Peruvian Inca Orchid

This hairless breed is also known as the Moonjlower Dog, the Inca Moonjlower Dog, the Inca Orchid Dog, or the Peruvian Inca Orchid. It is often referred to simply as the PIO. Its ancient name in the Quecha language was ‘Caa-alleppo’ or ‘Caa-allego’ (‘dog without clothes’). Additional names include Chien Nu du Perou, Peruanischer Nackthund and Perunkarvatonkoira. It began life as a food dog, hut was later adopted as a high-status companion dog of the Inca nobility.


Although this breed is called an ‘Inca Dog’, it was known long before it became a favourite of the Inca nobles. Like most hairless dogs, its original function was to provide dog meat. In ancient Peru the inhabitants of the regional kingdom of Huanca were so greedy for dog flesh that they were known as the ‘dog-eaters’ and their most important feasts were dog banquets. When they went to war they blew on horns made of dogs’ heads. After these brutal Huancas (who skinned their prisoners alive and used their pelts to make drum-skins) were subjugated by the Incas in 1460, they were forbidden to exploit dogs and were told to make their horns out of the heads of deer instead.

The powerful Incas almost certainly acquired their hairless dogs from these defeated dog-eaters and carried the little animals home as treasured, protected pets. Unlike the Huancas, the Inca nobility were disgusted by the idea of eating dog flesh and looked upon the hairless dogs as their friends, admiring them for their pale, mottled skin. The paler the skin, the more they valued the dog. The delicate animals were kept in darkened, orchid-filled rooms and only exercised at night, hence the alternative name of Moonflower Dog.

When the Peruvian Inca Orchid empire collapsed, these dogs became extremely rare, but the breed never vanished completely and is still kept in small numbers in Peru even today. In the 20th century, examples have been exported to both North America and Europe, although it has never become a common breed anywhere.


A calm and intelligent little dog, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is lacking in any aggression and is highly sensitive. Its delicate, light-boned body exhibits several defects. Not only is its skin prone to various ailments, but its teeth also suffer from weaknesses that often need attention. From time to time, there are hair-covered individuals in the litters and these are retained for breeding purposes, as they do not suffer from dental deficiencies and help to keep the breed stable.


The height at the withers varies according to the three sizes. The Standard Peruvian Inca Orchid is 20-26 inches/50-65 cm, the Miniature 16-20 inches/40-50 cm and the Toy 10-16 inches/25-40 cm. All sizes are elegant in build, with a long, slightly wedge-shaped head. The color should be black, or any shade of gray or liver brown, with or without pink spotting on the lower part of the body.

Gallery of Peruvian Inca Orchid