What you need to know about the xoloitzcuintle, the dog from the new Pixar movie

“Coco”, the new Pixar film, is quite a phenomenon in Mexico, but although it is partly so because it is set on his holiday, Day of the Dead, it seems that it will be a global sensation when it is released in the rest of the world. The story of Miguel, a boy whose love for music takes him to another world, where he will meet his deceased family, has elements of Mexican culture that many can identify, including the dog that steals much of the film. .

Dante is the xoloitzcuintle that accompanies Miguel to the land of the dead and the first sign that he would do it (without spoilers) is his name. Dante is a reference to the Italian writer Dante Alighieri, author of “The Divine Comedy” that begins with the author’s descent into hell accompanied by the poet Virgil.

The xoloitzcuintle and the Mexican tradition

The xoloitzcuintle breed was chosen for the film, not only because it is endemic to Mexico, but also because its history is attached to the Mexican tradition, who considered them inseparable companions, both in life and in death. It is said that Xolotl, god of transformation, created this dog from a splinter of the bone of life.

His mission on earth was to accompany man and guide him on his way to the other world, so when his owner died, the dog was sacrificed and buried with his master.

The xoloitzcuintle was born when pre-Hispanic tribes arrived in central Mexico accompanied by dogs. There were three species that lived among these peoples: the itzcuintli, the xoloitzcuintle and the tlalchihi. During the conquest it was discovered that the dogs also served as food, so the clergy prohibited consumption and poisoned the dogs they found. This caused an exile from central Mexico to the coast, where only the xoloitzcuintle survived.

Until 1950 it was believed that the dog had been extinct during the colony, but the British ambassador in Mexico, Norma P. Wright, decided to go out in search of the animal and for two years traveled the country until he found it on the coasts of Guerrero and Oaxaca. She quickly took specimens to the UNAM Veterinary Faculty where it was kept and began to reproduce.

In recent years, with an awakening to Mexican and Mexica traditions and culture, the xolo has become a dog of luxury and respect. Due to the fact that most of these dogs do not have hair (although there are specimens that do) it is very expensive to take care of it, since it needs special attention such as creams and a lot of shade; For things like that you will never see a street xolo.

Dante is an essential character in the movie “Coco”, he represents much more than the lovable sidekick and in fact the xolo is a national pride. He was even declared a cultural heritage and symbol of Mexico City in 2016.