AKC Breeder of Merit Stephanie Mazzarella has had Xoloitzcuintlis for 30 years. She and her husband live on seven acres outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and have a home in Florida as well. She has produced many AKC and international champions and trained Xolos as service dogs. Many Amoroso Xolos are also serving as therapy and emotional support dogs. She also has raised many “champions of the heart,” who enrich the lives of families every day.
AKC: How did you get started in breeding dogs?
Stephanie: I did not grow up with dogs because I suffered from severe allergies. I was allergic to all dogs with hair, including the hypoallergenic ones. After 14 years of allergy injections, I was told by my allergist that I would NEVER be able to have a dog, unless I could find one without hair.
I remember the day I stumbled across an article about the Xoloitzcuintli. I made countless phone calls before I was able to find a breeder. After a 2 ½ year wait, I received the call that my puppy was born. I was worried – “What if I’m still allergic?” The worry quickly turned to joy as I held my hairless Xolo puppy in my arms. I wasn’t sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or reaching for my rescue inhaler. My eyes were not burning and itching, and there were no hives.
I am happy to say that after 30 years, I have never had an allergic reaction to my hairless Xolos. I feel so blessed to have found the Xoloitzcuintli. They have added joy and love to my life, and I want to share that same joy with other allergy sufferers.
AKC: What is the most important thing to know about the Xoloitzcuintli?
Stephanie: Xolos come in three sizes: Toy, Miniature, and Standard. They also come in two varieties: with hair and hairless.
They are loving and loyal to their family. They are naturally leery of strangers. Starting at an early age and continuing all their life, the Xolo needs to be socialized with people outside of their immediate family and with non-aggressive dogs.
Xolos are a very smart breed. They can be stubborn and without training may try to assert themselves. I recommend that all Xolos go through obedience training, and that the standard-sized Xolo go through advanced obedience training.
AKC: How has AKC Marketplace helped you find puppy buyers?
Stephanie: People can research the breeds of dogs they are interested in and then find a breeder. They can read about each listed breeder and then contact them through AKC Marketplace messenger. I have met many wonderful people through AKC Marketplace.
AKC: What is your favorite question to ask of potential puppy buyers?
Stephanie: Are you willing to socialize your dog with people and dogs who are not part of your immediate family? I cannot stress this enough. Socialization can include daily walks, going to outdoor cafes, and shopping trips to stores that allow dogs. I highly recommend doggy daycare a few times a week. This provides the Xolo with human and canine interactions in a safe and controlled environment.
AKC: What are the main qualities you look for in potential owners?
Stephanie: I ask questions to gain an understanding of their household and their energy levels. I ask all potential owners to list the most important aspects they are looking for in a Xolo. I use this to help me evaluate the personality of the Xolo puppy to match with a potential owner. For some it is a jogging partner and for others a potential service, therapy or emotional support dog. Some are looking for a show hopeful while others want a puppy that will be playful with their children. I believe Xolos have personalities more like people; some are more loving, while others are more aloof. Some are born athletes while others are more like couch potatoes. I believe it is important for a breeder to try to place the right dog in the right forever home, where they will be loved, trained and taken care of all their life.
AKC: What is the best advice you would give to novice breeders?
Stephanie: Know your breed standard. Never allow yourself to become kennel blind. Get help from other experienced breeders or handlers in evaluating your dogs. After all these years, I still have a handler help me evaluate potential show puppies. I enjoy getting her opinion as we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a particular puppy and the different bloodlines behind that puppy. Once you understand the weaknesses of your kennel, always work to improve your bloodlines. Do genetic testing on the dogs you intend to breed.
AKC: Do your dogs participate in AKC sports?
Stephanie: My Xolos compete in conformation shows. They have earned many titles, both AKC and internationally. Xolos are very good at scent training and one of mine has earned his AKC Masters in Scent and Container Work. His owner Lynn Pettengill is an amazing trainer. I am in the process of obtaining lure course equipment so I can start training Xolos for the AKC coursing competitions.
AKC: What do you like best about breeding dogs?
Stephanie: I am constantly working to improve my bloodlines. It brings me great joy to have that work validated when judges comment on and acknowledge the quality of my Xolos.
My greatest love is seeing the joy that comes into the lives of people who thought they could never own a dog because of their allergies to dogs with hair. I enjoy seeing photos of my dogs with their new families, especially with children. I love seeing my dogs working as service, therapy or emotional support dogs.
AKC: Do you have a favorite breeding story?
Stephanie: For me it is not about the breeding as much as it is about the stories of the new owners. I have two very special experiences to share:
The first story – The mom of a non-verbal autistic child called me. She told me of her daughter’s condition and the allergies which had prevented her from having a dog. I told the mom, if she would be patient, I would find the right hairless Xolo for her. It took a little while, but the right puppy was born. Since the arrival of the puppy, the mother has reported that her daughter is verbal and doing much better with social interactions.
The second story – A lovely couple came to my home to interact with my Xolos. She was allergic to all dogs with hair. She wanted to determine if she was allergic to hairless Xolos as well. She sat on my kitchen floor snuggling my Xolos. After an hour she burst into tears and proclaimed, ‘I’m finally getting my first dog.’ She was 62 years old. I watched as her husband fell to his knees and embraced his wife, both crying tears of joy.
There are many life stories that my Xolos have been part of and that I have had the pleasure to witness.