Mystery of my Hairless Chihuahua- Solved!

I first started a blog of the same name in 2009, but on a different carrier.  I had recently come into a 3 month old, “Mexican Hairless Chihuahua”. I had known about these dogs for decades because my family took a vacation in Mexico the summer of 1955-56. We were driving down the Western side of Mexico to Mexico City, then returning through the inland route through Chihuahua. We spent a night in Mazatlan and saw some naked dogs on the streets. They were unique enough to remember when I encountered the name Mexican Hairless for this breed of dogs through looking at Diego Rivera’s mural at San Francisco State College. This enormous mural resides in the Diego Rivera Theater on that college’s campus. It must be 20’ high, by 50’ high. No photo I found goes all the way down the left hand side to the very corner, where the dogs are. I googled the dogs at some point and spent a few hours reading about them. I was intrigued and had vague wish to get one someday.

Diego-Rivera-Mural-SFstate

A year or two later, I saw an ad in a local online free classified ad including dogs. I wanted a small dog to replace my deceased “deer Chihuahua”, so I occasionally looked at dog ads. One day there was an ad that offered a “hairless Chihuahua” for $100. It was right in my own far SW-side neighborhood, so I went over there.

There were two of these pups both the solid gray/black color. One had longer legs, she had beautiful proportions. She looked like a deer, a deer Chihuahua without hair. Just when I got there, the breeder arrived and was extremely upset. She had been negotiating with animal control to get or keep a license for a kennel and had been refused. She had just come back from losing an appeal. At this moment, Animal control was coming out to get all except the legal number of dogs. She had only a 48 hours to remove the dogs. I quickly realized that if this dog went to animal control, it would have been grabbed up by the hairless rescue people, as they had priority for the hairless dogs that arrive at the pound- or the humane society. I had managed to see this dog before she was taken beyond my ability to get her from this back yard breeder – or puppy farm.  I felt like I had just short-circuited a series of shakeups before she was rehomed. As she was very high strung and insecure, I have always been glad she only had two homes, her breeder and ours.

i1035 FW1.1Now that I had her, I googled hairless Chihuahuas and hairless dogs, including Xoloitzquintles. I got a book, “Hairless dogs: the Naked Truth”. There were many directions to follow up on after reading that book.

First, I followed the gene itself and learned that it had been analyzed by a renowned scientist in Switzerland. Tosso Lieb who determined it was a semi-dominant gene that had appeared as a mutation in Mexico, at least 3 thousand years ago. This effectively cancelled any claims that any  hairless dogs were from China. Or Africa. Still, I was shocked, because the Chinese Crested’s descriptions on the AKC site that same day, said they were from China and were vermin killers who went with Chinese on boats to prevent the plague by killing rats in the 14 hundreds- except back then no one knew rats carried the plague, and other errors were also made. So that opened a skeptical side in me that needs to cut through the myths and another ??? about the AKC.

I was doing research on Chihuahuas too. I have several books on the origins of the breed. I was reading histories that mention naked dogs when the Spaniards arrived. I found an old book on kindle wherein  the author, Allan Glover of Harvard, writing at the beginning of the 20th century analyzed the literature and art of dogs in the history of America and got a very realistic map of what kind of native dogs lived where.

dog map 001

Native American Dog map

But the more I got information on Chihuahuas from the breed founders’ own words and overlaid them on the maps PFerd III made based on Glover’s work  I saw the Chihuahua breed founders were getting dogs from the area renowned for Techichi dogs, 10 pound dogs from far northern Mexico and Southwestern US from Texas to California, who all lived in the desert. So of course I had to pay more attention to techichi dogs -as well as all the other 10 pound small dogs occurring in every corner of North America. It was just the southwestern ones that were called Techichi, which was a Nahuatl disparaging word for the little dogs of the Chichimeca, barbarians of their far north.

300px-Uto-Aztecan_langs

I already knew that Itzquintle was the Nahautl word for their own dogs. I took an introductory course in Nahuatl on You Tube twice, because it came in two versions. I began to put the Itzquintle on the map Pferd III had made wherever there were Uto-Aztecan languages, of which Nahuatl was a major branch. This language family covers most of the America west of the Mississippi, except coastal California and the far north. Itzquintles were the common dog of the Nahuatl related tribes in America and mostly had short hair. They probably weren’t called Iztquintles locally no matter how close the language was to ancient Nahuatl, but since Mexico City was always the center of the Americas, whatever it was called at the time, it is convenient to use the classic Nahuatl terms to refer to the larger collective of the Uto-Aztecan language base.

By this time I had seen in several places, references that the Techichi dogs came in 3 varieties, Short hair, long hair, and hairless. This made sense to me, when I finally discovered an old woman in her advanced 80’s, another back yard breeder, I suppose, who had kept Mexican Hairless Chihuahuas since the 1950’s. I interviewed her a couple of times though she was in feeble health. She had been part of gatherings of Xolos  in Tucson, in the 50’s, but never joined the newly organizing Xolo club because they didn’t prefer or allow toy sized dogs. That first club died and she never tried to join the second xolo breed club either. Her stock came from the Tucson/Sonora Desert, (where they were known, even if uncommon, and recorded by Easterners since the 1850s).  She insisted the Xoloitzquintle name was an invented breed name by the breed club of the same name, and they had done a lot of refining in the in-club breeding.

