Peruvian Inca Orchid
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Mentally and physically swift, Peruvian inca orchids are sighthounds with origins in South America. While these lithe, beautifully contoured pups are known for their hairless appearance, they can also have short fur and come in a wide range of sizes, making them suitable for living in all types of homes, including apartments.
Like the greyhound, whippet, and the Peruvian inca orchids' other skinny-by-nature cousins, the breed relies on sight and speed to excel at agility tasks. The athletic, alert pups are loyal and loving with family members and thrive in households that can accommodate their active nature. While the dogs aren't commonly found in American homes, they were originally bred to be companions by the ancient tribes in Peru, where they are the country's national breed.
The Peruvian inca orchid is a sighthound that comes in a wide range of sizes. The smallest pups stand just 9 inches tall and weigh 8 pounds, though they can reach heights of 26 inches and weights of 55 pounds. No matter their size, these dogs have the same graceful contours and slim body type as other breeds in the sighthound group, most notably the greyhound and whippet.
While Peruvian inca orchids can have short coats, they are most commonly hairless, a trait that makes them "hypoallergenic."
"The hairless variety of Peruvian inca orchid, as the name suggests, is hairless and non-shedding. [As a result], they may only have sparse fur on their head, feet, and lower tail," says Corinne Wigfall, DVM, BVS, BVM, and consulting veterinarian with SpiritDog Training. "For this reason, the hairless variety is considered [mostly] hypoallergenic and can make great pets for people prone to allergies."
Coated Peruvian inca orchids come in an assortment of colors, including brown, cream, gray, and white, and the hairless varieties can be solid tones or spotted. While a lack of fur may suggest that the dogs require a less rigorous hair care regimen, Wigfall says home grooming should still be a vital part of their regular care—no matter how much fur they have.
"Instead of brushing, the hairless Peruvian inca orchid does require regular washes with gentle dog-specific shampoo to keep their skin clean," she says. "The coated variety will need weekly brushing with a soft-bristled brush."
Loyal and affectionate, the Peruvian inca orchid breed adores the company of their favorite humans, making them doting family pets. But they're not social butterflies; these dogs may find having to interact with people they don't know as a bit stressful.
Because Peruvian inca orchids are sighthounds, it isn't uncommon for these watchful dogs to alert their humans when there's movement, whether that's an approaching delivery person or a neighborhood squirrel darting through the front yard. Because of this, they may not be suited for households with cats or other small mammals—they may find the movements of smaller creatures to be enticing and worthy of an entertaining chase.
"Cats move very quickly and strangely, and this can be off-putting to some breeds, and the Peruvian inca orchid is one of them," says Julie Burgess, CPDT-KA, a long-time veteran technician and certified dog trainer for Senior Tail Waggers.
Due to the sensitive nature of the sighthounds, Burgess recommends socializing your Peruvian inca orchid to as many different people, environments, and animals as possible to encourage them to be less wary of strangers and various situations. "They're cautious around people they don't know, but they love to be around their own family all the time," she says.
Smart, speedy, and athletic, Peruvian inca orchids can be taught to excel at agility tasks. They are also easy to train if you start educating them early. "Eight weeks of age is ideal to begin training," says Burgess.
Because Peruvian inca orchids come in a wide range of sizes, they can be suited for apartments or other small living quarters. But their energetic nature means they require at least one hour of exercise per day, and the lack of stimulation could cause them to partake in undesirable behavior.
"Their high energy level also means they need a job," Burgess says. "Dogs who need jobs can be mentally stimulated with toys, puzzles, and games to keep them out of mischief."
Their watchful and alert personalities also make them less likely to cohabit well with cats and other small animals, but they can live in harmony with other canines, particularly if socialized properly in puppyhood. But each pup is different, and owners should take the proper steps when introducing any unfamiliar feline or canine friends. This goes for children, too.
"Their lack of fur means their skin is vulnerable to easy abrasion and trauma, so supervision with cats is advised," Wigfall says. "Given their cautious nature, Peruvian inca orchids may be better homed with older children who are not loud and rough."
