Rez Dog Types: Xolos and Iztquintles

A Xolo and an Itzquintle from the same litter. Photo from Wikipedia.

Xoloitztquintles are the naked dogs of Mexico, but what do you call the hairy version? One of  my Xolo friends in Mexico recently told me that the hairy version of the Xolo (which are born into every litter with 1 or 2 naked parents) can be called just plain Itzquintles, which means Dog in Nahuatl. The capital letter is because Dog or Itzquintle has an important place in the culture and is represented as a daysign on the Aztec calender.

The photo above is seen all over the internet. When I saw it in Wikipedia, I figured there was no copyright. I really love this photo because the hairy girl in the photo was born to a hairless sire and dam. She is so absolutely classic ancient Norte Americano hunting dog in size and coloration. Once the hairy Iztquintle dogs in a litter leave home, there is absolutely nothing to characterize them as coming from the same litter as a hairless. Except maybe a piece of paper, if the litter was registered.

If I use this photo as a prototype of the ancient classic hunting dogs of North America, we can see that the general type is repeated everywhere in the US. I have a small collection of shelter dogs looking like this girl. Yes, you may argue, these dogs are phenotypically similar, but who knows what genes went into them? My answer is whatever the genes, a dog looking like this has reverted to type: a general type seen all over the world. First there are the Dingo type dogs, then there are the Carolina dogs, but mostly they go unrecognized for their type. It is clear that those two named types of dog are mostly feral and the tougher temperaments are more successful in the feral dogs.

If I were to try a breeding project to reconstruct old style dogs into a landrace type seen before the Conquest, I have to decide what features best show the old type. I have in mind a picture of what I want to breed for this project. It would be a dog that looks very much like the Itzquintle shown above. I want a smallish dog, not over 40 pounds or maybe 22″ tall for males, 20″ for females. These are guidelines, not something to be fixed into the breed. I would require prick ears for this project and a slightly curved tail. I would try to stick with the yellow dogs to begin with and see what they produce when bred to each other. My ideal for this project would be a dog with as few recessive traits as possible. I would avoid blue eyes, crumpled ears, too short legs, spotted coats, merles, in my foundation stock. I would breed to the Iztquintle type above. I would maybe use actual Itzquintles, who knows they may have some really ancient genes, but I would not worry about the genetics. I would pick for soundness and type and decent temperament. Since I am breeding for the temperament of a stay around the house type, a really laid back personality, I would choose some of that for for the foundation stock, though I recognize and expect a range of laid back dogs to ones with a strong inclination to go hunting in each litter. They were, after all, originally men’s dogs, hunters. As in the past, the laid back types generally don’t hunt, but will cooperate in other ways.

This shelter girl looks like maybe a Basenji cross, but she exhibits all the right traits for my hypothetical breeding program. If she were to produce pups with the Basenji tail, I would  know her mate had that tail recessive, too. Pups with really curly tails would not be preferred, because I don’t want that allele to become widespread. Still, a bit of African landrace Basenji blood- in the fawn color- would probably also add some really ancient genetic diversity to my project. One purpose in my breeding program would be to increase the genetic diversity of my line of dogs while keeping the basic phenotype. I think I could find this phenotype anywhere in Mexico and the US and use new stock for every generation.

Once I start breeding these guys together, I expect some variations will emerge and some recessives could come out, but there will always be pups who fit this type. This phenotype is made up of a lot of dominant genes, but they can carry a lot of recessives. One goal might be to use the ones who are pure dominant for the phenotypical trait of prick ears, for instance. This would require genetic testing to do it efficiently, but it certainly would establish the type and keep it. I don’t know if anyone has ever bred dogs to get a pure dominant genotype in their phenotype, but it could be done. In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter that there are recessives, if you do not inbreed, they are only likely to meet up in rare instances.

I can;t find the source for this picture, but the owner of this dog celled it a shepherd/husky cross.

This breeding project is the back to basic type of dog project. There is actually a continuum of dog types between these guys and the more wolfy looking types of Indian dog and I found photos of them all in shelters. They are usually cached photos, which means the dog is no longer available. When I find ones that are available now, I name the shelter where they are.

6 Comments

Dog Lover

Did you make this all up?

