Peruvian Hairless Dog
|Other names||Perro Sin Pelo del Perú
Inca Hairless Dog
Peruvian Inca Orchid
|Country of origin||Peru|
|Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
According to the FCI breed standard, the most important aspect of its appearance is its hairlessness. The dog may have short hair on top of its head, on its feet, and on the tip of its tail. In Peru, breeders tend to prefer completely hairless dogs. The full-coated variety is disqualified from conformation showing. The color of skin can be chocolate-brown, elephant grey, copper, or mottled. They can be totally one color or one color with tongue pink spots. Albinism is not allowed. The eye color is linked to the skin color. It is always brown, but dogs with light colors can have clearer eyes than darker-skinned dogs.
Peruvian Hairless Dogs vary in size :
- Small 25 – 40 cm (10 – 16 inches)
- Medium 40 – 50 cm (16 – 20 inches)
- Large 50 – 65 cm (20 – 26 inches)
Weight is also varied according to size :
- Small 4 – 8 kg (9 – 18 lbs)
- Medium 8 – 12 kg (18 – 26 lbs)
- Large 12 – 25 kg (26 – 55 lbs)
The dogs should be slim and elegant, with the impression of force and harmony, without being coarse.
The ears should be candle-flame shaped and erect with the possibility to lay flat.
Proportions of height (at withers) to length (withers to base of tail) are 1:1.
Peruvian Hairless dogs are affectionate with family but wary of strangers. They are typically lively, alert and friendly with other dogs but can be protective as well. They are agile and fast. These dogs do not like to be alone, but when trained, can do well. These dogs are intolerant of extreme temperatures. They generally require an owner that understands dog language and are not recommended for beginners.
The lack of hair leads to a reputation for being clean, for being easy to wash with a sponge, and for a natural lack of fleas or other parasites. Despite this, the dog needs care, but in another way. The skin should be washed from time to time to remove dirt and prevent clogging of pores. Baby cleaners are a good choice provided that they do not contain lanolin. Some dogs are prone to have acne or at least blackheads. The skin sometimes becomes too dry and can then be treated with moisturizing cream. Again, baby lotion without lanolin is a good product choice to soften and moisturize cleansed skin.
Protection against sunlight is recommended on lightly colored/white dogs. Sun-block or other methods are beneficial to prevent sunburn.
Protection against cold is necessary when the dog is not able to move around at its own speed under adverse weather conditions. Sensitivity to cold may vary from dog to dog. Smaller dogs seem to be more sensitive to the cold than their larger counterparts.
The rims of the ears sometimes need special attention as they can become dry and cracked.
Genetics and health
The genes that cause hairlessness also result in the breed often having fewer teeth than other breeds, mostly lacking molars and premolars. Some are born with more dentition than others.
One theory is that the hairlessness trait is recessive-lethal, which means that homozygotic hairlessness doesn't exist. This results in an average birthrate of 2:1, hairless : coated. According to Hans Räber "Enzyklopädie der Rassehunde" T.I 25% of the population is born coated.
While they are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) for its Foundation Stock Service as Peruvian Orchid dogs, they cannot be shown at AKC shows, they are also registerable with FCI, UKC, NKC,APRI, ACR. Some breeders think that interbreeding with coated (Peruvian) dogs is required to maintain functional teeth and nervous system health in subsequent generations. They say that breeding of hairless with hairless (and common but unacknowledged culling of hairy pups from litters to maintain a "pure" image) leads to short-lived dogs with serious health problems. However, other breeders (especially in Peru) think the opposite, and are doing well (for centuries already), too.
Like all breeds there are some health problems. These include IBD, seizures, stroke, and skin lesions. They are very sensitive to toxins and care should be taken in use of insecticides. Insecticides are absorbed through the skin, and body fat keeps these toxins from entering the liver too quickly. Since these dogs have very low body fat, toxins are absorbed too quickly and cause severe damage to the nervous system and GI tract.
This is an ancient breed. Although it is often perceived to be an Incan dog because it is known to have been kept during the Inca Empire, they were also kept as pets in pre-Inca cultures from the Peruvian coastal zone. Ceramic hairless dogs from the Chimú, Moche, and Vicus culture are well known. Depictions of Peruvian hairless dogs appear around 750 A.D. on Moche ceramic vessels and continue in later Andean ceramic traditions. The main area of the Inca Empire (the mountains) is too cold for the natural existence of the dogs. The Spanish conquest of Peru nearly caused the extinction of the breed. The dogs survived in rural areas, where the people believed that they held a mystical value. In recent years, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) accepted the breed and adopted an official breed standard. Before that time, in the United States, some enthusiasts created another type of Peruvian hairless dog, the Peruvian Inca Orchid. The Peruvian Inca Orchid is recognized by the AKC. The club UKC also recognized the breed in recent years.
Miscellaneous behaviours and myths
The hairless dogs have a tendency to sleep in tight spaces, such as under small tables, house corners, holes in the ground to avoid air currents. Also, if provided with a blanket, they will make it their own and carry it from one ambient to other if they move around (without any type of training).
They keep their tongue inside their mouth and do not drool, and as expected, don't shed any hair. Therefore, it is a very clean dog.
The body temperature of hairless dogs feels higher than other dogs due to the lack of hair. According to Peruvian folklore, letting the dog "hug" you is believed to help with stomach pain and other disorders such as asthma.
One persistent myth states that such hairless dogs are born both blind and deaf, but have a heightened sense of smell and can be trained to detect wild game and truffles. However, it is worth noting that these myths are largely unfounded and that hairless dogs are not at an increased risk for developing blindness or deafness at birth.
Other myths claim that the dog is a vegetarian or that it cannot bark (actually it can bark very loudly).
It is very likely that some of these myths have helped the breed to survive for so long in Peru.
- Hans Räber "Enzyklopädie der Rassehunde" T.I
- Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York:Thames and Hudson, 1997.
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