Most colonial descriptions provide data in Nahuatl. In total thirteen names are known for "dog" in that language: itzcuintli, chichi, xochiocoiotl, xochcoyotl, tetlamin, tetlami, tehui, tehuizotl, tlalchichi, techichi, xoloitzcuintli, tepeitzcuintli and itzcuintepozotli (Valadez, 1994: 3). Of course, the generic terms for "dog" are also known in different languages. It is worth mentioning that the term tepeitzcuintle "cerro de cerro" refers to a rodent (Cuniculus paca) and that otters are also sometimes conceived as aquatic dogs. Apparently, itzcuintli is associated with the meaning "sharp" (Seler, 2008) and brings together animals with sharp bites. Therefore, itzcuintli does not mean "dog" in a direct or literal way, but it happens that the dog is the best-known animal with a sharp bite.
This is the denomination itzcuintli for the common dog and xoloitzcuintli for dogs without hair. However, other names are also known, for example pèco-xolo, used among the Zapotecs (Beyer, 1908). This Zapotec name is created by adding the xolo particle of Nahuatl origin to the general term pèco "perro". Both xoloitzcuintli and pèco-xolo mean "monstrous dog". Also known are the Mayan names bil, ah-bil for bald and ix-bil dogs, specifically for females (Valadez and Mestre, 1999: 77).
Other meanings of the xolo particle are "wrinkle", "servant", "weird" and the translation has been proposed as "weird dog" assuming that nudity would imply the concept of rarity for Mesoamerican peoples (Valadez and Mestre 1999: 77) . Xolotl is also the name of a god. Nahuatl speakers from southern Veracruz understand the particle "xolo" as something "larval" or "incomplete" (García de León, personal communication). While xoloitzcuintle is understood as a "running dog" by the Nahuatl inhabitants of Chilpancingo, Guerrero. An informant who provided this meaning in 2011 mentioned:
"When I was a kid and went to the zoo in Chilpancingo, I saw the xoloitzcuintles and I imagined them running on a plain, and that means for us that means xoloitzcuintli, the dog that runs. When someone sends you for something and wants you to hurry, he says: Xi xolo! ... the dog that runs is not running because it is fearful, it is because of its great physical condition to walk in the field; So I consider it "
According to the same informant the particle xolo is equivalent to running, neither xolo (I run), ti xolo (corres) and the particle xi corresponds to the imperative. The name of Xolotl was also mentioned, emphasizing its raids when making its transformations in the myths.
The acceptance of the modern name of the race as "XOLOITZCUINTLE" is explained in two ways. In the first place, the term "xoloitzcuintli" was the name that the pioneers of the race and the first breeders knew, but also its prevalence implies a desire to relate the race with both the god Xolotl and the Mexicas themselves, understood as the central power of the past. Of all the possible ancient names to choose from, the one that best suited the exotic and nationalist ideals of the moment was chosen.
From a literal linguistic perspective, in colloquial Nahuatl, the term xoloitzcuintli encompasses only the naked form and the term itzcuintli refers to a canine form with fur. However, this classification by external aspect does not imply the separation of individuals into two races. In addition, using such terminology to the only thing that leads to the discrimination of the shape with hair to be conceived as a separate entity. Instead, it is known that biologically, both forms are intimately related and indissoluble. In this sense, it is acceptable to continue calling the modern race as XOLOITZCUINTLE, understood as a castellanoized NEOLOGISM that designates a current canine race, which groups two forms and therefore, there are xoloitzcuintles with hair and without hair, even though the xoloitzcuintli as Native category just be bald.
At present, the Nahuatl language is spoken in a vast region that includes localities located from Durango to El Salvador. The concept of Nahua culture is based on this common and crystallized linguistic heritage based on the foundation of social, religious, political and economic institutions (León-Portilla, 2011). The original appearance of bald dogs was not necessarily linked to a Nahua people. Several groups appropriated this animal and incorporated it into their culture. However, towards the sixteenth century it is clear that this animal had been inserted mainly into the worldview, not only Mexica, but Nahua in general.
In this sense, it is important to note that various issues around the xoloitzcuintle probably find a better response among the non-central Nahua peoples, for example the Nahua of Guerrero, who share the Basin of the Balsas with this animal since ancient times or the Nahua peoples of El Salvador. Salvador who in the mountains of Apaneca have also preserved it until recently (Villacorta: 2008).
The xoloitzcuintle receives different names in contemporary contexts. First, it is common to use only the "xolo" particle. In other languages terms equivalent to "Mexican hairless dog" are commonly used: "mexican hairless (dog)", English; "Mexikansk nakenhund", Swedish; Мексиканская голая собака (meksikanskaya galaia sabaka), Russian; meksikonkarvatonkoira, Finnish. It emphasizes both the emphasis on nudity and the resistance to using a Nahuatl term, possibly due to difficulties in its pronunciation, which is understandable at the colloquial level but not at the level of the canophilic entities, which should respect the original name of the race. Within the canófilas entities has appeared a variant with "Q": "Xoloitzquintle", which represents an error.