Peruvian Hairless Dog Breed Info And Characteristics

The Peruvian Hairless Dog (Perro Sin Pelo de Perú, Perro Peruano, Inca Hairless Dog, Viringo Dog) or Peruvian Inca Orchid (although this is considered a separate breed by the AKC since it was created from a few dogs brought from Peru) is an ancient breed of Sighthound originating from, as its name suggests, Peru. Although it is considered an Incan Dog, the breed was in existence long before the Inca Empire. The evidence for that can be found in the pottery from the Moche, Chimú, Chancay, and Vicús, pre-Inca cultures from the coastal regions of Peru, in the form of ceramic hairless dog figurines as well as ceramic vessels with depictions of hairless dogs from around 750 A.D. However, scientists believe that the Peruvian Hairless Dog breed is much older (at least 3.000 years old), but they are still unsure how these dogs ended up in Peru in the first place. There are actually three theories about that. According to the first theory, Inca Hairless Dogs are descendants of Mexican Hairless Dogs, which were imported to Peru by Ecuadorian sea-traders. The second one says that they descended from dogs which had arrived in America through the Bering Strait crossing with the migrating tribes from East Asia. The third theory suggests that Viringo Dogs actually descended from African Pariah dogs (Mediterranean hounds in particular), which were brought to South America either by Asians, North Africans or Polynesians.

It’s hard to guess which one, if any, of these theories is correct, but there’s no denying that the Peruvian Hairless Dog shares many similarities with Pariah dogs from Africa and South Asia. The breed was first introduced to the wider world in the early 1500s, when Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru during the conquest of the Inca Empire. These dogs could have been found in the houses of Inca nobility, where they were kept with highest esteem surrounded by orchids and treasures (unlike the pre-Inca tribes, which bred them primarily for consumption – the Inca have forbidden this tradition once they conquered their coastal lands). That’s why Spanish called them Perros Flora (Flower Dogs), which was later changed to the Peruvian Inca Orchid. The Incan rulers kept these hairless dogs as pets or bed warmers, while coated dogs (yes, there was – and still is – a coated variety of the PIO) were used as hunting dogs and messengers. Unfortunately, conquistadors didn’t treat these dogs nicely and they almost caused their extinction. But the breed somehow survived this period of time, thanks to the people from distant rural areas, who kept these dogs as mystical healers. Today, the breed is still very rare, but at least it’s gaining more and more admirers around the world. The Peruvian Hairless Dog is recognized by the FCI on a definitive basis back in 1981, and today is included in the group 6: Primitive Types in the class of primitive dogs.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Personality And Temprament

Only hairless Calato dogs are allowed for conformation.

Yeah, I’m allowed for conformation :)

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is one of two hairless primitive dog breeds recognized by the FCI – another one being the Mexican Hairless Dog (Xoloitzcuintli), with whom it shares many similarities. And just like its Mexican counterpart, the Peruvian Inca Orchid comes in three varietiesSmall/Miniature (Pequeno), Medium (Medio) and Large (Grande). All three varieties are almost identical in appearance and temperament, size being the only difference. Of course, there are some minor differences, which I’ll go through later in the article. The Calato (a word for ‘Naked’ in Quechuan language), as they call PHD in Peru, is an intelligent, lively and devoted dog that makes an excellent family companion. Indeed, he is very loyal and affectionate to all family members and will always look to spend as much time as possible in their company. Surrounded by his loved ones, Peruvian Hairless Dog will usually be very cheerful and playful, but also gentle and dear, depending on the situation. Although PIO is not considered a one person dog, he still might be a little more inclined towards a single member of his family, the one who spends most time with him.

