The Xoloitzcuintle's Genetic Marvel: From Ancient Roots to Modern Icon


The xoloitzcuintle, also known as the "Mexican hairless dog," is one of the oldest and most unique dog breeds in the world. With a history dating back more than 3,000 years, this breed has captured the attention and respect of various pre-Columbian cultures such as the Aztecs, Mayans, and Toltecs. One of the most distinctive characteristics of the xoloitzcuintle is its lack of hair, a peculiarity caused by a specific genetic mutation. But when and how did this mutation appear? Let's explore the history and details behind this fascinating breed.


Emergence of the Genetic Mutation


The hairlessness in xoloitzcuintles is caused by a mutation in the FOXI3 gene. This mutation is autosomal dominant, meaning a dog only needs one copy of the mutated gene to exhibit the hairless trait. Although the exact timing of this mutation is unclear, archaeological and genetic evidence provides some important clues.


Archaeological Evidence


Archaeological remains of hairless dogs have been found in Mexico and other parts of Mesoamerica, dating back at least 3,000 years. This evidence suggests that the mutation occurred sometime before this date and became prevalent in the dog population due to both natural and artificial selection.


Selection by Pre-Columbian Cultures


Pre-Columbian cultures such as the Aztecs, Mayans, and Toltecs valued hairless dogs for various reasons, including their use in religious rituals, their medicinal qualities (it was believed their warm skin could alleviate pain), and their role as guardians and companions. This cultural appreciation likely incentivized the selective breeding of hairless dogs, perpetuating and spreading the mutation.


Process of Mutation Propagation


1.  Early Domestication:

   In early domestication, dogs with the hairless mutation would have had specific advantages appreciated by humans, such as the lack of external parasites that commonly infest fur.


2.  Selective Breeding:

   Over the centuries, human selective breeding practices would have ensured the mutation's maintenance and spread. Hairless dogs were probably chosen for reproduction due to their desirable characteristics, both practical and symbolic.




The genetic mutation causing hairlessness in xoloitzcuintles is ancient, and while its precise appearance date is unclear, evidence suggests it emerged at least 3,000 years ago. The propagation and prevalence of this trait were favored by the natural and artificial selection carried out by pre-Columbian cultures that valued these dogs for their unique qualities. Today, the xoloitzcuintle remains an iconic Mexican breed, cherished for both its rich history and distinctive features.

Somos Xolos Ramirez, El Mejor Criadero Xoloitzcuintle en México.

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