She did not have Xoloitzquintles, she had Mexican Hairless, which was always the name, long before the Xoloitzquintle name was formalized. It still refers to the out of club hairless dogs. She told me that she grew up with the hairless dogs which used to be far more common around Tucson. Her grandmother had one. Just about every extended Mexican family had one, back when. This wasn’t much, but combined with all the other strands in this weaving, it was all fitting together, however loosely.

Hairless Chihuahua was  a modern name for the so-called Techichi dogs 9-12 lbs, that used to live in the northern deserts along the border, mostly inside today’s US boundaries. They used to be locally called “perros sin pelo’, or hairless dogs. Only the 9-12 pound range was known in Tucson since my breeder friend was born during the thirties, so I expect that since the techichis were of similar size, we had the same dog. This dog was not known as “techichi” by the locals, that was the Meshica pejorative term, but simply as perros sin pelo, because all the native dogs were 8-12 lbs in the first standard deviation, but had unlimited colors and short hair, long hair or – very little hair.

Thus, I achieved fulfillment in my quest for the truth about the hairless Chihuahua. Indeed! I also learned about the development of the Chihuahua and the Chinese Crested breeds within the AKC, the problems of all the big dog institutions, plus  so much about all the native dogs, that I expanded my blogs to include all these topics.

If you want to see what I have been doing on my new blog, go to  http://www.techichi.org

Big Chihuahuas are Deer Chihuahuas and both are, most likely, Techichi Dogs

I had gotten away from using the “deer” adjective for chihuahuas, but I don’t know why. Maybe because so many akc types say, “There is no such thing as a deer Chihuahua, there are only the short coat and long coated varieties of Chihuahua”. Well, the AKC has no such type of Chihuahua, but that does not mean it does not exist. One thing all these over-sized Chihuahuas have in common is that they lack the apple head of the too small AKC variety.

The history books have tantalizing tidbits about the techichi dogs. Everyone agrees on one thing: that they are small dogs.

This is a very old Spanish depiction of a techichi dog
I have had this sub-project of getting people to recognize the big Chihuahuas or deer Chihuahuas are a landrace dog, native to the deserts of the southwest and northwest Mexico. They probably ARE the techichi dogs described in history books.  I have decided to take the step and call them Techichi dogs. It is a perfect fit in many ways.
Anyway, rather than argue the point over here, I actually bought a domain: http://www.techichi.org  and downloaded wordpress to the site. I will present a variety of arguments for calling the 10 pound or 5 kilo dogs, also known as Chihuahuas, big Chihuahuas or Deer Chihuahuas, Techichi Dogs.
Heck, I could be wrong, but what we have is some kind of landrace small dogs occupying these desert places. They are not just oversized AKC wawas, they are the stock that went into the creation of what is now the Applehead Chihuahua of the AKC. The only reason I think the AKC chis have any of the old techichi blood in them is that the deer heads still show up in the AKC registered dogs, though they are not preferred.
I would like to see a registry of sorts, for these dogs- all of them whether they are neutered or not. I want to see an entirely different kind of registry. A non-profit database kind of registry. 
I would like to see a club, a breed club, get it together and develop the first “standard” for a landrace dog. It will take a whole other way of thinking about breeding- one which, if we are to continue to have non-AKC dogs as pets- we need to think about how nonprofessional breeders can do it best. I hope to take a look at some of the old ways of breeding these very dogs.
Maybe sports could be developed to use their special talents, like say lizard pouncing (with a fake lizard, of course) or digging after ground squirrels. I have one who likes to catch flies- and sometimes does. I have another who has caught and killed two mice of her own. She learned from the cat. And of course, barking at every dandelion fluff that floats by….
I would like to see the little ones who land in local pounds be adopted, so I will continue my “Big Chiwawa” watch on my new blog and move it off this one. Did you know that Chihuahua is a Nahuatl word and some modern day Nahuatl speakers are leaning toward using ‘wawa’ instead of ‘huahua’, which is pronounced exactly the same way. They spell in English, so no longer have to contort Spanish spelling to make a “w” sound.
I am not quite ready to quit this blog, but the day is coming when I will move it all over to my own site. 


 

Why the hairless dog is not the underlying breed, but grafted onto it.

As the hairless gene does not define the actual breed, but only a hairless version of the breed, the Xolo breeders are the tail waving the dog. The hairless gene (Hh) can be imported to any line of dogs. Take a couple of Mexican Xolos to Peru and breed to the local spotted hound type then keep breeding  the hairless ones to the local stock and to each other. Because the hairless gene will show up about 25% of the time when bred to any coated local stock, which is actually the true rate at which the hairless ones were wanted or needed in the old populations. The hairless ones were originally used on their hairy counterparts as well as to each other. This is where the difference lies. The Xolotl Dog just had to be weird. Xolotl was the God of the weird or deformed and was also doglike. If a dog was born bald, it could have short legs or other deformities as well and still be “of Xolotl energy”. The Hairless Dog was the quintessential Xolotl dog, the archetype, but not the only one possible. Thus, the hairless gene was not necessarily used on pretty dogs. When Xolotls were wanted, a hairless dog was bred to either another hairless dog, or to a hairy dog with an anomaly like a “human” face or short legs. When the hairless gene was used in the smallest of the house dogs, it looked like the type we know as deer type Chihuahuas today, only hairless. So originally there were only the xolotls born out of breedings of at least one xolotl dog, there was no breed and could not be, because it did not breed true.

