machu picchu

At first glance someone encountering a Peruvian hairless dog might think it has some kind of skin disease. Apart from sometimes having just a few tufts of hair poking from the top of its head this native Peruvian animal is completely hairless – obviously this is were its uninventive but descriptive name comes from. Its a strange sight to see its wrinkly grey skin mottled with pink spotted areas. The dogs have been around since pre-inca times and there have been findings of ceramic representations of them dating back to the Moche culture around 750AD.There is evidence they were kept as pets by the Moche, Chancay and Chimu cultures. In these ancient cultures the dogs were revered and they were even given special burials to honor them. Bio-archaeologist Sonia Guillen explains “They were wrapped in textiles and they had a bit of fish put on top of the snout, as a way to send them to the other life with covering and food.”. It is said that Inca Royalty would sleep with these dogs in their beds as a kind of living hot water bottle and in Peru people say that the dogs are good for people with arthritis. Clearly they woudl be a good pet option for dog lovers with hair allergy also. The arrival of the Spanish to Peru and with them larger more vicious dogs spelt the beginning of the bad times for the native canines. The Spanish would set their dogs to attack the strange looking and often scrawny looking weaker Peruvian dogs for entertainment, driving down their numbers and eventually the dogs became feral and this over time the Peruvians themselves looked badly upon what they saw as scavengers. Salvation came in the late 1980s after research by the Peruvian government shed light upon their historical importance and they started to take steps to protect the dogs. First step was to place a pair of the dogs at Huaca Pucllana (a popular archaeological site in Lima) and thereafter they decided that all major coastal (because the dogs are better suited to the coastal environment and not so much the highlands) archaeological site in Peru should also have a pair. This initiative worked and the dogs became more popular with locals and the breed a symbol of Peru being awarded he title of national dog of Peru. The government controls the exportation of the Peruvian dog and doesn’t allow the breed to be taken from the country in order to protect patrimony. So if you are visiting Peru and pass through lima be sure to keep an eye out for the pair of these interesting dogs at Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores area.

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