Judie Smith

Frida Kahlo
with her Xolos


One of the world’s oldest breeds, the Xoloitzcuintli can justly be called the First Dog of the Americas.

The breed’s name is derived from the name of the Aztec Indian god Xolotl, combined with “Itzcuintli,” the Aztec word for dog.

According to Aztec mythology, the god Xolotl made the Xoloitzcuintli from a sliver of the Bone of Life from which all mankind was made. Xolotl gave this gift to Man with the instruction to guard it with his life, and in exchange it would guide Man through the dangers of Mictlan (the Aztec underworld), toward the Evening Star in the Heavens.

Esteemed as guards and protectors, Xolos were believed to safeguard the home from evil spirits as well as intruders. In ancient times Xolos were often sacrificed and buried with their masters in order to guide the soul on its journey to the underworld.

The Xolo held a place of special religious significance for many ancient cultures. Clay and ceramic effigies of Xolos date back over 3000 years and have been discovered in the tombs of the Toltec, Aztec, Mayan, Zapoteca, and Colima Indians.

The famous pottery dogs of Colima provide evidence of the intricate bond that has existed between man and Xolo for centuries. These ancient relics give testimony to the civilizations’ fondness for these unique and loyal canines. 

Originally registered by AKC as the Mexican Hairless in 1887, the breed was dropped in 1959 due to scarcity and lack of registrations.

Although Xolos were recognized in modern Mexico as indigenous specimens of a native breed, interest in them was minimal prior to the 1940s because information was scarce and no standard existed by which to judge them.

In 1954, concerned with the potential for extinction of the breed, an expedition of Mexican and British dog authorities set off to locate purebred Xolos existing in remote areas of Mexico. The dogs found during that expedition formed the foundation of Mexico’s program to revive the breed.
On May 1, 1956, the Xolo finally achieved official recognition in its native land. It now enjoys the distinction of being considered the National Dog of Mexico.

The Xoloitzcuintli Club of America (XCA) was founded in October, 1986, to regain AKC recognition for the breed. On May 13, 2008, AKC voted to admit the Xolo to its Miscellaneous Class in January 1, 2009.

At the February, 2010 Board meeting the Xoloitzcuintli became eligible for AKC registration as of December 1, 2010, and eligible for competition in the Non-Sporting Group as of January 1, 2011.

The Xoloitzcuintli is the AKC’s 170th breed.