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What On Earth Is A Xolo?

Updated on October 29, 2014

While reading along in a book recently that someone had given my child, I came across the name of an animal that I had never heard of before. I wasn't sure how to even pronounce it let alone what it was. Of course, my son asked me, "Mommy, what's a Xolo?" Now some parents might give a vague answer based on the picture to appease the child, but I like to be truthful, so I said, "I really don't know."

What on earth is a Xolo? And why would Eric Carle put this in his children's ABC book? Annoyed to come across something I had never heard of before, especially in front of my child, I went on a quest to find out more about this mysterious creature.

The Hairless Companion

It turns out that Xolo is short for Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tlee), nicknamed the Mexican Hairless Dog. According to the American Kennel Club, the Xolo is "an ancient, natural breed from Mexico. It comes in three sizes - toy, miniature and standard, and two varieties - hairless and coated."

Xolo breeds can range in color from black, gray, red, liver and bronze and are known for being calm and attentive. It is speculated that they were the first dogs of the Americas and archeaological evidence proved they accompanied some of the first humans across the Bering Straits. The name comes from the Aztec God Xolotl and the Aztec word for dog, Itzcuintli.

Because of it's coat, it is classified as one of the hypoallergenic breeds. It was also an ancient belief that the coat had healing properties for ailments such as arthritis, insomnia and toothaches due to the warmth emanating from it's coat.

Courtesy of the American Kennel Club.
Courtesy of the American Kennel Club.

Have You Ever Heard of a Xolo?

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So now I am curious. Am I the only one who has never heard of this dog before? My family and I are dog lovers and have lots of books on dogs, and have never come across this breed. I would like to know how widely known it is, so please take the time to answer the poll to the right. Below is a video of a mother and puppy Xolo learning to play fetch. In my opinion, they are one strange looking breed.

Interested In Having One?

Like most dogs, the price for a purebred Xolo can run in the upper 800's. They are considered a rare-breed, so that makes them cost a little more than say, a labrador. If you are interested in finding a purebred Xolo puppy that meets AKC standards, look here:

If you are just looking for a Xolo puppy that is not show quality (and therefore not show price), look here:

A Soccer Team?

In addition to being the name of a dog, Xoloitzcuintles is the name of a Mexican professional soccer team. The Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente, or Xolos De Tijuana was founded in January of 2007 and since have been champions of the Liga MX, the top level of the Mexican League's system.

Now I Know

So I guess I owe a thanks to Eric Carle for teaching me something new today. But I still have to wonder: why didn't he just use Xylophone like every other children's author? Not only that, he used Narwhal for "N" and Quetzal for "Q," two other creatures I had barely heard of. I researched some reviews on this book and found that I am not the only one asking that question. Here are some quotes from fellow parents:

"A minor irritation is Carle's choice of creatures: quetzal, narwhal, xolo (how do you pronounce these words?!?), and unicorn (the only mythical creature). Aagh." - Jeanene Headlee

"Some of the animals are too obscure, but opps for teaching." -Teacher/Mom "HLM"

"This ABC is not my favorite at all. He has weird examples like N for Narwhal." -Mrs. K. Healy

"The only complaint I have about the book is that there are a couple of letters that have rather obscure animal examples: "N" for "Narwhal", etc." -J. Ott

So I'm not the only one that thinks he should have stuck to the basics. But, after all, this is the author of the classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a book about a caterpillar that eats through the pages. The description for this book on Amazon says, "The very hungry caterpillar literally eats his way through the pages of the book—and right into your child's heart..." Is that just weird to anyone else?

A Cell Phone?

Xolo also has been used currently as a brand of smartphones orginating in India. The Xolo X900 was the world's first smartphone with an intel processor and the company also sells tablets to India and the Middle East. In addition to a cell phone name, Xolo is the name of a restaurant in Oakland, CA and the first name of actor Xolo Mariduena, a 13-year-old Mexican/Cuban/Ecudorian whose name means "dog star" in the Nahuatl language. Crazy.


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