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is really an outstanding playmate with the children, especially if they are raised together. This is actually a very cheerful and hilarious dog by nature, who will gladly play and run around with kids at any given time. Even children from neighborhood won’t have any trouble with this dog and will always be welcomed wholeheartedly on the playground. However, there are two things you, as an owner, should take notice of when it comes to kids. First of all, you have to know that a Peruvian Hairless Dog can sometimes be protective of his family, especially of women and children. This, in general, doesn’t have to mean anything in this case, but we all know that children can easily push rough play too far. So, if your Inca Hairless Dog finds your child being threatened by someone (another child), he might try to protect it by nipping or even biting. Another thing you have to know is that this dog can sometimes be really wild, wacky, jumpy, and reckless during play. In other words, he can sometimes run and jump around like crazy, which can be dangerous for toddlers and small children in particular. So, it would be wise that you supervise them while playing just in case.

Yeah, in the end, I’m sure your kids will have a lot of fun with your Peruvian Hairless Dog, but what about strangers? To clear some things straight away, this dog is usually not aggressive, neither is he overly protective, so you won’t have to worry he will mutilate someone. But still, this doesn’t mean everybody will be greeted nicely at your property. The Peruvian Inca Orchid truly is an excellent watchdog. He is very alert all the time and will definitely notice if there’s anything suspicious going on around your home. If he spots something strange, he will alarm you with loud bark. Luckily, PHD is not prone to obsessive barking, but is rather calm and quiet. However, you can rest assured strangers won’t be able to sneak at your property unannounced. Indeed, the Viringo Dog is usually wary, reserved, suspicious, and cautious with strangers, to the point he won’t befriend thus easily with any one of them. I have to say here that this is a very sensitive dog that can become timid and fearful if mistreated in the puppyhood. That’s why it is very important that you socialize your dog extensively not only with different people of all ages, but with other pets, different sounds, situations, etc.

The Peruvian Hairless Dog usually goes along nicely with other dogs. In fact, this dog will likely enjoy every moment spent in dog parks. He is not aggressive, neither dominant, but rather lively and very friendly in the company of unknown dogs. Of course, there is always a possibility your dog will pick a fight with another one of the same sex, but such scenarios can easily be prevented with proper socialization. The other, and even more successful, way to deal with this is to raise your Peruvian Inca Orchid with another dog. The same methods can also work well when it comes to other pets. Contrary to his relatively nice relationship with other dogs, this dog can be a real nuisance to other smaller pets, such as cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. Even though he is not that fierce and dangerous as some hunting dogs, the Peruvian Hairless Dog possesses a natural prey drive like other canine species, and will instinctively chase small animals at sight. Luckily, this can easily be corrected on a permanent basis with aforementioned methods. The good thing is, once your Inca Hairless Dog gets used to your other pets, he’ll never treat them as prey again. Lovely!

Coated and hairless Peruvian Inca Orchids are often born in the same litter.

Hairless and coated Peruvian Inca Orchid

Peruvian Inca Dog Training

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is an extremely intelligent dog with good memory that can easily learn and remember even the most demanding commands. Yet, despite that, he is not recommended for the first time dog owners. Why? Well, this is a type of sensitive and cautious dog that demands understanding and careful, thoughtful approach to get motivated for the training. An owner of this dog should know how to balance between the firm and dominant attitude of a natural leader and gentle, almost relaxing handling of a dog. This, however, can prove quite difficult for some novice owners. There are few things you should keep in mind while training a Peruvian Hairless Dog. Always keep his training sessions short (30 min), but consistent and regular. Lessons should generally be fun and interesting. New and more complicated commands should be gradually brought to the table. During training, you should always be kind, calm and relaxed, avoiding any harsh or rude methods since they can bare serious consequences on the dog’s mental health. The bullied Viringo Dog can easily become shy and timid. That’s why positive reinforcement techniques are recommended with this dog. So, make sure you praise and reward your dog with tasty treats every once in a while.

Other Characteristics And Traits Of The Perro Peruano

Main Peruvian Hairless Dog characteristics are high intelligence, loyalty, agility, speed, playfulness, cheerfulness, alertness, independence, elegance, gentle nature, and emotional sensitivity. Just like I wrote above, this dog is very sensitive both mentally and physically, and because of that he demands a lot of attention and care. With that being said, it is perfectly clear that the Peruvian Inca Orchid is an ideal indoor pet. He is very clean and relatively easy to housebreak (crate training is recommended), has no doggy odor, can’t get fleas, and doesn’t shed. Of course, we are speaking only about hairless type, the coated one is another story. On top of that, this dog thrives on human attention and will always look to be around his family members as often as he can. So, as you can see, the Peruvian Hairless Dog is quite suitable for keeping indoors. In fact, it is recommended that you keep your PIO inside your home during sunny days because of its highly sensitive skin. Back in time, Inca also held hairless dogs in their homes during the day to protect them from sunburn and humid conditions. They were only allowed to go out at night and that’s why the breed is also known under the name Moonflower Dog.