Too bad the “new style” breeders of the hairless ones have devalued the coated dogs, because using them in a breeding program will get a percent of pups with the hairless gene, every time. But in order to have coated pups you can sell, you need to define the actual foundation breed for the hairless genes.  The coated Xolos are quite variable in color and coa ttype, but very little care has been given to breeding them as the true foundation stock. The ones in the registries today are the less desirable siblings of the sought after hairless ones. Little to no effort is made to breed them in registry circles, which is a deep mistake, in my opinion. If this breed does not want to go through a Basenji-type crisis, when all the dogs share all the founder’s genes (or rather, what is left of them!)

Gracie was identified as a coated Xolo in a Memphis shelter.

What is this breed, the Itzquintle? It is a fairly wolfy looking dog slightly longer than tall with a relaxed slightly curved tail that comes in many colors, including fawn, the tri-color, black, black and white and more.Color is not important. Coat types vary from short to slick. The small shepherd type is important. These small dog wolves, as far as any of the dog history books go, are most likely the direct descendents of  the same type dog which originally traveled to the New World with their families. (Various dogs came at various times and in various ways and there were probably already some variations on the standard dogwolf. Dogs with long hair, for instance.)

Pre-Conquest Mexico tended to have smallish dogs. The Itzquintle type was the in same size range as today. Toy, around 10-15 pounds, intermediate, around15- 20lbs, give or take, and standard, around 20+ pounds, was always more of  a luxury dog, probably not all that common in the old days, but due to the variable sizes possible in the genetic structure, there would be a few larger ones, which only rich or royal people could support. The average ones were 10-20pound coursers, watch dogs. There were also dogs smaller than 10 pounds, which were considered sports or runts. It created bad energy to breed them to each other, because the female usually died, so the tiny ones remained rare sports.There is no percent in keeping a large dog on small acreages. When food gets scarce, the little ones and the medium ones will fare much better until times get better. You can feed 3 ten pound dogs as easily as one 30 pound dog and they can chase game just as well as the bigger dogs. Their legs can actually match the loping  speed of the average male in a society where all men allover the continent were runners, but they were capable of very fast bursts of speed as well, thus helpful in hunting. Thus the 10-20 pound dogs were the most usual.

Lots of bigger dogs came with the Conquest. The conquest seems to be the beginning of the dropped ears too. At least I have have not yet seen dropped ears in pre-Conquest New World pottery or art. So, the Iztquintles were a dingo-like dog, typically not over 20 pounds. In fact, the 10-15 pound dog was widespread from an early time, probably as early as the hairless mutation. We see short legged dogs in ancient pottery, hairless dogs, tiny dogs, small dogs,but no big dogs and no dropped ears.

When the “Expedition” went to Mexico decades ago and collected Xolos, they concentrated on collecting only the hairless ones and breeding them to each other from that point on. Of course they always got a percentage o fcoated dogs because of the nature of the hairless gene as a heterozygous dominant. (HH would be pure hairless, but is never seen, indicating it is lethal as a pure dominant. All hairless dogs are Hh and when bred to each other will have 25% hh puppies, which would be the coated version) Certain things seemed to be built into the chosen dogs, coated or hairless, and those would be the general proportions of the dog and the build, which remained the same regardless of size. The eyes are almond shaped (also typical of dingoes and even Basenjis) the hare foot. They are a breed and would probably genetically test as a distinct breed. The coated ones are the descendents of the original immigrants who never got the Hh gene, which is the huge, vast majority of dogs.The correct promotion of these guys, finding their true Aztec identity as the typical house and field dogs, would give them a highly desirable breed provenance,so to speak. They are little, domestic dog wolves, tried and true.

What? Is this one a coated Xolo or a Chihuahua? If you guess, how could you know for sure? I too, wonder what the DNA holds on these little-tested dogs way beyond the state of their hh-ness?

