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The Xoloitzcuintli is the dog of the day of the dead, but what makes this breed so relevant to this ancient holiday?

Firstly, it helps to gain a deeper understanding about what this holiday is all about, and then the next step is to learn more about this dog breed and its ancient history.

Let's therefore discover how the Xolo gained his nickname as "the dog of the day of the dead."

What is the Day of the Dead?

The day of the dead, also known as Día de los Muertos, is an ancient holiday of Mexico.

This holiday falls on 1st and 2nd of November. 

Its purpose is to mourn the loss of relatives and friends, and ensure that they’re never forgotten.

More specifically, November 1st is dedicated to the souls of the children, while November 2nd is for the adults. 

Altar for the day of the dead

Altar for the day of the dead

How is the Day of the Dead Celebrated?

During this holiday, families create altars for their loved ones who have passed to the spirit world. 

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These altars are embellished in many ways and are known to include a photo of the deceased, their favorite foods, drinks, candles, cards and flowers.

Other traditions include preparing special cookies shaped like a skull and known as calaveras “little skulls." 

These skulls represent the deceased and death. Indeed, they usually sport a name on the forehead to represent a deceased person once placed at an altar.

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The Role of the Xoloitzcuintli

The Xoloitzcuintli, often referred to as "Xolo" or the Mexican hairless dog, is one of the most ancient dog breeds. 

This breed is said to date back 3,500 years. 

Legend has it that the dog god Xólotl created the Xolo for the purpose of guiding souls to the afterlife. 

Because of their role as spiritual escorts, the Nahua and Maya used to include them in their burials.

Evan as today, some folks will include a clay or ceramic figure of a Xolo on their altars on the day of the dead. 

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