10 interesting facts about the Xoloitzcuintli from Pixar’s Coco

The Xoloitzcuintli may sound like a made-up dog breed, but did you know that this Mexican hairless dog has been in existence for over 3,000 years? Read on to find out more!
By Yong Cindy
Published on Wednesday, 24 January 2018

 

If you’ve watched Pixar’s newest film ‘Coco’, you would’ve noticed Dante, the stray spirit guide pup that was adopted by the protagonist, Miguel. Dante is actually a Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short. Here are 10 interesting facts about the Xolo that you probably have never heard of.

 

(Photo credit: Instagram @ozzyarpero)

1. The breed’s name is derived from the Nahuatl language. Xolotl is the Aztec god of life and death, and the term “itzcuintli” literally means “dog”.

 

(Photo credit: Pixar)

2. Just like Dante in Pixar’s Coco, Xolos were considered sacred by ancient Aztecs and Mayans, and were believed to be guides for the dead to Mictlan, the underworld. Also, these pooches were sacrificed and buried next to the body of their deceased owner so that they could set out on their spiritual journey together.

 

(Photo credit: Instagram @solo_instantes)

3. Xolos originated in Mexico, and is the national icon and cultural symbol. Till today, they are still popular home and hunting companions.

 

(Photo credit: Lola Alvarez Bravo)

4. When pre-Hispanic art had a major revival in Mexico, Xolos were frequently featured in artifacts and art pieces. Many Mexican artists, like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, kept Xolos.

 

(Photo credit: Instagram @zegnathecuteandfunnynakeddog)

5. Similar in appearance to a Pharaoh Hound, with a sleek body, almond-shaped eyes, large bat-like ears and a long neck, the breed’s most distinguishable feature is their lack of fur, which is said to be because of a hereditary genetic malformation of the skin. Their hairlessness may have offered a survival advantage in tropical regions where they reside.

 

(Photo credit: Instagram @K_Arnesen)

6. Xolos were the loyal companions of famous Italian voyager, Christopher Columbus. When Christopher arrived in the Caribbean in 1492, his journal entries noted the presence of strange hairless dogs, that were revealed to be Xolos. Subsequently, these hairless canines were transported back to Europe.

 

(Photo credit: Instagram @gizmothexolo)

7. Xolos come in three different sizes: Toy, miniature, and standard, and they weigh between four to 20kg. They are mostly black or blue-ish gray in colour.

 

(Photo credit: Pixar)

8. The allele responsible for the breed’s hairlessness also causes the dog's dentition: Hairless Xolos typically have an incomplete set of teeth, unlike most coated dogs that have complete dentition.

 

(Photo credit: Instagram @gu5_09)

9. Because these pooches are known to be ‘spirit guides’, they can be widely seen in Mexico parading the streets on Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead.

 

(Photo credit: Instagram @xolodono)

10. They have a lifespan of 13 to 18 years, and are said to be loyal and mellow. They make excellent watchdogs, and are said to be extremely wary of strangers.