Xoloitzcuintle as a companion of the dead

Posted on 18 Dec, 2017


Xoloitzcuintle, short Xolo, is an Mexican endemic race of dogs knows for over 3000 years. Its name is decoded as a “god of the dusk”, a brother of god Quetzalcóatl incarnating a dog or a dog incarnation of a god of life and death. This race is known as well as Aztec dog.

According to the Mexica mythology, dogs of this race were accompanying souls of the dead in the journey to Mictlán, an underworld. To enable this journey, live dogs were buried together with bodies of the dead.

There is a legend that it was a god Xolotl who offered Xoloitzcuintle to the people as a remain after creation of life from the Bone of Life (according to the mythology, the whole life on Earth has been created from the Bone of Life); this race supposed to come from the splinter.

Those dogs were considered saint and many of them have been depicted in sculptures and paintings.

First mentions


First traces of this race have been discovered in the cave Tecolote in Huapalcalco in the state of Hidalgo, and are dated 3500 years B.C. There are proofs that particular tribes like Mayans or Aztecs had contacts with this race.

Xoloitzcuintle didn’t have a lot of luck: if they weren’t buried with the dead, there were bred for meat. Hernán Cortés noted in his diaries that when he arrived to Tenochtitlán in 1519 saw puppies of that race sold on markets as food.

After European colonization the Xoloitzcuintle race was close to extinction and has been saved in the last moment. From 1 May 1956 Mexican Dog Federation started a program of registration of particular individuals and their reproduction.

Xoloitzcuintle were the favourite race of dogs of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and were inspiration to their art.


Xoloitzcuintle and Frida Kahlo

Even if they do not have a striking beauty (no hair) and they need to sleep under a blanket, to not to freeze, they are appreciated for their intelligence and ease of training. They are sporty dogs, they supervise well their owners and are quiet towards people.

Xoloitzcuintle are available in 3 dimensions: mini, middle and big. Their weight can vary from 4 kg to 20 kg.

16 of August 2016 Xoloitzcuintle has been proclaimed a national heritage of Mexico and a symbol of Mexico City.