Podenco – Everything You Need to Know About The Beautiful Spanish Hound
The Podenco, which means ‘hound’ in Spanish, is an incredible hunting dog that’s intelligent, affectionate, and a beloved pet across the Iberian Peninsula. As with other hounds, there are different varieties of the Podenco and they can vary in size and appearance.
At Barking Talk we, of course, love dogs. But Podencos – and especially the Podenco Andaluz – are pretty special to us. We recently lost our 14-year-old Podenco, Tom, and can 100% confirm that these adorable dogs make amazing pets. Forever chasing rabbits, trying to escape the front yard, and clearing up after any barbecue, our big-eared pooch will definitely be missed.
Quick Overview of the Breed
Types of Podenco
The American Kennel Club only recognizes one variety of Podenco – the Ibizan Hound (Podenco Ibicenco). The Spanish Kennel Club, however, recognizes a further six varieties. They are:
- Canarian Hound (Podenco Canario)
- Andalusian Hound (Podenco Andaluz)
- Paternero Hound (Podenco Patenero)
- Maneto (Podenco Maneto)
- Galician Houd (Podenco Galego)
- Valencian Hound (Xarnego Valenciano)
As you can see, many of these amazing hunting dogs are named after areas in Spain. There’s also the Podengo Português which is a native dog to Portugal.
History of the Breed
Podencos are an ancient breed dating back many thousands of years. In fact, dogs that look very similar to Podencos have been found on the tombs of Ancient Egypt!
Many believe that these dogs were brought to Spain by the Phonecians as they traded throughout Africa and eventually north towards Spain. This might have been as long ago as the 8th century BC! They went to many of the Spanish Islands first, which is why this breed has varieties from both Ibiza and the Canary Islands.
Over time, these dogs were further bred into many of the varieties acknowledged today. In all likelihood, modern-day Podencos are related to the Pharaoh Hound of Malta and the Sicilian Hound from Italy. They’re highly intelligent dogs and the Spaniards soon realized what incredible hunters they are. They’re hardy and can withstand extreme heat and the challenging terrains across Spain.
A Podenco’s appearance really depends on which variety they are and whether they’re a small, medium, or large pup. One thing that unites all Podencos is their adorably large ears.
Podencos are sighthounds, and like many other sighthounds (think Salukis, Greyhounds, and Afghan Hounds), most varieties have thin and athletic bodies. They’re designed for speed and are probably the best dogs you could find for hunting rabbits.
The Ibizan Hound certainly matches that description and is the largest of the 7 Podenco varieties. The little Podenco Maneto, however, looks more like a Dachshund than a racing dog.
Coat Color and Texture
Many people confuse Podencos with Pharaoh Hounds – especially Podenco Canarios – and it’s very easy to see why! The Podenco Canario is typically a beautiful shade of red-brown (the same as a Pharaoh Hound) but they can also be dark brown. Most Podencos also have white patches on their bodies.
Podencos have three different types of coat: wired, long, and smooth. A smooth-coated Podenco has relatively short hair that’s smooth to touch. Long-haired pups have more hair and wired coated dogs even more!
As far as dog breeds go, the Podenco is a moderate shedder. But it does depend on whether they have a wire or smooth coat. Smooth-coated pups can get away with being brushed once or twice a week to remove any dirt and loose hairs.
The long-haired variety, however, will need more brushing to stop you from vacuuming every day. Wire-haired Podencos may need the odd trim to tame their wild hairs and will need brushing a couple of times a week.
These dogs only need to be bathed when necessary (basically when they’ve come back from rabbit hunting and have rolled in something)! Frequent washing can strip their coat of its natural oils and actually dry out the skin. You could try getting them a shampoo for sensitive skin to help with this.
Even though the breed varieties can differ quite a lot in terms of appearance, their temperament is usually pretty similar.
Podencos are affectionate dogs and are very loyal to their families. They can be a little reserved around strangers to begin with, but soon warm up to anyone their owner decides is a friend. If you have a large or medium-sized dog, they’ll also make a good watchdog. These pups are highly alert and happy to bark when they think someone is approaching.
Podencos are very intelligent dogs and, despite what some Spaniards say, fairly easy to train (there’s a bit of a rumor in Spain that they’re difficult). They’re happy to please their owners and love to use their brains. They can sometimes be a bit stubborn, but plenty of positive reinforcement and fun training sessions should help. Because they’re hunting dogs you should spend a lot of time working on recalling them – if they see something interesting they may just go for it!
Podencos are quite sensitive dogs and don’t react well to being told off. They love to spend time with their families and enjoy it when they get plenty of affection!
Are Podencos Good with Kids and Other Dogs?
Podencos are sweet-natured pups that get on well with children in the family. Of course, early socialization is a good idea and it’s important that kids are taught how to play respectfully with any dog.
With good training, Podencos are loyal, caring, and not overly protective dogs that are wonderful members of the family.
It’s important, however, that you remember your Pup is a hunting dog at heart. That means they’ll have quite a high prey drive and could chase after other, smaller domestic animals in the home. Introducing them to other pets early on (ideally when they’re a puppy) will help to reduce this.
How Much Exercise Does This Breed Need?
These doggos have a lot of energy. They’re happiest when they have space to roam and (especially in hunting season) when they can be out in the forest with you. All varieties of this breed are definitely not apartment dogs. They’ll love an open space to play in and explore and at least an hour of exercise every day.
It’s also important to stimulate their brains and not let them get bored. Plenty of puzzle toys, exciting walks, and things to learn will help them stay engaged.
Health of a Podenco
Podencos are usually healthy and hardy pups that suffer from very few health problems common in other breeds. Larger varieties such as the Podenco Canario and Andaluz can suffer from hip dysplasia. This is a condition in which the thigh bone doesn’t fit correctly into the hip joint. If left unnoticed, it can become very painful.
Smaller varieties such as the Maneto can suffer from back problems due to their elongated spine. These could be ruptured or slipped discs.
Generally speaking though, Podencos are healthy dogs. As long as they get enough exercise, love, and nutritious food they should live to be between 12 and 14 years old.
Adopting a Pup
The only variety of Podenco recognized by the AKC is the Podenco Ibicenco from Ibiza. It’s really important that you find a responsible breeder who cares about the welfare of the breed and the puppies.
These dogs are wonderful pets but they’re not particularly popular in America. You might, therefore, find them in shelters around the country.
Do Podencos Make Good Pets?
Yes! They really do. These pups are affectionate, intelligent, beautiful, and love to take part in all kinds of activities. They need a good amount of daily exercise and need to be part of an active family. They’ll love space to explore, exciting hikes, and lots of cuddles with you or a favorite adorable toy. And the best bit about owning this breed? They have the most incredible almond-shaped, amber eyes. Well, if your pup is anything like our Tom that is!