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Peruvian Hairless Dog Temperament: Meet the Orchid of Peru

The Peruvian Hairless Dog temperament is delightful. It is an ancient breed that is the national dog of Peru, where it originated. The Peruvian Hairless Dog is also called the Peruvian Inca Orchid, or “Perro Flora”—flower dog. 

She has a sweet disposition and is cheerful, friendly, and loves people. She makes a great family dog , and is a good choice even for apartment living.

However, dog experts do not recommend this breed for first-time dog owners. She has a very special temperament that needs extra attention.

The Peruvian Hairless Dog Temperament and Personality


The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a smart breed that is easy to train with a gentle hand.


This breed bonds strongly with its family. She makes an excellent indoor dog because she needs to be close to her humans.


The natural Peruvian Hairless Dog temperament is happy and lively.


The Peruvian Hairless Dog loves to play with kids—her own and the neighbors’. She can be a little wild or out of control in her play. She isn’t well suited to families with very small children.


This is a non-aggressive breed, though they can be stranger wary.


The Peruvian Hairless Dog temperament is friendly. She gets along well with older kids and other dogs. She can do well with strangers, but she needs socialization from an early age to prevent stranger anxiety.


She is generally calm and quiet and doesn’t bark much without a good reason.


The Peruvian Hairless Dog temperament is protective of women and children. She may also rush to protect a roughhousing child, thinking he or she is in danger.


This breed is always alert to her surroundings. She will let you know if she senses anything suspicious. She makes a good watchdog.


She has a lot of energy and loves to run and play. She needs a moderate to high level of exercise.


Because of the Peruvian Hairless Dog traits of grace, athleticism, and speed, ancient Peruvians used this breed as messenger dogs and hunters. Peruvians Hairless Dog is a “courser,” used to flush small game.


The Peruvian Hairless Dog has a sensitive nature that can easily turn to anxiety as she grows.

She needs a very gentle hand with training and correction.

She also needs careful socialization at an early age so she doesn’t become nervous and shy.

Hunting Instinct

This breed is a sight hound. She probably can’t be trusted around small pets, but some say that they can do well with smaller animals if you raise them together.


The Peruvian Hairless Dog can be anxious and nervous if not properly socialized.

In particular, she can experience separation anxiety, so this breed may not be the best choice if no one in the family will be home during the day.

Affectionate but Wary of Strangers

This breed is very affectionate with her family but needs early socialization. Otherwise, her natural wariness of strangers could lead to a permanent problem.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Origin

Ancient Times

The history of the Peruvian Hairless Dog goes back at least as far as 750 AD, predating the Inca civilization in Peru. Historians have found this breed depicted on pottery made by several South American peoples over the centuries.

When Spanish conquistadors invaded Peru in the 16th century, they brought dogs with them. At that time in Peru, the breed was likely the small Peruvian Hairless Dog. These dogs bred with the dogs the conquistadors brought in, and this created the three distinct sizes we know today.

The Spanish were probably responsible for nicknaming this breed “flower dog” because they often found them lying among wild orchids.

Because they have no hair, their skin radiates warmth, so the Peruvians often used them as bed warmers.

Early Peruvians thought this dog brought good luck. They also believed that the Peruvian Hairless Dog had mystical healing powers.

They used this breed’s urine and feces in certain medicines and thought that their warmth could relieve arthritis pain and help breathing conditions.

Modern Day

In 1966, Jack Walklin, an American visitor to Peru, introduced the Peruvian Hairless Dog to the US. Historians believe that he is the one who named this dog the Peruvian Inca Orchid. You will often hear this breed called PIO today.

Walklin brought eight dogs back with him to the US. These eight dogs were the first generation of Peruvian Hairless Dogs bred in America.

The Kennel Club of Peru changed her name in 1985 to Perro sin Pelo de Peru (Peruvian Hairless Dog). The Peruvian government declared this breed “cultural patrimony.” She now has protected status in Peru.

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is a good hunter, but she is mostly a companion animal today. Some call her the nickname “moon dog” or “moonflower dog,” because she can tolerate very little direct sunlight.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Appearance

General Appearance

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is slim and elegant with a sleek, muscular body. She has large upright, triangular-shaped ears.

Not all Peruvian Hairless Dogs are hairless. About one-third of them are born with hair like most other dogs. Some have just a bit of hair and tufts on their tails and heads, and some are born with full coats.

The coatless Peruvian Hairless Dog does not grow a full set of adult teeth. They often have missing molars and premolars. This Peruvian Hairless Dog trait is tied to the gene for hairlessness. The coated dogs usually have a full set.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Size

Peruvian Hairless Dogs are classified by size—small, medium, and large. Otherwise, they are identical dogs.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Weight

  • Small, 9 to 18 pounds
  • Medium. 18 to 26 pounds
  • Large, 26 to 55 pounds

Peruvian Hairless Dog Height

  • Small, 10 to 16 inches
  • Medium, 16 to 20 inches
  • Large, 20 to 26 inches

Peruvian Hairless Dog Colors

Most Peruvian Hairless Dogs are brown, black, or gray. They can have pink and white spots that grow larger and closer together as the dog grows.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Training

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is smart and learns quickly, but dog experts don’t recommend her for inexperienced owners. She needs a delicate combination of firmness and gentleness in training. Finding this balance may be difficult for a new dog owner.

