Strictly speaking, the Podenco, also known as the Mediterranean greyhound, is a group of closely related strikes that, due to the regional conditions, have hardly mixed up. A distinction is made between the Iberian and Portuguese subspecies. There are also the regional varieties Podenco Andaluz Maneto, Podenco enano del Hierro, Podenco Malagueño and Podenco Galego.
Dog breeds of the Podenco type are native to Spain, its offshore islands and Portugal. According to one theory, they are said to be direct descendants of the ancient Egyptian Tesem. The oldest images of this dog with large erect ears, a long curly tail and a greyhound-like physique date from 3800-3600 BC. dated. A predecessor of Podenco is also shown on the world-famous tomb of Tutenchamun. In high society and nobility, the breed was already used as a hunting dog, herd dog and as a guard dog.
Some specimens have been preserved to this day, mummified. A spread of the early Podenco possibly took place in the 8th and 9th centuries AD with the shipping routes of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians around the Mediterranean. This is how the Kelb tal-Fenek, officially referred to as the Pharaoh Dog by the FCI, was created in Malta, which means rabbit dog. On the Spanish islands, the Spanish and Portuguese mainland as well as Sicily, regional races of their own were able to develop over centuries. Mixing was ruled out due to the isolated island locations, so the origin of the name Podenco is always mentioned, for example Podenco Canario in the Canary Islands, Cirneco dell’Etna in Sicily, Kritos Lagonikos in Crete and Podenco Ibicenco in Ibiza. There is also the theory that today’s Podencos descend from so-called pariah dogs, semi-domesticated wild dogs that live near human settlements in North Africa and the Mediterranean countries.
As persistent runners, Podencos are used to hunt small animals, especially rabbits. They accompany the unarmed hunters in packs of up to ten animals, each of which has only one male. In a real division of tasks, they put the prey together: Some rummage in the undergrowth, the others wait around the outside until the prey tries to escape, only to snap it with enormous leaps and fetch it alive with a soft mouth. The Podenco is just as successful as a lone hunter, a behavior pattern that corresponds to its actual nature. He combines his hearing, the fine sense of smell with the sharp eyes. The Podenco Ibicenco was recognized as a breed by the FCI in 1911. Due to the shared use of his senses, however, he is not a sighthound, as they are pure eye hunters. In the 1930s, the English took some Podencos from Malta to British dog shows, but they didn’t do very well. It was not until the 1960s that the breed gained more international attention, including in Germany and America.
The head shape of the Podenco is narrow and elongated and tapers at the base with the lines of the bridge of the nose and the upper head running parallel. The stop is barely developed, the small, slanted eyes are almond-shaped and light to dark amber in color. The highly agile, standing bat ears are striking. The relatively wide mouth is framed by fine, slightly hanging lips. The rather large nose is flesh-colored in the Podenco Canario and dark in the Podenco Portugues. The slightly curved, strong neck without dewlap makes up about a quarter of the total length. The tall build is streamlined with a straight back and tucked stomach. Strong croup with a long, sickle-shaped tail. With his long, slender and muscular legs, he prefers to move at a fast trot. The coat of the Podenco Canario is short and smooth, in the further lofts there is also wire-haired or long-haired. The color scheme is predominantly red and white, cinnamon and white in all variations and nuances. The white tip of the tail is typical.
He is friendly, but so far he is not really a good family dog - there is still too much originality in this breed. It has not changed for centuries and is free from breeding interventions. Nevertheless, he loves his people and adapts to the shared apartment, is affectionate and likes to cuddle. But outside without a leash, his greyhound character often gets along with him. Whatever comes under his eyes is hunted and all calls and whistles from his owner go unheard in the far hall. This behavior is not on purpose, it is in his genes. One should keep this in mind if there are still hares, hamsters or other small animals in the household that the Podenco sees as potential prey. However, early socialization allows for peaceful coexistence, even with cats. The best way to train is patience, meekness and calm, when raised, this cautious, intelligent dog will immediately run away. A dog training school that practices positive reinforcement is likely to be successful. However, the Podenco connects commands it has learned to a location, so that it follows the command “sit” without hesitation in the dog course, but at home does not understand what masters want from him.
The Podenco is healthy, hereditary diseases are unknown. However, if he comes to northern Europe from a Mediterranean climate, he will be easily cold after swimming or in winter. He enjoys drying off and is happy about a thermal jacket for cold days, some don’t like to go outside when it rains. Some dog owners report having a sensitive stomach, so it takes a while to find a compatible food. Alternatively, you can give something you have cooked yourself. If anesthesia is necessary, barbiturates should be avoided. Gas anesthesia is more tolerable. A test for Mediterranean diseases such as leishmaniasis, babesiosis, heartworms or ehlichiosis is important for all dogs from southern Europe. The preliminary result can be deceptive, however, as the pathogens only become active much later if the incubation period is longer. It is possible that a healthy dog will be bitten by an infected tick while it is being transported, and the disease will break out in Germany at some point, despite a positive blood test.
The Podengo Portugues comes from Portugal and comes in three sizes. The big line is the least common. The Podengo Grande weighs around 30 kilos at 55-70 cm high, the Podengo Medio reaches 40-50 cm and the small Pequeno 20-30 cm instep height. The head shape is slightly triangular, it has the typical erect ears and amber-colored eyes. The nose mirror is always darker than the fur. The coat colors include anthracite gray, yellow and wild-colored, sometimes with white spots. The hair structure can be rough or straight. The physique of the Podengo Portugues is a bit squat than that of its Spanish counterpart. It is used as a hunting and guard dog.
The home of the Podenco Ibicenco are the Balearic Islands. The tall breed with the slim, sleek build is valued as a hunting dog and companion dog. Males reach 65 cm – 72 cm instep height and approx. 25 kg body weight, bitches are 60 cm – 67 cm and around 20 kg smaller. The red and white fur is mostly straight hair, there is also wire-haired and long-haired. The other attributes are similar to the Podenco Canario.
The Podenco Andazluz is named after the Spanish region of Andalusia. It is mainly used when hunting small game, as they run persistently and retrieve the prey alive. His physique is stocky despite the greyhound shape. This line produced three sizes: Talla Grande (male 54 cm – 64 cm, bitch 53 cm – 61 cm, approx. 27 kg), Talla Media (male 43 cm – 53 cm, bitch 42 cm – 52 cm, approx. 16 kg) and Talla Chica (male 35 cm – 42 cm, bitch 32 cm – 41 cm, approx. 8 kg). The short-haired fur is mostly white and spotted with cinnamon. The Podenco Andaluz has only been recognized as an independent breed by the Spanish Federation of Breeders, while the FCI has only recognized the three other Podenco lofts.
The Podenco at a glance
Origin: Spain FCI Classification Group 5: Spitz and primitive type dogs, Section 7: Dogs for hunting use Size: medium Height at the withers: Males 55 – 64 cm, bitches 53 – 60 cm Weight: approx. 25 kg Coat color: light to dark red tones with white in all combinations, Rarely blackEyes: light to dark amber-colored and almond-shapedNose: flesh-coloredEars: large, standing and very flexibleBody structure: high, narrow, muscular with a long, thin tailUsage: hunting dog, companion dogCharacter: alert, independent, intelligent, friendlyHealth risks: Cold, anesthetics, sensitive stomach 10-15 years
Image: © Depositphotos.com / cynoclub