Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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In honor of Mexican culture in the US and the Battle of Pueblo – not Mexican Independence Day, which in on September 16th – let’s celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some Mexican dog breeds!

Chihuahua

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Named for the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, the Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed, and commonly believed to be descended from the companion animals of the Toltec civilization. The breed was accepted by the AKC in 1904, and it’s small size makes it a favorite – it’s one of the twenty most popular breeds.

There’s a great deal of variation in coloring, and all combinations are accepted except for merle, which is linked to a harmful genetic disorder. There are only two accepted coat varieties, the short-haired or smooth-coat and the long-coat:

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While they are popular with apartment dwellers, they’re not recommended for families with small children and can be fiercely loyal to one person.

Mexican Hairless Dog, or Xoloitzcuintli

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The Xoloitzcuintli – “Xolo” for short – is a rare, hairless breed that originated in Mexico more than 3,000 years ago. Xolos were highly valued and considered sacred by some native cultures, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, and Maya. Xolos were one of the first breeds registered by the AKC, making an appearance in 1887.

Their hairlessness may have started as a mutation, but it could function as an advantage in tropical climates. Since hairlessness is the dominant trait of Xolos, the recessive expression of coated Xolos will appear in almost every litter:

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Coloring is variable, including spotted dogs, and AKC recognized sizes include Toy (at least 10 through 14 inches tall at the shoulder), Miniature (over 14 through 18 inches tall) and Standard size (over 18 through 23 inches tall).

The national breed of Mexico, Xolos make popular companion animals, although that popularity has yet to spread to the US. Rambunctious puppies grow up to be even-tempered adults, although Xolos are considered a to have a “primitive” temperament like Basenjis and Pharaoh Hounds – highly intelligent and prone to escape artistry. Xolos need a great deal of socialization and training, and are ill-suited to colder climates – their hairlessness requires different grooming and care than most other breeds.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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