Known as “the Mexican hairless dog”, the xoloizcuintle is the only pre-Hispanic dog breed that has maintained its identity to this day. Its name is composed of the Nahuatl words xólotl (strange, deformed, slave, jester) and itzcuintli (dog).
Inseparable companion of man, xoloitzcuintles were responsible for transporting the spirit of the dead to Mictlán or underworld. The Nahuas believed that when they reached the river of the underworld, the spirit encountered its dog and rode on its back to cross the path known as Itzcuintlán. Therefore, most archaeological sites in Mexico have abundant dog bone remains.
Friar Bernardino de Sahagún stated that xoloitzcuintles were not bald by genetics: “They breed in this land some dogs with no hair at all, glabrous [...]. By night they cover them with blankets to sleep. These dogs are not born this way; from small pups they spread over them a resin called óxitli, with which their hair falls out leaving the body very smooth.57