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Peruvian Inca Orchid Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The odd name of this dog may initially confuse you, but the dog’s affectionate and loyal personality will surely win you over.  And if that doesn’t happen, the Peruvian Inca Orchid (PIO), also known as the Peruvian Hairless Dogs, are hairless!

This means that…

This unique little critter will be completely hypoallergenic, which is fantastic for allergy sufferers who still want a loving furry friend!  But just because these dogs may appear precisely what you want, you never know if they might be the right dog breed for you.  This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what it might be like to own one of these four-legged friends so that if you’re ever allowed to make one of them your own, you’ll know for sure if that’s a good idea or not.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Peruvian Inca Orchid Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  Peru

Original Purpose:  Companions

Height:  About 10 to 26 inches tall

Weight: between 8.5 to 55 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Miscellaneous group

Life-Span: 11-2 years.

You may be wondering why there is such an extensive range of weight and height for the Peruvian Inca Orchid, and that is because the Peruvian Inca Orchid comes in three sizes:

  • small,
  • medium
  • and large.

This is another great selling point for this dog because this dog can be whatever size you prefer.

Origins of the Peruvian Inca Orchid

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is a rare breed originating in South America between 300 BC and 700 AD.  It was first seen in Moche pottery in 750 AD.   The species was also seen in Chimu, Chancay, and Inchan pottery.

Early on…

The Peruvian Inca Orchid had many uses in different South American Cultures.  Here are just some of them:

  • The Chancay people and many others used these dogs as companions
    • Their excrement and urine were also used in medicines
  • The Chimu thought the Peruvian Inca Orchids had a good fortune and used them and their warmth to treat arthritis and respiratory conditions
  • They were used at spiritual celebrations and dressed in signature clothing because they were believed to have magical qualities.
  • PIOs were also commonly used as bed-warmers (think of the phrase “two dog night”).

Now originally…

The Peruvian Inca Orchids were small dogs, but when the Conquistadors took over Peru, the PIOs were bred with dogs from foreign countries. After a couple of years, three specific sizes of the Peruvian Inca Orchid emerged.  That is why the size of these dogs varies so greatly.  In the mountains with the Andean people, the dogs were treated very well, but along the cities on the coast, these dogs were often treated very poorly.  The PIOs were thought to have diseases because of their hairlessness, so they were often killed.

But all was not bad with these dogs…

In 1955, the Federacion Cynologique Internationale gave international recognition to the PIO when it was finalized as a dog breed. And in 1966, an American named Jack Walkin brought back 8 PIOs to the US and is thought to be the one who gave them their name, which translates to “dog without vestments” in Quechua, the native language of the Incas.  How cool is that!


They were given a name, and the PIOs were established as a breed in the US by the American Kennel Club.  In 1985, the Kennel Club of Peru asked to change the breed name to Perro sin Pelo de Peru, which translates to Peruvian Hairless Dog.  They also accepted the breed, and later in 2001, Peru declared that Peruvian Hairless Orchids are a National Patrimony and would be protected in Peru.

In modern times…

The PIO is very popular in Peru, called “Calato,” meaning “naked.”  They are also spread across the world and throughout the US and Europe.  Most of these dogs in America were bred from 12 original dogs, so there is a slight genetic variation.

Physical Characteristics

The most obvious of their physical traits is their lack of hair on their body except for some patches of hair on the head, tail, and extremities.  Their skin can be spotted, splotchy, or plain and come in any color.  Some colors include white, pink, tan, black, and brown.

Another interesting fact is that some PIOs are coated and have fur but are in the far minority, with most of these dogs being hairless.  Also, the same litter can have both covered and hairless Peruvian Inca Orchids.

Personality and Temperament 

These dogs are loving and loyal and strive to make you content.   They make a great family dog for kids and watchdog to keep you safe.  They might take a bit to get used to strangers, but these happy little sighthounds want to be loved and attract the family’s attention.  Another great thing is that the PIO is an easily trainable dog!  Because they love to please you, they will be easy to train but don’t be too harsh with them because they are susceptible.  Try to use a calm voice and no negative words.

Something important…

It is to socialize your PIO early so they will be ready for the real world, strangers, and other dogs.  Also, start training as early as eight weeks so they will take in what you teach them much more accessible.  Waiting more than six months can make it difficult for you because they will not know how to react to discipline.

They are pretty low maintenance…

With only needing one short walk a day because they aren’t the most energetic dogs, but they do need some exercise.  All they want is your love, which makes them such a fantastic dog.


Get a reputable dog breeder if you are considering adopting a new furry friend because a good breeder knows how to limit the health problems your dog might develop. They can also help you decide what puppy or puppy to get depending on what you want in a dog.

Potential Health Concerns

Well, the hairless variety of PIOs tend to have more health issues, but overall the issues they are more susceptible to are not life-threatening.  Here are some of the common health concerns for these dogs:

  • Epilepsy
  • Irritable Bowel Disease
  • Skin lesions
  • Missing teeth(hairless)
    • This one is more for the hairless variety because hairlessness and missing teeth are genetically linked
  • Skin problems(hairless)
    • Easily wounded skin: This is caused by their thin skin
    • Dry skin in the winter
    • Acne
    • Note:  It is helpful to apply sunscreen to your PIO if it is sunny and lotion if their skin is dry
  • Strokes.

And while many of these conditions may not be life-threatening, they can become quite expensive, particularly if they become recurring issues.  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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