Complete Guide To The Peruvian Inca Orchid: Health, Feeding, Exercise and More

This unique and rare dog is intelligent, affectionate, and loyal, making the Peruvian Inca Orchid a wonderful family pet. Available in three sizes, this dog can be as small as 8 pounds or as large as 55 pounds, depending on the particular type of PIO you adopt. With many of the dogs hairless, the Peruvian Inca Orchid may make a perfect option for people who suffer from pet allergies.  

I’ve never seen on of these breed in person, but I can use my experience as a veterinarian to give my impression on things that you’ll want to be aware of if you’re thinking of adding one to your family.

How Big Do Peruvian Inca Orchids Get?

Height (at the shoulder)9.75″ – 15.75″15.75″ – 19.75″Up to 25.75″
Weight8-17 lbs17.5 – 26.5 lbs26.5 – 55 lbs


What Do Peruvian Inca Orchids Look Like?

This dog is easily recognizable because it is one of only a handful of hairless breeds. Although the dog does not have any fur, it still comes in a range of colors, with the skin spotted or solid color. It is possible to have a PIO born with hair, but this is the rare minority. The fur will be very thin and short. It is also possible to have both haired and hairless puppies born in the same litter.  

What Is The Personality Of A Peruvian Inca Orchid?

This dog is a very old breed of dogs bred through several generations and with multiple different breeding stocks. As such, there are many different temperaments and personalities possible with this breed. Some are docile and affectionate, while others tend to be more feral and wild. With any puppy, proper socialization and training are necessary to ensure your pet is well-behaved. 

This dog is very intelligent and can be challenging to train. The dog has a stubborn streak and likes to think that it knows best. Be sure to keep training sessions short and consistent. Always use positive training methods and be prepared to dedicate plenty of time to training. This dog is not recommended for families with young children, but they are well suited for families with older kids. The PIO can be standoffish to new guests, which makes them an ideal watchdog and family companion.  

How Much Grooming Does A Peruvian Inca Orchid Need?

Because these dogs do not have fur, you must be very careful always to keep this dog indoors, unless exercising or taking a bathroom break. The PIO cannot be an outdoor dog.

The sensitive skin can quickly become sunburned, so always be sure to keep your dog covered with a shirt or apply sunscreen to protect your dog. Aside from protecting the skin, this dog will only need the occasional bath to remove dirt, debris, and oils. Keep the nails trimmed short and the ears clean and clear of wax and dirt.  

How Much Exercise Does A Peruvian Inca Orchid Need?

This dog is not a dog that will be happy as a couch potato and needs a fair amount of exercise to stay healthy and happy. Take your Peruvian Inca Orchid for several short walks throughout the day. This dog will enjoy some playtime or a rousing game of fetch, but only in a fenced area where he will be protected. Because this dog has sensitive skin, he will have to remain indoors during very sunny days. Still, fun exercises and games can occur indoors, such as hide-and-seek, fetch, or learning new behaviors.  

This dog can be well suited for apartment life if it is given enough exercise. Because this dog is incredibly intelligent and athletic, it does very well at canine athletics. Try teaching your PIO skills like agility, obedience, or rally competitions to exercise both your PIO’s mind and body. Learning new agility competitions and skills are a great way to spend time together with your dog. 

What Dog Food Is Best For Peruvian Inca Orchids?

This breed requires no special diets. Because they’re already a small frame size, adding extra calories and getting them overweight is easy by giving them high-calorie snacks and small bites of people food. With a hairless dog, there really are no excuses for being overweight as the true body condition is right in front of your eyes.

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Basic dog foods that I recommend include:

How Long Do Peruvian Inca Orchids Live?

12-14 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Do Peruvian Inca Orchids Have?

Because of the hairless nature of their bodies, these dogs will either be too cold or too hot most of the time. Depending on where you live, you will either need to have them wearing a coat or sweater whenever outside.

Sunburn will be a risk for any light-colored Peruvian Inca Orchids so be mindful of taking them outside during the times of the day when the sun is at its worst.

Be mindful of how easily they make get lacerations or other small nicks to their skin as the thickness (or lack thereof) is similar to that of a Whippet.

Finally, I don’t know how prone they are to dental disease, but all of the other sighthounds I know are prone to it so I don’t see why this breed wouldn’t be.

Where Can I Learn More About The Peruvian Inca Orchid?

Peruvian Inca Orchid Club of the United States (PIOCUS)

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find a Peruvian Inca Orchid?

This dog is a beautiful and unique dog that can be difficult to find from a breeder. Expect a long wait of six months or longer to find an available puppy from a breeder. Before selecting a breeder, make sure to verify your breeder’s credentials thoroughly. You want to make sure your breeder is knowledgeable about the breed and has performed the correct health checks to ensure the puppies are in good health.  

Start with the Peruvian Inca Orchid Club of the United States (PIOCUS), as they will know who are the most reputable breeders in different area of the United States. The club is new (the breed hasn’t attained full AKC status yet) so reach out via the contact information provided.

AKC Puppy Marketplace

It may also be possible to rescue a Peruvian Inca Orchid from a rescue organization. Several rescue groups specialize in this breed, like the Peruvian Inca Orchid Rescue, Inc., that rescues and adopts this rare breed. You may also find this breed of dog from generic rescues like Bald is Beautiful Dog Rescue.  

Fun Facts About The Peruvian Inca Orchid

  • The Peruvian Inca Orchid may be one of the oldest domesticated dogs. This breed of dog has a long history and dates back to at least 750 AD, appearing in ceramic drawings and paintings.
  • Although the Peruvians certainly lauded this breed of dog for its looks, it was also thought to have healing properties. The urine and feces of the PIOs were regularly used for medicine. Simply having a PIO was thought to bring good luck and health and was even supposed to help cure arthritis.    
  • Many people believe that the hairless Peruvian Inca Orchids have a higher body temperature than other dogs, but their temperature is the same in reality. Because the dog lacks a coat to help insulate it, the skin feels remarkably hotter.  
  • Initially, the PIO was a small dog, which probably closely resembled the small breed of PIO available today. When the Spanish invaded and conquered Peru, they bred the little dog with European breeds. The result was the various sizes we know today.