That Mexican Hairless Dog From 'Coco' Is a Cool Breed, But That Doesn't Mean You Should Get One

Mexican_Hairless_Dog
A Xoloitzcuintle in Mexico City on January 14, 2007. Emotionally fragile, with delicate skin that burns easily and poor teeth that mean they prefer chewing carrots to bones, Xoloitzcuintles had nearly died out by the 1950s, when just a hundred or so were kept by Mexican artists and intellectuals. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo (MEXICO)

The Pixar film Coco has a charismatic, bald character: Dante, a Mexican hairless dog, or Xoloitzcuintli. This rare and ancient breed of dogs is integral to Aztec culture, but that doesn't mean you should run out and buy one.

When a popular movie or television show features a cute domesticated animal, viewers often want one as a pet. This phenomenon is sometimes called "the Dalmatian effect," a reference to the 1996 release of Disney's animated film 101 Dalmatians, which caused a surge in people buying the dog...and then dumping them at shelters.

Recently, fans of Game of Thrones thought they wanted pet wolves, so they bought huskies. Huskies are high-energy dogs bred to live in snowy environments, and aren't happy cooped up in the heat, the Telegraph reported. The number of people dropping off their huskies at shelters went from 10 to 81 last year in the U.K., according to the pet charity Blue Cross; GoT actor Peter Dinklage even had to ask fans to stop buying them.

Dogs aren't the only animal susceptible to this effect. After Disney released Finding Nemo in 2003, wild clownfish stocks became threatened as demand for the animals as pets soared.

Businesses were more proactive when the sequel, Finding Dory, came out in 2016. Petco warned prospective fish purchasers that blue tangs, Dory's species, were not recommended for casual aquarium owners.

Animal welfare advocates typically prefer that aspiring pet owners foster or adopt to reduce the number of homeless pets in shelters. For Coco lovers who are convinced that a Xolo is right for them, Petfinder.com currently lists 29 Mexican Hairless dogs or Xolo crossbreeds up for foster care or adoption on its website.

The Humane Society suggests that, in some cases, buying from a responsible breeder is acceptable, but only after you've checked shelters and rescue groups. But you're not likely to find responsibly-bred dogs at your local pet store.

"If you're talking about the responsible breeder, they have the breeds that they love, and they're not going to be responding to the trend of the moment," John Goodwin, of the Humane Society of the United States, told Newsweek. People who breed high volumes of puppies without proper care are much more likely to jump on any trend and sell their dogs to whoever will buy them, even if they end up dumping them at a shelter once the fad wears off, he explained.

Regardless of what dog breed you get or where it comes from,"people should get dogs that fit their lifestyle and that are a good fit for them and their personal situation," said Goodwin. "Avoid the trend of the moment, because that might not be the best dog for you."

For some, Mexican Hairless dogs might be ideal. The American Kennel Club describes the dogs as "loyal, alert, calm, trainable...wary of strangers." They could be good for someone who wants a dog for long walks, play and training, but not someone who might leave the dog alone for a long time.

As one of the world's oldest dogs, Xolos have an important history. They came from Asia thousands of years ago, and the Aztecs and Maya believed that Xolos could lead people to the afterlife. Mesoamerican art frequently features pointy-eared, wrinkly-skinned Xolos, showing just how important these animals were to the human experience.