Say hello to America’s next popular dog breed: the Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo (pronounced “show-low”) for short. Oh you haven’t heard of it? Well, that’ll likely change. Because an animated version of the dog is appearing in Pixar’s upcoming Mexican-American folklore-inspired Coco due out in November. And, according to a study Public Library of Science (PLOS), when a film hits big in the U.S. and features a dog, that breed sees in a surge in ownership. But before you go googling for a Xolo breeder, you should know this mostly hairless, Mexican-based dog won’t be your kid’s best friend.
The spike in silver screen dog breeds makes sense: People see a movie featuring a loveable, awesome dog; families are inspired to find said awesome dog for themselves. If Coco is a success, the trend is likely to continue.
“We think it’s purely a passion phenomenon,” says Brooklyn College professor Stefano Ghirlanda who wrote the PLOS study. “We’ve seen this effect happen for breeds in successful movies. If it’s a flop, it’s probably not going to get any attention.” The study shows that a popular dog breed can surge up to 10 years after it the film’s release. For instance, Ghirlanda says the films, Shaggy Dog, 101 Dalmatians, and Turner & Hooch were all successful films that led a major rise in popularity of English sheepdogs, dalmatians, and Bordeaux dogs.
Xoloitzcuintli translates to “dog of the gods.” Mayan historians say the ancient civilization believed Xolos helped them cross the river in the afterlife, which is fitting considering how Coco tells the story of a young boy who traverses the afterlife with his long-tongued Xolo sidekick, Dante. Not a bad origin story for a dog the American Kennel Club called, “the first dog of the Americas.”
Teresa Garrod, the vice president of the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America has been breeding Xolos for decades. She says that if Coco created a Xolo surge, then the supply will not reach the demand. The dog is predominantly located in Mexico and the lack of U.S. availability would make the already-rare breed harder to find. She also cautions that the bug-eyed little guys play a bit rough and don’t make for quality kids’ pets.
“It’s definitely not a dog for everyone,” she says. “They’re tough and play hard like a Boxer. They’re like a Saluki, where they can be little stand-off-ish.” Garrod says she wouldn’t recommend them for families with kids under 11-years-old. And she also cautions that their skin needs a lot of attention.
But that’s not to say Xolos aren’t as playful and brave as Pixar’s portrayal. They’re just better-suited for older children and active families. “This breed is a family orientated dog, who loves the family they’re with,” she says. “They’re very active dogs.”
With Coco’s arrival in theaters, Garrod’s excited for the Xolo to be back in the public eye. But she fear’s people will rush out to adopt them and get buyer’s remorse. “The negative part is people will see the movie, invest in the dog, and find out it’s not the right fit for them,” she says. “Which means they could end up in shelters.”