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Pearl Maven

No. Everything I said has been mentioned in at least one source of the bibliography I provide under the favorite books section. I have just synthesized it into a short article.I hope I showed that the situations with wolves in human territories were impacted in numerous ways, all of which went into the eventual "excretions" of dogs from wolves. Dogs appear to be wolves with only .2% difference in genes. It was lost from wolf to dog, so dogs lost a bit of genetic variety compared to wolves. And this before any kind of close breeding to render dogs more alike.

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Tom Verbeeck

Intresting. Seeing the pics and the goal you are after, I can think of a few breeds that would fit in really nice. The Itzquintles and Basenji (or an African village dog of the Basenji type if you don't want the curled tail) like you said, together with the New Guinea Singing Dog and American Indian Dog types. Maybe even an Australian Kelpie or Cattle Dog. Will take a while to establish a line that is pretty uniform in both looks and character, but would make a really intresting project.Been thinking of starting something simular myself for a few years. Didn't had a picture of the type I wanted to 'create', but seeing the one here of the shelter girl, that would be allmost exactly what I had in mind.

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Kate Williams

Hi Tim! Nice to meet you.My breeding program is solely in my dreams, but I am waiting for others to pick up on the idea. It requires a rethinking of the usual purebred breeding.It seems we are approaching a time when there will be a voice in dog breeding besides the AKC. Sensible breeding programs without a lot of professional kennels involved. Professional kennels are either AKC or they are puppy farms. Either way, it is terrible to expect to make a profit from breeding dogs! It should not be done on a large scale in a single operation, but through wide ranging networks of single family dog owners in back yards. That statement probably won't make me points with anyone today- but let's see what the future holds.

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Tom Verbeeck

After reading your other posts I figured out it wasn't an actual breeding program. ;)I also am not a big fan of the AKC, FCI… but with devolopping breeds, large scale operations are often the only way. In these modern times altough. Not many people who are using dogs for what they are intended for. So there is a lack of logical selection within the breed. And that is what causes all the problems. You can't pick the good dogs at a dog show, you have to see them work, and go from there. Dogs that are good in what they are supposed to do should be used for future breeding. Dogs that lack the skills, should not. But with most breeds, that now is allmost impossible to accomplish. And if they manage to do that, you most often get a completly different type of dog then the show lines of the same breed. In most cases, those pure working lines are of much much better health, simply because they can't do a good job when they are having problems, and then they won't be used for future breeding.But working with a wide ranging network of single family dog owner back yard breeders, with cause the same problem. Lack of selection for future breeding stock.Don't think there is a simple sollution to the problem, and we will see many breeds dissapear the next decades. But other breeds are being made every day to replace them allready, so it just keeps going and going and …

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Kate Williams

I am so upset. I just lost my whole answer to you. Thanks for your comments. You are very correct about pure breeding dogs for phenotypes! Let me use a slightly different example of backyard breeding – one that currently exists- the Landrace Chihuahuas of Tucson and all along the US Mexican border. Please see other articles to see what I mean- not the runty AKC sub-variety.These guys are bred to be family compound dogs and they are all purpose dogs. When times are tough, you can still always feed a 10 pound Chihuahua scraps, when times are better, you can expand your pack. Each litter has a variety of talents and interests and in a landrace dog, may have a variety of physical features too. The dogs are good sound dogs coming in a variety of looks and temperaments and skill sets.Chihuahuas are very observant of their family compounds and know exactly where everything belongs and know exactly what the schedule and routines are. Anything out of order, new or unexpected will be immediately noticed, and remarked upon – even intrusions from snakes, rodents and bugs, let alone strangers. Some have not lost the killer instinct, so some Chis are like terriers. I have a theory that the vaunted Taltahn Bear Dogs are a variety of Chihuahua. Theoretically, if you hunt with your pack of landrace Chis, your pack will naturally take different positions. I am talking hunting birds and rodents-maybe snakes- whatever is edible, maybe deer, in the old days. I mean if you lived in Tucson 150 years ago and walked with your Chi to your cousins’ compound, the Chi would notice any snakes or even horny toads on the way. Good thing for bare feet!These guys were bred between compounds for whatever reason the breeders chose. Maybe because this one Chi Dog is a snake dog. Or that one chases mice. Or because they are both the same color- or whatever, it really didn’t matter. The old Chidogs were all purpose dogs with a range of virtues, yet no one ever mistakes an old landrace Chi as any other breed!I think I’ll expound on this in another post.

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