Peruvian Hairless Dog: The Rare but Surprisingly Cuddly Indoor Dog

Peruvian Hairless Dog standing
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

The outdoors are not everyone. Some us do not have the luxury of outdoor space while others don’t like to adventure out there. For some us, life would be perfect if we could have a couch potato friend. When you think of an indoor dog, you will most likely imagine a very small dog. The truth is, some large dogs can also make excellent indoor pets. One such dog that will make heads turn is the Peruvian Hairless Dog.

The Peruvian Hairless breed comes in three sizes—small, medium, and large—so you will have a variety to choose from. This dog is the perfect indoor pet. In fact, breeders recommend that you keep this dog indoors to protect their hairless skin from the hot sun or extremely cold weather. This dog is odorless, very clean, and loves to spend time with their family. If you are allergic to pet hair, this hairless dog will not have you sneezing due to allergies.

In this article, we take a thorough look at the Peruvian Hairless dog. We will inform you of all you need to know about this breed. We make it easier for you to make a choice if this dog is perfect for you. We also advise you on how best to care for your Calato.

Breed Characteristics

Peruvian Hairless Dog standing on the pavement

  • Adaptability: Moderate; not suitable for extreme weather conditions

  • Trainability: Good; the training needs to be of short duration but consistent

  • Health and Grooming: Moderate; the skin will need protection from the sun or the cold

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; this breed will get along well with your children, but is very suspicious of strangers

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate; not a very high energy dog

Dog Breed GroupSight Hound
Males: 12-16 inches
Females: 10-14 inches
Males: 17-20 inches
Females: 16-19 inches
Males: 22-26 inches
Females: 20-24 inches
Males: 12-18 pounds
Females: 9-14 pounds
Males: 21-26 pounds
Females: 18-23 pounds
Males: 33-55 pounds
Females: 26-48 pounds
Lifespan11-12 years

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is a hairless breed that comes in three varieties: small or perquno, medium or medio, and large or grande. All three varieties are identical in terms of appearance and temperate; size is the only difference in them.The Peruvian Hairless Dog (PHD) is also known as Perro sin Pelo del Peru, Inca Hairless dog, Calato, Moonflower dog, or Peruvian Inca Orchid.

This is a loyal, intelligent, and lively dog that make excellent watchdogs and family companions. The dog loves family time and thrives on human companionship. Prone to separation anxiety, the Peruvian Hairless breed should never be left alone for long hours.

However, the breed is suspicious of strangers although it is not aggressive. This alert dog will protect their owner and property from intruders with a loud bark.

This rare dog is the national dog of Peru, which their country of origin. The Peruvian Hairless Dog is viewed as an Incan breed although history shows that it existed long before the Inca Empire. The ancient people believed that the dog had mythical healing powers.

Today, the rare breed is often used as a family companion. It was recognized by the FCI in 1955. It is also registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC).

The indoor breed is a low maintenance breed as it does not shed nor does it need extensive grooming. It is the perfect dog for those who suffer from pet’s hair allergies. However, due to their lack of hair, their skin needs to be well-taken care of and protected from harsh weather conditions.

This dog is not recommended for first-time dog owners. They need an experienced handler. They are easy to train as they are intelligent dogs, but they require a trainer who understands dog behavior as they can easily get bored. Treats work best to encourage positive behavior.

The Peruvian Hairless dog will get along well with your children especially if brought up with them. This breed also gets along with other dogs. They are not dominant and will be very friendly and cheerful in the company of other dogs.

If well socialized, they can get along well with smaller pets. However, in most instances, they will chase small pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters, cats, etc., around the house. This is because of the dog’s hunting nature.

Main Highlights

Peruvian Hairless puppy

  • The Peruvian Inca Orchid’s most notable characteristic is the hairless coat although a third or a quarter of the breed are born with hair

  • The dog comes in three varieties: small, medium, and large

  • The notable difference between the three varieties is the size

  • The Peruvian Hairless dog is the national dog of Peru

  • This loyal breed is the ideal indoor pet

  • The naked coat of the dog needs protection from harsh weather conditions and owners can use sunscreen, clothing, or shelter to prevent sunburns and other skin conditions

  • The dog is an ancient breed, having existed before the Inca Empire

  • It was used as a hunting dog. In the Inca Empire, the dog was revered and was believed to have mystical qualities

  • It is very sensitive to extreme cold or heat and this makes the dog badly suited for extreme climatic regions

  • They make excellent family companions and are very protective of their owner and property

  • They also make excellent watchdogs as they are always alert and highly suspicious of strangers

  • They require a moderate amount of activity to remain healthy and happy. This can be in the form of daily walks, play time out in the yard, or indoor activities

  • They love children and their cheerful and playful nature make the dog an excellent playmate for older children

  • Excellent dog for those who suffer from pet allergies

Breed History

Peruvian Hairless Dog standing on grass

The Peruvian Hairless Dog has been in existence for centuries. Their existence dates back to before the Inca Empire. Relics depicting them on pottery and carvings date back to as early as 750 AD. During the Inca times, the dogs were revered by the people as they believed that the dogs had mystical qualities. They were kept as family companions.

