The Peruvian Inca Orchid is a slim, elegant dog that comes in two varieties: hairless and coated; and in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The coated variety is less common, but both can be born into the same litter. The eyes should have an alert and intelligent expression, and can be any color from black to yellow. The hairless dogs have prick ears; coated dogs have a semi-prick ear that folds forward. The body is long, lean, and muscular, with a curved (convex) neck, a straight topline, a tucked-up belly, and a low-set tail that can be carried in a round curve above the back. The feet are longish and hare-like.
In the hairless variety, the skin should be smooth and elastic. Hair on the head, lower tail, and feet is acceptable; in fact, tufts of hair on the head are common. The skin can be any color, including spotted. The coat can be short or medium with feathering and can also be of any color.
Peruvian Inca Orchids move with a short, fast, soft step, although when they are full out running, they use the same "double suspension gallop" that other sight hounds do (with all four feet off the ground as the dog gathers her legs under her and when she stretches out). This movement provides for maximum speed and ground coverage. History:
The Peruvian Inca Orchid is thought to be descended from a hairless breed raised by the Colima culture, which flourished in western Mexico between 250 B.C. and A.D. 450. The breed then probably made its way to Peru via trade between various indigenous cultures. Pottery representations of these dogs have been found that date back to the Moche culture in A.D. 750.
Originally valued as guardians of the dead in several cultures, the dogs were also highly valued for the warmth of their skin, which was thought to cure fevers, asthma, and arthritis. The breed also has a coated variety, but indigenous people didn't value that variety as highly.
Inca royalty used the dogs, which are a kind of sight hound, to keep their children and babies warm. When the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire in the sixteenth century, Incas fleeing the colonists took many of the dogs with them into the mountains where they still exist today among the Quechua Indians. In the cities of Peru, PIOs were for a long time low-status animals, often living as strays or among packs of other wild dogs in the streets. Many people believed the dogs were diseased; an American who brought eight of the dogs to the United States in the 1960s even exhibited them as the "Killer Dogs of Peru."
Here in the United States, they are now valued for their intelligence, affectionate natures, loyalty, abilities as sight hounds, and primitive qualities (including strong guarding and prey instincts). Advocates of the breed are also trying to boost the popularity of the coated dogs.
While the AKC name for this breed is Peruvian Inca Orchid, it goes by many other names, too, including "Caa-Allepo" (the Quechuan word for "Dog Without Vestments"); “Perro Llucho” in Ecuador (meaning "Dog Turned Inside Out"); and “Perro sin Pelo de Peru” (the name now used in Peru, meaning "Dog Without Hair of Peru"). In 2001, Peru declared the Perro sin Pelo de Peru a "national patrimony" (or legacy). As a result, its status in the country is rising again. A board of scientists, government officials, and Kennel Club of Peru officials oversees the protection of the dogs.