MNN Galleries

Pariah dogs: 9 ancient and wild dog breeds

peruvian hairless dog

Photo: Lenkadan/Shutterstock

5 of 11

Mexican and Peruvian hairless dogs

The Mexican hairless dog, or Xoloitzcuintle, and the Peruvian hairless dogs are two separate breeds with two things in common. The first is rather obvious; they’re both hairless. The second is that they’re both extremely ancient breeds. These two breeds have been around for thousands of years and the hairlessness is a trait that occurred through natural selection. The Xoloitzcuintle has existed in Mexico for over three millennia, and likely originated from a spontaneous hairless mutation from indigenous American dogs as a way of adapting to the hot and humid tropical regions where it is found. It wasn’t recognized as an official breed until the 1950s, when it became apparent that the breed would die out if not recognized and protected by fanciers. Meanwhile, the Peruvian hairless dog appears on ceramic vessels starting around 750 AD. The breed nearly went extinct after the arrival of Spanish conquistadores, but managed to survive in rural areas. Today, they've regained the status they once had as a quality dog and are now considered cultural patrimony of Peru and are protected by law.