As the name implies, the Peruvian Hairless Dog originated in Peru. Also known as the Peruvian Inca Orchid (PIO), this rare, but ancient breed may have existed since about 750 A.D. When the Spanish conquered this South American country, the hairless dogs were found in the Inca homes around the Orchids; they were used as watch dogs and pets. The Spanish named them “Perros Flora”, or “flower dog”. Some people still call them by that Spanish name. Little has changed about the breed since it was first discovered centuries ago.
Many believe the Spanish took dogs from Peru to China to present as gifts; therefore, this breed may be the origin of the Chinese Crested breed. The Peruvian Hairless Dog nearly became extinct after the Spanish arrived; many dogs were killed, some even eaten by the conquerors. Today, the breed is considered a national treasure, and some dogs are once again living among the Inca ruins.
Peruvian Hairless Dogs can be hairless or coated. These dogs possess thick, leathery ears, sometimes with wisps of hair present. Hair also grows on top of the dog’s head, resembling a Mohawk. The skin is soft and supple. It can be heavily spotted in any color, in any combination with a pink background, or it can be a solid shade.
The skin requires special care and must be protected from the sun as much as possible. A good sunscreen should be used if the dog is going to be out in the sun. People who show the breed scrub their dogs regularly to remove dead skin; they also keep the skin soft by using special exfoliating creams intended for human use. However, if the owner does not plan to show their Peruvian Hairless Dog, it’s recommended to not soften the skin – doing so makes the skin tear more easily. The breed’s fragile skin is susceptible to sunburn, drying irritation, and tears from other dogs, cats and objects. These dogs should be bathed regularly with a gentle soap. This is a very clean breed with no doggie odor and no fleas.
The hairless variety is ideal for allergy sufferers because there is no hair to shed. The coated variety has hair all over the body and does shed, but not much coat care is required, just regular brushing.
Considered quick-witted, alert, calm and intelligent, these dogs are usually good with children and get along with other dogs. Agile and swift, they participate well alongside other sighthounds in lure coursing and agility events.
The Peruvian Hairless Dog generally averages 20-26 inches (50-65 cm) in height and can weigh 26-50 pounds (12-23 kg). However, the dogs can also be smaller; in fact, these dogs are shown in three size categories: small, medium and large.
Their size makes them good for apartment life. However, they need regular exercise, such a long, daily walk. These dogs should not be allowed to run outside of a secured area. A fenced yard is recommended as this sighthound breed may chase small animals at anytime.
Additionally, a Peruvian Hairless Dog should live indoors so it’s protected from the elements. These dogs, particularly the hairless variety, sunburn quickly. They also should wear a sweater in the winter to protect them from the cold weather.
Peruvian Inca Orchids, or Peruvian Hairless Dogs, are becoming more recognized by American Kennel Club (AKC), and are listed as part of the Hound Group. A Foundation Stock Service has existed has existed since 1996. The breed is recognized by United Kennel Club (UKC) as part of the Sighthound and Pariah Group and has been since 1996.
According to the AKC, all the dogs found in the United States go back to fewer than a dozen imported many years ago, so the gene pool is very tight. Only a few dogs have been imported to the U.S. during the past few years.
The Peruvian Hairless Dog, or Peruvian Inca Orchid, is a smart dog with great stamina. It is devoted to its owner and wary of strangers; therefore, it makes a good family and watch dog. This breed comes in hairless and coated varieties; great skin care is needed for the hairless. A rare breed in America, it is gaining recognition by the AKC. Peruvian Hairless Dogs live about 12 years.