Xoloitzcuintle Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Xoloitzcuintle Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
The elegant, animated Xoloitzcuintle (Mexican Hairless) 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 Xoloitzcuintle 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 Xoloitzcuintle 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 Xoloitzcuintle 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 barking to become established.
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 Xoloitzcuintle 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
- Housebreaking difficulties
- Vigilant care of the hairless skin, which is sensitive to sun, cold, rain and sleet, chemicals, and hard sleeping surfaces
A Xoloitzcuintle 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.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Xoloitzcuintli have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Xoloitzcuintle to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the Xoloitzcuintle
If I was considering a Xoloitzcuintle, I would be most concerned about...
- Housebreaking problems. The Xoloitzcuintle 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 Xoloitzcuintle fully housebroken. Territorial marking (unneutered males lifting their leg to pee in your house) is a common problem.
- Skin care. The Xoloitzcuintle 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.
- Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, the Xoloitzcuintle 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 Xoloitzcuintle should be home most of the day.
- Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, the Xoloitzcuintle 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.
- Emotional sensitivity. Be honest.... is there tension in your home? Are people loud or angry or emotional? The Xoloitzcuintle 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.
- 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.
- Mind of his own. Xoloitzcuintli 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 Xoloitzcuintle Training.
- Barking. Xoloitzcuintli are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.
To help you train and care for your dog
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.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.