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The Peruvian Hairless Dog

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What is a Peruvian Hairless dog, exactly?

My landlady got a new dog. Normally, this is not cause for gawking, let alone a blog post, but this isn’t just any dog. This is…a Peruvian Hairless dog.

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What?

Yes, the Peruvian Hairless dog, also known as the Peruvian Inca Orchid or the “Perro sin pelo de Peru.” The name is self-explanatory.

Here in Peru, they are revered. Their breed dates back to Pre-Incan times, and they’re even depicted on ancient ceramics found in Peru.

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    Though there are thousands of beautiful, fur-covered stray dogs roaming the streets just waiting for a home, Peruvians will pay hundreds of dollars to own this hairless creature.

    peruvian hairless dog
    An adult Peruvian Hairless dog. One of the three I saw at Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary in Peru

    My first encounter with my landlady’s hairless pup, named Loki, happened this past Saturday while I was in the yard.

    “Mira!” my neighbor yelled to me, then pointed to a box on the doorstep of my landlady. Out of it emerged a black, leathery, hairless rat-looking thing.

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    I tried to hide my disgust as I squeaked out a “Oh! Que hermoso!”(“How beautiful!”)

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    Then the poor pup started shaking so much in the Cusco cold that my landlady had to run to him and stuff him under her jacket.

    Peruvian hairless dog puppy next to regular dog
    Peruvian Hairless dog next to regular dog with hair

    Here is a great video by Animal Planet

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    So why don’t Peruvian Hairless dogs have fur?

    The answers don’t make much sense.

    At the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary, where I first saw a Peruvian Hairless, the employee said the dog’s black skin is meant to absorb the sun, and thus keep it warm.

    He even encouraged us to place the back of our hands on the dog’s skin to feel its warmth. However, the poor hairless pup that I mentioned earlier, that is owned by my landlady, is constantly shivering when he’s outside.

    For that reason, they actually put clothes on him. Clothes like little, red doggy pajamas and keep him inside all the time.

    They do all this, while their other three, fur-covered dogs, play outside – as the temperature does not bother them.

    So it seems to me that the hairlessness is a disadvantage for the dog overall. But that’s just me!

    Peruvian hairless dog puppy in clothes
    Loki in his puppy PJs to protect him from the cold
    Peruvian Hairless dog in Peru
    Loki will grow up to look something like this.

    Other worthwhile facts:

    1. They say Inca royalty prized them as bed warmers, since their hairless skin radiates so much heat
    2. Some people say they have “healing properties”
    3. Peruvian Hairless dogs were used to run messages between Inca tribes and for hunting

    Many people laud this dog for its good temperament and its suitability as a pet for those who have dander allergies.

    So what do you think? Is the Peruvian Hairless dog beautiful or um…not?

    I think that is a question only you can answer, after you have seen one for yourself. For me, the more hair the better. My favorite breed, after all, is a Saint Benard!

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