Canine Diversity Project

August 2011. A cat walks by off camera.
I was checking out the responders to one of the posts on Borderwars, Bonnie Dalzell,  and I found this wiki project for dogs. http://dogdimension.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=shared:purebreddogs21stc
It made me so happy, I could cry. I had independently reached so many of the same conclusions just through my layman’s reading of population genetics or biodiversity projects for other animals over the past decade, especially. I came to this position easily, just by thinking about dogs as I read about other animals.
I am not a dog professional. In fact I have come to loathe the term, if it means lay people do not have the natural ability to love and understand dogs, without making a living at it, or forming an organization that arrogates  all dog territory to themselves. There was a day when I was headed that direction. I served an apprenticeship in showing dogs as a potential breeder, so I know the landscape,though I left it behind as I came to understand the problems of the closed gene pool through my breed, the Basenji.
My next dog was a “wolfdog”, or a “rez”dog. I keep promising to post the photos from those years and I did find an old pedigree, too. I was part of a far flung network of people who kept these dogs, many were enrolled and many were not, though the dogs were all considered to be the descendents of the dogs pictured in the paintings of Bodmer, Catlin and others like them. I go into more detail about this in other posts, so this is just a brief review of myself as a dog person. I never heard the term “landrace dogs” back then, but that is what these Rez dogs were. All the breedings were outcrosses, yet all the pups remained true to type- a type I can pick out of western shelters any day of the week as husky or shepherd crosses. Husky-shepherd crosses is what they are often labeled by the shelter people, but they don’t quite look quite like a husky or a shepherd or a wolf, but something combined, or better- like the possible ancestor of the husky and the American Shepherd types. (Not there is any such breed, yet.). I know from my “dogwolf” days, that all those breedings were outcrosses and yet the “type” remained.
I have also discovered the same thing to be true of Chihuahuas from this area. The border region, from LA to El Paso is rife with landrace Chihuahuas whose ancestors were never registered with the AKC. They tend to run twice the size of AKC Chis at a 10 pound average. I have filled my blog with pix of these sweeties and will continue to do so, because most people do not know what the real Chihuahua used to look like. I have some small historical verifications, though no one has ever made this a topic of study, before, as there was little interest. The proof is actually in the present day dogs seen in shelters, though this is but a tiny fraction of the ones in happy homes.
Sidebar:
I think the complaint that the shelters filled up with Chihuahuas after Paris Hilton got Tinkerbell is not quite stated properly. In the first place, Tinkerbell was a very expensive dog and tiny. I doubt she is still alive as dogs that small do not live to an old age. So people wanted teacups, which cost thousands, then they would see the old “Chihuahua pups, $100.00” ads and buy one which would grow into a 10 pound dog. I know people will get rid of a dog that doesn’t look right or fulfill their fantasies. They will also get rid of dogs who won’t housebreak, for instance. Chihuahua who are not property trained to housebreak outside at the beginning, may never change their minds. They want the world settled, with rules and will learn quickly, but it is hard to change the rules on them by say, switching cold from a potty pad to outside without a transition. Even when they are young. But I digress.
 As long as I am digressing… Me and pet turkey. Novato CA, 1974. We did eat him for Thanksgiving.
I was lucky to grow up in the 40’s and 50’s in a multicultural atmosphere. So anthropology as a topic of study came naturally tome and still does. I got my BA in anthropology and built up a lot of graduate level courses at fine schools, but no advanced degree in Anthropology was ever finished,though it remains the foundation of my POV. (I did get a Masters in Counseling) One of the things I “got” quickly was the extremely conservative and racist atmosphere in the AKC. I had a privileged upbringing so I was familiar with this culture and saw it as a “culture”. The AKC Dog Culture was pervasively run by the lords and ladies of America. The names of judges routinely hark back to the Mayflower or at least before the war. The Revolutionary War that is.  I did my apprenticeship in Washington DC and went to shows from Delaware to VA. But basically, the heritage of the dog people was firmly rooted in eugenics, which although they no longer practice as much inbreeding themselves, seeing what it did to royalty, were still applying the same principles to their dogs! The AKC was run by Anglophiles whose dearest wish was to be presented at the Court of King James, if they hadn’t been,already. I know that has changed considerably around the edges, but at the core, this is still the culture of the real powers in the organization. And for what end, but to carry on the mistakes they made in thinking when they first started forming into breed clubs, then in the original KC in the late 19thcentury.
I have joined clubs and lists for various breeds. In my opinion, most breeder are fundamentalists. They carry out breeding programs in the same manner as they have always been carried out in the past. They don’t look at the big picture including the history of the dog, the different approaches to breeding, genetics, except to whittle down their own stock’s diversity by eliminating bad genes. They do not look at population genetics, evolutionary biology (probably a number of them don’t even believe in evolution) or try to place their breed into the center of its variety rather than breeding for extremes.
If you mention “outcross” ears slam shut! They feel horror at the idea! Yet they never have done the academics to be able to place current breeding practices into context. Messing with the “purity” of their dogs’ breeding is a sure way to get kicked out of the club! No one even seems to be able to entertain the idea rationally. But no one has looked at what this purity is- homozygousity to the extreme- and placed that into the scientific knowledge that is growing everyday.
In fact, the Canine Diversity projects’ pages are all from2003! You’d think dog people would have seen them and thought about it and added to them as a wiki, but they are ignored- just as the knowledge in them is abhorred. A huge, resounding silence has greeted the legitimate work of the contributors and nothing has been added, for years.
As happy to tears as I was when I found these pages, I am now saddened to tears at the lack of response. BTW, I found they had a forum,so I applied and was immediately rejected for being an amateur, or rather not being a professional in the field. OK, so I can’t join and see what they are doing behind the scenes, but I can still say, they are on the right track and will probably have a huge “I told you so” to the AKC, some day.
Meanwhile, the work done by Chris of Border Wars lately is a stunning continuation of the same work as seen in the CDP. If people have to look at the 10 generations and count the missing ancestors in every such breed, count the actual number of founders, and point it out to the public, then the only refuge for people with their head in the sand, is to hope the internet gets shut down.
I see a popular blog is dissing this work, by attacking the Young Turks carrying it out, but everything he said to insult them, only endeared them to me. And meanwhile some really good suggestions for diversifying the genetics of purebreds are laid out and easily doable, if people will just give up the concept of Genetic Purity (read Racial purity) by eliminating the dominants in favor of homozygousity of the alleles. and instead go for heterozygous dominants whenever possible
Someday dogs like the pug will be a thing of the past and regarded as a terrible part of the history of the dog. Or the pug will be redone into a Chihuahua, maybe. Yeah, right.
Naiche and me at Morro Bay, summer of 1983

