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.