The Spanish conquistadors, who are said to have found these dogs living amidst orchids in Inca homes, called them “perros flora”: flower dogs. They are also sometimes called moonflower dogs, Inca hairless dogs, and Peruvian hairless dogs.
From the long wedge of a head to the tapering tail, the PIO, as he’s nicknamed, has an elegant outline. The hairless variety has prick ears, while the coated dogs have rose ears that bend forward or outward because they are covered in hair. Some have a spot on top of the head, known by PIO owners as “the kiss spot.”
The hairless Peruvian Inca Orchid has smooth, supple skin with a narrow patch of hair on top of the head, sort of like a mohawk. He may sometimes have a little fuzz on the forehead or sparse tufts of hair on the lower tail and feet. His skin can be solid or spotted. The coated variety has a short to medium-length single coat, so he comes in several different looks: short and smooth, long and curly, or long and straight. The texture of his hair can be coarse or soft. Dogs with a longer coat may have feathering on the ears and tail.
The hairless variety is rumored to have a higher body temperature than other dogs, but it’s not true. Because there’s no coat between you and the dog’s skin, the hairless PIO just feels as though he’s warmer than other dogs. Nonetheless, he’s a joy to hold when you’re chilled. In winter the hairless variety needs to wear a sweater or jacket if he’s outside, and that’s not optional. The PIO should live indoors year round and is an excellent choice for city dwellers.
The ideal owner for this breed is already experienced with dogs and their behavior. A Peruvian Inca Orchid has a reserved and cautious temperament, although he should not be timid. He takes his time studying guests before deciding whether to accept them and dislikes having strangers touch him. Early socialization is essential with this breed to help ensure that he is not fearful when exposed to new situations or people. On the plus side, these traits make him a good watchdog. He is sensitive and is best suited to a home with older children who will treat him respectfully.
When it comes to training, the Peruvian Inca Orchid is a quick learner. He responds well to positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. To hold his attention, keep training sessions short, fun, and interesting. The PIO can be possessive of toys or other objects. Kindly teach him to let you take things from him without any argument.
A PIO needs a moderate amount of exercise daily such as a 20- or 30-minute walk or active play in a fenced yard. If you’re interested in dog sports, he can be good at agility, lure coursing, obedience and rally.
Remember that the hairless PIO is sensitive to sun. Don’t leave him outdoors for long periods during the day, and apply dog-safe sunscreen to his body before walking him. If you can exercise him early in the morning or in the evening, so much the better.