Hairless Chihuahuas- and Hairy Chinese Cresteds

My conclusion that the Powderpuff Chinese Crested is the genuine breed and the hairless CC is a variation has been met without a protest, so far, but I expect someone will come along and argue with me about it, sooner or later, because it is a point no one has really discussed.

Is it possible that that thought has not occurred to CC breeders? It is possible, because everyone is so busy thinking the hairless ones are the breed and the Ppuffs are some kind of surplus or bonus. It is almost the same in the Xoloitzquintle breed, where the hairy pups just look like Mexican street dogs compared to their naked brethren.

Well, since I have a hairless Chihuahua, I propose to use the Chihuahua breed as the example. Chihuahuas are a breed of long standing in the kennel clubs. They have a type, a look, they are a distinct breed. Even the non akc Chihuahuas are obviously Chis, even when they weigh in at  a non-fat ten pounds. Natural, local Chihuahuas can’t be mistaken for any other breed. They always had short or slick hair until Ida Garrett purified some long haired chis and got that variation instituted in the AKC. Now, if you say “deer type Chihuahua” in a dog forum, a chorus of, “there is no such thing as a deer type Chihuahua.There are only long and short haired variations.” will arise from  at least one person, who is obviously brainwashed by the Chihuahua Club of America- or whatever the breed club calls itself.

The fact is that there are deer type chihuahuas and hairless chihuahuas. “Chihuahua” is a borrowed name for a whole class of dogs in Northern Mexico and southern Arizona called Techichis by the Nahuatl locals. Even the AKC breed looks like the range of types seen in non purebred chis, but I take this up in various other places.

You can take a long legged deer Chihuahua with its short, slick hair and breed it to a small hairless dog. Lets say a hairless Chinese Crested. I have a link for the genetics of size in small dogs under favorite books if you want to learn more about runty dogs. Anyway, one of the pups is highly likely to get hairless gene, maybe 2. The pups who didn’t get the hairless genes look like Chihuahuas, even if oversized. Sell or give them away as Chihuahuas, because that is clearly what they are. People have expectations of what Chihuahuas are, and these dogs meet it in the same way as the Chihuahua landrace dog always has.

Now in the case of the Xolo, the Naked dogs are the stars, the hairy ones hardly even have a name or even much status except as hairy xolos, which is an oxymoron. Same with Powderpuffs. They aren’t a breed; it is the hairless cresteds that define the breed. So the hairy versions really have no distinction on their own. You NEVER see a hairy xolo in a shelter! That’s because when they are hairy, they are not recognized as being xolos too. Yet, it does appear that the hairy xolos are the same as the old Nahuatl landrace  dogs. In any case the naked ones tend to have very little hair compared to Cresties.

chinese crested

chinese crested Pasted from

Cresties have a strange permutation on the hairless gene that makes some dogs with the hairless gene more hairy than the AKC standard allows. What is allowed is a crest on the head that can extend like a mane to the shoulders and little muffs of hair on their feet like Clydesdale horses.  However few Cresties are born in that sweet spot of stylish hairlessness. Most of the so called hairless Cresties have more hair than that. It starts out in funny patches of hair on the body like hair spots, but it can get much patchier than that with H patterns connecting hair which goes all the way up the legs and extending the mane down to the tail. Then there are the really hairy hairless, the ones covered with a single coat of fluffy hair all over their bodies. These are the ones that look like powderpuffs and they have been in the breed since the beginning.

A fully hairy hairless dog Falca

A fully hairy hairless dog
Falca

More on the Chinese Crested Powderpuff Dog

 1886 from an out of copyright book “Dogs, Illustrated”

Right now, there is only one version of the Chinese Crested Dog that counts as the proper type. This perfect type dog has a hairless body and neck, with flowing hair on the lower legs, tip of the tail and the “Crest” itself is like a horse’s fetlock and mane, a spendiferous fest of flowing locks. This dog may be the most flashy and decorative dog to  grace the kennel clubs since the poodle’s distinctive cut made it a fashion icon, decades ago.

There is little known about how the Chinese Crested breed was designed. The lies about the founding of the breed, still redounding today, are indictments of truth-telling in Dog Breeders, in general- they are ALL fish stories for popular consumption, little jingles to imprint the breed on your mind, for all breeds have a sales pitch. And yes, The CC was a designed dog, cobbled together from 3-4 varieties of  hairless dogs from Latin America and perhaps several dogs with white, long, hair. The major architect of the breed was Debora Wood, though she inherited foundation stock and philosophy from Ida Garrett.  who learned her methods  helping to form the AKC Chihuahua and the Akc Chihuahua standard. Ida Garrett, perhaps a bit ego-inflated from her success with the Chihuahua, which she completely removed from its roots, took on the hairless dog breeders around at the time, mostly in Europe. Dog breeding was a societal pivot and the British were its masters. In the achievement of the Chinese Crested Dog,  Ida, who conceived the idea and had started collecting the dogs, was at once playing homage to the “Kennel” club’s idea of breeding dogs, by creating a dog breed, and at the same time, have an American try to out show them at their own “best” as creators of breeds. This was the ultimate pinnacle in Dog Society, to design and produce a breed for the modern age, to base it on one of the “old types”. Early in the game, Debora Wood took over the work and is credited for refining the deer type body in the crested. Later, Gypsy Rose Lee added stock and ideas to the mix.

