WTF Wednesday: The Peruvian Hairless Dog

Posted on
Oct 27, 2011

"Don't hate me because I'm hairless."

(Okay, fine – so today is actually Thursday, and not Wednesday. But I’m sure you’ll agree – “WTF Thursday” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’ve been on the road this week, and blogging’s been a little slow. Cut me a weensy bit of slack and I’ll love you forever.)

Allow me to say something which, though painfully obvious, we tend to lose sight of more often than not. Ready? Here goes:

Looks aren’t everything.

I know, I know. This isn’t shocking news, right? You’ve probably been told this since you were a kid. But the more I watch television, and see countless tanned beauties with veneers (because at some point as a society, we started to think it was cool for people to have chiclets instead of teeth), shaking their glossy locks as they parade around in skin-tight jeans- AND YES I AM TALKING ABOUT BOTH MEN AND WOMEN – I begin to wonder if we’ve lost sight of this.

I’m so committed to proving there’s more to a person than their physical appearance, that I dedicate hours to making myself look disheveled. If you bump into me on the street, I may be, at any give time, rocking at least one of the following:

  • a prominent zit
  • something weird going on with my hair
  • something weird in my hair
  • jeans that were purchased without the benefit of a three-way mirror
  • a cupcake (or the remnants thereof, somewhere on my person)
THIS LOOK REQUIRES HOURS OF PREPARATION, I SWEAR. It may appear as though I merely rolled out of bed and that my clothes were either slept in or stolen from someone in a significantly worse financial state than my own, but it’s all painstakingly put together. Such is my commitment to proving that there’s much more to us than our outward appearance.
But despite all of my efforts, the country of Peru puts me to shame. Because they have picked one homely son of a bitch to be their national dog.
The Perro sin pelo del Peru – literally, the Peruvian hairless dog – is, true to its name, almost entirely bald. We encountered one outside of the Larco Museum in Lima. Ebony-colored and smooth-skinned, it sat so perfectly still, we assumed it was made of stone (and that perhaps the museum had a really terrible decorator). It was only later, when we saw it sprawled on the ground by the entrance that we realized: this dog was real.

And poor thing – it was really, really ugly.

My travel buddy Meghan tries to get the hairless pup's attention.

It looked like the lovechild of a doberman and an old leather ottoman. As I got a closer look, I realized that the dog had the teeth of an NHL hockey player. This is common for the breed – apparently the same genes that cause the dogs to be hairless also leave them in want of a couple of molars. On top of all that, they’re prone to sunburns, acne, and clogged pores.

A while back, when the Obama family was shopping for a new dog, Claudia Galvez, president of the Association of Friends of Hairless Dogs of Peru (I am kind of dying with joy that such a thing exists) offered the first family a hairless dog. The offer was declined, because the Obamas are clearly superficial types who want the sort of dog that wouldn’t give their children nightmares.

Beauty's in the eye of the beholder, right?

Fortunately, in its native country, the Peruvian hairless dog is appreciated much more. One of our tour guides smiled brightly as she told us about them – explaining that they resembled big, hairless bats. The breed has been around for literally thousands of years, dating back to Pre-Incan times. Though once nearly extinct, the Peruvian government has placed special protections on the animals, requiring every archaeological site on the coast to have at least two of them (which explains the one hanging around outside of the museum).

And despite their looks, they’re supposedly great pets – affectionate, intelligent, and, being hairless, allergy-free. According to folklore, being in contact with one of the dogs can help cure all sorts of maladies.

Given the number of twee poodles and designer dogs running around the planet, it’s hard not to respect Peru for their decision. Not only did they pick the hairless dog to be a symbol of their country, they’ve made sure it can be found in dozens of tourist destinations. It may be homely as hell, but its distinctly Peruvian.

It’s a sentiment that, if you think about it, is really … well, beautiful.

Leave a Comment

  • Molly

    It looks like a chupacabra

  • All issues of what day it is to one side (it’s already half way through Friday here in Melbourne), can I just say three cheers for Peru? What an awesome national dog! It doesn’t however even begin to compare to some of the poor things that win the World’s Ugliest Dog competition (,29307,1907757,00.html).

  • OK, I’m officially cutting you a weensy bit of slack. You must now love me forever. Woo hoo!

  • I’m reasonably sure that someone involved with the Resident Evil franchise must have seen one of those dogs.

    When I saw that photo, I had flashbacks to the movie with the crazy, evil, meat flesh hanging out mongrel dogs are trying to eat everyone.

    As they say though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – some people manage to find Chihuahua’s cute and pretty, my mind boggles!

  • haha – I love your description of “the hours of preparation” to achieve the disheveled look! I am a master in that one myself and I can testify that it does take a very long time to pull together:)

  • Janet T

    it kind of has that Egyptian god Anubis look to it.

    • Ana

      Thought exactly the same thing.

  • Mondie

    You are clearly not doing it right because I can manage to look disheveled without much effort!

  • Larita

    As someone who loves dogs and hates hair, I severely want on of these dogs. Ironically, as I’m also a dog groomer, I hope nobody in my town finds out about these dogs.

  • KUalum

    When I first opened the page, I thought, “what a pretty dog.” And that was before I read any content. I really don’t think the dog is ugly. But I also think chihuahuas are ADORABLE.

  • Christine

    Aww. This dog looks like my Lucy, only hairless. I love it!

  • Yes, but *still* not as ugly as the (also-hairless) Sphynx cat, at least in my head.

  • jjaa

    I think it is awesome how people are getting to know a little more about my country (Peru) through your blog
    Thanks for that!

  • Liz Y-A

    I met this sweet female dog in March 2011 at the Larco. They are beautiful dogs. I have several photos of her at the museum. BTW, the Larco is a fantastic museum. Don’t take the cabs by the entrance, walk a short way to the street and get your cab there for much cheaper.

  • Lois Mazza

    To truly understand that looks are not everything, you must honestly ask your self this question: who do you love (and actually care about) based ONLY on their looks? The honest answer is: no one. Its nice to look good, but its more important to be nice. This is my opinion and I’m sticking with it!

  • Lois Mazza

    It has to be said, so I will say it: He actually is ‘a son of a bitch’ though I think you intended a different inference for this comment.

    So hilarious, as always!

  • I am officially putting the Peruvian hairless dog on my wish list… right next to the hairless Sphynx cat.

  • Sash Tejo

    Let us look at brighter side of things. 1. No hair shedding on sofas and carpets 2. You can selectively position them in the drawing room to keep visits of unwanted guests short and sweet.

  • I wonder if the Peruvians used to eat them the same way that the Mayans raised Chihuahuas for food.

    Interesting-looking dog!

  • Not ugly at all …

  • Peruvian Hairless Dog Owner

    I have a Peruvian Hairless dog AND im Peruvian … I love my dog though, and really, if you think they’re ugly, after you have either been with one or had one, you will say that they are WONDERFUL. My Dog (Patsie) Is already a year and a month old, and she is truly kind. Especially with other people, she is just AWESOME

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