The Peruvian Hairless dog is one of several hairless dog breeds. They go by many names, some of which include the Peruvian Inca Orchid, Inca Hairless Dog, Viringo, Perro Sin Pelo de Perú and Moonflower Dog. Their appearance ranges from being beautifully mysterious and statuesque to being a silly hairless dog with a mohawk.
THEY COME IN THREE SIZES
The Peruvian Hairless Dog size varies and can be placed into three categories; small (toy), medium (miniature) and large (standard). The Peruvian Hairless Dog height varies with each category. Small or toy Peruvian Hairless Dogs have a height between 9.75 and 15.75 inches and a weight between 8.5 and 17.5 pounds. The medium or miniature version has a height between 15.75 and 19.75 inches and a weight between 17.5 and 26.5 pounds. Finally, the large or standard version of the Peruvian Hairless Dog has a height between 19.75 and 25.75 inches and a weight between 26.5 and 55 pounds.
AVERAGE OR ABOVE AVERAGE LIFE EXPECTANCY
The Peruvian Hairless Dog life span is between 12 and 14 years. This is a pretty average, or slightly above average, life expectancy. For example, the Great Dane has a life span between 7 and 10 years old while the Jack Russell Terrier has a life expectancy of 16 years old.
THEY ARE SIGHTHOUNDS
(Peruvian Hairless Dog on left, Italian Greyhound on right)
The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a breed of sighthound. Like all sighthounds, they use their vision and speed to hunt and have a fairly high prey drive. They do not rely on scents as scent hounds do. To give you an idea, examples of other sighthounds are greyhounds, deerhounds, and whippets. You can see the similarity in the Italian Greyhound and Peruvian Hairless Dog pictures above.
THEY AREN’T ALWAYS COMPLETELY BALD
Peruvian Hairless dogs are hairless on the majority of their bodies. Most of them though, have patches of fur. These patches of fur are almost always localized to the top of the head, paws, and tail, just like the Chinese Crested Dog. Some Peruvian Hairless dogs are completely hairless everywhere, but just as many, if not more, do have some short thin hair somewhere.
CAN BE HAIRLESS OR COATED
Oddly, some Peruvian Hairless dogs are actually born with a coat of hair. Although they are still the same breed as the more common hairless version of the Peruvian Hairless dog, they can be born with a complete full coat with short coarse fur. These dogs can even be born in the same litter as dogs who are completely hairless! The Peruvian Hairless Dog photo Above shows both the hairless and coated version of the Peruvian Hairless Dog.
THEY CAN COME IN ALL COLORS
The American Kennel Club accepts all colors in the Peruvian Hairless dog. Some colors they come in include black, gray, brindle, lilac, tan, rose, and white. They are usually born one solid color, black or pink. As they grow into maturity, they often develop spots of all different shapes and sizes which are easily visible because of their hairlessness. Marking types include both sable and spotted.
THEY ARE ANCIENT
The Peruvian Hairless Dog breed first appeared in Moche pottery in 750 A.D. and surely existed since before that. As the names suggest, the Peruvian Hairless Dog was first bred in Peru and the similar Mexican Hairless Dog was first bred in Mexico. Both were well documented through the pottery and textiles of ancient civilizations. The Peruvian Hairless Dog has been depicted in pottery and textiles from Chimu, Moche, Chancay, Vicús, and Inca.
These ancient civilizations believed that the Peruvian Hairless Dog had magical healing powers. The heat that radiates from these cute dogs was believed to be able to treat arthritis and respiratory problems. On a grosser note, it is thought that some ancient cultures believed Peruvian Hairless Dog’s urine and feces had medicinal properties and were consumed.
9.KEPT BY ROYALTY
Royalty in the ancient Incan society praised the hairless version of the Peruvian Hairless dogs and often kept them as pets, much like how pugs were treated in China. Their elegant appearance and healing abilities made the Peruvian Hairless Dog breed ideal for the most powerful of Incans.
HUNTING AND MESSENGER DOGS
Where the hairless version of the Peruvian Hairless Dog was kept as pets by royalty, the Peruvian Hairless dog with hair was left to do the grunt work; delivering messages and hunting. This is okay though, because they are good at performing such tasks and enjoy doing it. Their speed and endurance allowed them to travel long distances between Incan villages with messages attached.
TO THE USA
The Peruvian Hairless Dog came to the United States of America with a man named Jack Walklin. In 1966, he visited Peru and when he returned to the USA, he brought with him eight Peruvian Hairless Dogs. He may have been the first person to establish the name “Peruvian Inca Orchid”. From this point forward, Peruvian Hairless Dogs were established in the United States and Europe using this name.
In 2001, the Peruvian Hairless Dog became protected in Peru after it was declared a National Patrimony. National Patrimony is a collection of all of the wealth and reserves of a nation’s economy, and this includes non-monetary wealth and reserves. The Peruvian Hairless Dog is an important part of heritage for the people of Peru.