Only someone else of that day could understand how being a “Dog Fancier” gave status to the new “Upper Middle Class” in England and America (and by “me, too,” default, Canada). Ida Garret and Deborah Wood were part of that scene. They had enough money to breed dogs and to collect them, which was a prerequisite in dog breeding. Garrett had collected hairless dogs, but passed them to Wood- (I think because of the variable hairless problem, which she referred to as “mixed breeding”). She even claimed there were no purebred Xolos any more. (There probably never were, but they didn’t recognize that in the 1950′s)

Wood  looked at the Xolos and PIO’s and Pila dogs and whatever was hairless that she had gotten from Garrett, and had a Vision of this dowdy little food dog as Dog Royalty. Some of her hairless dogs were squat and fat. too much of a food dog, though they were very gentle and well behaved dogs. Some were average in proportion. They had a slightly longer back than leg, erect, large ears. When bred to a long hair dog of about the same type and proportions, they got all the now known hairless dog patterns in the first few litters. I would imagine that every hairless dog in the experiment was mated to a long hair. The first (F1) generation would have sorted into 50% long (hopefully)  haired dogs and 50% with the hairless mutation.

If Wood had 20 hairless to start, (that’s a guess at a minimal number and she picked several different long haired breeds to cross with, then she interbred the results. One thing seems clear. The general type is still like a small xolo, with hare feet, almond eyes and big, upright ears. These probably came in all of the Latino hairless dogs. They are probably dominant features or maybe not, but they breed true most of the time. They came out as the strongest showers in the earliest matchings, thus bringing something else kind of distinctiveto the breed,  in addition to the hairless traits. This part was easy to fix into the new breed compared to getting the correct hair pattern. Although many xolos of the day were long backed with shortish legs, Wood emphasized the more deerlike traits, finer bones and longer legs. This dog is almost indistinguishable from toy sized Xolos, except in the fancy furnishings.

The long hair crossings with the correct hairless pattern were producing true hairless, with hair in the correct places, but the powder puffs and the hairy hairless and the blotchy hairless pups have to go to pet homes and often that was most of the litter. At first, Wood must have thought she would be able to improve the odds for getting more hairless with the proper hair pattern. As soon as possible, she started breeding hairless to hairless. She would have chosen to skip over the powder puffs and the ones with too much hair and perhaps even too little hair, unless some other consideration was in play. This did appear to help produce more pups of the correct pattern, but did nothing to stop producing the powder puffs and a huge number of pet quality pups, in which the pups are missing the very trait that defines their breed.

Breeding correct hairless to correct hairless may have lowered the chances for the hairy hairless and blotchy bald types to show up, but, 60 years after Wood’s main work, unacceptable hair patterns and baldness still occur in the best of litters. Chinese Crested breeders can count on about 25%- powderpuffs even if they breed only the proper baldness pattern to proper baldness pattern and reject all the powderpuffs for breeding, plus the hairy hairless, of course you must not breed a blotchy hairless dog under any circumstances and the ones that look like xolos should be designated pet quality too.

Obviously, this is not the breed to make money breeding on, unless you can get good prices for the improper types as pet quality dogs. It would appear to be lucky to get 2 with the proper hair pattern in one litter, 2 powder puffs and 2 with improper hair patterns in a litter of 6. Even the 2 with the correct hair may have other issues keeping it from being show quality. I am sure it is the economics of breeding this breed that is the basic reason for some breeders, using the hairy-hairless and the blotchy hairless in the ring. They have the dentition, so why not just shave off the offending hair, and voila! one more show dog enters the ring.

I get to this point in my thinking and have to stop, because in a world with too many dogs to have homes for them all,  I need to reflect on the ethics of creating a breed that only breeds true 25% of the time…………I am positive Wood saw this as a solvable problem, but nothing has eliminated the variety of improper types, so far.

Instead, it makes me think about how this was dealt with in Mexico and other places that kept this breed before Debora Wood and her new breeding notions started using the Hh gene in her breeding scheme to develop a “My little Pony” Breed out of the original hairless breeds. The more I say, the more I need to study.

You know that if a hairy hairless wins in the ring, it will be used for breeding. Some of the honest Cresty breeders who play by the unfair rules of their game, deplore this and fear the entire breed will turn into hairy hairless.  So far, I have seen no evidence that breeding the hairy hairless to each other produces anything but the same old pattern baldness. That is, the proper type can be found in hairy hairless litters. In fact the hairy hairless seem to birth pups with the same basic four hair patterns: hairy hairless, blotchy hairless, true hairless and too hairless. I am sure that two blotchy hairless can produce a true hairless. If the hairy hairless breed true and produce only hairy hairless, that also appears to be yet another breed the CC has produced, but there is no evidence that this is true. Hairy hairless don’t breed true any more than true hairless.