Peruvian inca orchids thrive indoors and are not suited for outdoor living, particularly the hairless varieties. Their beautiful, furless skin is sensitive to harmful UV exposure, so Wigfall recommends putting doggie sunscreen on your pup's skin in sunny weather and keeping walks timed to the coolest parts of the day (early morning and late evening). "In cold temperatures, ensuring warmth is important on walks [with], for example, a dog jacket," she says. "The home needs to be warm in winter, with lots of soft comfy bedding for them to curl up."
Peruvian inca orchid are sensitive companions that rely on the attention of the humans they love the most for happiness. As a result, they tend to suffer from separation anxiety.
"They need to be in homes that offer a lot of attention with minimal time left alone, as they can be prone to separation anxiety due to their sensitive nature," Wigfall says.
Depending on their age, Peruvian inca orchids require daily exercise, whether that's a one-hour stroll in the park or a long game of fetch in the yard. They also excel at canine sports such as agility, flyball, and rally—effective (and fun) ways to stimulate your four-legged buddy's body and mind. You can help your athletic Peruvian inca orchid develop agility skills on your own or with the help of a professional trainer.
While Peruvian inca orchids are clever and easy to train, they can be described as cautious and delicate at times. That's why owners should always employ calm techniques and positive reinforcement, which is based on praise for responding to cues. Healthy treats, toys, praise, and cuddles are all suitable rewards.
Peruvian inca orchids puppies should be socialized and begin training at an early age to ensure success, and patience is important. Sessions should be kept short and frequent (versus one long training period) to keep your pup engaged. "Each dog may be different in what motivates them most, some its food, others its play, so finding what motivates your pup will be the best way to offer positive reinforcement," Wigfall says.
To look and feel their best, Peruvian inca orchids require the proper amount of high-quality dog food that's best for their age and size. Consult a veterinarian on how much to feed your dog; the amount will depend on the individual dog's size, weight, age, exercise levels, and other factors. Because obesity is almost always a health concern for owners who enjoy showing their dogs how much they love them with treats, it is also important to ensure your Peruvian inca orchid maintains a healthy weight for his entire lifetime.
"Keep your Peruvian inca orchid, with their long, agile, slim profiles, in tip-top shape by keeping them well exercised and be cautious about not overfeeding them," Wigfall says.
Peruvian inca orchids have a lifespan of between 12–14 years, but they are prone to skin conditions and wounds, which can be prevented with proper care. For example, Wigfall recommends supervising your pup around cats or young children who might accidentally play too rough and applying doggie sunscreen when necessary.
"The hairless variety of Peruvian inca orchid is at risk of sunburn, which can predispose them to skin cancer," she says. "Other skin ailments can include acne, blackheads, and dry skin in winter."
Since dental disease is also common in this breed, it is best to brush your pup's teeth daily with a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush. Their nails should be assessed regularly and trimmed, if needed, to prevent overgrowth. As with any dog breed, it pays to be proactive regarding health care.
"Yearly exams, bloodwork, and heartworm, flea, and tick preventative can go a long way towards heading potential concerns off quickly and much less costly than if you wait," Burgess says.
A native of the eponymous South American country, Peruvian inca orchids were originally bred by the Chimu, Chancay, and Incan people. Images on ancient artifacts indicate that the elegant creatures—also known as the Peruvian hairless dog (perro sin pelo del Perú in Spanish), moon flower dog, and viringo dog—were considered cherished companions, according to the Peruvian Inca Orchid Club of the United States.
The original Peruvian inca orchid was small in stature, but when Peru was conquered by the Conquistadors, the pups were interbred with other dogs, eventually spawning the development of multiple sizes over the centuries. But it wasn't until 1966 that Jack Walkin, a canine enthusiast from America, became enamored by the breed in Peru and brought a few of them back with him to his homeland. Walkin is lauded to be the one who named the breed the Peruvian inca orchid.
- In 2001, Peru declared the Peruvian inca orchid a National Patrimony for the breed's contributions to the country's cultural heritage.
- Coated and hairless Peruvian inca orchids can be born in the same litter.
- It's rumored that the Peruvian inca orchid descended from the Mexican hairless dog known as the Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-queen-tle), a breed introduced to Peru by Ecuadorian sea traders.