The Xoloitzcuintle, the hairless Mexican dog, is one of the oldest dog species in America. He was a god, a food source, and the guide to the underworld, the Mictlán.
Its origin is quite ancient and it is believed that this dog comes from the state of Colima, nevertheless, remains have been found in Oaxaca, Guerrero, the Mayan region, and in other parts of Central America, says Ana María Rivera, a Xoloitzcuintle breeder.
The expert explains that the word is composed by “xolotl,” which makes reference to a god, and “itzcuintli,” which means dog or pageboy, therefore, it means the dog or servant of Xolotl.
The god Xólotl, who is Quetzalcóatl’s twin brother, governs duality: good and evil, the beginning and the end, life, and death. The Xoloitzcuintle was so important for the Aztecs because it represented Xólotl and was depicted as the symbol of the 10th day in the Aztec calendar.
According to the Aztecs, the Xoloitzcuintle was created by Xólotl to guard the living and guide the souls of the dead through the Mictlán, the Aztec Underworld.
Rivera says that it is believed that emperor Moctezuma had over 300 Xoloitzcuintli dogs and that every dog had a servant.
Furthermore, the dog became an unusual food source. There was a special ceremony to sacrifice the dog and cook it. In some regions, the Xoloitzcuintle was sacrificed to ask the gods for rain and abundance or when someone died, as the dog was placed in the tomb.
At first, the Xoloitzcuintle was a pet for kings and priests but then it became everyone’s best friend and lived with families.
Unfortunately, with the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, the Xoloitzcuintle became an endangered species. The Spanish usually killed this dog because it was the representation of a non-Christian god or served it as exotic food during parties.
“This species is a loyal witness of history since pre-colonial times, it has survived without help, it has survived revolutions, armed movements, an independence war; it should be valued for what it is, a mute witness of the history of Mexico, an atavism for our religious beliefs before the arrival of the Spanish, as a living being,” said the expert.
The Xoloitzcuintle is this ancient dog, it’s thin and elegant, fast and harmonious. There are two varieties: with hair and hairless and it has three different sizes: small, medium, and standard. The Mexican hairless dog is also quiet and peaceful, happy, alert, and intelligent. It is the perfect companion for children and adapts into any space.
In the last 75 years, the Mexican Canine Federation has helped to rescue this native species. There are also specialized clubs in Russia and other parts of the world, which have helped to preserve this species. According to the latest census from 2014, 6,000 dogs were registered.
The Xoloitzcuintle has become a symbol of Mexico’s ancient past and culture and painters such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, Raúl Anguiano, Gabriel Fernández Ledezma, José Guadalupe Posada, and Juan O’ Gorman paid homage to this native species in their art.
With information from: Mexican Canine Federation / El Universal
The Yucatan Times