In a world that does not need more puppies anyway, the CC breeders are producing a lot more pet quality dogs because of the low percentage of true Cresteds to come out of most breeding programs. Then if they doctor the looks, it thumbs the nose at the Breed Standard as it is written today. And then, the CC breed also throws a certain percent of xolo-type dogs. what do you do with them? Some CC people appear to start raising Xolos too. I feel that dog breeders using the AKC style of inbreeding is not working in this breed, In fact, eliminating all the ones with incorrect hair patterns from breeding programs accelerates the inbreeding coefficient.

Hairless street dog with blotchy baldness and a full mane.

FOXI3 Gene mutation for hairless dogs. Musings.

Above: Mexican Pottery of the ancient type hairless dogs. Below: Ruthie, My hairless xolo.

I have mentioned Mexico 3-4k years ago in previous posts. I am speculating on possible uses of the foxi3 when it popped up. There is an AKC breed called “Xoloitzquintle” or Xolo, so I am specifically using small x “xolo” as a generic name for the original stock the AKC members used to create the purebred version.

For the purposes of my argument, let’s guess the dominant “H” mutation showed up first as a mutated allele in a normal short haired  small Indian coated dog which is not known as the hh form of original xolos.  As long as hairless Hh, has been bred to hairless Hh, 25% of the pups average out to be hh, the short, even slick haired, version of the xolo, and will not show the hairless trait. It is already “bred out” of the hairy line, so to speak, leaving a standard xolo, which version is rather overlooked as a breed in its own right. the coated xolo is the true breed and the Hh gene is a local ancient mutation  The small coated dog has always been a landrace dog, bred for utilitarian purposes.

Hairless dogs did make difference around the house. The naked dogs might get bit by fleas, but they don’t carry them. The naked version could come inside and not make everyone miserable with fleas. In addition, when you pick the puppies up, they are warmer to the touch than hairy dogs. All dogs have an inner temp of about 101 degrees, but you can’t feel the warm skin through the hair. With a hairless pup, you have a dog-warmer, the second you cradle it or put it on your chest.

If the first hairless dog, was a male, 25% of his pups should throw hairless, by statistics, when bred to a hairy bitch. I am willing to bet that before the first female hairless was 6 weeks old, her caretakers, (usually women) were already plotting a small version of the dog, if the dog did not begin as a small one. Small dogs were very common in Mexico and it can be suspected, that small dogs were actively bred for their size. A small hairless dog (10 pounds or so) would be the perfect house dog. In any case, the hairless dogs were great around the house, whatever the size. Thus, the Hh gene was highly successful from the first moment it showed up.

I am sure it is proven elsewhere, that the Mexicans and indeed, most natives of North America, were discerning dog breeders for thousands of years, to say the least. They also had an infallible method of culling. Dog-based cultures eat the culls. In fact, there is a PhD thesis for the person who details the dog-eating ceremonies and rituals of a wide range of New World cultures.
*Weaving cultures often had long haired dogs, but I have not researched that at all. Another good PhD there.

The thing about the Hh gene is that in itself, it is not the breed, it brings the Hh traits to any type of breed. So, my big insight is that Debora Wood really created the Powderpuffs!- They are the true breed; the hairless variety is a variety of the Powderpuff and a very unstable one at best.  The Powderpuffs are a fantastic breed. Intelligent, Loyal, a Perfect Companion that can sport a variety of hair-do’s or be shaved. I trimmed Ollie’s face and DH called him “a half/ghan”. Right now he looks like a mini-Saluki. This is the true, genetically stable, Chinese Crested breed, upon which the Hh gene was grafted for a really fancy, flashy, variation.

Unfortunately, only a proportion of the Hh Crested show the perfect Hh type.  Statistics would indicate varying versions will also be born, yet they are not desirable specimens simply for their incorrect amount of hair. All the Hh are single-coated and have the different teeth. So that trait may to be linked  to alleles that also determine the pattern and abundance of the single coat. Or it is possible that the Foxi3 mutation has a developmental stage in which switches on, for each pup and as the moment it turns on is during the time the hair and teeth are developing, it will determine how hairy or hairless the pup will be.

The FOXI3 Gene Mutation Causing Pattern Baldness in Dogs 1.

Part One: The Origin of the FOXI3 Mutation for Pattern Baldness. 

The locus of the baldness gene was discovered by Tosso Leeb of Basel Switzerland and was first published about in 2008.(Here is contact info)The FOXI3 gene does hair in dogs and other animals. The vast majority of dogs have hair, but once about 3- 4,000 years ago in Mexico, a mutation occurred on the FOXI3 gene which in its wild, state has only the hh gene) .

The mutation itself was dominant and named H. HH is the double dominant and it is lethal. It is thought that the HH zygotes don’t develop at all and are reabsorbed. The next possible combination is Hh. It causes the progeny with the H mutation to be single coated. The single coated dogs can have a bit of hair on the extremities up to a full single coat. The appearance of the Hh gene in a progeny also means the pups with  single coats also have less teeth at adulthood and their canines usually are strange and tusky looking.

