The Xoloitzcuintli is often referred to by other names such as Xoloitzcuintle, Xolos and Tepeitzcuintli. If you find these rather hard to pronounce, you can simply call it the Mexican Hairless Dog. This breed of dog has a very rich history that dates as far back as 3,500 years ago, during the time of pre-Hispanic Mexico. The Ancient Aztecs revered the Xoloitzcuintli. They firmly believed that this breed of dog was the guardian of a soul's journey in the underworld. They also believed that the Xoloitzcuintli was able to heal physical and spiritual ailments. The Xoloitzcuintli is now a very rare breed.
Some people often mistake the Xoloitzcuintli as an American Hairless Terrier, and they do look identical at first sight. However, if you observe them further, the differences are quite evident. Basically, the main reason for the confusion is that they are both hairless. For those who are familiar with any of the two breeds, it is very easy to distinguish one from another.
When it comes to dog breed history, the American Hairless Terrier is a "newcomer". It was only in 1972 that the first American Hairless appeared, and only in 1981 that they were successfully bred. It came from the direct breed line of the Rat Terriers.
The American Hairless Terrier resembles a medium-sized version of a Rat Terrier. It is rather muscular, with pronounced chest girth and bony shoulders. The American Hairless also has a solid mass for a neck, and not at all graceful looking as that of the Xoloitzcuintli. Also, the ears of the American Hairless are more mobile, and they can be flattened when the dog is distressed or raised when it is alert. This mobility cannot be seen in the Xoloitzcuintli's ears which are pretty much always in the upright position. The American Hairless is usually born with a complete set of teeth. Also, when an American Hairless gives birth to a new litter, the puppies have a fuzzy coat which will eventually be shed within four to six weeks. The Xoloitzcuintli puppies are born totally naked.
The most significant difference between the American Hairless Terrier and the Xoloitzcuintli is the color of the skin. The former can come in a variety of skin tones like black and pink with gray, with possible golden and red spots. The Xoloitzcuintli only comes in deep and glossy black. Also, the Xoloitzcuintli may have short hair growing on its head and tail, but the American Hairless Terrier is bald in these areas.
Other than the American Hairless Terrier, the Xoloitzcuintli also bears resemblance to the other hairless breeds, such as the Chinese Crested Dog. When you buy your Xoloitzcuintli make sure it has certificate that defines its breed.