The Real Sociedad Canina De Espana (Spanish Royal Canine Society) lists 23 breeds native to the country. Not all of these are currently recognized by any international kennel clubs, and many are extremely rare, even in their home country of Spain.
Below is a list of Spanish dog breeds that you may have heard of.
Many of these dogs have strong working or hunting drives. You should always do your research to work out if the typical breed traits and characteristics will be a good match for your home and lifestyle.
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This is an ancient breed that has been used to herd and protect livestock in the North East of Spain. Rare outside of their home country, they're more common in other European countries than they are in the United States. Their distinctive long coat kept them warm when working in the mountainous and often chilly Pyrenean mountains.
The Catalan Sheepdog is an intelligent, driven and hard-working breed. They'll be best suited to an active home that loves spending time outdoors. They're smart and easy to train but, if they don't get enough physical and mental enrichment, problem behaviors can surface. The breed is incredibly loyal, but they're protective instincts and tendency to herd and chase do need to be kept in check.
Height: 17 to 19 inches
Weight: 37 to 55 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized breed with a double coat; topcoat is long and flat or wavy; come in sable, fawn or gray and shades or red, brown, white or black running throughout the coat
02 of 08
With their large, erect ears and svelte shape, the Ibizan Hound is a distinctive and elegant Sighthound. They originate from the Balearic Islands, off the coast of Spain. These dogs have a very long history, and their ancestors can be traced back to ancient Egypt.
Fast, agile and with bags of stamina, the Beezer was traditionally used for hunting rabbits and hares. Their high prey drive means you might have to work hard to achieve a solid recall. Although they may not be suited to living with small furries and they can be aloof with strangers, the Ibizan Hound is usually calm and even-tempered. They can make good family dogs in an active household.
Height: 23 to 28 inches (males); 22 to 26 inches (females)
Weight: 50 pounds (male); 45 pounds (female)
Physical Characteristics: Coarse hair that can be smooth or wiry; come in solid red, solid white, or white and red patterns; graceful, athletic-looking dog with distinctive large, pricked ears
03 of 08
Often simply referred to as the 'Presa Canario', this large mastiff-type breed was developed to act as an impressive guard dog and livestock herder on farms on the Canary Islands. Sadly, but not unsurprisingly, they were also used for dogfighting.
They're usually calm, intelligent and utterly devoted to their families. They can also be strong-willed, and they're best suited to an experienced home. Their owner will need to handle their strength and be prepared to work on ensuring their guarding traits don't become too overt.
They can be aggressive towards other dogs and could attack if they perceive a threat. Early and ongoing socialization and training are incredibly important with this breed.
Height: 22 to 26 inches
Weight: 84 to 110 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Large breed, muscular dog with a short and coarse coat in brown/black; fawn; or brindle; occasionally with white markings
04 of 08
There are several Podenco types found in Spain. Podenco means 'Hound' in Spanish. These Sighthounds are characterized by their pointed, large, erect ears and svelte shapes. They come in a wide variety of sizes.
The Ibizan Hound is actually a Podenco, but we gave it an entry of its own as it's the only one of its type to be officially recognized by the AKC. Commonly used for hunting rabbits across the different regions of Spain, Pods are very common in their native country. Unfortunately, they're also often mistreated by their traditional hunter owners, who view them as a tool rather than a sentient being.
In recent years more people in Spain and Internationally are becoming aware of the plight of these dogs. Many are being rescued and adopted. Podencos can make excellent family companions. They tend to be affectionate and playful and enjoy being active. They can be strong-willed, and you may need a little extra patience when it comes to training. This is especially true with recall as they also usually have a strong prey drive.
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
Physical Characteristics: Typically slim, deep-chested sighthound shape; large pointed ears; 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 tooContinue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Perhaps the most recognizable of all the breeds to originate in Spain, the Galgo Espanol is very easily confused with the Greyhound. Although they're slightly smaller, they do look similar, and they share comparable temperaments.
Galgos, with their incredible bursts of speed, agility and stamina, have been used for hunting in Spain for hundreds of years. Like the Podenco, they can suffer extreme cruelty, neglect and even death at the hands of their hunter owners.
Luckily, the tide is turning, and more people are stepping in to help Galgas across Spain. The lucky ones are finding loving forever homes in their home country and internationally.
If they can get over the scars of their traumatic past, they can make wonderful family pets. Like the Greyhound, they tend to be couch potatoes around the home and like nothing better than a comfy sofa to curl up on.
You do have to be prepared for their high prey drive, though, and they may not be suited to living with small furries.
Height: 25 to 26 inches
Weight: 60 to 65 pounds (males); 50 to 55 pounds (females)
Physical Characteristics: Typically slim, deep-chested sighthound shape; short smooth or rough coat that comes in a wide variety of solid and mixed color varieties, including Brindle, Black and Golden mixes
06 of 08
The Spanish Mastiff, or Mastín Español, is a giant breed developed to protect livestock in rural Spain, especially the famous 'Merino' sheep. They have a long history, and their ancestors were thought to have arrived in the country with the Greeks and Phoenicians over 2,000 years ago.
They were popular with Spanish Shepherds as they're intelligent, independent protectors that take their guarding and defensive duties seriously. Fiercely loyal and generally calm, these dogs, despite their size, don't need huge amounts of exercise.
They can be territorial and protective, though, and need to be well-socialized to prevent this from becoming a problem. They can also be strong-willed and stubborn and, given their size, this can sometimes prove to be a challenge.
Height: 28 to 35 inches
Weight: 140 to 200 pounds (males)
Physical Characteristics: Giant breed with typical muscular mastiff features; thick, medium-length coat that comes in a variety of colors including black, fawn, red, gray, and yellow, and can be seen with brindle or white markings
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Spanish Water Dog
The Spanish Water Dog stands out because of its distinctive curly, woolly coat that can form into cords when long.
The breed was originally developed as a hard-working all-purpose farm dog, who could guard, herd and catch vermin. With their webbed feet, waterproof coat and strong swimming skills, it meant they were also used for waterfowl retrieval and on fishing boats.
Active, alert and intelligent, Spanish Water Dogs often excel at competitive dog sports. They can have a willful and independent streak, though, and, without the right socialization, they can be wary of strangers and territorial.
Height: 17.5 to 19.5 inches
Weight: 30 to 50 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized, sturdy and athletic dog; has a unique curly and wooly single coat; comes in black, brown beige or white, solid or parti-color always with white as the second color
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The Bichon Frise is most commonly associated with France, where they grew in popularity as a companion dog in the 16th century. The origins of this merry little breed, however, can be traced back to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Here they were used as sailing dogs and sometimes even as eager little herders.
Bichons are compact in size, playful and usually have happy-go-lucky personalities and moderate exercise requirements. This makes them a popular choice as a family dog that can adapt well to apartment living.
The breed's coat does need a fair amount of maintenance to prevent mats from forming, and their best suited to a home where they'll have company for most of the day. Bichons can be prone to separation anxiety.
Height: 9 to 12 inches
Weight: 7 to 12 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Fluffy and curly white hair (may have traces of apricot, buff, or cream), resembling a cotton ball or powder puff
Spain has a relatively large number of native breeds, but many aren't well known outwith their country of origin.
The Spanish breeds that are recognizable in the United States may still be hard to come by. It's important that you do your research to find a reputable breeder. You may have to go on a waiting list to secure a puppy.
You could also consider adopting a Galgo or Podenco. Galgos Del Sol, for example, has a great reputation and has a team of volunteers in the USA.