Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Xoloitzcuintli and Chinese Crested: Mighty hearts in compact packages


Two ancient breeds of dogs, long valued by human companions. The Xolo is said to encourage healing in sick people, the Chinese Crested to be an amusing and endearing companion.  One would think such exotic and uncommon dogs are hard to find; unfortunately  both have suffered the fate of finding themselves the fancy of puppy-mills and backyard breeders. If one is considering adopting a dog, here are two fascinating and unusual potential companions that can be found in rescues and shelters with surprising regularity.

The Xolo (formerly known as the Mexican Hairless) is an ancient breed that is named for an Aztec God. This breed is recognized in three sizes:standard, miniature, and toy. Even the standard size easily fits under the bed-covers for cuddling.

Laying near people for body warmth is one of the traits this breed has been prized for. Their presence laying next to a sick person was believed to bring healing. Any of us who have been ill and had a beloved dog lay next to us have some idea of how powerful that feeling can be.

Xolos are affectionate with their own people but tend to be aloof with strangers. This is a natural watch dog who will warn of changes in their environment.

This is also a breed that despite the name, does often have hair - sometimes so fine that it is hard to see, other times with tufts of hair on their head and/or tail; some are born with full hair - it is the 'hairless' type that is more popular. Those with hair however, make just as delightful companions, and are just as smart and loyal.

Alert, intelligent, and people centered, it is easy to understand why this breed has such a long history of being considered valuable.

The Chinese Crested is a dog of a different sort of personality. Cresteds are noted for their playful, fun personalities and are more entertainers than watch dogs. They can however, turn their attention to chasing vermin if needed and their quickness and agreeable natures can be put to other uses for people who enjoy training.

Cresteds were long carried on merchant ships with Chinese sailors and were valued both as companions and for their uncommon appearance. As a result, the dogs themselves became trade goods and made their way into ports where their ships would travel.

Interestingly, there is some evidence that the dogs from which the Crested were originally bred, came from Africa and were more selectively bred for size and appearance in China. While their origin is obscure, it is known that they have a much longer history than their more recent recognition by kennel clubs would suggest.

Perhaps by now everyone realizes that the crested comes in two variations - the variety that we typically think of as Crested with the plume of hair on tail, and crest of hair on the head - often with "socks" (or feathering) on their legs. There is also a Powder Puff variety that is fully haired. Both can occur in the same litter.

The Xolo and the Crested make excellent companions. These are inside dogs who will typically need to wear coats in cold/drafty weather but since both breeds enjoy cuddling with people, and with other dogs, it isn't all that hard to make sure their comfort needs are met. At the same time, they love getting out and doing things with their people and are very agreeable to playing out in the summer and in temperate climates. (They will need sunscreen to protect their skin.)

They also require moderate amounts of exercise and can have their needs met by vigorous indoor play with their people. Food toy-puzzles, ball chasing, hide and seek - these are dogs who aren't going to demand long walks in the winter.

These are much more adaptable breeds then I think they sometimes get credit for; they may look fragile but these are dogs who have endured thousands of years of human companionship and survived world travel with their people. The next time you want to adopt a big hearted companion full of personality, give these breeds a second look.


  1. My stepdaughter used to breed Chinese Cresteds for years. She had a ton of them. They do have good personalities but I prefer fur :)
    Barks and licks and love, Dakota

    1. You live with a Sheltie AND you like fur? No one will ever guess :-)

  2. I wanted to thank you so much for your comment on my blog about adopting sled dogs. I'd never really thought about it before and it was such a touching idea, I wanted to thank you personally for your lovely thought. Both my husband and I eyes light up when we read your comment and we nodded in agreement. Maybe they will be part of our rescue dogs. :)

    1. :-) I've known several racers who have tried to find homes for non-competitive race dogs - there's always a good dog looking for a good home and you have a lot of love to provide!

  3. Hmmm... I think I can safely say that I just plain love dogs. Any dog. However, I do prefer fur :-) Love learning more about these breeds!

    1. Sue, I've figured out a solution - we just collect up all the fur that our retrievers shed, and make a coat for a less fur-endowed dogs ;-)

  4. Jeffie could take care of quite a few of them! LOL You know, I don't understand why people say Labs don't shed much. I swear every time I take photos for the blog, I am amazed at the dog hair in my photos. Even when I just vac'd. Oh well...

    1. Thank you! :-) I actually go through vacuums - use them up! And is there anything more fun then what you're talking about, vacuum, take a picture and look - Lab hair...it's a war that I cannot win ;-) I wish my house didn't have carpet, so the Lab hair could just form into tumbleweeds that blow against the walls for pickup.