Officially recognized as a breed by the World Canine Organisation (FCI) and declared a national heritage animal, Peruvian hairless dogs represent the Inca dog race in museums and archaeological sites in Peru.
When the Spaniards began their conquest of the Inca Empire they were surprised to find the natives had a singular kind of dog they called "allqu" and also "Kaclla". They were relatively small-sized dogs, very sociable and whose main characteristic was the lack of hair. The Spaniards, who changed everything in the conquered places, ignored those names and called them "orchid dogs" because they often were in places where tropical orchids abounded. Numerous specimens were taken to Spain as gifts, but few of them survived. The breed came to be in danger of extinction, but survived on the basis of the specimens kept in remote rural areas.
The breed of hairless dog has existed since ancient times; bones dating from Peru's pre-Columbian time have been found in several archaeological sites. Ceramic representations of some pre-Inca cultures, Vicus, Moche and Chancay, also exhibit hairless dogs. This suggests that the breed existed in Peru since at least 700 years before Christ, but they may have existed in Peru for several thousand years.
These dogs played an important role within the customs and myths of the Incas. Peruvian natives managed the genetics of their dogs to preserve its purity and used them as companion dogs and for medicinal purposes.
Gov't of Peru
Tupac, a male Peruvian hairless dog, one of the three mascots at the Pachacamac Archaeological site near Lima.
Although their surface body temperature is not different than most dogs (about 40 degrees Celsius), being hairless they feel warmer to the touch. They are also very clean and free of parasites. Because of that they have been used as bed warmers and to relieve chronic joint pain, asthma and allergy problems.
In 1985 the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) (the International Association of Kennel Clubs) recognized the hairless dog of Peru as an official race and classified it in Group 5 - Spitz and Primitive Types - Section 6 - Number 310.
The National Institute of Culture of Peru, by order of
Sumac, female Peruvian hairless dog meets visitors at the Larco Museum in Pueblo Libre, Lima.
January 2001, required the retaining of a Peruvian hairless dog in all museums and archaeological sites having the necessary conditions to allow its natural development and upbringing. In turn, the Congress of Peru, by a decree of October 22, 2001 included this race as a national heritage and was appointed as a native breed of Peru.
The Archaeological Site of Pachacamac, located about 30 kilometers south of Lima has three specimens: Tupac, Wari and Sipan.
Digital Journal visited the Larco Museum located in the district of Pueblo Libre in Lima and befriended Sumac, the Peruvian hairless female dog that is the Museum’s pet and welcomes visitors to the 18th century vice-royal mansion built over a 7th century pre-Columbian pyramid.