Westminster Dog Show: Introducing The Xoloitzcuintli

Jose Barrera holds Alma Dulce, his 2-year-old xoloitzcuintli, or Mexican hairless dog, one of six breeds that will compete for the first time in the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York this week. i i

hide captionJose Barrera holds Alma Dulce, his 2-year-old xoloitzcuintli, or Mexican hairless dog, one of six breeds that will compete for the first time in the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York this week.

Mike Segar/Reuters/Landov
Jose Barrera holds Alma Dulce, his 2-year-old xoloitzcuintli, or Mexican hairless dog, one of six breeds that will compete for the first time in the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York this week.

Jose Barrera holds Alma Dulce, his 2-year-old xoloitzcuintli, or Mexican hairless dog, one of six breeds that will compete for the first time in the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York this week.

Mike Segar/Reuters/Landov

It's that time of year — where hair dryers, treadmills and lush hotel rooms aren't reserved for us Homo sapiens, but for our canine best friends. The 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is off and running this week at New York City's Madison Square Garden. Organizers say it's one of the oldest sporting events in the country, second only to the Kentucky Derby.

  • A Cavalier King Charles spaniel waits in a cage outside the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City before checking in for the show. There are 2,000 top dogs in town competing at the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
    Hide caption
    A Cavalier King Charles spaniel waits in a cage outside the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City before checking in for the show. There are 2,000 top dogs in town competing at the 136th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
    Mike Segar/Reuters
  • Stewart, a Yorkshire terrier, relaxes in his hotel room after checking in at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel.
    Hide caption
    Stewart, a Yorkshire terrier, relaxes in his hotel room after checking in at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel.
    Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
  • Four of the six new breeds in this year's competition cross 7th Avenue as they arrive in New York in January for a news conference.
    Hide caption
    Four of the six new breeds in this year's competition cross 7th Avenue as they arrive in New York in January for a news conference.
    Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
  • Dazzle, a 2-year-old papillon, is groomed and pampered at the Green Room Salon and Spa at the Pennsylvania Hotel.
    Hide caption
    Dazzle, a 2-year-old papillon, is groomed and pampered at the Green Room Salon and Spa at the Pennsylvania Hotel.
    Mary Altaffer/AP
  • After a grooming session, a standard poodle patiently waits for the show to begin.
    Hide caption
    After a grooming session, a standard poodle patiently waits for the show to begin.
    Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
  • Jenna, a 4-year-old Great Dane from Japan, relieves herself in the outdoor facilities of the Affinia hotel's Spot Suite.
    Hide caption
    Jenna, a 4-year-old Great Dane from Japan, relieves herself in the outdoor facilities of the Affinia hotel's Spot Suite.
    Mary Altaffer/AP
  • Elvis, a 4-year-old bearded collie, works out on a dog treadmill at the Pennsylvania Hotel. Show-dog owners make sure their dogs are in top shape before competing.
    Hide caption
    Elvis, a 4-year-old bearded collie, works out on a dog treadmill at the Pennsylvania Hotel. Show-dog owners make sure their dogs are in top shape before competing.
    Mary Altaffer/AP
  • A Maltese rests in the staging area during some off-time.
    Hide caption
    A Maltese rests in the staging area during some off-time.
    Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
  • Katrina, a Cesky terrier, looks up at her handler during a news conference highlighting the six new breeds appearing in this year's competition.
    Hide caption
    Katrina, a Cesky terrier, looks up at her handler during a news conference highlighting the six new breeds appearing in this year's competition.
    Mike Segar/Reuters

1 of 9

View slideshow i

There are 2,000 top dogs in competition this year, but there is one breed garnering much of the spotlight. The xoloitzcuintli, pronounced Shoh-loh-eets-kweent-lee, is one of six new breeds debuting in this year's competition. It is the national dog of Mexico and is perhaps best known for being hairless. The xolo (short for xoloitzcuintli) comes in three sizes: toy, miniature and standard.

The xoloitzcuintli is one of the world's oldest breeds and can be traced to pre-Columbian times. It has been highly regarded, as the Aztecs believed it had healing abilities and warded off evil spirits.

Amy Fernandez, a xoloitzcuintli expert and breeder, describes its demeanor as "a real dog kind of dog. They have very strong instincts." They are also protective and bond closely with their owners, she says.

After nearly 30 years of advocating for inclusion in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Fernandez is thrilled the xoloitzcuintli has been included this year, saying the acknowledgement will make it easier to get support for healthy breeding.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: