Except for a tuft between their ears and on the end of their tail, these medium-sized, dark Peruvian dogs are completely hairless.
In spite of their unorthodox looks - or perhaps because of them - viringo dogs were prized by the Moche, Chimu and Virus cultures, who included them as sacrifices in many important burials, and depicted them on painted pottery.
After the Spanish conquest, the viringos, almost disappeared. In 1986, however, the Kennel Club recognized them as a distinct breed, the only Peruvian dog to be so documented, and thereafter they were declared a national treasure.
Now, by law, every archaeological site along the coast - of which there are many - has at least a pair of viringos.
Lacking the normal dog danger, they have a reputation for being clean and parasite-free, and for not causing typical allergic reactions in dog-sensitive humans.
Moreover, the dogs’ skin is warm to the touch and led to the widespread belief that they could relieve arthritis: in some rural areas, people still tuck their feet under their hairless dogs.