Peruvian dogs may qualify to be the greatest dogs in the world. Why? They neither have fleas nor wood ticks. They never shed hair and stay clean. Their bodies are warmer than any other dog breed. And they allegedly have curative powers. In sum, the Peruvian dog is the ideal pet that everyone ever dreamed. But why is this dog specifically Peruvian? To answer this question, one must go back into ancient times.
The History of ‘Perro Calato’
The Peruvian dog or Perro Calato has accompanied ancient Peruvians for centuries. Their first vestiges date back from the year 300 B.C. Pre-Inca cultures Moche, Chancay and Vicus happily adopted this dog breed. Several ancient pottery portraits of this hairless dog testify its popularity. The dogs not only inhabited small homes, but also the palaces of powerful noblemen. The Lambayeqan tomb of the Lord of Sipan, for example, had the remains of a Peruvian dog. Archeologists believe the animal was the Lord of Sican’s favorite pet. Northern Peruvians called the dog Virindu, and it’s still known by that name today.
The Incas denominated the dogs ‘Allqu‘, as well as publicized its curative powers. The ‘mystical power’ of the dog spread to the furthest regions of the Empire. Some versions assert these dogs were “dressed in ceremonial clothing on spiritual occasions”. Along with Llamas, Perros Calatos also became the Incas’ favorite companions.
But after the Spanish invasion, the fate of the dog changed. Inca natives were enslaved, and many were forbidden to raise the animal. The dog population shrank drastically, and the animal only inhabited in rural regions. Same as Inca natives, the Peruvian dog was a victim of segregation. The dog lived in shantytowns, and among the poor for various generations.
Their prolonged isolation kept these dogs from mixing with other breeds. (Reduced gene pools create health issues along the line). As a consequence, Peruvian dogs have fewer teeth, lack molars, and are prone to acquire ailments. In fact, its physical traits are just symptoms of Ectodermal Dysplasia, a disorder the breed carried for millennia. And yet, Perros Calatos became a blessing for the Peruvian poor. The animal’s body heat make them providential during cold winters. Peruvians believe the dog can cure asthma since they “don’t cause allergy and absorb lots of humidity.” Also, they alleviate arthritic pain since they are “used as a heat pack that never gets cold.”
Many regard the ‘sick and sensitive” label attached to the dog as inaccurate. In fact, thousands of Peruvian dogs live long and healthy lives in cold and high altitude regions, as Cusco and Puno.
Although these dogs are cheap to adopt in Peru, the price of a puppy in the US ranges from $700 to $4,000.
A Peruvian Dog in the U.S White House?
Despite its obscure origins in Lima’s shantytowns, Perro calato almost made it to the U.S White House.
In 2008, the elected president Obama announced his wishes of adopting a pet. Obama was overwhelmed by dozens of offers from friends, politicians, ambassadors, etc. One of the offers came from Claudia Galvez, head of the Peruvian Hairless Dog Association. Galvez sent a letter to the White House, stating that a Peruvian dog puppy, named ‘Macchu Pichu’, was ready to make ‘the Oval Office’ its new home. She wrote: “Our Peruvian dogs are very clean, intelligent, loving, and loyal..”
The Peruvian dog’s chances increased when it was learned that Malia (Obama’s daughter) was allergic to certain breeds. Reputed news sources, as Reuters and AP, agreed that the hypoallergenic Peruvian dog was a perfect choice. AOL even ran an online poll among U.S citizens to decide if ‘Macchu Pichu’ was Obama’s best choice. 40% of American voted yes, and 16% were still undecided. Unfortunately, among the excitement, the publicity and the polls, ‘Macchu Pichu’ lost the election. Obama finally selected a Portuguese Water dog named ‘Bo’.
From a Lima’s shantytown to the prestigious Oval Office in the White House. That was a long shot. There are over 340 dog breeds in the entire world. And the Peruvian dog almost made it to the top. As we said, Perro Calato from Peru is one of the world’s most singular dog breeds. Otherwise, He would not have made it that far.
Everything is possible. Maybe next time.𝔖
Image Source: Ammstravel