With its other-worldly looks,the Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolos for short, also known as the Mexican Hairless, has always had street cred. Now, it is getting salon cred.
The national dog of Mexico, whose roots date back 3,000 years, was among six breeds picked as eligible to compete next month at the coveted Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show in Manhattan.
Despite the name Mexican Hairless, the breed comes in two varieties -- with and without hair. The hairless variety is the more popular and are completely devoid of hair except for short tufts on head and tail. The skin is tough, thick and very protective. The breed comes in three sizes: toy, miniature and standard, ranging from ten pounds in weight to 50 pounds.
While Xolos are not as cute as the other breed associated with Mexico, the beloved Chihuahua --in fact, members of the breed have on occasion been mistaken for the Chupacabras, the mythical vampire-like creature claimed to kill goats in Latin America and the U.S.-- it has an extraordinarily rich history.
Xolos is one of the oldest and rarest breeds in the world, and even has a place in Aztec mythology.
Aztecs believed that the god Xolotl made the dog from the bone of life --from which mankind was made. Some believed that Xolos have healing powers.
Despite the noble ancestry, however, the breed fell out of favor and by the 1950s the Xolos verged on extinction. A campaign was started in Mexico in 1954 to save the breed.
Held every year in New York City, the Westminister Kennel Club Dog Show is the most prestigious canine competition in the United States. For a breed to become eligible to compete – only a handful of new breeds are approved a year – and must satisfy requirements including the presence of large number of dogs in the United States, and established breed clubs to oversee enthusiasts and geographic diversity. There will be 185 breeds competing in this year’s show.
The other new rookie breeds include the Entlebucher mountain dog, the Norwegian Lundehund, the American English coonhound, the Finnish Lapphund and the Cesky terrier.
The Mexican Hairless is sponsored by the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America.