Some of hairless Viringo Dogs can still have hair in the form of small patch on top of the head (mohawk or just a fuzz) as well as fluffs of hair on lower tail and feet.

Punk’s not dead :)

In fact, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is often more active during the night, which is something every owner of this dog should be aware of. That’s why it is recommended that you take your dog out only in the evening or early in the morning. If you have a yard, you should let your dog out mostly during the night or for a short period of time during the day. Of course, the well shaded courtyard would be even better, since you wouldn’t have to worry about your Calato being sunburned. However, I am sure some of you would be more than eager to show your dog to wider “daily” audience (some of us just like to strut around with something), especially as unique as this one. Well, if you are one of these, you have to know that in order to take your Peruvian Hairless Dog out during sunny days, you should definitely look to apply appropriate sunscreen to his skin. Also, if you live in an area with cold climate, make sure you dress your dog nicely and warm to protect him from freeze. Cold, windy weather can as well dry the Viringo Dog‘s skin, which is why you will often have to apply some moisturizing cream as well. In any case, you should keep your PHD indoors as much as possible, so make sure to prepare some cozy and comfy place for him inside.

However, in order to your Inca Hairless Dog stay calm and well-mannered while indoors, you should have to exercise him at least once a day. This is an agile and swift dog that is moderately active. As such, he requires a fair amount of daily exercise to stay healthy in every way. Half an hour walk, jog or hike in the evening or in the morning will be just enough, but it is advisable that you also play some games with your PIO, such as find the treat, play with toys, fetch game, etc. The Peruvian Hairless Dog is an intelligent and bright dog, who will definitely enjoy every activity that can challenge him mentally. So, games are truly a good way to keep him interested and occupied for long. However, always look to change a certain type of game after a while because this dog can easily become bored with a single game. Anyhow, the most important thing is that you never skip to exercise your dog – which way you’ll do it – it’s up to you. Remember, once properly exercised, the Peruvian Hairless Dog can be a real couch potato, calm and cuddly. Otherwise, you will get a bored dog ready to destroy things around your house. Also, a well trained and exercised dog can successfully compete in the agility trials, lure coursing, rally obedience, etc.

Moonflower Dog Health

The usual life expectancy of a Peruvian Hairless Dog is around 11-12 years. Unfortunately, this certainly isn’t one of the healthiest breeds out there. This is particularly true for hairless dogs. They are, first and foremost, susceptible to various skin issues, such as allergies, acne, lesions, irritations. On top of that, their skin is very thin and prone to injuriesabrasions, bruises, cuts. That’s why it is mandatory that you dedicate a lot of attention to your dog’s skin care. You should bathe your Peruvian Inca Orchid with appropriate shampoo at least once a week to keep his skin clean and fresh. Also, regularly apply some moisturizing cream to his skin, so that it can stay soft and elastic. Like I said earlier, sunscreen should always be applied if you take your dog out during warm sunny days. Hairless dogs normally lack molars and premolars (though it doesn’t affect chewing), which is caused by the gene responsible for hairlessness. They are as well very sensitive to toxins (insecticides) because of the low body fat and lack of hair. You should protect your dog from these substances anyway you can since they can seriously damage the dog’s liver, GI tract and nervous system. The coated PIOs, on the other hand, tend to be much healthier and easier to care for, but there are some common health problems for both varieties, such as epilepsy, IBD, seizures, stroke. These dogs are also prone to obesity, which is something you can definitely prevent by appropriate diet (two or three meals a day).