She needs short but frequent and consistent training sessions and careful handling. If you use harsh training methods with her, she’s likely to become shy and anxious. Peruvian Hairless Dog behaviors need gentle correction and positive reinforcement.

The Peruvian Hairless Dog also needs a lot of early socialization to prevent nervousness and stranger anxiety. Because of the Peruvian Hairless Dog temperament trait of sensitivity, she needs more patience and understanding in training than most breeds.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Peruvian Hairless Dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

Interesting Peruvian Hairless Dog Info

  • The Peruvian Hairless Dog has a noble heritage. Peruvian nobility kept these dogs as companion animals. They let the coated dogs roam free outside, but they kept the hairless ones inside and out of the sun.
  • Both hairless and coated Peruvian puppies can be born in the same litter.
  • The Peruvian Hairless Dog has unusual feet. They’re long and thin, and the toes are webbed. They resemble a rabbit’s feet.
  • Not surprisingly, this breed does not handle the cold well. In colder environments, the Peruvian Hairless Dog needs to wear clothing to spend time outdoors.
  • Peruvian Hairless Dogs are hypoallergenic for some people but not for everyone.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Health Issues

The majority of Peruvian Hairless Dogs are healthy. The major issue for this breed is her intolerance of severe weather. She needs protection from the sun in the summer and from the cold in winter.

Other conditions the Peruvian Hairless Dog Inca can be susceptible to include:

  • Dental Problems: This breed needs careful and frequent tooth brushing.
  • Acne and Other Skin Issues: Like humans, some dogs get acne during puberty (age five to eight months). Treatment is usually the same, as well, with topical medication. They usually outgrow it by the age of one year. It’s important to keep an eye on this because this breed can experience more serious skin issues.
  • Epilepsy: This has a hereditary component, so it’s a good idea to find out what you can about your Peruvian Hairless Dog’s parents. You should also know the symptoms, so if you suspect your dog has had a seizure, you can call the vet right away.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This is chronic irritation of the bowel lining. There are a number of things that can cause this, including some serious conditions. Again, you should know the symptoms and call your vet right away if you see any.

You should also call your vet for any sudden temperament changes in your Peruvian Hairless Dog.

Helpful Health Resource

Important Note: Few things are more important than our Health. It's no different with our Dogs Health. Some visits (and Money) to your vet can be avoided if only you know what to do when your dog is ill. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is the answer. No dog owner should be without this handy guide. It's no substitute for your vet but it will Save you Money and Heartache. This Dog Health Guide will help you quickly understand and recognize symptoms before they become a serious problem for your dog. Click Here to see if you agree.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Lifespan

The Peruvian Hairless Dog’s life expectancy is 11 to 12 years.

Caring for the Peruvian Hairless Dog

Peruvian Hairless Dog Grooming

Most importantly, a Peruvian Hairless Dog needs sunscreen whenever she is out in the sun. Otherwise, her skin will burn.

Obviously, this hairless breed does not need brushing (unless you have one with a coat, which will need occasional brushing). And good news—no fur equals no fleas!

Her skin needs special care, though. She needs to be bathed every week or two because of her susceptibility to acne and other skin lesions.

Between baths, you can clean her as needed with warm water and a washcloth using a gentle dog soap or baby shampoo. You should follow each bath or cleaning with a good moisturizer to prevent dry skin.

She will also need to have her ears cleaned weekly and checked for dry, cracking skin.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Diet

The Peruvian Hairless Dog does well on a good-quality dry food. Because this is a high-energy breed, two or three smaller meals a day is better than one large meal. This breed doesn’t have any special dietary issues.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Exercise

The Peruvian Hairless Dog does well with a daily walk.

You should not leave her outside to play for long periods because of her sun sensitivity.

If she does play outside, she should have a shady area in a fenced-in yard. She is a sight hound, so she will chase small animals.

Other Hairless Dogs

The Peruvian Hairless Dog is one of several breeds of hairless dogs and should not be confused with the others. They are:

Finding a Peruvian Hairless Dog

Peruvian Hairless Dog Puppies for Sale from a Breeder

This breed is so rare that it is very difficult to find a Peruvian Hairless puppy for sale in the US. Even the AKC doesn’t keep a list of American breeders.

You may be able to import a Peruvian Hairless dog puppy from Peru, but it may not be easy. Exporting them requires government approval.

Peruvian Hairless Dog price is hard to estimate, as they are so rare in the US. An Internet search indicates anywhere from $400 to $1100.

If you need to import a puppy (assuming Peruvian government approval), the shipping would make the Peruvian Hairless Dog cost much higher.

Peruvian Hairless Dog for Adoption

Again, the breed is so rare that you would probably have a hard time finding one at local shelters. You can always notify any shelters near you that you’re looking for one, but you’ll probably have to be very patient if you go this route.

Peruvian Hairless Dog Rescue

An online search turned up several Peruvian Inca Orchid rescues online. One actually had two dogs available at the time of this writing, so it is possible to find one if you’re persistent.

Why the Peruvian Hairless Dog?

So you think the Peruvian Hairless Dog temperament may be right for you. You have some experience as a dog owner and trainer.

You’re confident that you can handle her special training needs and her physical and emotional sensitivity.

You understand Peruvian Hairless Dog behaviors and the fact that she may not do well with young children.

In that situation, the rewards of adopting this breed will be great. The gentle Peruvian Hairless Dog temperament makes her a wonderful family dog. If you’re looking for a canine companion, with a sweet and loving tempermaent you couldn’t do better than the Orchid of Peru.