color is preferred.
A Xolo needs a moderate amount of daily exercise, such as a 20- or 30-minute walk or active play in a fenced yard. If you’re interested in dog sports, he will be good at agility, obedience, and rally.
Remember that the hairless Xolo is sensitive to sun, so don’t leave him outdoors for long periods during the day and apply a dog-safe sunscreen to his body before walking him. Or, if you can exercise him early in the morning or in the evening, even better.
A people-loving and delicate-skinned dog, the Xoloitzquintli needs to live in the house. Make sure he has soft bedding to cushion his streamlined body and think of him as your own living bed warmer during winter. He is sensitive to temperature extremes and may need to wear a sweater in cold weather or have access to air-conditioning in hot weather.
Bathe your Xolo weekly in order to keep his skin clean and healthy and to help prevent acne. You may also need to apply oil or moisturizer to help keep his skin supple. Your dog’s breeder also advise you on grooming needs.
Sometimes called the first dog of the Americas, the Xolo is a hairless breed that has been in existence for many centuries, as evidenced by depictions on pre-Columbian pottery and reports from the Spanish conquistadors. The warm-bodied dogs were prized for their healing properties and were known for helping with toothaches, insomnia, and ailments that benefit from warmth, such as rheumatism and asthma. They also warded off evil spirits and intruders.
Xolos were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera often portrayed the breed in their works. But as so often happens, the Xolo lost popularity. The breed's numbers dropped so low that the American Kennel Club eliminated the Xolo from its stud book.
However, Xolos recently made a comeback. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1993, and The American Kennel Club brought it back into the fold in 2011 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
The Xolo is a breed that adapts well to a variety of lifestyles. He is loyal, happy, and smart, but at times he can be stubborn and headstrong. He is a good watchdog and has a tendency to be protective of his family and territory. He is wary of people he doesn’t know.
The Xolo is affectionate and will love snuggling up with you while you sit on the couch. He can be good with kids when he is raised with them and is best suited to a family that is home a lot and includes him in activities. Interestingly, he also has a tendency to devote himself to one person in the family.
The Xolo may become despondent if boarded or left in someone else’s care. Some might even consider the Xolo needy. If his people don’t spend much time with him, he is likely to become destructive and will dig or climb fences for attention.
The Xoloitzquintli has a reserved and cautious temperament with strangers, but he's usually not timid. He takes his time studying guests before deciding whether to accept them and dislikes being touched by them. Early socialization is essential in order to ensure that he is not fearful when exposed to new situations or people. On the plus side, these traits make him a good watchdog. He is sensitive and is best suited to a home with older children who will treat him respectfully. The Xolo is also sociable with other pets, including cats.
The Xolo is not hyper, but he does enjoy activity, particularly physical activity combined with a mental challenge. He especially excels in agility.
The Xoloitzquintli is a quick learner both in house-training and obedience training. He responds well to positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. To hold his attention, keep training sessions short, fun, and interesting.
Training should begin right away for the Xolo puppy. Even at 8 to 10 weeks old, he is capable of learning good manners. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Continue training as he grows up to keep him mentally and physically active. Invite people to your home so he becomes accustomed to visitors. These experiences will help him grow into a sensible, calm adult dog. But keep in mind that the Xolo may not be highly sociable with people he doesn’t know, despite training.
Talk with a reputable, experienced Xolo breeder. Describe exactly what you’re looking for in a canine companion and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Choose a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized by the breeder from birth.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Avoid any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
It is not unusual for hairless dogs to be missing some of their teeth, usually the premolars. The traits of hairlessness and missing teeth are genetically linked. Coated Xolos should have all of their teeth. The Xolo can also have skin problems such as acne. Other than that, the dogs are pretty healthy.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and the cause of death.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Xolo at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
Grooming the Xolo is pretty easy, but there are some special considerations for this hairless breed. If he has a coat, brush weekly with a very soft brush. Wipe the skin daily with a cloth dampened with warm water to remove dirt. A bath with a mild dog shampoo once a week or every few weeks helps keep the skin blemish free. Apply moisturizing lotion daily or as needed, depending on skin condition and climate. Some hairless breeds are sensitive to lanolin, so ask the breeder what lotion she uses on her dogs.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, and brush the teeth frequently with a soft toothbrush and doggie toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears every week and clean them if needed using a cleaner recommended by your veterinarian. Hairless breeds are prone to sunburn so apply sunscreen (ask your vet for a dog-safe recommendation) or dress him in a doggy T-shirt. He may need warm doggie clothing in the winter months.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She should be more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with, and come back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical.
Look for more information about the Xoloitzcuintli and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America. Choose a breeder who does not sell puppies to or through pet stores and obtains health clearances on dogs before breeding them.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from a website that offers to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Xoloitzcuintli puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment and come from parents with health clearances, conformation (show), and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Xolo might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult Xolomay may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. You can often find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below.
There are many great options if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Xolo in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (house-training status, for example) or very general (all the Xoloitzcuintli available on Petfinder across the country). Animal Shelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Some local newspapers also have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Xolo. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who Xoloitzcuintli love all Xoloitzcuintli. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Xoloitzcuintli Club of America can help you find a dog that could be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Xolo rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be up front about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so that with training, you could bring a Xolo home for a trial to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he house-trained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Xoloitzcuintli, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that can help you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, breeder purchase or rescue, take your Xolo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and can work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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