The Podenco Hound
The Podenco Ibicenco is an undeniably handsome breed of dog, emblematic of the Island from which it originates but now with a global following of adoring owners.
For many of us, contact with the Podenco, or in Catalan ‘Ca Eivissenc’, will either be when driving and the need to suddenly slow down when finding them running loose on Ibiza’s roads and giving them something of a wild reputation. Or perhaps searching for The Ibizan website, as failing to enter the ‘the’ will take you to ibizan.com, the American website dedicated to the breed, Ibizan being the Podenco’s English name.
Here we give an overview of the breed, its special characteristics and historic association with Ibiza.
The Podenco Hound is an elegant and agile breed, with an athletic and attractive outline and a ground-covering springy trot. Though graceful in appearance, it has good bone girth and is a rugged/hardy breed. Its large upright ears – a hallmark of the breed – are broad at the base and frame a long and elegant headpiece. The neck is long and lean. It has a unique front assembly with well laid-back shoulders and relatively straight upper arm.
Coming in both smooth and wire-coated varieties, their coat is a combination of red and white with the nose, ears, eye rims, and pads of feet being a light tan colour. Its eyes are a striking amber colour and have an alert and intelligent expression.
The Podenco may range in height, depending on which Standard you follow, from 56 to 74 cm and weigh from 20 to 29 kg, males being larger than females.
Podenco Hounds are intelligent, active, and engaging by nature. They rank 53rd in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, being of average working/obedience intelligence, but many Podenco owners will enjoy giving you a multitude of examples of their problem solving abilities.
Considered by many as true clowns of the dog world, they delight in entertaining their people with their antics. Though somewhat independent and stubborn at times, they do take well to training if positive methods are used, but will balk at punitive training methods. They are generally quiet, but will alarm bark if necessary, so they make good watch dogs.
Podencos are sensitive hounds, and very good around children and other dogs alike. They generally make good house dogs, but are active and athletic, therefore need a lot of daily exercise. They do not make good kennel dogs. Podenco hounds are sweet, but they are very stubborn and independent.
Podencos are proven escapologists. Possessing the ability to jump incredible heights from a standstill, so they need very tall fences. They also have been known to climb, and many can escape from crates, open baby gates and even locks.
They have a strong prey drive, therefore they cannot be trusted off lead unless in a safely enclosed area. Once off the lead, they might not come back for a long time. A hound that knows where its home is and the surrounding area will usually return unscathed.
History and Use
This breed originates in the island of Eivissa and has been traditionally used in the Catalan-speaking areas of Spain, and France where it was known under the name of Le Charnigue, to hunt rabbits and other small game.
The Podenco is a fast dog that can hunt on all types of terrain, working by scent, sound and sight. Hunters run these dogs in mostly female packs, with perhaps a male or two, as the female is considered the better hunter.
Traditionally a farmer may have 1 dog and a very well off farmer 2 dogs to catch rabbits for food. However in the last 20 years it is seen as a sport where between 5 and 15 dogs can be seen in the chase of one rabbit.
This breed is considered by most experts one of the most ancient dog breeds. It is believed the Podenco Hound evolves from the tesem, the ancient Egyptian hunting dog. Representations of this dog on the walls of ancient tombs show a striking similarity to the modern Podenco Hound. These dogs would have been brought to the island of Eivissa by the Phoenicians, who founded settlements there as early as the 8th century BC.