The Xoloitzcuintli is more commonly known as the Mexican Hairless dog. It can also be referred to as Xolo, which is a short term for the breed. The physical appearance of the Xolo resembles a robust Manchester Terrier. The original Xoloitzcuintli had dark skin, but throughout the years, it evolved into the pink skin Xolo of today.
The Xoloitzcuintli breed has an extensive history that dates back to thousands of years ago. In fact, there are archaeological findings that reveal that the Xoloitzcuintli has been around as early as the times of the Toltecs, Aztecs, Mayans, and the Colima Indians. Some of these artifacts include clay pottery items that are 3000 years old, and they feature images of the Xoloitzcuintli. During the times of the Aztecs, this breed of dog was highly regarded for its intelligence and loyalty, and it was believed that the Xolo possessed healing abilities and mythical powers.
The name Xoloitzuintli, which can also be spelled as Xoloitzcuintle, came from two Aztec words, "Xolotl" and "itzcuintli". The first Aztec word, "Xolotl" is the name of an Aztec god while "itzcuintli" means dog in Aztec. The Aztecs believed that Xolos are the guardians of their master's souls in the afterlife realm. They were considered spiritual dogs that will lead and protect their owners during their journeys through the underworld. In fact, there is an Aztec mythology about this breed. According to the myth, the Aztec god Xolotl created the dog Xoloitzcuintli from a sliver of the Bone of Life. This is the same Bone of Life from which Man was created. The Aztec god created the Xolo to give life to Man. The Xoloitzcuintli was made to guide men through the world of Death, through the dangers of Mictlan, and towards the Heaven's Evening Star. Man will have a safe journey after death if he takes care and guards the Xoloitzcuintli with his life.
Ironically, though the Aztec mythology encouraged care and protection of the Xoloitzcuintlis, the Aztecs also used these dogs for their meat. There were accounts in Spain during the 16th century that Xoloitzcuintlis were served at Aztec banquets. The Aztecs also raised Xoloitzcuintlis as pets, and they were also used as bed warmers and sacrificial offerings. Other than these, Xolos were used as hot-water bottles because of their toasty warm body heat, and also as medicine for stomach pains and rheumatism. For this reason, Xolos were thought to have healing powers.
Figures and remains of the Xoloitzcuintlis from the 300 to 900 AD were found in burial sites of the Aztecs. Until today, people in Mexico still believe that Xoloitzcuintlis possess healing qualities. Xolo meat can still be found in some areas of Mexico, and it is used for rituals and medicinal purposes.