THEY NEED EXERCISE
If you want a happy and healthy Peruvian Hairless, you will need to make sure they get to blow off some steam. Both physical and mental exercise is recommended. Playing chase is a good physical activity (even if it is just chasing a rolled ball) and learning new tricks is a good mental activity.
TWO TYPES OF EARS
The jobs and lifestyles Peruvian Hairless dogs would have had over a thousand years ago isn’t the only difference found between hairless and coated Peruvian Hairless Dogs. Hairless Peruvian Dogs without fur have ears that point straight up in an almost bat-like fashion. Coated Peruvian Hairless Dogs have ears that often flop down because of the additional weight on their ears from their fur.
CAN DO DOG SPORTS
(Dogs participating in lure coursing)
A lot of fun can be had doing dog sports with the Peruvian Hairless Dog. They are particularly good at lure coursing, rally, and agility. Lure coursing is where the Peruvian Hairless Dog can use their sight hound instincts and chase a white plastic lure around a large course, with the lure simulating a prey animal. Rally is a test of obedience and a team sport between the dog and their handler. The handler and dog go around a course with numbered signs with different “tricks” for the dog to perform. Agility is performed at an obstacle course and the dog is judged based on how long it takes them to complete the course and their accuracy. Each of these sports the handler and dog can join competitions for.
THEY ARE FAST AND STRONG
To be able to compete in the above dog sports their speed and strength necessary. They have a lean muscular body allowing them to move quickly and catch prey outright. Using these natural abilities, they are able to be formable opponents.
THEY ARE A PRIMITIVE BREED
The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a primitive breed. Primitive dog breeds are generally ancient isolated pariah breeds. Typically, the Peruvian Hairless Dog personality is that of a docile sighthound. Rarely, because of them being a primitive and ancient dog breed, they can develop a more feral temperament.
GOOD WATCH DOGS
Although each individual will be different, they are reserved with strangers. They are not overly eager to please anyone except their owners. Luckily, they are generally not excessively wary or strangers either. This nice middle ground means they are less likely to try to pull to the other side of the road where there is a new person, but they also won’t be terrified when you have a guest over. This being said, they will alert you to anyone trying to come near your home, as they are very loyal and pay a lot of attention to their surroundings.
SUPERVISE YOUNG CHILDREN
If you are thinking about Peruvian Hairless Dog adoption, you need to be ready to supervise any young children that may be around the new family addition. The Peruvian Hairless Dog loves their family, but they may not be as tolerant to tail and ear pulling of a toddler or someone thinking riding them is the new best idea. Because of this, you must watch young children with Peruvian Hairless Dog and watch out for any demeanor changes showing that the dog is becoming uncomfortable.
WATCH OUT FOR SMALL ANIMALS
You also need to pay a lot of attention to your Peruvian Hairless when they are around small animals, such as hamsters, rats, and birds. They may chase wild animals in the yard, so it is advisable that they are taught a strong recall and “leave it” command. Since they are sight hounds, it is in their nature to chase and catch prey. They don’t know the difference until it is taught to them. Lure coursing may help get out some of that desire to chase though!
THEY NEED EARLY SOCIALIZATION
Much of the last two points can be avoided with enough socialization. It is imperative with this breed that you expose your Peruvian Hairless Dog puppy to all different environments and stimulus in increments. This can include dog parks, busy sidewalks, different houses, invite people to the house who wear uniforms, and going to stores that allow dogs. A lot of pet stores allow you to bring your dog inside and this is a good opportunity for your puppy to get used to different people and animal types. Make sure to have your Peruvian Hairless appropriately secured for safety purposes.
THEY ARE SMART
During socialization and beyond, you will want to teach your Peruvian Hairless tricks and train different commands. Luckily, they have a fantastic memory and intelligence. This makes training both easier and harder; easier because they are very capable and harder because with intelligence comes stubbornness.
GOOD FAMILY DOG
The Peruvian Hairless Dog makes for a good family dog. Even though they need supervision with young children, they still want attention from everyone and are not a “one person dog”, even if they prefer the family member they spend the most time with. They are happy to be with anyone in their family. They are loyal and affectionate. Occasionally, some Peruvian Hairless Dog individuals can become protective of their family, especially the women and children but that can be prevented with early socialization.
THEY PLAY, A LOT
The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a very energetic and lively dog. They may play a little rough, jumping around and being reckless. They are often silly and ram around the playing area with anyone who is willing to play with them. This is another reason to supervise young children with this breed. The Peruvian Hairless Dog will be more than happy to play, but they may knock down the little one in their playing frenzy.
THEY AREN’T PICKY EATERS
Any type of high-quality commercial dog food should be good enough for your Peruvian Harless. You could also prepare dog food from home. If you decide to do this, contact your veterinarian for their advice on what foods are best to include. All age groups do well on commercial dog food including puppies, adults, and seniors. Like many breeds, the Peruvian Hairless may overeat and become obese. If you notice that your Peruvian Hairless is starting to get a little chunky, you may want to speak to your vet and develop a plan to get them back to a healthy weight. Just like humans, being obese can carry many health risks. Don’t only think about how much food you are feeding them, but also how many treats you are giving!
