Dante the dog is one of the stars of the Oscar-nominated animated movie Coco, but his roots, like the film’s, are in Mexico.
The pup of the Disney/Pixar flick was modeled after Mexico’s national dog, the Xoloitzcuintli. Often called a Xolo, these hairless canines have a long history in the country that stretches all the way back to the times of the ancient Aztecs.
Serving as a canine companion for thousands of the years, these dogs have earned a special spot in the culture of the country.
“In ancient Aztec myth, when somebody died, they had to do on a journey towards a kind of ‘Land of the Dead’ called Mictlan, and it was impossible for somebody to navigate on their own. They need to have a Xolo dog with them,” Coco director Lee Unkrich explains in the clip above.
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The Xolo’s connection to both the living and the dead, and Mexico’s culture, made the breed the only choice for Dante’s character.
These canines are friends, protectors and legends, and soon they could be Oscar winners too.