Since these dogs are warm to the touch, the Incans believed that their warmth could cure illnesses such as asthma and arthritis. They even attended ceremonies dressed in ceremonial attire. It is also believed that their urine was used as an ingredient in traditional medicine.

In addition to being companions and healers, they were also used as hunters due to their sharp vision. They were often used to catch small animals such as mice and rodents.

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is still revered in their home country. This breed is recognized as the national dog of Peru since 2001. Additionally, the Peru government came up with the rule that all historical archaeological sites should have a pair of the dogs on their site. This rule has popularized the dog with tourists.

These dogs got their first name from the Spaniards who first called them Perros Floras or flower dogs when they found some of the dogs curled up beside flower orchids when they went to conquer Peru. They were later named as Moonflower Dogs due to their nature of avoiding strong sunlight.

In 1955, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognized the dog. Jack Walklin was the first American to import the breed. Today, the popularity of the dog internationally has significantly grown. The dog is registered with the UKC and the AKC. Although the Peruvian Hairless Dog is still considered a rare breed, it is often seen in dog shows and is popular as a family pet.


medium-sized Peruvian Hairless dogs

The Peruvian Hairless Dog comes in small, medium, and large varieties. The smallest of the breed weighs 8 to 16 pounds and measures 10 to 16 inches at the withers while the largest weighs between 20 to 45 pounds and measures 20 to 26 inches in height. The standards for all the sizes are the same.

This dog is similar to the Whippet dogs that are found in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The main notable body characteristic of this dog is that it is hairless. A small amount of fur can be found on the dog’s head, feet, and tail. However, between a quarter and a third of the dogs are born with hair.

The dog is athletic and muscular. The head is proportional to the body and has a wolf-like appearance. The eye and nose color are in line with the dog’s skin color. The muzzle is wide and straight. This hairless breed often has missing teeth due to a genetic abnormality.

The tail is thin and often held close to the dog’s body. The feet of the Peruvian Inca Orchid is known as ‘hare feet.’ This is due to their flat and webbed toes. They are similar to the Chinese Crested dogs’ feet.

A notable difference between the hairless and the haired Peruvian Inca Orchid is the ears. In the former, the ears are erect and are pointed straight up or to the sides. They also appear larger in this breed. The latter’s ears are semi-pricked and often might fall down and point to the back or sides.

Most of the hairless dogs are grey or dark brown in color, but the haired dogs are often white or blonde with brown and black markings. There are no color restrictions for this dog.

Personality and Character

Peruvian Hairless Dogs playing

The Peruvian Inca Orchids form tight bonds with one owner or one member of the family, especially the one they spend most of their time with. They do not like to be left alone for long periods, as they are prone to developing separation anxiety.

Due to their intelligence, they are easy to train. They also undertake tasks with great enthusiasm. However, they are not recommended for first-time owners because they need someone who understands them and motivates them during training.

The training sessions should be short—30 minutes or less but regular and consistent. The training should also be interesting and fun. Their handlers should take care not to punish them or resort to rough disciplinary measures during training as this will only make things worse. The PIO responds well to tasty treats and encouragement as rewards.

The PHD is an excellent watchdog, and this means they are always alert and will notice if there are strangers in your home. Although they are not aggressive, they will announce a stranger or any suspicious activity in the home with a loud bark.

Health and Potential Problems

Peruvian Hairless Dog lying on blanket

Hairless dogs are, in general, more susceptible to various health problems than haired dogs. Some of the most common problems are related to the dog’s skin. Below are the common health problems that affect this breed.

#1: Missing Teeth

These hairless dogs often lack the molars, the premolars, and in some instances, the canines. The gene responsible for the hairlessness causes this problem.

Luckily, for this breed, this problem is non-fatal. Although some dogs might have trouble chewing, most with this condition will still chew comfortably and live normal lives.

See Also: Dental Disease in Dogs

#2: Skin Problems

The bare skin of the hairless breed is unprotected, which makes it susceptible to skin problems. Sunburn is one such issue, and the dog requires protection such as with sunscreen, shades, or protective clothing. Additionally, the skin often dries out and will need to be moisturized.

During the colder seasons, this hairless dog will need to wear warm booties and sweaters. They will also need beddings and blankets at night.

Another issue is the high intake of insecticides by the Peruvian Inca Orchid. Even when they do not consume such pesticides or insecticides directly, they can be affected by them. It is recommended that you refrain from spraying your home if you have a Peruvian Hairless Dog, or you move him or her when spraying the home.

