Chiribaya Shepherd

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Chiribaya Shepherd
Other names Peruvian Shepherd
Country of origin Peru
Height small
Coat long
Color beige
Classification / standards
Not recognized by any major kennel club
Notes Pre-Columbian
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Chiribaya Shepherd or Peruvian Shepherd was a pre-Columbian breed of dog the southwest of Peru, identified by the 42 mummies discovered by anthropologist Sonia Guillén Oneglio in the Ilo District, Moquegua Region, on the south coast of Peru. It has been established that it was a sheepdog of llamas, who was not only was important part of the social structure of the ancient Peruvians, but received special treatment after his death.[1]


The dogs were found buried in cemeteries next to human mummies of the Chiribaya culture that flourished on the south coast of Peru and buried their pets with all the honors of a faithful friend and co-worker . The finding is due to the research of Sonia Guillén,[1] who owes her fame to the study of ancient mummies of characters who organized prosperous cultures from Chachapoyas to the shores of Moquegua. The mummies dating from 900 to 1350.[2]

In the port area of Ilo is the Center Mallqui ("mummy" in Quechua) dedicated to research of Chiribaya Culture, developed in a chiefdom of the period known as "late middle" of the year 900 to 1350 of our era, and whose territory has a feature that is the dream of every anthropologist: its soil is extremely dry, It contains large amounts of nitrates, which ensured the preservation of the physical remains of those who inhabited this place.

Sonia Guillén argues that the tomb of a person reflects his social, political and religious position within the organization of ancient peoples. In the case of these dogs the tombs demonstrate that, having completed a productive life within the Chiribaya organization, received good treatment, either dead or alive.


Ermanno Maniero, president of Kennel Club of Peru and medical veterinary Viviana Fernández of the San Marcos University thoroughly examined the mummies found and determined that these dogs had the body more longer than high; its had abundant hair of color that could vary between yellow and red, some with dark spots on the back or head; its had cropped ears and falls; and its legs were like "hare", ie allowing the animal to move on sand or soil with less effort, quality that perhaps the one that gave the importance within the structure of Chiribaya life.[3]

The BBC reported even more features. The dog was small, had a long snout, was beige in color, with long fur and resembled a small Golden Retriever.[2]


The Chiribayas developed a coastal economy, with the use of the fishing and other marine resources, also with agriculture, but intensely livestock. Textiles[3] and petroglyphs realize the livestock activity of Chiribayas, which underpins the importance of the sheepdog in their society. According to research conducted by geneticist Jane Wheeler, who worked in the middle valley of Ilo and studied the remains of the llamas and the alpacas in the region, the Chiribayas raised a type of llama that had the longest hair and very thin, but it was ignored by the Spanish conquerors, who used these llamas as pack animals, causing their destruction.[4] "Having so many llamas, the Chiribayas needed for herding dogs. Then, its became co-workers so that its death received the honors", says Sonia Guillén.

Following the trail[edit]

Martha Meier Miró Quesada, journalist, producer and documentary filmmaker and her team were able to record in pictures the findings and investigations of Sonia Guillén and produced in 2006 the documentary titled in English The Chiribaya Shepherd Dog .[5][6]


Thanks to the mummies of the Peruvian Shepherd or of Chiribaya, researchers have been able to propose the hypothesis that the descendants of Chiribaya Shephers remain to this day, and this is confirmed by the similarity between the preserved remains and many of the dogs that living in Ilo port,[1] Tambo Valley and the city of Mollendo (Arequipa Department).

Even the dog "Abdul", the guardian of the facilities of the Mallqui Center, may have been a descendant of the Chiribaya dogs.[1] Its yellow fur, ears drooping and short snout match the characteristics of the mummies. And precisely Martha Meier draws attention to this detail and says that somehow what we call "chusco" matches the characteristics of a Chiribaya Shepherd, so it would not be surprising that over the years, this has been spread by throughout Peru.

"What we do now is regain the purity of the breed of dog. So let's start working to gather DNA of dogs in the area of Ilo for comparison with the mummies, and then begin a selection process and aging.[1] It will take several years to work, but worth it", says the filmmaker.


A study of mitochondrial DNA Chiribaya Shepherds mummified found three haplotypes, two of them never before encountered and absent in samples of current dogs and the other also found in dogs of other continents.[7]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Kisner, D. "Caretas" 1948. Caretas. pp. 121–122. 
  2. ^ a b Collyns, Dan (September 23, 2006). "Mummified dogs uncovered in Peru". BBC News (Lima). Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "The Peruvian Shepherd" (in Spanish). November 10, 2006. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ Wheeler, Jane C. (December 2005). "Pre-Conquest Alpaca and Llama Breeding". The Camelid Quarterly (in Spanish) (Conopa). Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ Meier, Miró Quesada, Barrantes & Asociados. "El Perro Pastor Chiribaya - I Parte" (in Spanish). Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  6. ^ Meier, Miró Quesada, Barrantes & Asociados=. "El Perro Pastor Chiribaya - II Parte" (in Spanish). Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ Leonard, Jennifer A.; et al. "Ancient DNA evidence for Old World Origin of New World Dogs". Science 298 (5598): 1613–1616. doi:10.1126/science.1076980. Retrieved October 8, 2015.