Xoloitzcuintli Guide (Lifespan, Size & Characteristics) (2024)

Xoloitzcuintli Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Non-sporting group
Fearless, feisty, loyal, tenacious, loving towards family
Toy=10-14 inches, miniature=14-18 inches, standard=18-23 inches
Toy=10-15 pounds, miniature=15-30 pounds, standard=30-55 pounds
Life Span:
13-18 years
Coat Colors:
Black, brindle, bronze, grey, palomino, red, and white. Markings may be black, spotted, tan, or white.
Area of Origin:
Mexico and Central America
Best For:
Experienced dog owners
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Xoloitzcuintlis
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Xoloitzcuintlis

Xoloitzcuintli Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

Xoloitzcuintli Gallery

About The Xoloitzcuintli

  • One of the most ancient dog breeds in the world

  • Moderate activity requirements

  • Not for novices

The Xoloitzcuintli is a unique looking dog that is believed to be one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. Sometimes referred to as a Mexican Hairless or by the abbreviation Xolo, the Xoloitzcuintli traces its roots back as far as the Aztecs in Mexico. The Aztecs believed that the Xoloitzcuintli possessed healing powers and could assist with the alleviation of common health problems such as arthritis.

The Xoloitzcuintli’s distinctive appearance can be off putting to many upon first glance at the breed. This dog has an imposing stare that many find intimidating. A dog that is almost entirely hairless, the Xoloitzcuintli has a small ridge of hair running the length of the dog’s head that is reminiscent of a mohawk. Other distinguishing characteristics include a wrinkled forehead, a thin tail similar to that of a rat, and eyes that run the gamut from dark black to a brilliant yellow.

A dog with a well-muscled frame, the Xoloitzcuintli surprisingly only has moderate activity requirements. The breed comes in three size variations: toy, miniature, and standard. The Xoloitzcuintli possesses an impressive prey drive and cannot be trusted off lead or around small animals the dog may view as prey.

One of the traits that makes the Xoloitzcuintli a dog breed not suited to first time owners is its tendency to bite. Obstinate by nature, the Xoloitcuintli can be a challenge to train. They make excellent guard dogs, protecting those they love most with an intense and fierce devotion.

Though the Xoloitzcuintli is a nearly hairless dog, the breed does have dander, meaning this breed cannot be considered hypoallergenic. This dog breed’s body retains heat well, making for an excellent cuddle buddy on cold winter nights. However, this dog breed is not well-suited to cold climates, becoming chilled easily. For Xoloitzcuintlis living in cooler climates, a sweater may be required during chilly weather.

A dog type considered to be exceptionally rare; today, experts assert there are less than 1,000 Xoloitzcuintlis in North America and only 30,000 in total across the globe.

The Xoloitcuintli is the ideal size for life in an apartment. The breed adapts well to nearly any living situation. However, if allowed to play outside, a secure containment system is a must.

Xoloitzcuintli Breed History

  • Believed to have been the product of natural selection and not a cross breed

  • Revered by the Aztecs for its supposed healing powers

  • Sometimes sacrificed to gods or eaten as meat

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The Xoloitzcuintli, one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, has an interesting history. Though most dogs trace their origins to a purposeful crossbreeding to yield a new dog type, the Xoloitzcuintli has always been a natural breed that was never the product of human intervention during its development. Experts assert that the Xoloitzcuintli is the product of natural selection.

It is believed that the Xoloitzcuintli travelled to Central America and Mexico with nomadic tribes moving across the Bering Strait. The dog’s name is taken from two Aztec terms: Xolotl, the god of fire and heavenly guide to the underworld, and itzcuintli, meaning dog. The Aztecs highly prized the Xoloitzcuintli, attributing healing powers to the dog.

In common Aztec rituals of the day, the Xoloitzcuintli were sometimes utilized as sacrifices to the gods. On other occasions, they were used as a source of meat for the Aztecs. In spite of its early misfortunes, this hardy breed prevailed. In 1887, the Xoloitzcuintli received full recognition from the American Kennel Club under the name Mexican Hairless.

The Xoloitzcuintli has been featured in many prominent works of art, including those by the native Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Today, the breed is considered to be very rare.

Xoloitzcuintli Size & Weight

  • Three size variations: toy, miniature, and standard

  • Weights range from 10 pounds to 55

  • Heights range from 10 inches to 23

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The tenacious and muscular Xoloitzcuintli is available in three different sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. The toy Xolo stands from 10 to 14 inches at the shoulder with weights ringing in at 10 to 15 pounds. The miniature Xoloitzcuintli stands 14 to 18 inches and weighs from 15 to 30 pounds in total. The largest of the three sizes, the standard, can reach heights of 18 to 23 inches and has weights that rank between 30 to 55 pounds.

Because the Xoloitzcuintli possesses a very high prey drive, owners of this breed must ensure the dog is housed in a fully fenced yard when outdoors. Secure containment when outside is an absolute must for this breed.

Xoloitzcuintli Personality & Temperament

  • Stubborn and prone to biting

  • Loving and devoted to its family

  • Not a fan of strangers

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The Xoloitzcuintli is a devoted family companion upon whom this dog eagerly lavishes all of its love and affection. However, this dog type is not a fan of strangers and will bite readily if feeling unsure or threatened. The Xoloitzcuintli often bonds deeply to one family member in particular though this dog is still attentive to other members of the household.

