They have to be the world’s ugliest dogs, without a doubt. Even their name is enough to deter affection. They are the Xoloitzcuintli, the famous Mexican hairless dogs.
The Xoloitzcuintli were revered in traditional Mexican society and are now a popular symbol of the small Mexican city of Colima, which lies between Guadalajara and the Pacific coast. A giant statue of the dancing dogs even greets visitors arriving in Colima.
Now, I know what you’re saying. How can you be so cruel, how can you describe dogs in such offensive language?
Easily, they’re downright ugly. They look like a fully-grown, canine foetus with old-man hairs forcing their way through blotched, taught, wrinkly skin.
Despite, or because of, their horrid appearance, the dogs were held in high status by the Aztecs and Mayans. It was believed they guarded people on earth and especially upon death, where their protection was sought in the underworld. Some people were also known to carry the dogs into their blankets at night to help keep them warm – I think I’d rather invest in a good sleeping bag.
The reverence for the dogs only extended so far, however – they were also eaten.
They are now far less common than they were in pre-colonial times and the only ones I saw were behind cages at the abhorrent Colima Zoo, which I hope is closed down one day. I thought, initially, that the dogs had been locked up in a fenced area because they were so ugly, but then I saw lions and other animals also forced to pass their days behind metal bars.
It’s unusual to find Xoloitzcuintli in homes these days in Mexico. Colima locals regard them as a quirky addition to local history and the best place to find one is in the souvenir shop.
I was so abhorred by their ugliness, that I bought a souvenir, and the T-Shirt.