Desperately Seeking Perros

Perros sin Pelo del Peru

As the story goes, when the Spanish invaders came traipsing through the mountains into what is now Peru, they were astounded to find the advanced civilization of the Incas, rich in culture and tradition.

Among the amazing aspects of Incan society were the homes of wealthy and powerful citizens which contained rooms, festooned with orchids, where huge-eared hairless dogs lived. Because of their naked condition these dogs sunburned easily and remained indoors from dawn to dusk, but were free to roam the cities under the moonlight of night. They were nicknamed 'moon-flower' dogs.

It was believed the Incan dogs -- officially Perro sin Pelo del Peru -- were crossed with the sighthounds brought by the Conquistadors to produce the modern breed. However, since statues, drawings and other artifacts dating BEFORE Pizzaro's time document hairless dogs very similar to what is seen today, it is more likely the breed descended from the hairless dog of Mexico, the Xoloitzcuintli. That breed was probably introduced to the area by Ecuadorean sea-traders who had established ports of call on the coastlines of both countries several hundred years prior to the Spanish invasion of the early 1500s. Dogs were taken on ocean voyages as a source of fresh meat, but it is not definite the food-dogs were of a hairless variety. It is possible, also, that the Xolo came south overland with Mexican traders, as contact between the two areas was established around the 8th century.

Hairless dogs of both Peru and Mexico were valued for their supposed medicinal purposes as it was believed they could relieve arthritis, rheumatism and other aches and pains. Although their temperatures are within the same range, 101-102°, as other breeds, the lack of hair makes them feel warmer to the touch -- perhaps giving rise to the phrase 'three dog night' as a term for cold evenings. Hairless dogs were sacrificed in certain religious ceremonies,and favorite animals sometimes were killed and buried with their owners.

Resembling a small deer in structure and movement, the Perro sin Pelo stands 17-23 inches, females slightly smaller than males, and weighs 30-40 pounds. Although lean and light boned, they are well muscled and fit. The extra large ears are erect and extremely thin. Any color, spotted or solid, is permitted and a 'kiss mark' on the forehead is highly desirable. There is a coated variety with hair ranging from Doberman length to almost as long as a Collie's. Coated dogs are white with spots and/or patches of any other color. The weight of the hair prevents the ears from being pricked. The hairy version of the breed must have full dentition while the hairless ones lack premolars and may be toothless at maturity. Both varieties are of similar size, structure and sensitive nature. The adult dog is keen and alert, but reserved with strangers. Puppies never meet anyone they don't like.

In the United States, the occasional representative of the breed arrived with people who had lived in Peru, but civil unrest has prevented the importation of significant numbers. One gentleman who worked in Peru for many years was able to export only three of his dogs out of the country although he had a breeding program with over a dozen adults.

Here the Perro sin Pelo del Peru is known as the Peruvian Inca Orchid and, until recently, has been registered by the Peruvian Inca orchid Club of America. Early in 1996 the American Kennel Club's new Foundation Stock Services program took over the registry and information on about 200 purebred Perros was transferred to AKC computers.

For the most part, ALL the dogs registered as Peruvian Inca Orchids trace their entire pedigree back to fewer than one dozen dogs. As it is impossible to obtain additional dogs from Peru, and the Mexican dog fancy does not recognize the Perro sin Pelo as a breed separate from the Xoloitzcuintli, this makes for a dangerously limited gene pool.

Severe problems are inevitable if different bloodlines are not introduced soon. It is hoped there are dogs in the US already that can help the situation -- dogs that may have come here with shipments of Peruvian Pasos or with people associated with these wonderful horses.

This letter is a request for help from your readers. I am a breeder of Perros sin Pelo del Peru (Hairless Dogs from Peru.) In this country the breed is known as Peruvian Inca Orchids and has been registered by the Peruvian Inca Orchid Club of America. The registry, numbering only about 200, has been turned over to the American Kennel Club's new Foundation Stock Services program. ALL the dogs on the registry trace their entire pedigrees back to just 11 dogs imported many years ago. We are in desperate need of new/different/unrelated Perros to enlarge our extremely limited gene pool. I am seeking information on any member of this breed in the US or Canada.

Anyone who has information regarding los Perros is asked to contact Sherry Kidwell of La Casa de la Verdad Calata at 706-793-1359 or mail to 4440 Fairbluff Road, Hephzibah GA 30815-8024.

Mil gracias!

November 3, 1996


Photo #1 This is "Tesa". She was the #1 Peruvian and #2 Exotoc (all breeds) in 1995

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Photo #2: This is "Dottie" (for obvious reasons) at the age of 8 months

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Photo #3: This is "Seco". He's a coated version of the Perro

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This page created, placed and updated 3/14/97 compliments of Pasos on the Web!