According to the Spanish Royal Canine Society, there are 23 dog breeds native to Spain. However, many of these are not officially recognized by the Kennel Club as they are very rare outside of their home country.
Yet, there are a few breeds that are worth noting if you’re interested in Spanish dog breeds. Many of these breeds are hunting dogs, so you must do your research before adopting one. Hunting dogs tend to have strong prey drives and do not always respond to recall!
The Catalan Sheepdog was originally bred to herd livestock in the North East of Spain. The medium-sized breed has a long coat that needs daily combing to avoid noughts and mats from forming.
As herding dogs, Catalan Sheepdogs require a lot of physical and mental exercise to stay sane. They do best with active families who will be happy to take their dog on long walks every day. If you don’t make the time to train and occupy your Catalan Sheepdog, you could end up dealing with a lot of behavioural problems, including excessive barking, or destructive habits for example. For the right family though, they can make loyal and protective companions.
The Spanish Mastiff, or the Mastin Espanol was originally bred as a livestock guarding dog in rural Spain. This is a massive breed, reaching up to 88 cm in height and weighing in at up to 100 kilos.
These dogs have a calm disposition, so don’t need much exercise to be happy. However, they can be rather stubborn and due to their past as guarding dogs, they are both wary of strangers and territorial. This in addition to their large size makes them a breed which can be difficult to handle for some. The Spanish Mastiff is better suited to experienced owners living in rural settings. For the right owners, they make laid-back and loyal companions.
Spanish Greyhound (Galgo)
The Spanish Greyhound, or the Galgo, was originally bred as a hunting dog - a job which the breed is still widely used for in Spain. Unfortunately, Spanish Greyhounds used for hunting are often abused and abandoned, if not worse, once they are no longer needed. Thankfully, support for the breed is growing, and rescue operations for ex-hunting Galgos are becoming more common.
The Spanish Greyhound is much like the Greyhound we know and love in the UK. Though they are fast sprinters, they are huge couch potatoes inside the house, and love nothing more than snuggling up to you on the sofa. As with all sighthounds though, care must be taken when letting the dog off lead, as they have a very strong prey drive and won’t hesitate to ignore the recall command in order to give chase.
Spanish Water Dog
Spanish Water Dogs were originally bred as all-purpose farm dogs, but due to their thick, water-proof coats and webbed paws, they were also used for waterfowl or net retrieval in the water. Their curly coats require a trip to the groomer’s every few months to keep it looking clean and tidy.
The Spanish Water Dog is an athlete - it loves to be active and outdoors. As such, this breed does best with an active family who will have time to devote to daily exercise. Additionally, Spanish Water Dogs have a stubborn streak and therefore require consistent training as well as early socialisation. For an experienced owner, it can make an intelligent and loyal companion.
Ibizan Hounds were originally used for hunting rabbits and hares in the islands off the coast of Spain. Their ancestry dates back to ancient Egypt, where they were likely the dogs of Pharaohs.
Ibizan Hounds are active dogs who love to stretch their legs out. Like most sighthounds though, the sight of a small furry scurrying around could set them off in an instant, so care must be taken if they are exercised off-lead. Additionally, early socialisation is important to ensure the dog doesn’t grow up to be too wary of strangers. Inside the home, Beezers are laid-back and love nothing more than relaxing by your side on the sofa. For an active family, these dogs make affectionate and even-tempered companions.
The Presa Canario is a mastiff-type dog which was originally bred for guarding and herding in the Canary Islands. Unfortunately, it was also used for dogfighting.
Presa Canarios are large, impressive dogs, making them a great match for people who want an effective guard dog. However, they are best suited to experienced owners. Indeed, they can be stubborn, territorial, and are sometimes aggressive towards other dogs. They require ongoing training and socialisation throughout their lives. For the right person though, they are incredibly devoted dogs who make calm companions.
The Spanish Podenco was originally bred as a hunting dog. The Podenco “type” encompasses several dogs of different breeds which come in a variety of sizes, ranging from medium to large.
Like many hunting dogs, the main draw-back to the Podenco is its high prey drive, and so, its tendency to ignore recall. Other than that, Podencos actually make great family companions, as they are active, affectionate, and playful. While a focus on proper socialisation and basic training is essential, Podencos could do well with first-time owners.
Spanish Pointer (Burgos Pointer)
The Spanish Pointer, or Perdiguero de Burgos, is one of the oldest pointing breeds, and was probably used in the development of many other Pointer breeds that we know and love today. These large dogs were originally used in deer hunts.
Spanish Pointers are active and athletic outside the house, but generally calm indoors, as long as they get enough exercise. They are also very intelligent, so are easily trained and excel at dog sports. For an active family, they can make loyal and affectionate companions.
Majorca Ratters were originally bred to hunt vermin and keep the rat population in check on the island of Majorca. They are small dogs who look a lot like Miniature Pinschers, but have the typical attitude of a terrier.
Majorca Ratters are very intelligent and can be easily trained and even taught tricks. They are, however, very active little dogs who love to run, dig, and bark. They are not lap dogs and if they are treated as such, behavioural problems may arise. If properly cared for though, the Majorca Ratter can make a delightful companion, both affectionate and loyal.
Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz
The Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz, also known as the Andalusian Rat Terrier or “the Spanish Jack Russell”, was originally bred for hunting rabbits and hares.
As a typical terrier, this dog loves to be outdoors and active. A Ratonero won’t be happy staying on a sofa all day. Providing you can get your dog out and about for at least an hour or two a day, however, the Ratonero can make a wonderful companion. Recall is of the utmost importance for this breed, which has a particularly strong prey drive.
So, have any of these gorgeous Spanish breeds caught your attention?