Hairless Dogs Hang Out at Peru’s Ancient Pyramids
Ancient hairless dogs parade around Peru’s pyramids, looking for new love.
A Peruvian hairless dog known as “perro peruano sin pelo” is defined by its shiny black leathery wrinkled skin, broken by random patches of sprouting hair. Dogs like these would not be out of place wandering the streets of Netflix’s series Chernobyl Diaries, because aesthetically, it has to be admitted that they look as if they have just come out of a tumble drier.
That said, the species is finding new love in Peru since the country established the National Committee for the Protection of the Hairless Peruvian Dog, and on 12 June the dog was acknowledged as an ‘official breed’. This special date is now, officially, ‘Hairless Peruvian Dog Day’ and this really is great news for the bizarre-looking breed for less than three decades ago this aesthetically challenged dog was on the very brink of extinction.
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Less than three decades ago Peruvian hairless dogs were on the very brink of extinction. ( Barna Tanko /Adobe Stock)
If It ‘Looks’ Evil, Slaughter It
According to PrimitiveDogs.com breeders call this hairless species “primitive dogs” because their genetics have remained greatly unchanged over thousands of years of existence. The dogs were featured on Moche culture ceramics dating to around 750 AD and also in the arts of Wari, Chimú, and Vicus cultures, informing archaeologists that pre-Inca cultures, for thousands of years, looked after these dogs across the Peruvian northern coastal zone.
Peruvian Hairless Dog. ( JeremyRichards /Adobe Stock)
The Inca prohibited the consumption of these dogs when they conquered the northern regions, but the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in Peru in 1532 AD saw the breed almost wiped out. The Spanish were materialists with an unsatisfiable hunger for gold and while exterminating the country's indigenous religions to replace them with Catholicism they thought of this hairless dog, with their tongues hanging out of the side of their mouths, as an “ugly breed” fated to be eliminated, along with the people who were deemed equally as diabolical.
Peruvian hairless puppy. ( Angela Villavicencio /Adobe Stock) The Spanish conquistadors thought this was an “ugly breed” fated to be eliminated.
Looking For Love
Huaca Pucllana is a vast pre-Incan pyramid located in the Miraflores district of central Lima, Peru, built by the Lima Culture around 500 AD. The site archaeologist, Mirella Ganoza, explained in a BBC news article that in 2006 the Peruvian government declared the dog was “an important part of the country's cultural heritage” and that one of these hairless beasts must live at each archaeological museum site along the Peruvian coast.
Ganoza told the BBC that the Spanish in Peru thought the dogs “were satanic” containing “something sinister inside them” and over the centuries the dogs transformed from being loved Peruvian pets to bald and rejected street dogs, disassociated from the culture. However, in the 1990s a movement began to reclaim the dogs and they began warming the hearts of Peruvians once again.
In the 1990s a movement began to reclaim the dogs and they began warming the hearts of Peruvians once again. ( luciezr /Adobe Stock)
The BBC article features two such dogs, Sumac and Munay, who wearing T-shirts in the colors of the Peruvian flag, now wander around Huaca Pucllana greeting visitors to the ancient pyramid .
Park worker Delia Zyomee Huemon, 53, was photographed cradling Sumac in her arms and told reporters that every morning “I clean their beds and prepare their food. I also have to clean the other animal pens, the llamas, and they always follow me around.” “They love me a lot,” she added.
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Sumac and Munay. (Megan Janetsky/ BBC News )
In our modern world we often hear about pandas and tigers being threatened with extinction, but we seldom hear the harm bells being rung over dogs. But this doesn’t mean all is well in their world, and it’s not just the bald Peruvian species we have to worry about. An article in rover.com explains that the rarest dog breeds from around the world now have fewer than 1,000 animals worldwide and they are not all unheard of species.
According to a recent CBS report, Irish red and white setters are “difficult to train, and they need a lot of exercise” and this means only “64 dogs” were registered in 2015. What’s more, the smooth fox terrier is also in trouble for their original roles in hunting , flushing out foxes, is closing up and yearly registrations of the dog, according to CBS, are “around 120”.
Irish red and white setter portrait. ( Ximinez /Adobe Stock)
Top Image: Peruvian hairless dog. Source: CC BY SA 3.0
By Ashley Cowie