Podencos - the dog breed that has taken over my heart
Our amazing ambassador Linda is a dog mom to two podencos from Spain. In this article, she is teaching us a bit more about the breed, the life of podencos and the story on how she got her beloved dogs Elfin and Molly. We’ll let her take over and tell this with her own words, straight from the heart.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write a little about my beloved podencos. Being able to draw attention to a breed that for many is relatively unknown here in Sweden makes me so happy and grateful!
How I first got in touch with Podencos - “the great forgotten”
I first came into contact with Podencos a couple of years ago when I was asked to foster a female from a shelter in Spain. Her trip to Sweden was already booked but the family pulled out at the last second, so of course I jumped in. Akeela as she is called was a soft, gentle and very special dog and I immediately started digging into all the facts I could find about the breed. The shelter had told us briefly that Podencos are often called "the great forgotten" as they are overlooked by adopters and in Spain they are used for hunting and are not considered to have the same needs or rights to protection and care.
Reading about their situation was horrible reading and I cannot understand how people can treat animals so badly. In short, without going into too many horrors, the Spanish authorities have voted through a new law for pets, where, like Sweden, they must receive the right care, medicines when needed and general care. What they have chosen to do, however, is to exclude Podencos (and also Galgos) from the law, which leaves them completely unprotected and the hunters thus have the right to treat them however they like. In addition to this, they have now, in March 2023, chosen to remove punishment for sexual acts against the same dogs, with the clause "as long as they do not require veterinary care", something very few Podencos get to experience in their lifetime as they are thrown out as garbage when they are not suitable for hunting or breeding.
Some are luckier and belong to a humane hunter who submits them to one of all the shelters, or so-called perreras, where they at least get the opportunity to be adopted further, but far from everyone having the same luck. Most are thrown out onto the street or often worse, tortured or killed, for their inadequate performance. It is estimated that around 150,000 Podencos and Galgos are killed every year in connection with the end of the hunting season.
After Akeela found a fantastic home, a couple of weeks after she came here to us, Kiki, a shaggy podenco ibicenco female, also got the opportunity to find a loving home in Sweden with a pitstop a couple of months with us.
Elfin and Molly - From streetlife to sweetlife
Now I'm sitting here at home with Elfin and Molly and I can't help but wish that so many more would get the chance for a real and good life, and get away from the streets and hard shelter floors. There is often talk about "from streetlife to sweetlife" in the rescue world and that is exactly how it is, even though as I said I wished that what we now call sweetlife was everyday for everyone.
Elfin came to me in December 2021, as a 10-month-old insecure but curious little guy. He was found on the street at 6 months old, with a broken nose and tail and strange bullet hole-like scars on the insides of his hind legs. Despite the terrible, but unknown to us, he had to go through during his first months of life, he was the most lovable dog with an enormous appetite for life. He has now grown up, (recently turned 2 years old) both physically and mentally, into an absolutely amazing dog and he is without a doubt one of the most special ones I have ever had the honor of having in my life.
Molly came to me in June 2022, and had a previous home in Sweden before she came here, but due to health reasons she needed to find a new home. She is a Podenco mix of almost 4 years and has had an incredibly tough background when she was found on the street with puppies, before she was even a year old, and had bite injuries on her head and large scars on her stomach. Molly has certain trust difficulties, she is afraid of men and big dogs, which is not strange since hunters are mostly men, and the streets are full of homeless dogs who all have to fight for their survival and food. But in addition to this, she is an absolutely incredible little dog, she loves with her whole body, her tail wags so she can hardly stand still when she is happy, she howls with happiness when I come home and she enjoys walking around the forest and smelling on everything she passes. She has learned to love Elfin and together they guard the living area from squirrels and other mischief.
I can't help but say that I feel extremely grateful and happy that I was able to have the opportunity to help a couple of dogs to a better life, and also to get it myself through their entry into my life. I hope that by having been given the opportunity here, to share my experience and my commitment to Podencos and their living situation, that someone's interest in them has been awakened and that more people will have the chance to experience what a magical breed it is!
Podencos - their characteristics and personalities
Podencos are also called clown dogs as they enjoy entertaining and getting up to mischief, a name that Elfin definitely lives up to as he is full of mischief. They make fantastic family dogs, are often very fond of children and with a little training, many of them can also be kept with cats. They are herd animals and thrive best when they are allowed to be close to their family.
But I must also be clear that it is not a breed for everyone. They are special, incredibly sensitive and responsive, not particularly cooperative, have a great interest in hunting and selective hearing, the big ears notwithstanding.
I advise everyone, regardless of whether you think you want to buy from a breeder or adopt a dog, to read up on the breed to get the best possible conditions for everyone involved.
We have struggled for a long time with separation anxiety, which is unfortunately very common in rescues, and also to some extent in the breed, but with persistence and love it is possible to work away.
Podencos come in several different varieties depending on the origin. The Andalusian Podencon is smaller in size and rarely exceeds 12-14 kilos. Podenco canario, like Elfin, is larger and more similar to other greyhounds, often upwards of 60cm in height at the withers and around 20kg. Podenco ibicienco is the largest of them, slender and often around 65cm high. It's the Podenco we usually see at shows. Maneto is a short-legged Podenco with a completely different body type but with the same characteristic large ears. The Podenco Valenciano has a bent tail and often has longer fur, they are not nearly as common in shelters either, for a reason I don't actually know. And finally there is Orito, a slightly smaller variant as well.
I am attaching a link to Amigos galgos, which writes more about the situation surrounding Podencos, as well as two links to organizations that work for their rescue and survival.
Homepage - Greyhounds of the Sun
Podencos (Spanish hunting dogs) are tortured to death in Spain. - Galgo Amigo's Animal Welfare Pages