Spend any time on the streets of Mexico, and you will eventually see them. Mexico's hairless brown or red-skinned dogs -- the Xoloitzcuintle (pronounced sholo-squint-lay).
Love them or hate them, they've played a long-term part in Mexico's history, according to Gabriel Mestre, who is a small-scale Xoloitzcuintle breeder and author of a number of books on the subject. He says this breed of dog can be traced back at least 2,800 years in Mexico, and that some Mexicans believed that the animals had curative powers.
Not all Xoloitzcuintle dogs are bald, and litters yield hairy and hairless pups. But it's the hairless dogs that tend to attract more attention, Mestre says.
He sells most of his dogs and puppies to other breeders in Europe, and says the reactions he gets when he takes his dogs out onto the streets here in Mexico City are mixed. Some people compliment him, others shy away. Mestre's client base does suggest that the unusual looking animals are an acquired taste and are more popular with foreign than domestic breeders.
But that doesn't stop him from showing them off, and he's a regular at national and international dog shows around the world. We went along with him and one of his dogs, 8-month-old Aztlan, to a recent show here in Mexico City.
Watch the video for more.
-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City
Video: Mexico’s hairless Xoloitzcuintle in competition. Credit: Deborah Bonello