Intelligent and sociable with an unusual appearance, the Peruvian Hairless Dog is a rare breed of dog with a history stretching back thousands of years. Also called Viringo and Peruvian Inca Orchid because of the special status it held in the Inca Empire, it is affectionate and obedient, but also cheeky and protective.
The Peruvian Hairless Dog is known by many names: Perro sin pelo del Peru, Viringo, Calato, and Peruvian Inca Orchid. Perhaps this is due to its rarity and the fascination it always arouses in people.
One of only three recognized hairless dog breeds, the Viringo is an affectionate and alert companion dog, of which there are two varieties. The hairless Viringo is hypoallergenic and therefore also suitable for one or the other allergy sufferer.
Peruvian hairless dogs come in three sizes, from 25 to 65 cm at the withers. These are slender and athletic dogs, reminiscent of greyhounds in appearance and temperament. Despite the name, not all Viringos are hairless. There is a hairless and a hairy variant.
Perro sin pelo del Peru: Hairless variant
Many different skin colors are acceptable for the hairless viringo (black, gray, blue, tan, blond), but spotted specimens should not have spots covering more than one-third of the body. Most hairless viringos have some down or fur on the head and tail, and sometimes on the back. These hairs can come in all colors.
Perro sin pelo del Peru with fur
With the hairy variant, there are no restrictions as far as coloring is concerned. These are elegant dogs with a smooth, short coat. They don’t have any of the special needs that come with hairlessness and are also less likely to be missing teeth. Otherwise, they do not differ from the hairless variant.
Fun fact: Hairy Viringos have only recently been recognized as a variant of this dog breed as a result of genetic studies. In 2015, a Peruvian hairless dog with fur was awarded for the first time at the World Dog Show in Milan.
Hypoallergenic Viringo: Is the Peruvian Hairless Dog Suitable for Allergy Sufferers?
People who suffer from dog allergies should always discuss getting a dog with their doctor first. However, the hairless Viringo is considered hypoallergenic and should therefore also be suitable for many allergy sufferers.
In addition to the Viringo, there are two other recognized hairless dog breeds: the Mexican Hairless Dog, also known as the Xoloitzcuintle, and the Chinese Crested Dog. The latter is smaller and has long flowing hair on the head, tail, and legs. All three owe their hairless appearance to the same gene mutation and are therefore also hypoallergenic.
Viringo vs Xoloitzcuintle
The Viringo and the Mexican Hairless Dog are very similar in both appearance and temperament. Both are available in three sizes and in a hairless and a hairy variant.
They differ mainly in that the Peruvian hairless dog is more sensitive to cold and somewhat more territorial. The Viringo can also serve as a watchdog thanks to its protective nature – it will bark when strangers approach the house.
Both dog breeds need a lot of exercise, have sensitive skin, and are wary of strangers.