Inca Hairless Dog Physical Characteristics And Appearance

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is a slender and slim dog of square shape – the proportions of length and height at the withers are the same. Although these dogs come in three varieties based on their size and weight (small, medium and large), they are all identical in appearance and have similar physical characteristics. All three varieties of PHDs can be born hairless or coated, with both types possible in the single litter. Coated dogs, which are btw. probably identical to the original Viringo Dogs before the actual mutation that caused hairlessness, are much rarer – only 25-30 percent of dogs were born coated. Although many hairless dogs are literally naked all over the body (covered only with smooth and thin skin), some of them can still have hair in the form of small patch on top of the head (mohawk or just a fuzz) as well as fluffs of hair on lower tail and feet. Coated dogs, on the other hand, can have short, medium or long (powderpuff) single coat. The hair can vary in texture from soft to rough. Hairless PIOs, of course, do not need brushing, but have other grooming requirements as written above. Coated dogs are much easier to maintain and will do nicely with weekly brushing only. The hairless Inca Orchid skin can be gray, chocolate-brown, spotted, tan, or reddish-orange. The color can be solid or in combination with pink spots and markings. The coated Inca Orchid hair can be black, brown, gray, tan, fawn, or white.

The Peruvian Hairless Dog has the elongated, wedge-shaped head with the tapering, pointed muzzle and broad skull. The nose is black in darker colored or spotted dogs, while in lighter colored dogs it is brown or flesh. The lips are wrinkled and relatively tight. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. Hairless dogs usually lack molars and premolars, while coated dogs have full dentition. The almond-shaped eyes have an intelligent expression and are nicely set apart. Their color can vary from dark-brown to yellow, depending on the skin (coat) color. Hairless dogs have pricked ears, while coated have semi-prick ears pointed forward or outward. The ears in the form of a candle flame are medium in size, and are usually carried folded back (like Dobby in Harry Potter). You should definitely pay special attention to your dog’s ears to prevent cracking as a consequence of drying. The neck is thick, strong and relatively long. The PIO has the well-defined, elegant and slim body. The chest is narrow and deep, with lightly sprung ribs. The stomach is well tucked up and the loins are muscled. The back is straight and strong. The pointed, moderate tail is usually carried low, slightly tucked in between the legs, towards the belly. When the dog is excited, it is carried atop the back in the form of a sickle. The forelegs are straight and lean. The hind legs are well-boned, muscular and powerful. Feet are large and rabbit-like, with hard pads and arched toes. The Peruvian Hairless Dog is definitely built for speed, which is more than evident with such physical characteristics.

Small Inca Hairless Dog is the smallest of three varieties and is often used as a bed warmer.

Small Peruvian Hairless Dog

Small Peruvian Inca Orchid Characteristics

The Small/Miniature (Pequeno) Peruvian Hairless Dog is obviously the smallest of three varieties. Unlike the Mexican Hairless Dog, it is impossible to precisely determine which one of the PIO varieties is the oldest (primary) – whether it is small, medium or large variety, or which one of them was affected the most by human factor. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that all of these hairless dogs have been often used as bed warmers from antiquity – the small Peruvian Inca Orchid probably the most of them because this dog is lightly built. You see, hairless dogs radiate warmth more than coated. They certainly do not have bigger body temperature than coated dogs, but the lack of hair (isolation) is actually the main reason they feel a lot warmer to touch. In other words, Peruvian Hairless Dog is an equivalent of a hotwater bottle when in your lap. As such, he can have soothing and healing effect on people suffering from arthritis, digestive problems or something similar. For this reason, people in Peru always believed that hairless Perro Sin Pelo de Perú possesses healing qualities, which is why these dogs were often prized and respected as mythical creatures. Apart from being bed warmers, Small Peruvians are also known as good family companions, watchdogs and pest exterminators.

Small Peruvian Hairless Dog Size And Weight

– Height between 12 and 16 inches (30-40 cm)
– Weight between 12 and 18 pounds (5-8 kg)
– Height between 10 and 14 inches (25-36 cm)
– Weight between 9 and 14 pounds (4-6 kg)

Medium Inca Hairless Dog is the most common of three varieties and is often used as a family companion and a watchdog.

