Peruvian Inca Orchid: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Hairless Peruvian Inca Orchid dog standing in grass.

janplan01 / Getty Images

Sweet, loyal, and usually (but not always) totally hairless, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is in a class all its own when it comes to dog breeds. As part of the American Kennel Club’s “Miscellaneous Group,” the Peruvian Inca Orchid exhibits some features that are similar to other breeds—particularly Whippets and Greyhounds—are some that are all its own (did we mention they're usually hairless?). What they tend to lack in fur however, Peruvian Inca Orchids make up for in personality. They’re affectionate, adaptable, and athletic, and make lively and interesting pets. They also span the spectrum in terms of size, with some Peruvian Inca Orchids standing small and others much larger.

Breed Overview

Group: Miscellaneous Group

Height: 9.75 to 25.75 inches

Weight: 8.5 to 55 pounds

Coat: Hairless

Coat Color: Any skin color; pink, black, brown, white, gray (coated)

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Characteristics of the Peruvian Inca Orchid

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium-Low
Energy Level Medium
Trainability Medium
Intelligence Medium-High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Peruvian Inca Orchid

As you might expect from their name, the Peruvian Inca Orchid has a long and storied history, and might just be one of the earliest domesticated dog breeds know to humans. Early depictions of the Peruvian Inca Orchid can be found in pottery dating back to 750 A.D., with pieces dedicated to the breed found among relics from the Incas, Chancay, and Chimu, all three of which were based in Peru.

Perhaps because of their standout looks, the Peruvian Inca Orchid was lauded among ancient Peruvian tribes not just as a loyal animal companion but as a provider of healing properties (though on the latter point, it really does appear that the breed was a close companion to the tribespeople—some pottery depictions of Peruvian Inca Orchids even show them wearing sweaters!). Among the Chimu, the urine and feces of Peruvian Inca Orchids were used in medicine, while the dogs themselves were thought to bring good health, and even to help treat conditions like arthritis.

The Peruvian Inca Orchids of the ancient Peruvian tribes were small in size. However, that changed when the Spanish conquered Peru and began to breed the small Peruvian Inca Orchids with their own, larger breeds. The result was the range of sizes seen in the breed today.

Unfortunately, the Peruvian Inca Orchid wasn’t always as celebrated as they were with the Incan, Chancay, and Chimu people. While they fared well in certain communities, they were viewed in urban areas to be diseased, largely due to their hairless features. Many did continue to have affection for them however, including an American named Jack Walklin, who in 1966 ended up bringing eight Peruvian Inca Orchids back home with him following a visit to Peru. The breed name is credited to Walklin, as is the growth of popularity the breed experienced throughout the U.S. and Europe.

In 2001, the Peruvian government officially declared the Peruvian Inca Orchid (referred to more often there as a Peruvian Hairless Dog) a National Patrimony, and the breed is now protected throughout the country. 

Peruvian Inca Orchid Care

The Peruvian Inca Orchid may be a medium energy dog, but the breed still requires plenty of daily exercise to be at their best. They’re good apartment dogs and take well to indoor playtime and a nice daily walk. They also enjoy sports like lure coursing and agility, which is a great way to provide mental exercise in addition to physical.

Caretakers need to dedicate time and patience into training their Peruvian Inca Orchid, since the breed is both intelligent (read: stubborn) and difficult to socialize. Early socialization training is key for a well-balanced adult, and aggressive play is discouraged in the Peruvian Inca Orchid’s puppyhood since this can lead to bad behaviors later on. Engage in plenty of positive reinforcement training, and supervise your Peruvian Inca Orchid around dogs, cats, and small children before you leave them alone together.

You won’t have to worry about regular brushings with a Peruvian Inca Orchid, though other steps are needed to protect and care for their exposed skin. This includes the occasional bath, as well as sunscreen before heading outside and regular moisturizing when they’re inside. Other good grooming practices to follow include monthly nail trims, as well as weekly ear cleanings and teeth brushing at least five days a week. If your Peruvian Inca Orchid has hair, add a semi-regular brushing to the mix too. 

Grey Peruvian Inca Orchid cuddled up in white blanket.
Gustavo Ramirez / Getty Images
Dark gray Peruvian Inca Orchid standing in field in a blue harness.
Gustavo Ramirez / Getty Images
Light brown Peruvian Inca Orchid chewing on yellow toy on couch.
Максим Пеков.  Максим Пеков / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Peruvian Inca Orchid are quite healthy dogs, with no known propensity for certain genetic illnesses. However, all pure-bred dogs are prone to certain health conditions, and it’s important to know what to look out for.

Health conditions are more common in hairless variety of Peruvian Inca Orchids, and may include missing teeth, acne, and skin lesions. If buying a Peruvian Inca Orchid from a breeder, ask if any of these issues have been witnessed in in the breed line. Most health problems associated with Peruvian Inca Orchids are treatable and/or manageable, but it’s good to know what you might be able to expect.

Diet and Nutrition

The nutritional needs of Peruvian Inca Orchids are the same as they are for most dogs, with the breed doing best on a high-quality diet with plenty of protein. Do accommodate certain dietary needs if necessary, such as if your Peruvian Inca Orchid is a puppy or senior. Feel free to give your Peruvian Inca Orchid plenty of healthy treats, but keep them small if you notice any weight gain. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or notice that your dog is gaining too much weight.

Pros
  • Good fit for apartments

  • Affectionate and loyal

  • Social and like to be around their people

Cons
  • Not inherently friendly to dogs, cats, or kids

  • Require specialized grooming care

  • Aren’t particularly fond of strangers

Where to Adopt or Buy a Peruvian Inca Orchid

We always recommend looking at adoption first. Start your search via sites like Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet, and Overstock Pet Adoptions, as well as breed specific rescues such as Peruvian Inca Orchid Rescue, Inc. You may also have luck through Bald is Beautiful Dog Rescue or Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions

If you do choose to purchase through a breeder, be sure to do your research and only work with someone who is reputable and takes excellent care of their dogs.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

There is a perfect dog out there for everybody. Continue researching our dog profiles to learn about other popular breeds and how to care for them, or just go to a shelter and see who you connect with.

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Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed profiles.