France is the first country in history to officially recognise the Coated Peruvian Hairless Dog!
Prejudice or bad precedent? What’s certain is that, after centuries of existence, the Peruvian Hairless Dog variant with coat is still considered by many as a “chusco” dog (mutt), or a genetic failure resulting from the crossbreeding of dogs without hair and dogs with coat. However, thanks to the committed work of an important few, light is being shed on the fact that this idea is not only absolutely wrong, but also harmful to the Hairless breed itself. Thus, stigma and discrimination are finally giving way to acceptance as this variant is being welcome in certain foreign countries, not only as an official breed in its own right, but also as one of great popularity in foreign homes.
2 or 3 dogs per litter that, unfortunately, in all probability would be sacrificed by the breeder at birth.
The Coated Peruvian Hairless Dog was considered the embarrassment of the Hairless family, the weird uncle that must be hidden down in the basement at all cost. Meaning that the chances of finding a family that would want a Coated Hairless Dog were close to nil. Nonetheless, the average percentage of the Hairless Dog population born with hair is around 25%—that is, a probability of 2 or 3 coated dogs in a litter of 6 to 8. These were 2 or 3 dogs per litter that, unfortunately, in all probability would be sacrificed by the breeder at birth.
At the beginning of the 2000s, while I was participating in a canine championship, I asked a breeder the question: “What do you do when you have a coated dog in the litter?”
She replied: “If you have a coated one you eliminate it or you shoot yourself!”
This event aroused my interest and I immediately wanted to deepen my knowledge of this variant of the millenary Hairless breed to understand the incoherence of nature that produces—as genetic “failures”—individuals born almost exceptionally without a feature that, from another point of view, is in itself a genetic “flaw”: the lack of hair. My intention then was to find ways to avoid the hard-won prestige the Hairless Dog breed was finally beginning to obtain from being spoiled due to the existence of some specimens that did not fit within the accepted canons. In other words, the intention was to avoid having our Hairless Dog placed in the “Uncertain Breeds” bin (where breeds prone to genetic “flaws” go) just because of some coated individuals that were being born. What I would find, however, was much more dramatic and completely changed my perspective of the Hairless Dog and its variant with Coat.
To understand the coated variant, I said to myself, I have to first understand why dogs without hair exist. Thus, I entered little by little into a world of history, geography and genetics that brought me face to face with the direct “culprit”: the “FOXI3” gene. In turn, this brought me the most indisputable evidence in the case in favor of the coated Hairless Dogs.
It is better to cross a dog that was born without hair with another that was born with coat under certain criteria. [See Annex I for the breed standard – FCI].
Biologist Víctor F. Vásquez Sánchez explains that the FOXI3 “is a gene that is present in several mammals and [that], in the case of the Peruvian Hairless Dog, manifests itself as a disease that causes hair loss and changes in its dentures.” He also explains that there are two variants of the same gene: one dominant, H, responsible for the lack of hair, and one recessive, h, not mutated, i.e. responsible for the fur. The gene exists always in pairs and, when the dominant variant is present in one of the copies, Hh, it will always be physically evident in the dog: the dog will be born without hair. On the other hand, if it so happens that both copies of the gene are recessive, hh, the dog will be born coated. And that both these possibilities occur in the same litter, i.e. that some individuals are Hh and others hh, is absolutely natural and inevitable. Which leads us to our first finding: that the Coated Hairless Dog is natural and inevitable.
But Vásquez Sánchez continues explaining something that is especially important for the future of the Hairless breed: he tells us that when two copies of the dominant variant, HH, are found in a dog, the FOXI3 gene becomes lethal, causing the death of the embryo. Which is exactly what “you want to avoid to preserve the breed,” he tells us. This means that for the survival of the animal it is necessary to ensure that the HH combination does not occur and this is achieved, says Vásquez Sánchez, by avoiding “crossing the Hairless Dog in a consanguineous and indiscriminate way: you must always cross it with other specimens,” as well as crossing a dog without hair with one of the same breed with coat, thus effectively eliminating the possibility that the hairless variant, H, of the FOXI3 gene is duplicated, causing the death of the embryo. (Vásquez Sánchez, Víctor F., FOXI3 —Biologist, MSc in Plant Biotechnology and full doctoral studies in Cell Genetics and Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid – ARQUEOBIOS.)