Medium Peruvian Hairless Dog

Medium Peruvian Inca Orchid Characteristics

The Medium (Medio) Peruvian Hairless Dog is probably the most common of three varieties. Similar to small variety, this moderate hairless dog is commonly used as a bed warmer, but is best known as an excellent family companion. Indeed, this dog is truly an all around perfect indoor pet. He is very clean and likes to take care of himself, has no doggy odour, and requires only a fair amount of daily exercise. On top of that, this is a hypoallergenic breed that is suitable for every home – you certainly won’t have to worry about dead hair. So, if you are an allergic person, but still wanna have a dog of your own, the Peruvian Hairless Dog could definitely be your ideal choice. He can be gentle and calm, lying in bed next to his owner, but at the same time he can be very playful and jumpy – truly a lovely playmate for your children. As you can see, the Moderate Inca Orchid will bring a lot of happiness in your home, but will also keep you notified about visitors since he is also a superb watchdog. There is no way anybody can sneak at your property unnoticed. These medium dogs can as well compete in various dog sports. Coated Medium Peruvians can also be used as hunting dogs, especially in the hunt on small game.

Medium Peruvian Hairless Dog Size And Weight

– Height between 17 and 20 inches (43-50 cm)
– Weight between 21 and 26 pounds (9-12 kg)
– Height between 16 and 19 inches (40-48 cm)
– Weight between 18 and 23 pounds (8-10 kg)

Large Inca Hairless Dog is the largest of three varieties and is often used as a family companion, a watchdog and a hunting dog.

Large Peruvian Hairless Dog

Large Peruvian Inca Orchid Characteristics

The largest of three varieties, the Large (Grande) Peruvian Hairless Dog is definitely the least suitable as an indoor pet because of its size. But this doesn’t mean he cannot be kept inside the house. Like two other varieties, the Large Inca Orchid is also a wonderful family companion that is very clean and well-mannered if exercised adequately. However, even though these large dogs have been used as bed warmers, they are definitely a bit oversized for this – holding a 25 kg dog in your lap would certainly not be the nicest feeling. On the other hand, the good thing about these large hairless Peruvians is that they are more resistant to elements (cold weather in particular) than the other two varieties. So, you will be able to keep your dog out in the courtyard more often. Large Inca Hairless Dogs are also great watchdogs. They are always alert and will instantly sound the alarm when somebody comes near your property. The particularly large dogs can even be trained to become reliable guard dogs. Large coated Peruvians are known as good hunteing dogs. Like many other Sighthounds, they are good at flushing, chasing and retrieving, and are most commonly used in the hunt on rabbits and other small game.

Large Peruvian Hairless Dog Size And Weight

– Height between 22 and 26 inches (56-65 cm)
– Weight between 33 and 55 pounds (15-25 kg)
– Height between 20 and 24 inches (50-61 cm)
– Weight between 26 and 48 pounds (12-22 kg)

Perro Sin Pelo de Perú – The National Dog Of Peru

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is really an authentic, weird and unique dog in every sense. From the pre-Incan cultures and the Inca Empire till today, this breed has been deeply rooted in the tradition and culture of Peru. Many myths from Peruvian folklore as well as various works of art of Peruvians were inspired by these dogs. So, in a sense you will not only get a nice pet and companion if you buy this dog, but a mythical creature with incredible healing powers. How convenient. However, the problem is, this is one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, with approximately thousand registered dogs all around the world. Some breeders are even afraid for the wellbeing of the future generations of the Peruvian Inca Orchid. That’s why they, including the FCI, support since recently interbreeding between coated and hairless dogs to prevent possible inherent diseases. This is something that has long been unthinkable and forbidden because coated dogs have never been allowed for conformation. However, many breeders from Peru are still against it, citing that despite the culling of coated puppies for centuries, the breed still remain healthy. Anyhow, now you know that finding a Peruvian Hairless Dog puppy won’t be an easy task. But if you’re looking for a special dog with unique qualities, you should definitely do your best to buy one of these hairless cuties.

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