GALGOS AND PODENCOS
Galgos and podencos are two distinctive Spanish sighthounds that are bred to hunt in packs for a brief recreational season. Although ancient breeds, they are two of the most misunderstood and much maligned breeds in the world. It is estimated that 60,000–80,000 of these dogs are abandoned and/or slaughtered every year after their value is deemed worthless or redundant. Considered to be "tools" according to Spanish law, the hounds are often keep like prisoners chained in dark sheds and virtually starved to be more efficient hunters. Additionally, they are not shown affection, as it is the belief that it will impair their hunting abilities. The abuse of these failed hunters by their owners' ranges from hanging to tossing in dry wells to drowning to disfigurement among an assortment of barbaric punishments. Whether due to tradition or culture, the abuse and abandonment of galgos and podencos has endured for centuries.
It is believed that the Galgo Español is derived from hunting dogs bred by the Celts who brought them into Iberia during the migrations from northern Europe into the south. They may have been bred with other sighthounds including Sloughis and the Podenco Ibicenco over the centuries. At one time, they were highly valued and only allowed to be used by royalty for rabbit hunting; no known reason can be attributed to how they fell so far from favor.
Today's galgo is an extremely agile dog with fine features, intelligent eyes and an elegant conformation. There are both smooth and rough coats in a variety of colors, including brindle. It is readily apparent that they were bred to be excellent hunters as they easily traverse changes in terrain with hairpin turns and great speed. They exhibit typical sighthound behavior when given the opportunity to be on the lookout. Extremely affectionate and loyal to their families, galgos are trainable for obedience as well as luring and agility. Galgos are sensitive dogs and should never be spoken to harshly. They are calm, easy in the home and will indulge in hours of lounging.
Although galgos are sometimes referred to as "Spanish Greyhounds", their origin is of a different lineage. They are bred as distance runners, are smaller in stature, and have their own special personalities. (click photographs to enlarge)
Like the galgo, it is believed that podencos made their way to Iberia by way of invaders and traders. They come in a great variety of size, color and coat that over the years have been defined by region. Among other types is the small Podenco Andaluz of the mainland used for rabbit hunting, the medium size Ibizan Hound from the island of Ibiza also used for rabbit hunting, and the large Podenco Campanero bred to hunt deer and wild boar.
Multi-sensory hunters, they have large, highly-mobile prick ears, keen eyesight and an acute sense of smell. All have been bred with a combination of speed and agility with endurance for trotting rather than galloping. They are agile to the point they have been known to climb trees in pursuit of prey and can jump great heights from a stand. A secure yard with 6' fence is required for this breed.
Perhaps due to their cleverness and persistent focus, podencos are even more persecuted than the galgos. Curious and clownish, they have a profound awareness of their surroundings and a sensitivity to their humans. Podencos reward their human companions with great loyalty, affection and are wonderful family members. For more information about Podencos and their personalities, contact Telma Shaw. Telma currently has four podencos and 25 years experience with greyhounds and galgos. (click photographs to enlarge)