GROOMING IS DIFFERENT
Since Peruvian Hairless are, you guessed it, hairless, they do not require the same grooming as other dog breeds. There is no reason that they must be regularly brushed or go and get a professional haircut. Instead, you must protect their delicate skin from the sun with sunscreen. The Incans would not bring these dogs outside during the day and is how they got the name “Moonflower Dog”. Of course, they still need to have their nails trimmed to avoid them getting too long or splitting and cracking. Their ears should also be checked sometimes. If their ears accumulate too much wax it can lead to ear infections just like other breeds and even people.
DON’T BARK EXCESSIVELY
The Peruvian Hairless Dog is not an excessive barker. They are general quiet and calm when inside of the house and not playing with someone. They are very vigilant though and pay attention to everything so rest assured that even though they are quiet, they will definitely let you know about an intruder.
POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT AND SHORT TRAINING SESSIONS NEEDED
Sensitive, smart, and independent are all descriptors of the Peruvian Hairless Dog and are relevant to training. They may become stubborn if you push them for too long and wonder why they have to do all these things you want them to over and over. Since they are sensitive, they may become very fearful and timid if negative reinforcement is used because they will be afraid you will react negatively if they make a mistake, even outside of training. Positive training and short lesson times of 30 minutes on a regular basis will result in a well trained and happy Peruvian Hairless Dog.
EASY TO HOUSEBREAK
House breaking is not difficult for the Peruvian Hairless Dog owner. They are not a breed of dog that often struggles with potty training. To get the absolute quickest results, crate training is recommended. Dogs do not like to go to the bathroom where they eat or sleep. If they eat and sleep in their crate, they are not likely to go to the bathroom there and it quickly teaches puppies how to “hold it”.
NO FLEAS OR DOGGY ODOR
Another great part of the hairless version of the Peruvian Hairless dog is that they do not get fleas and also do not emit that oh-so-familiar doggy odor. Your Peruvian Hairless Dog can get a bath and go for a swim with their webbed toes and not even get that wet dog smell!
THEY ARE RARE
The Peruvian Hairless dog is far from common, in fact, they’re quite rare. Once the Conquistadors came to Peru, they were interbred with foreign dog breeds which caused the loss of a good portion of the breed’s population. The remaining Peruvian Hairless Dogs then had to face extermination because of misconceptions. They were seen as being diseased and so killed. They have not recovered to their prior population size but are slowly gaining popularity. Outside of Peru, they are even more difficult to come across.
Do You Want One?
Before you go searching for a Peruvian Hairless Dog breeder, you should know that buying from breeders may do the breed more harm than good. Although Peruvian Hairless Dog breeders probably have the best intentions in mind, excessive close inbreeding has caused genetic disorders in pure bred dogs at a much higher rate than cross bred dogs. This is especially a problem with the Peruvian Hairless Dog because they are rare so the opportunity to breed unrelated dogs is unlikely for most breeders that you will find. Genetic disorders are often recessive, which means both parents have to have the gene for it to be expressed. If the breeding parents are related, they will both have the same recessive genes and whatever they cause will be expressed and make sick puppies. Studies show that at least 10 different inherited conditions are more likely in purebred dogs over mixed breeds. These include aortic stenosis, allergic dermatitis, gastric dilation volvulus, early onset cataracts, dilated cardiomyopathy, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, intravertebral disk disease and hepatic portosystemic shunt. Another problem with Peruvian Hairless Dog breeders USA or Peru, is that they often cull (kill) coated puppies because they can’t make as much money and they don’t want them to have the opportunity to breed.
These are beautiful, lively and mysterious dogs and we should be doing whatever we can to help them survive despite their dangerously low population. If you happen to see them in any of your local shelters, absolutely adopt them if you think they are the dog for you. You can also put in an application with the Peruvian Inca Orchid Rescue or find another Peruvian Hairless Dog rescue. Peruvian Hairless Dog cost may be a bit more than some other breeds of dogs, but it is totally worth it.
Sources for photos:
First photo: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/peruvian-inca-orchid/
Second photo is a combination of: https://www.europuppy.com//blog/the-naked-truth-about-hairless-dog-breeds/
Third photo: https://primitivedogs.com/peruvian-hairless-dog-characteristics/
Fourth Photo: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/peruvian-inca-orchid/
Fifth Photo: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/peruvian-inca-orchid/
Sixth Photo: https://xiomakennels.com/dogs3.asp
Seventh Photo: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/all-about-the-flag-of-peru.html
Eighth Photo: https://www.akc.org/sports/coursing/lure-coursing/
Ninth Photo: https://xiomakennels.com/dogs3.asp
Tenth Photo: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/peruvian-inca-orchid/
Eleventh Photo: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/peruvian-inca-orchid/
Twelveth Photo: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/peruvian-inca-orchid/
Thank you so much to AlexMcDonald for helping me put together this article~