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Xoloitzcuintli: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Xoloitzcuintli temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Xoloitzcuintli dog breed


The elegant Xoloitzcuintli (show-lo-eats-kwint-lee) is also known as the Xolo or Mexican Hairless. He comes in sizes from small to large, but the small ones are most common.

This animated breed moves lightly and gracefully, runs swiftly, and jumps and climbs with agility.

His webbed toes are somewhat prehensile, allowing him to grip toys with dexterity – or your neck in an affectionate hug.

Tranquil in the home, the Xoloitzcuintli is exceptionally attentive to his owner and needs a lot of personal interaction. He is likely to pine or act out when left too long without the companionship of people or other pets.

Wary of strangers, the Xoloitzcuintli makes an alert watchdog, exceedingly aware of his surroundings. Some Xolos are high-strung and/or timid of new people and new situations. Early and frequent socialization will help build a confident, stable temperament.

Still somewhat primitive in behavior, the Xoloitzcuintli is most content with structure and consistency in his life. He often reacts based on instinct, and his reflexes are lightning fast.

Though independent, the Xolo is smart and sensitive and responds best to gentle, reward-based obedience training. Harsh discipline only frightens him.

Because of his athleticism and ingenuity, your fences should be high and secure. Don't allow his barking to become established or it will be a tough habit to break.


If you want a dog who...

  • Comes in sizes from small to medium
  • Has an exotic, elegant appearance, like that of a small deer
  • Is mostly hairless, needs no brushing, and doesn't shed
  • Moves with light-footed grace, runs swiftly, and jumps and climbs with agility
  • Is high-spirited, smart, and sensitive
  • Makes a keen watchdog, but not a guarddog
  • Is usually peaceful with other animals

A Xoloitzcuintli may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • A somewhat highstrung, emotional, dependent personality that demands much attention and will bark or act destructively when left too long without companionship
  • Timidity or suspiciousness in some lines, or when not socialized enough
  • Independent thinking (mind of his own)
  • Emotional sensitivity to stress, loud voices, rough handling, and abrupt changes in schedule
  • Tendencies to climb or dig to escape from confinement
  • Barking
  • Housebreaking difficulties
  • Vigilant care of the hairless skin, which is sensitive to sun, cold, rain and sleet, chemicals, and hard sleeping surfaces

A Xoloitzcuintli may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Xoloitzcuintli

If I was considering a Xoloitzcuintli, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Housebreaking problems. The Xoloitzcuintli is often called a "primitive" breed, meaning not too far from his wild roots. Primitive breeds are typically difficult to housebreak. Consistent crate training is mandatory. Sometimes a doggy door is necessary. And some owners never do get their Xoloitzcuintli fully housebroken. Territorial marking (unneutered males lifting their leg to pee in your house) is a common problem.
  2. Skin care. The Xolo has delicate skin that must be protected from sunburn and freezing temperatures and frequently washed and moisturized. As you might expect, naked dogs need soft blankets to curl up in.

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  3. Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, the Xoloitzcuintli needs a great deal of companionship and does not like being left alone for more than a few hours. Bored Xolos become anxious, which they express by destructive chewing and barking. Prospective owners of a Xoloitzcuintli should be home most of the day.
  4. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, the Xoloitzcuintli needs extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise his natural caution can become shyness or suspiciousness, which are difficult to live with.
  5. Emotional sensitivity. Be honest.... is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? The Xoloitzcuintli is extremely sensitive to stress and can end up with digestive upsets and neurotic behaviors if the people in their home are having family problems. Xolos are peaceful dogs who need a harmonious home.
  6. Fence security. Many Xolos climb like monkeys and dig like gophers. You may need higher fences than you might imagine for their small size. You may also need to sink wire into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging.
  7. Mind of his own. Xolos are clever dogs, but intelligence doesn't necessarily translate into obedience. In fact, Xolos have an independent mind of their own and are inclined to use their cleverness in a rather manipulative way, trying to wheedle you into doing what they want. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    In other words, you must teach your Xolo to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Read more about Xoloitzcuintli Training.

  8. Barking. Xolos are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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