In the Chinese Crested dog, Hh X Hh, = 3 possibilities:  HH, which is lethal, Hh which has the single coat, and affected teeth, with or without pattern baldness, and hh which has a normal double coat of hair. Hh x hh will give single coated and powder puff coat. It is well known that hh are born into every litter of Hh, statistically speaking The hh combination is all recessive and the dogs breed true to each other. All hh have a double coat and normal teeth and have “lost” the mutation.  The “hairless” Cresteds create single coats and powder puffs and the powder puffs create nothing but powder puffs. the single coats are variable in expression.

Back when the mutation was new, the few dogs expressing the  Hh, mutation found a place in some locals’ hearts. Some lines were raised for food in Mexico, but they also had sacred duties, like accompanying the soul of its owner through the underworld to reach their Final Destination. Also because they were hairless, and liked to snuggle, they became hot water bottles to the old or injured. Legends that still live today were built up around them.

Most people do not ever think about what it was like in Mexico 4,000 years ago. It seems to have been a prosperous time with many cultivated foods but still enough room to hunt. It was quite civilized, although warfare was fairly ongoing. Men had dogs. Dogs follow men. They can work cooperatively with men. Men of those days, usually had what would be called Rez Dogs today. tough, hardworking little dogs with short double coats and prick ears, though no one was bothered by dropped ears or any other variation on coat length or color that popped up. Dogs back then were about function first.

There is a also a dog gene, not limited to Mexico, that affects dog size, depending on which alleles meet in the zygote, so some alleles produce larger dogs than the parents, some produce smaller. The hunters like the standard size to larger sizes, but the tiny ones were also bred to each other, eventuating in a small landrace dogs looking very much like the big guys. By the time the Hh mutation arrived on FOXI3, there was already a range of dogs in Mexico with varying types of bone structure, coat length, tail carriage. there were no “breeds” or purebred dogs, but there were definite “types” . This is the very definition of landrace dogs. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landrace )
which fulfilled functions of the culture.

There was no Xolo breed for the Hh mutation to be born into, there were just the local dogs. Most of whom were small 12″ at the shoulder and had short hair. The small dog size was abidingly popular in the home and yard, as ancient artifacts suggest.  This Hh mutation could have been in a small dog, because there don’t seem to be many records of big dogs in Mexico until the conquest. However, once it happened, the Hh mutation can be transplanted into any other kind of dog. In this case, it was a short haired dog, because the “Hairy” xolo types had short hair and still do.

All you need is one hairless dog to produce more. There was a LOT of trade going on from coast to coast and far North to far south in Mexico in those days. The foot trade from what is now the US to Mexico City was well worn. The one going to South America was also heavily used. It is apparent to me, that some people wanted that hairless gene and got it in a stud dog or perhaps several. When they got home, they mingled it into their own landrace dogs. That is why the PIO and the Xolo pure breeds look a bit different from each other. I also dare say, knowing human nature, that some inbreeding of holders of the Hh was used to increase the population and the chances of getting the Hh type. However an Hh dog bred to any other dog will, by the law of averages, produce some pups with the Hh gene and some with the hh which means they have hair. The Hh gene is always dominant, so it is easy to breed for the gene.

A layman’s Quick Look at the FOXI3 Gene and its Mutation Causing Pattern Baldness in Dogs. part 2

Part Two: Common Phenotypes of the FOXI3 Hh combination.

I find the old books with pictures of the Xolo or alternatively, the Chinese Crested in which they look alike, to be fascinating. They lead me to speculate about their interconnections. They also had a wide range of hairiness on the Hh gene that is now ignored by all of the hairless AKC breed standards, which aspire to the ideal type. Nowadays you don’t see pictures of the Hh dogs in all their variations. If you see them at all, they are trimmed to resemble the Breed Club Standard’s ideal. When bred, these dogs too, express all kinds of Hh phenotypes including the ideal balance of pattern-baldness with enhanced hair, compared to the Xolo Phenotype, which just has wisps.

Cursory research into Chinese Cresteds has indicated that that there are at least 4 common coat phenotypes in those with the Hh gene. They start with the ones covered all over with a single coat. The second general phenotype is a pattern of baldness in some variation of an “H” pattern of hair on the otherwise naked body. This phenotype is the least favored one for looks. The third phenotype is the favored pattern of baldness in the Chinese Crested, a hairless body with a nice crest and sox and plumed tail tip. The fourth phenotype is the xolo baldness pattern- naked except for sparse hair on the head feet and tail tip.

There still appears to be a mystery about the range of expression of the Hh gene. there is a continuum from completely covered Hairy Hairless (HHL) to skimpy patches on the head, feet tail as preferred in the Xolo. The common phenotypes could be a series of alleles or another factor on the H part.  Each Hh pup gets these factors/alleles, which together, choose the degree and pattern of hairlessness.  A very easy to understand article on how alleles work here: http://www.hobart.k12.in.us/jkousen/Biology/multalle.htm

In the absence of formal knowledge on the increasing pattern baldness from scientists, I want to poke around with different ideas.  If I am wrong about something, I guess I’ll find out sooner or later and add to my knowledge.