This Hairless Mexican Dog Has a Storied, Ancient Past
With a history going back more than 3,500 years, the xoloitzcuintli dog played a significant role in Precolumbian life.
The xoloitzcuintli gets its mouthful of a name from two words in the language of the Aztecs: Xolotl, the god of lightning and death, and itzcuintli, or dog.
PHOTOGRAPH FROM AUSCAPE, UIG VIA GETTY IMAGES
To the ancient Aztec and Maya, man's best friend was also a hairless, ugly-cute healer, occasional food source, and, most importantly, guide to the Underworld.
Sometimes known as the Mexican Hairless dog, the xoloitzcuintli (pronounced "show-low-itz-QUEENT-ly") gets its name from two words in the language of the Aztecs: Xolotl, the god of lightning and death, and itzcuintli, or dog. According to Aztec belief, the Dog of Xolotl was created by the god to guard the living and guide the souls of the dead through the dangers of Mictlán, the Underworld.
One of the most ancient dog breedsof the Americas, researchers believe the ancestors of the xoloitzcuintli (or 'xolo' for short) accompanied the earliest migrants from Asia and had developed into the breed seen today by at least 3,500 years ago. The xolo's hairlessness (save for a tuft or two of hair on top of the head or on the tail) is the result of a genetic mutation that is also responsible for the dog's lack of premolars. This distinctive dental trait makes identifying the remains of xolos in archaeological contexts relatively easy.....................