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.

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