Sophie Gamand has taken a direction with her photography that many would deem impossible. Using hairless dogs as her subjects, she has transformed these pups, that many, unfortunately, consider “ugly,” and turned them into wise, beautiful beings.
Chinese Crested dogs and the Mexican Hairless dog, or Xoloitzcuintli, are all featured in Gamand’s magnificent photos. Perfectly posing and lighting these naked beauties, she successfully completes her goal of capturing their personalities and charm. From just a glance at the photos, you can see that Xolos are more serious dogs, while the Chinese Crested, takes on a more goofy and sweet persona.
Despite being relatively well-known breeds, both of these hairless dogs have somewhat of an unknown lineage. It is thought that Xolos evolved into hairless animals naturally while Chinese Crested were bred to have that unique look. One thing is certain though; each individual dog is incredibly beautiful in their own way.
For the project, Gamand incorporated a number of hairless pups from rescue organizations that specialize in caring for these unique breeds. Bald is Beautiful and Bare Paws Rescue have these wonderful animals up for adoption if you are interested in having such a unique animal to be your best friend.
“With this series, I wanted to explore the unique beauty of hairless dogs who are often mocked or called ‘ugly’,” writes Gamand.
Chinese Crested dogs are incredibly loyal. Once one falls in love with you, they will be next to you every waking moment.
“I wanted to pierce the mystery surrounding them [hairless dogs],” says Gamand, “I had never even touched their skin before.”
“I soon realized that their beauty is an ‘old wise man’ kind of beauty.”
With this in mind, Gamand embraced their wisdom and photographed her models, “as if they were philosophers, shamans from a different era, maybe a different universe, prophets or mad scientists.”
The Chinese Crested breed is believed to have originated from the African Hairless Dog. After being traded by merchants and sailors, they made their way to China.
One of the oldest breeds of dog, the Xoloitzcuintli is regularly referred to as the, “first dog of the Americas“.
“At the center of my photographic exploration is the idea that dogs have been engineered by men,” says Gamand.
“Through artificial selection, for the past millennia, they have been selected, manipulated genetically, breeds have been created, shaped and trained to fulfill our needs.”
We can see man’s mark on a number of different dog breeds, from the squishy faces of Pugs and Bulldogs, to the massive size of Great Danes and Mastiffs.
In their native home of Mexico and Central America, Xolos were considered popular “doctor dogs.” The heat given off by their body was comforting to people with arthritis and other medical issues.
Though these dogs may have evolved to be hairless on their own, but we have continued to breed them for this look.
“In a way, dogs are the first example – and most striking one – of Man acting like a god towards Nature,” says Gamand.
Though there continue to be dogs like these, bred for looks, there are many needy dogs in shelters looking for homes.
All image source: Sophie Gamand