This news comes from Reuters and Yahoo News.
Peru seeks dog breed status for ancient llama herder
By Jean Luis Arce
LIMA, Peru (Reuters) – An ancient Peruvian culture loved its dogs so much it buried them alongside humans and even tossed in some tasty treats for the afterlife. Now, researchers are working to get these very same dogs official breed status.
The dogs, billed Chiribaya shepherds for their llama-herding abilities, were prized by the Chiribaya people who lived in southern Peru before the Incan empire.
Archaeologists digging to discover more about the culture have found 43 dog remains dating back 1,000 years. Their bodies were naturally mummified by the region’s desert sands — making their identification as a possible distinct breed much easier.
“In other cultures, dogs were sacrificed. But here the dog’s burial contemplated an afterlife because in some cases it was wrapped in cloths and buried along with food in a cemetery for humans,” said anthropologist Sonia Guillen, adding that such treatment of pets was only seen before in ancient Egypt.
Researchers at the Mallqui Centre of biological archaeology, who have led the excavations, teamed up with the country’s Kennel Club to study these ancient dogs’ traits, noting their type of paw or the colour of their fur.
Ultimately, their goal is to convince the Belgium-based World Canine Organisation that the dogs buried in Peru’s Ilo valley represent a new and distinct breed, indigenous to South America.
Researchers say some dogs living today in the Ilo valley share the traits of their ancient predecessors.
“The Chiribaya shepherd has a medium-sized snout, hare-like paws, long hair. It is generally beige-coloured with a bristling tail, and its ears neither stand up nor lay flat. It is similar to a small golden retriever,” said veterinarian Carol Willbrecht of the Mallqui Centre.