This is the legend of the Xoloitzcuintle, the Aztec dog

The Xoloitzcuintle is an example of tradition and love for our best friends: dogs.

This is the legend of the Xoloitzcuintle, the Aztec dog
How the legend of the Xoloitzcuintle, the Aztec dog, is told. Image: SIAP

This particular breed of dog has been venerated since pre-Hispanic times, as it was believed that these beautiful animals were guardians of the spirits, who guided the souls of the deceased through the long and difficult road to Mictlan, the city of the dead.

The most important function that the Xoloitzcuintles were believed to fulfill was to help the souls pass through a deep and plentiful river that crosses the land of the dead. If the person in life had treated the animals badly, especially the dogs, the Xolo would refuse to help them pass, so they would perish and would not be able to pass.

However, if the person had treated the dogs well while alive, the Xolo would gladly take the soul, place it on its back and carry it safely to the other side. The Xoloitzcuintles were not only valued in the spiritual world, but also when they were alive, as they were associated with Xolotl, the god of death, with whom they should be kind if they wanted to enjoy a grateful death without suffering.

The legend of the Xolo tells that if it is black, it will not be able to take the souls to the other side of the river, because its color indicates that it has already submerged in the river and has already guided enough souls to their destiny. Likewise, if the Xolo is white or very light-colored, it will not be able to cross the river either, because that means that it is very young and has not yet reached the maturity to do so.

Only when they are of a mottled gray color, (which is usual for them) they will be able to carry out this important task. In this way, we can see how our ancestors have inherited through culture and tradition, the love and respect for these beautiful animals that have become part of our lives, and that accompany and guide us both in life and death.