The Peruvian Inca Orchid, or “PIO,” is a slender, streamlined sighthound that resembles a Whippet or a small Greyhound. It comes in two varieties, coated and hairless, which look very different from one another. The hairless PIO has pointy stand-up ears and, obviously, little to no hair, other than a small tuft on the top of its head which is called the “kiss spot.” The coated variety has soft, silky to mildly course hair and folded or tipped-over “rosebud ears” that are similar to those of the Border Collie and Shetland Sheepdog. Both hairless and coated Peruvian Inca Orchids can come from the same litter. These elegant, sleek dogs are built to run. They are sturdy, strong and have terrific stamina but should never appear coarse. PIOs have tapered muzzles, long graceful necks, well-sprung ribs and deep chests. Their low-set tails are thicker at the base and tapered at the tip. Their feet are fairly flat, which is referred to as a “hare foot,” and they have webbing between their toes that is more evident in the hairless variety. PIOs have medium-sized, slightly almond-shaped eyes that are neither sunken-in nor prominent. Eye and eyelid color varies, depending on the color of the dog’s skin and coat. Because PIOs are sensitive to bright sunlight, they often squint.
Size and Weight
Peruvian Inca Orchids come in a variety of sizes and weights. Most registries categorize them into three groups: small, medium and large. The small variety ranges from 10 to 16 inches in height and typically weighs between 8 and 18 pounds. The medium variety stands 16 to 20 inches tall at the withers and weighs 18 to 26 pounds. The large variety is 20 to 26 inches in height and generally weighs between 26 and 55 pounds. Other than size and weight differences, all PIOs are identical. They are uniformly slim, muscular and athletic and should carry no excess weight. Males and females are not noticeably different in appearance.
Coat and Color
Hairless Peruvian Inca Orchids are born that way. Most of them have either solid pink or solid black skin with some freckling at birth. Over the next few months, their freckles get bigger and more plentiful. Hairless PIOs have smooth, soft, supple skin that is pleasant to touch. They usually have a fuzzy tuft of hair between their ears that extends part-way down their forehead and is referred to as the “kiss spot.” Sparse hair on the hocks, feet and tail tip is acceptable, and skin scars are not penalized in the show ring. Coated PIOs are born with puppy coats that fill in as they mature, like any other coated breed. Their coats can be curly, wavy or straight, and short or long. They typically are soft and silky, although some coated PIOs have moderately coarse coats. They usually have longer feathering or “furnishings” on their ears and tail.
There are many skin and coat color combinations and no color restrictions in this breed. Colored speckles on a solid background are preferred in both the hairless and fully coated varieties. Base and speckling colors can range from pinkish-white to black, including all shades of rose, gold, tan, mahogany, chocolate, black, blue and gray.
Hairless Peruvian Inca Orchids obviously don’t need to have their coats groomed, because they have no coats. However, they still need grooming. They should not go outdoors without sunscreen or a wrap of some sort, to provide protection from the sun or from chilly weather. Their skin should be wiped down with a warm, damp cloth every few days to remove dirt, dust and debris. Their skin also should be moisturized regularly with lotion or oil appropriate for use on dogs. The coated variety rarely sheds. However, its coat is prone to developing tangles and should be brushed regularly to keep it neat and tangle-free. Regular baths, with a very gentle shampoo, are important in both varieties of this breed. Ears, nails and teeth should be cared for as in any breed, with regular cleaning, clipping and brushing, respectively.