Descended from the first dogs in North America, the Mexican Hairless (also known as the Xoloitzcuintli) is a rare small dog breed with unusual looks. This intriguing dog has an attentive personality, comes in three different sizes and is adaptable to any household.


The Mexican Hairless or Xolo has an interesting history. This dog is a natural breed that was not created through the crossing of two or more breeds. Evidence shows that the ancestors of the Xolo came from Asia into the Americas.

The Xolo got his name from the Aztec deities called Xolotl, the god of fire and itzcuintil, the Aztec word for dog. Their owners believed the dogs had healing powers for cases like asthma, rheumatism and insomnia.

Xolotl, the god of fire, escorted dead souls to the underworld. The dogs of Xolotl were believed to serve as guides for these souls and in life, the dogs were believed to scare away evil spirits. As guides, the dogs would be sacrificed with the dead. 

The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1887 and was called the Mexican Hairless. In 1940, the first of the breed won an AKC championship. Famous past owners include Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. 

The Xolo’s popularity declined so much that the AKC deregistered it in 1959 but reinstated it in 2011 when fans saved it from the brink of extinction. The dog is a national treasure in his country of origin but still continues to be a rare breed. 

Physical Characteristics

The Mexican Hairless has a unique physical appearance that might not be attractive to everyone. His sturdy well-muscled body is mostly hairless.  The facial expression is smart and lively with a wrinkled brow and squinty eyes. He has big ears and a mohawk bisecting the top of his wedge-shaped skull.

The Xolo’s eyes are almond-shaped and range in color from black to yellow. His long and fine tail is rat-like and his feet are webbed. When born, Xolo puppies have wrinkly bodies that smoothen out as they mature. 

The Mexican Hairless has a smooth tough skin that lies close to his physique. The little hair present is found at the top of the head, feet and a part of the tail to the tip. The coated variety has a short coat that is smooth. 

Typical coat colors are black, gray, slate, red, liver and bronze. It is not uncommon for this breed to have white spots and markings. 


Xolos are slightly longer than tall and come in three sizes that are all lean, sturdy and well-muscled. The weight of this breed ranges from 10 to 50 pounds (4.5 to 23kgs) across all varieties. 

  • Small – the toy Xolo measures at least 10 to 14 inches (25 to 36cm) tall
  • Medium – the miniature Xolo measures 14 to 18 inches (37 to 46cm) tall
  • Large – the standard sized Xolo stands at 18 to 23 inches (47 to 58cm) at the shoulder. 

Character & abilities

The Xolo is a calm dog that is affectionate and attentive. He tends to get attached to a specific person in the home and is aloof towards strangers. 

This dog breed gets along well with children especially when raised together. Children need to be taught how to interact with him without pulling his ears or tail.

Although he is less sociable around strange dogs, the Xolo is good with other pets in the home. As a primitive breed, he has a high prey drive and can chase the neighbor’s cat or other furry animals.

The Xolo can be stubborn, assertive and protective. If he thinks his person is being threatened, he is inclined to bite. He is alert and makes an excellent watchdog. 

Trainability & Intelligence

The Mexican Hairless is trainable and can learn to respect and obey commands. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

This dog breed is highly athletic and has moderate exercise needs.  Some playtime and at least one walk a day are sufficient. Regular physical activity can be used to tire him out and keep the Xolo from chasing around small animals. When at home, the dog is calm and tranquil.

An adult Xolo can live on two meals a day of one to two cups of high-quality dog food. Overfeeding him can lead to excessive weight gain which can put stress on his joints. When unsure, the dog’s vet can offer guidelines for the correct type and amount to keep the Xolo well nourished.


The hairless Xolo is not hypoallergenic. He can still produce dander, saliva and urine that carry allergens. Like cats, this dog will clean himself regularly but he still needs weekly help to keep his skin and paw pads clear of sweat, dirt and anything that can clog his sebaceous glands. 

Bathing the Xolo every two weeks with a gentle dog shampoo will protect his sensitive skin, wash off any sunscreen and maintain the production of natural skin oils. 

Weekly grooming should include:

  • Trimming the nails
  • Brushing the teeth to remove tartar and bacteria
  • Checking for sores, rashes, redness, tenderness or skin inflammation
  • Clearing ears of wax or gunk
  • Cleaning around the eyes

Living Conditions & Adaptability

The Xolo loves to lie in the sun and snuggle to stay warm. He enjoys being around his family and is not happy when left home alone.

This dog is adaptable to any home, apartment or country house. He has a tendency to bark but usually for good reason. 


Even though the Xolo has the same normal body temperature as other dogs, his lack of fur makes him feel warm to the touch. 

As a primitive breed, this dog is not prone to any serious genetic health issues. The hairless variety needs protection from extreme weather conditions. 

When outside, the body should be covered with specially formulated sunscreen for dogs. The Xolo shouldn’t be left outside for long periods without access to shade where he can be protected from direct sunlight.

During the winter months, the Xolo needs protection from the bitter cold. A nice dog sweater or coat can keep him warm. When indoors, the clothing should be removed to keep him from overheating and uncover the pores on his skin.

The Xolo’s skin is tough and heals quickly from any cuts or abrasions. His skin can develop acne, especially in puppyhood. A high frequency of baths can strip natural oils and clog up the pores. Light moisturizers can be used after baths to keep the skin healthy. 

The hairless variety does not have full dentition like the coated Xolos. Adult Mexican Hairless dogs are missing their premolar teeth. Their bicuspids are located between the molars and canines. Fortunately, this does not affect their eating habits. 

Annual visits to the vet will ensure the Xolo stays in good health who has a life expectancy of 14 to 20 years.


The Mexican Hairless is a wonderful dog breed. Although he is not characterized as a hypoallergenic dog, he is less likely to trigger allergies for people who are allergic to dog hair.  This family-friendly breed is a living hot water bottle with a healing touch and makes a great companion to any household.

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we understand the benefits of reading up on a dog’ characteristics before owning one. Our small dog breed descriptions help along in the process to ensure dog lovers match up with a furry friend that suits their home and lifestyle.


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