Thus, I obtained not only the reason behind the lack of hair in this millenary breed, but also evidence of the importance of its coated variant in ensuring the survival of the breed itself. It was now clear to me that any attempt to get rid of the variant with coat would only put the Peruvian Hairless Dog on a direct path toward extinction. [See Annex II for more information regarding this finding.]
Luckily, shortly after beginning my research, the world began to change its the negative regard of Coated Hairless Dogs, too.
Magenta Sweety Punk, a female dog of the coated variant, becomes a World Champion!
In 1996, after several written requests, the Club de Chihuahua et chiens exotiques (CCCE), chaired by Mr. Goran Brick, received a favorable ruling from the French Société Centrale Canine (SCC) to schedule on the agenda of the next meeting of the Zootechnical Commission the discussion on the use of the Hairless Dog variant with hair in the breeding plan. (Club Français du Chihuahua, du Coton de Tuléar et des Exotiques – afilié à la Société Centrale Canine – agrée par le Ministére de l’Agriculture.)
Finally, the variant with hair was approved by the SCC on July 9, 2008, which marked a second triumph of the Peruvian Hairless Dog breed—the first having been its admission as an official breed thirteen years before.
This was only the beginning. The French breeders would not be satisfied with a national acceptance because for this variant to be recognised worldwide it had to have the approval of Peru, its country of origin. Nonetheless, according to European breeders, this variant was not officially recognised in Peru; only the specimen without hair was recognised, thus not taking into account the aforementioned genetic requirements.
Estelle Anthoni Koch, French breeder of Peruvian Hairless Dogs, explains to us the difficulties French breeders (first to demand the recognition of the Coated Hairless Dog) have faced and are still facing: “We have struggled for the coated ones to be recognised because, at first, nobody wanted to register them in the national pedigree like any other dog. Finally, France managed to be the first country to accept the registration of coated dogs; although, at first, we were still not allowed to present them in exhibitions. So a new struggle began to that end. In spite of this, [the Coated Hairless Dog] is still not well-represented because we see them very little in exhibitions. Even in terms of reproduction we don’t frequently keep them because a Peruvian Hairless Dog is, by definition, naked—we therefore don’t want to have many coated ones. I actually think it’s because we’re afraid our kennel will fill up with them. I admit that essentially it’s the naked variant we like best!”
At the same time, we must not forget that other European countries—Germany and Sweden, among them—also ventured into the recognition of the Coated Hairless variant in their breeding programs.
In 2010, Choopetta de Luna Capreza obtained the title of French Champion, thus becoming the first Coated Peruvian Hairless Dog in history to obtain such an award. This recognition placed France as a leading country in the recovery and protection of this millenary Peruvian race and Choopetta herself as a precursor of the variant with coat in said country, and the world.
Finally, in 2013 this variant was recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, giving way to the opening up of the Peruvian Hairless Dog pedigree to its new variant with Coat. Five years of struggle by French and European breeders so that their coated dogs could enter the official breeding programs finally paid off. Now the dream came true! (https://elcomercio.pe/lima/conoce-variedad-perros-peruanos-pelo-252165).
Thus, in 2015, for the first time in the history of the cynological world, Magenta Sweety Punk, a female Hairless Dog of the variant with coat, became a World Champion (World Winner)! In the true and surprising fashion in which this Peruvian millenary dog has today become an official citizen of the world, Magenta hails from a Belgian kennel and is owned by a Croatian.
This victory is yet another motivation for European and Peruvian breeders and, in general, all who is interested in upholding the value of the Peruvian Hairless Dog in all its variants. But we must not forget the road that led to it. From the outside it is easy to dismiss the trials and tribulations of the Coated Peruvian Hairless Dog as eccentricities of a very specific group of people or, at best, evidence of how the world works: rejecting, segregating, only gradually evolving towards tolerance and acceptance. But behind these figures and statistics there are individuals affected by them over the many years before this struggle came to fruition: like all the coated dogs that were eliminated because they were different, and the breeders that were forced to abandon their activities as they became targets of criticism and defamation from those sectors that are reluctant to change.
