Podencos are a group of Sighthounds with a very long history. Their origins may date as far back as ancient Egyptian times.
Today Podencos are generally found in Mediterranean locales, especially in Spain, and are commonly used for hunting rabbits. They are also sometimes referred to as Warren Hounds. The name Podenco means 'Hound' in Spanish. There are a number of different Podenco types (at least eight), but only one of these is recognized by the American Kennel Club; the Ibizan Hound.
While all of the Podenco types share common characteristics, they can vary greatly in size and appearance. They range from the almost Daschund shaped Podenco Maneto, to the much larger Podenco Andaluz. They are often all just referred to simply as Podencos, rather than by the specific type as often it can be difficult to determine their true lineage.
HEiGHT: Varies greatly. From as small as 13 inches up to as big as 28 inches
WEIGHT: Again varies—from around 18 pounds all the way up to 70 pounds
COAT AND COLOR: Smooth, Wire or Long Coated can be found and they come in a very wide variety of colors, most commonly shades of brown or red and often with white markings too
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 12 to 14 years
Characteristics of the Podenco
|Tendency to Bark||Low|
|Amount of Shedding||Medium|
History of the Podenco
Podencos are often confused with the Basenji and the Pharaoh Hound. Similar-looking dogs with tall upright ears and the distinctive sighthound shape have been seen in the tombs of ancient Egyptians, including Tutankhamen.
It is theorized that the Phoenician merchants (an ancient civilization originating in Lebanon), were the first to bring these types of dogs over to the Mediterranean. They introduced them when traveling along the coastal trade routes from Africa to Spain as far back as the 8th century BC.
The dogs were thought to have landed on the Islands off the coast and this is how some of the Island specific Podenco type dogs developed. These included the Podenco Canario, from the Canary Islands, and the Podenco Ibicenco (the Ibizan Hound).
The dogs began to flourish as rural hunting dogs across Spain, and the different types of Podenco started to develop across the regions, adapting to the kind of terrain they were hunting on. They are more robust and suited to hunting rougher terrain than the other commonly used Spanish hunting dog; the Galgo.
Some of the Podenco types that are recognized in Spain include:
- Podenco Andaluz, thought by some to be the oldest Spanish dog
- Podenco Maneto
- Podenco Canario
- Podengo Galego
- Podenco Ibicenco (the Ibizan Hound)
- Podenco Patenero
- Podenco Orito
- Podenco Malagueño
- Podenco Campanero
There is also the Podengo Português, native to Northern Portugal.
Today, the Podenco is still used as a hunting dog but rather than being revered, they are often seen as just a tool. They are frequently abused, neglected, and abandoned. They often learn to survive on the street or are surrendered to Perrera's (high kill shelters). As their plight is gaining more recognition, there are now several charities that work to offer forever homes to Podencos, nationally and internationally. This means that Podencos are gradually becoming more well known.
Regardless of the type of Podenco you have, you can expect them to be a very high-energy dog that develops a close bond with their family. They can be goofy and playful, and also sometimes a touch mischievous. Their large ears give them a very distinctive appearance.
Their stamina and hunting roots mean that they are a dog that needs a lot of exercise and stimulation. Their athleticism means that they often enjoy taking part in dog sports like agility or canicross (competitive running with your dog). Although they can enjoy lots of snuggles with their owners, they are not known for being couch potatoes like their Greyhound or Galgo relatives.
Their hunting background also means that they can have a very high prey drive, and you may need to work hard on achieving a rock-solid recall. If you have a cat in the household, careful introductions may be required, and other small furries will need to be kept well secured. They are usually very social with other dogs and often live well in a multi-dog household.
Podencos can sometimes have a stubborn, independent streak, but they do respond well to positive reinforcement training. You may just require a little more patience than with, say, an eager-to-please Labrador!
Podenco coat types can vary quite a bit. Most commonly they have a short, smooth coat or a wire-haired variety. They do not usually have intensive grooming requirements. A weekly brush out is usually sufficient to remove any moulting hairs and keep the skin and coat shiny and healthy.
Care should be taken to ensure that their nails do not become overgrown. This can impact on their gait, and subsequently their joints. If the nails grow too much, they can also curl in on themselves, and this can lead to pain and possible infection.
Common Health Problems
Podencos are generally regarded as being hardy, healthy and robust dogs. Because there is not a general breed standard, it means that they do not suffer from as many inheritable conditions. There are a few potential health issues that it is useful to be aware of though.
Hip Dysplasia: Problems with the hip joints are more common in large breed dogs, and the bigger Podencos are no exception. For those like the Andaluz and the Campanero, this can be a more common occurrence.
Back Problems: The Maneto, with its long spine and short legs, can experience back issues similar to those found in Dachshunds, like slipped or ruptured discs.
Anaesthesia sensitivity: Like their Greyhound relatives, Podencos, due to their metabolic rate, can be more sensitive to anaesthesia drugs than some other dogs. Your vet should be aware of this, and this should be considered if surgery is ever required.
Diet and Nutrition
As with every dog, your Podenco should be fed on a high quality and appropriately portion-controlled diet. If they have spent some of their lives on the streets or having to fight for their food, you may find that they can be prone to scavenging, and this can lead to tummy upsets. Feeding them from interactive treat toys and slow feeders can help to make them feel fuller, and it also helps to keep them stimulated too. You may also have to work on training a reliable 'drop' and 'leave it' command too.
Affectionate and playful dog that thrives in the company of family and other dogs
Well suited to a family that leads an active lifestyle
Low-maintenance grooming regime
High prey drive because of hunting instincts
Can be strong-willed and require extra patience during training
Not suited to a home that has a sedentary lifestyle
Where to Adopt or Buy a Podenco
The only Podenco type breed that is recognized by the American Kennel Club is the Ibizan Hound. If you do wish to buy a puppy, you should make sure that you do your research. Make sure that you seek out a reputable breeder that allows you to visit the puppies in a home environment. They should not be separated from their mother before they are fully weaned. They should be at least eight weeks old before coming home.
The Ibizan Hound Club of the United States may be a good starting off point.
There are lots of rescue organizations that are involved in bringing Podencos looking for forever homes over from Spain. Always make sure that the organization has a good reputation. The dogs should have had full health checks, be safely transported, and have been properly assessed in terms of temperament. The organization should provide comprehensive post-adoption support too.
Some of these charities include:
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
If you are considering other similar breeds why not read about:
There are so many different breeds of dogs out there, it is important to do your research to find out which types will suit your family and lifestyle.