Discovering the Chiribaya Dog: A Unique & Extinct Breed

Also known as the Peruvian Shepherd, the Chiribaya dog is a now-extinct pre-Columbian dog breed used for herding llamas. 

In this article, we will explore the fascinating history, physical characteristics, temperament, and health of the Chiribaya dog.

History and Origins 

The Chiribaya Dog existed centuries ago. Because of its ancient roots, the breed is believed to be a pre-Columbian dog. The Chiribaya Dog was discovered in 2006 when the Peruvian anthropologist Sonia Guillén Oneglio discovered 42 mummies. 

Ancient Tasks & Roles

The Chiribaya Dog was primarily used to herd llamas. The ancient Peruvians praised them highly and considered them as human beings. They used to bury dead breed members in special pet cemeteries. 

Breed Extinction

Today, sadly, the Chiribaya Dog no longer exists. There are no conclusive data regarding the breed’s extinction date. However, it is believed that the breed was already extinct by the mid-13th or 14th century. 

Physical Characteristics of the Chiribaya Dog

Size and Build

The Chiribaya Dog was a medium-sized breed with male breed members being slightly larger and taller than females. The height of the breed varied between 10 and 12 inches, and the weight was around 24 to 31 pounds. 

Coat and Color Variations

The Chiribaya’s coat was dense and medium in length. It came in three main colors, including: 

  • Beige
  • Reddish
  • Yellow

Unique Features and Markings

The Chiribaya Dog was a relatively short but stocky canine with small, erect ears that radiated a curious and alert expression. The tail was long and thick at the base for balance and agility. The shoulders and chest were broad, and the limbs powerful. 

Interestingly, the Chiribaya Dog looked a lot like the modern Golden Retriever. 

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Chiribaya Dog was known for its intelligence, energy, and working instincts, which are deeply ingrained in its DNA. They were highly trainable and thrived on human affection and interaction.

The Chiribaya Dog as a Working Breed

As a working breed, the Chiribaya dog was well-suited to a variety of tasks. They had strong herding and guarding instincts, which were essential for their role.

Socialization and Interaction with Humans

Despite their working instincts, Chiribaya Dogs were also affectionate and loyal. They formed strong bonds with their owners and were protective of their families. Chiribayas were gentle and patient, hence probably good with children. 

Health and Lifespan of the Chiribaya Dog

The Chiribaya Dog was a hardy breed with few health issues. Considering the breed’s size and disposition, breed members may have suffered from joint problems, like hip dysplasia. The average lifespan of the Chiribaya Dog varied between 10 and 12 years. 


The Chiribaya Dog was a remarkable and hardy breed developed in extreme Peruvian conditions and for the unique purpose of herding llamas. 

Sadly, the Chiribaya Dog is now long extinct. However, by spreading the word about this once-important breed, we can all help keep its memory alive. 

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