Without the protection of hair, the skin of this breed is also prone to tears, rashes, dryness, lesions, skin allergies, skin irritations, and bruises. This is why it is important to take care of their skin and keep checking for any health issues. The good thing about the lack of fur is that this breed is not a good host for parasites such as lice and fleas.

#3: Epilepsy

When your Peruvian Hairless Dog has epilepsy, they will have seizures. There is no known cause for this condition, and although the condition can be managed with medication, most dogs will have the condition for their entire lives.

If you suspect that your dog has epilepsy, take him or her to the vet. The vet will run several tests. The vet will only conclude it is epilepsy after ruling out other causes.

#4: Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)

This condition is characterized by changes in your dog’s bowel habits. You might notice constipation, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea in your dog, or even loss of weight. Your vet will check your dog and might advise you to change his or her diet or advise a change of environment to reduce the stress levels.

#5: Obesity

Your dog can get obese if you do not take good care of them. Obesity will lead to more serious health issues in the future.

Ensure you feed them on the right quality of diet. Two or three meals are recommended daily. Do not be very generous with treats as this can also lead to unwanted weight gain. Only give treats occasionally to encourage good behavior.

Additionally, take your dog for a walk or let them out in an enclosed yard daily to burn the excess energy. You can also encourage play by engaging in family games with the dog.

See Also: Overweight Dog: Signs and Solutions

Care Features

Peruvian Hairless Dog's head

This hunting breed needs moderate levels of physical and emotional stimulations. They should be given some time to run free in an enclosed area or be taken on a daily walk. The exercise should be done early in the morning or late in the evening. Failure to give them enough daily physical exercises can lead to a very unhappy dog. It is important to note that this breed is more active during the night.

The dog, due to this character, will not befriend strangers easily. It is recommended that you socialize your dog early enough to help them learn how to deal with different people and situations.

It is recommended that you keep the dog indoor during sunny days to protect them from the sun. Most of these dogs are devoted couch potatoes when well exercised, and you will not find it hard to meet their needs.

Feeding Schedule

Peruvian Hairless puppies sitting

Since this breed is a moderate energy breed, they need quality meals. Two or three daily meals will be enough for your Peruvian Inca Orchid.

Whether the dog’s food is commercially made or homemade, it should be right for the dog’s age and should be given with veterinarian approval. You need to watch your dog’s calorie intake as some dogs tend to get overweight, which can interfere with your dog’s health.

The Peruvian Hairless Dog does love treats, but you should give treats in moderation. Clean and fresh water should also be available at all times for this breed.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

The PHD is not an outdoor breed. Despite being hairless, the dog still needs grooming. This dog needs sunscreen or shelter on hot days. You can also use a wrap to protect them from the sun or cold weather.

See Also: How to Make Dog Clothes

Wipe the dog’s skin with a warm and damp cloth occasionally to remove dirt and dust. Use oil or lotion to moisturize their skin.

If you have the haired type, it rarely sheds, but since the coat can tangle; it should regularly be brushed to keep it neat. Use a gentle shampoo when bathing the dog, which should be done occasionally.

The breed’s ears, teeth, and nails should be well taken care of. Due to their lack of fur, the PHD is the best dog for those who are allergic to pet hair.

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Peruvian Hairless Dog playing with a man

Peruvian Inca Orchids are more tolerant of children compared to other sighthounds. It is important that the dog is introduced to children at an early age so that they do not view them with suspicion.

The dog is recommended for children above the age of ten; when playing with younger children, adult supervision is required. This prevents the child from hurting the dog.

The Peruvian Inca Orchids get along well with other dogs especially if the other dog is a sighthound. However, if you do not expose your Peruvian Inca Orchid to other dogs early, they might have dominance, territorial, or same-sex aggression issues with the other dogs

When well socialized with other pets they might let them be. However, due to their natural hunting urge, you will see your Peruvian Inca Orchid chasing smaller pets around the house.

Wrap Up

Peruvian Hairless Dog on a leash

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is the perfect family companion. This dog thrives on human companionship and loves spending time with the family. The best thing about this breed is that you do not have to worry about keeping them indoors. They do not shed. They are odorless and very clean. It is actually recommended that you keep this breed indoors to protect them from the hot sun or very cold nights.

The PHD is also an excellent watchdog who will protect you and your property from intruders. With the right exercise, you can be sure this dog will serve you diligently and remain loyal. If you are looking for the perfect indoor companion, this is a dog fit for the job.

Tell us what you think about the Peruvian Inca Orchard. Do you have any experience with this dog? How was your experience? Give us your feedback in the comments section below! If you need a name for your newly adopted dog, do check out our next article on hunting dog names.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.