Xoloitzcuintle

Aztec treasure

Xoloitzcuintle
Virgin beach somewhere in Ixtapa

Last summer I visited a virgin beach down in Mexico for my cousin's birthday; it was a good time. I was swimming in the sea when something caught my eye back at the shore, it was a dog, but it wasn’t the typical dog. I was looking at a Xoloitzcuintli (the one in the picture), rapidly I rushed to the shore to take a closer look at this magisterial dog.

The legend says that the God Xolotl made the Xoloitzcuintle out of a splinter from the bone of life to give it as a gift to humans. Xolotl advised the people to take good care of the dog because the dog was going to guide their souls to Mictlán (place of the dead), once they died, and because of it the Xoloitzcuintlis were sacred to men, so sacred that sometimes the dogs were buried along with their owners. In the Pixar movie COCO we see an excellent display of how the Xolos accompanied their owners through Mictlan when Dante a Xoloitzcuintle accompanies Miguel to an adventure to the underworld.

Miguel and Dante from COCO

The word Xoloitzcuintli “show-low-itz-QUEENT-ly.” comes from the Nahuatl language, which was the language that the Aztecs spoke. Xoloitzcuintli is broken into two words; Xolotl who was the god of fire and lightning, and Itzcuintli that translates to “dog” in English. But the Xolos were not only popular for being a gift from the Gods, as a matter of fact, "Along with turkeys, Xolos were one of the only domesticated animals eaten by ancient Mesoamericans” said Kristin Romey who is an editor and writer covering archaeology and culture for National Geographic. Xolos were rich in protein and because of it they almost became extinct when the Europeans arrived at the Americas, the Europeans developed such an appetite for the Xolo’s meat that they ate almost every single Xoloitzcuintli. In fact, “by the time the Xolo was officially recognized in Mexico in 1956, the breed was nearly extinct” (Romey).

Frida Kahlo and two of her Xolos!

Xolos started becoming more popular in the 1920s when famous painter Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo who was also a famous painter adopted a few Xoloitzcuintlis puppies, they raised the Xolos at their home. Eventually, the Xolos started gaining more popularity, in fact, their popularity raised so much that a soccer team from Liga MX (Mexico’s professional soccer league) started using the Xolo as their logo.

Club Tijuana Logo

Xoloitzcuintlis are known for being one of the most sublime and most loyal breeds in the world; I confirm. I'm glad I got to see one of these dogs with my own eyes, I even was lucky enough to pet one of them. His skin was really warm and somewhat soft. The reason that his skin was so warm is because Xolos retain more heat do to the fact that they are hairless. As a matter of fact, the heat that the Xolos produced was used to treat joint pains and muscular ailments like arthritis or rheumatism, it was a simple process where the Aztecs introduced the dogs into their blankets to keep them warm during the night and at the same time, it brought the Aztecs medical benefits.

Xolo’s life expectancy is between twelve to fourteen years and they tend to be extremely healthy dogs because of their primitive past. They also come in three different sizes: Toy (10”-14”), miniature (14”-18”), and standard (18”-23”) according to the American Kennel Club. In addition, Xolos are divided into two categories; hairless and coated where only hairless Xolos are considered as a pure breed. In fact, according to Maria Isabel Carrasco, there are only about four thousand registered Xolos in the world, these are only pure breed Xolos.

Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo

dog
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Brandon Becerra
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