A dog with only moderate activity requirements, a walk once per day is typically sufficient to keep the Xoloitzcuintli happy and in a good body condition. The breed succumbs to chills easily, and thus, enjoys cuddling with its family. If spending time outdoors in cold weather, a sweater is recommended to keep this pooch toasty warm.

The Xoloitzcuintli is not a dog that enjoys spending time alone. Though not typically a vocal breed, the Xolo will alert bark when annoyed or worried. This breed can be very territorial and will guard its home, its property, and its people. Aggression towards strangers and other dogs is not uncommon in the Xoloitzcuintli.

A breed of high intelligence, the Xoloitzcuintli can learn new skills with ease but often is uninterested in doing so. The Xolo responds best to positive reinforcement. A dog type that is exceptionally strong-willed, owners must be prepared to establish boundaries and enforce them consistently; otherwise, the Xoloitzcuintli will gladly assume the role of leader in the home. This trait makes the Xolo a poor choice for the first time dog owner.

The Xoloitzcuintli is a dog with natural athleticism. This dog type can easily climb and jump a six-foot high fence. With this in mind, it is vital that owners ensure their yard has been Xolo-proofed to thwart any escape attempts.

A breed that can do well with children, it is best for the Xoloitzcuintli to be well socialized with kids when the dog is yet young. All interactions between dogs and children should be carefully supervised for safety.

Likewise, the Xoloitzcuintli can cohabit peacefully with dogs and cats if raised with them from its puppy years. However, even if living happily in a multi-pet household, the Xoloitzcuintli may respond aggressively to outside dogs and cats. To help integrate a Xoloitzcuintli puppy into a multi-pet household, it is best to make introductions on neutral ground such as a quiet public park.

The Xoloitzcuintli should dwell indoors with its family. Its nearly hairless body means the breed is not suited to cold temperatures.

Xoloitzcuintli Health & Grooming

  • A breed that enjoys good health

  • Only minimal grooming required

  • Can be prone to weight gain if not sufficiently exercised

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The Xoloitzcuintli is a dog breed that typically enjoys exceptional health. Unlike most dog types, there are very few health problems the breed can be predisposed to developing. The problem of greatest concern to the Xoloitzcuintli is sunburn. To prevent this problem, a sunscreen designed specifically for dog use should be applied when the Xolo is outdoors.

Xoloitzcuintlis can also have difficulty with missing teeth. Proper maintenance for the Xoloitzcuintli includes daily tooth brushing.

Since the Xoloitzcuintl is almost completely hairless, only very minimal grooming is required for this breed. The Xolo’s nails grow very rapidly, and thus, should be trimmed each week.

The Xoloitzcuintli is not a breed known for drooling. If sufficiently exercised and fed an appropriate amount of food, excess weight gain is not a problem the Xolo faces.

Xoloitzcuintli Training

  • Challenging to train

  • Very strong-willed

  • Exceptionally high prey drive

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Training the Xoloitzcuintli requires patience and perseverance. The breed can be very stubborn and is quite independent in its thinking. Positive reinforcement techniques yield the best results with this obstinate breed. With regular practice and a willing Xolo, this dog type can learn the basic obedience commands in approximately three months’ time.

The Xoloitzcuintli loves to chase animals it considers to be prey. To achieve this, the dog can and will scale even the highest fences if permitted to. Owners must ensure they have a secure form of containment to keep this dog on their property when outdoors. A kennel run that has a fenced top may be required to achieve this objective.

A breed that is not typically noisy, the Xoloitzcuintli prefers to bite than to bark. As a young pup, the Xolo requires training to learn to use its mouth appropriately. This can easily be achieved through redirecting the dog to a toy or bone when attempting to be mouthy. Over time, the dog will learn socially acceptable behavior for its mouth.

Xoloitzcuintli Exercise Requirements

  • Challenging to train

  • Very strong-willed

  • Exceptionally high prey drive

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A dog breed of only medium activity needs, the Xoloitzcuintli is quite happy if taken for a once daily walk. Regular exercise helps to keep the Xolo in good condition and prevents weight gain from occurring. Because this dog type has a very high prey drive, all walks should be done with the dog on a leash.

The Xoloitzcuintli enjoys having fun with its family and is renowned for being a playful dog.

Xoloitzcuintli Diet & Feeding

  • Puppies should be fed puppy food

  • Adults should be fed adult food

  • Portions should be adjusted to match activity level

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To keep the Xoloitzcuintli well-fed, it is a good idea to consult a veterinarian to ensure the selection of an appropriate food. In general, a high-quality diet that is nutritionally balanced to support the dog’s specific life stage is an excellent choice.

Puppies should always be fed a puppy formulation which is designed to meet the needs of their developing bodies. Likewise, adults should be fed an adult food that is best suited to their age, body condition, and activity level.

The bag of food selected will provide general guidelines as to appropriate serving sizes. Meal sizes should be adjusted to reflect the specific activity level of the dog. The dog’s weight and appetite will serve as an excellent guide.

You may also be interested in:

  • Best Dog Food for Xoloitzcuintlis
  • Best Puppy Food for Xoloitzcuintlis

Xoloitzcuintli Rescue Groups

For more information about Xoloitzcuintlis available for adoption near you, we recommend the following comprehensive resource:

Xoloitzcuintli Club of America


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Xoloitzcuintli Guide (Lifespan, Size & Characteristics) (2024)
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