ANNEX I: SCIENTIFIC FACTS
The Peruvian Hairless Dog, Chinese Crested Dog and Mexican breeds are characterised by their scarce or absent fur, as well as their missing or deformed permanent dentures (5, 10). The journal Nature talks about the structure of the mandibular and maxillary premolars and the permanent molars associated with the FOXI3 gene in a historical pedigree collection of skeletons of Hairless Dogs with and without hair. This unique sample dating from the beginning of the 20th century onward is derived from a breeding experiment by Ludwig Plate (German zoologist and disciple of Ernst Haeckel in Jena) originally conceived to study the inheritance of both hair and skin characteristics. (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-05764-5.pdf)
Ludwig Plate wrote a work on Darwinism called “Thorough and Extensive Defence”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Hermann_Plate)
FCI-STANDARD N° 310 – PERRO SIN PELO DEL PERU (PERUVIAN HAIRLESS DOG)
ANNEX II: REMINDER OF THE FUNDAMENTAL FACTS (CCCE – France):
(Club Français du Chihuahua, du Coton de Tuléar et des Exotiques – afilié à la Société Centrale Canine – agree par le Ministére de l’Agriculture.)
The variant with hair is not the result of a genetic defect and excluding it from reproduction will not prevent the future and sustained birth of coated specimens.
If we accept the notion of the lethality of the FOXI3 gene (the “hairless” gene) when it is duplicated in the individual, we must also accept the result that all living specimens without hair have two different genes: one “hairless” and one “with hair”, being the “hairless” gene the dominant one and, therefore, the one that physically manifests itself in the individual. Thus, the mating of two naked specimens statistically produces 25% of coated dogs in the litter because each parent has a gene “with hair” to offer. The fundamental fact is that no eradication program can end this: necessarily and naturally there will be coated individuals.
Therefore, the variant with hair is not the result of a genetic defect and excluding it from reproduction will not prevent the future and sustained birth of coated specimens.
The elimination of the coated ones represents a loss of their genetic heritage. This sustained loss of genetic capital is catastrophic if we consider that this is an extremely rare breed.
Statistically, the mating of two Hairless Dog specimens results in:
- 1/4 or 25% of viable specimens from two genes “with hair”: these dogs are born with In France, in general, they were sacrificed, which represents a loss of their genetic heritage and, in addition, a contradiction to the position of the Commission of Animal Husbandry, which defends a genetic variability as great as possible in the breed. This sustained loss of genetic capital is catastrophic if we consider that this is an extremely rare breed.
- 1/4 or 25% of nonviable specimens from two “hairless” genes: these dogs die in their embryonic state.
- 2/4 or 50% of viable specimens from one “hairless” gene and one gene “with hair”: these dogs are born without hair.
In reality, and due to the mortality of the specimens produced from two “hairless” genes, always at least 1/3 or 33% of the viable dogs are coated specimens.
In France, measures taken in favor of the inclusion of the variant with hair have been destined to help the breeding of the Peruvian Hairless Dog by:
- An increase in the number of breeders,
- Maintaining sufficient genetic variety, and
- The reduction of prenatal and postnatal mortality due to a decrease in the breeding between two hairless subjects.
Finally, it should be noted that in most countries governed by the FCI this non-recognition prevented the variant with hair from being presented in exhibitions but did not exclude it in any way from the breeding plan. This practice evidently already represented a great advance in the breeding of the Hairless breed in Europe.
Mr. Daniel Arnoult, current President of the Club CCCE (Club de Chihuahua et chiens exotiques).
Biol. Víctor Félix Vásquez Sánchez – Specialist in Bioarchaeology, Cell Biology and Genetics – Honorary Professor of the Department of Biology of the Autonomous University of Madrid. Director of ARQUEOBIOS.