First, that name. Take it slow and you can say it. It’s pronounced "show-low-eetz-kweent-lee." See, that wasn’t so hard. Or take the easy way out and just call him the "show-low." Sometimes called the first dog of the Americas, the Xolo is a hairless breed who has been in existence for many centuries, as evidenced by his depiction on pre-Columbian pottery as well as reports of the Spanish conquistadors.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Xolo once served as a prophet and guide to the underworld, but these days he is best known for being a calm and watchful companion. Sweet and affectionate, he bonds strongly to his family and likes to be physically close to them. He may become despondent if boarded or left in someone else's care. Some might even consider the Xolo needy. If his people don't spend much time with him, he is likely to become destructive, often digging or climbing fences in a bid for attention.

With strangers, the Xoloitzquintli has a reserved and cautious temperament, although he should not be timid. He takes his time studying guests before deciding whether to accept them and dislikes being touched by them. Early socialization is essential with this breed to ensure that he is not fearful when exposed to new situations or people. On the plus side, these traits make him a good watchdog. He is sensitive and is best suited to a home with older children who will treat him respectfully. The Xolo is sociable with other pets, including cats.

When it comes to training, the Xoloitzquintli is a quick learner both in housetraining and obedience training. He responds well to positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards. To hold his attention, keep training sessions short, fun and interesting.

A Xolo needs a moderate amount of exercise daily such as a 20- or 30-minute walk or active play in a fenced yard. If you're interested in dog sports, he will be good at agility, obedience and rally.

Remember that the hairless Xolo is sensitive to sun. Don't leave him outdoors for long periods during the day, and apply dog-safe sunscreen to his body before walking him. If you can exercise him early in the morning or in the evening, so much the better.

A people-loving and delicate-skinned dog like the Xoloitzquintli needs to live in the house. Make sure he has soft bedding to cushion his streamlined body, and think of him as your own living bedwarmer during winter. He is sensitive to temperature extremes and may need to wear a sweater in cold weather or have access to air conditioning in hot weather.

Variations of the Xoloitzquintli

Not every Xolo is hairless. There is also a coated variety, which has a short, smooth coat. Expect to bathe the hairless variety weekly to keep his skin clean and healthy and prevent acne. You may also need to apply oil or moisturizer to help keep the skin supple. Your dog's breeder can advise you on his grooming needs. Coated Xolos should be brushed weekly with a currybrush. The breed also comes in three sizes: toy (9 to 18 pounds), miniature (13 to 22 pounds) and standard (20 to 31 pounds).

Health Issues Common to Xoloitzquintlis

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

It's not unusual for hairless dogs to be missing some of their teeth, usually the premolars. The traits of hairlessness and missing teeth are genetically linked. Coated Xolos should have all of their teeth. The Xolo can also have skin problems such as acne.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Xoloitzquintli Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. The best source for a list of breeders is the website of the Xoloitzquintli Club of America.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Xoloitzquintlis aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Xoloitzquintli can live to be 12 to 15 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Xoloitzquintli to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Xoloitzquintlis

Pet insurance for Xoloitzquintlis costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Xoloitzquintlis are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Xolos are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Xoloitzquintli is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.