Other names: Spanish Galgo
The Spanish Greyhound, more commonly known as the Galgo, is used exclusively as a hunting dog in its home country. As a result, unfortunately the Galgo is subjected to abuse if he’s not fast enough to hunt; they are often mistreated or even killed if they are not up to standard. Many European associations are trying to save these noble and sweet natured dogs. Galgos can be both energetic and reserved, as such they are suitable for many homes, even those with children, as they know how to be affectionate despite their reputation for seeming aloof.
Key facts about the Spanish Greyhound
Life expectancy :
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Origins and history
Their Spanish name is Galgo. It seems like this might be a contraction or evolution of the word “gallicus”. With this logic, their ancestor would have been a Gallic greyhound, arriving in Spain via France with the Celts in the sixth century BC.
However, the breed was already known in Roman times and there is no trace in France of their ancestor; this calls the theory of presumed French heritage into question.
It is more likely that the Galgo descends from Eastern Greyhounds which arrived in Spain from Africa, perhaps mixed with traditional Greyhound blood, as they closely resemble each other.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 10 - Sighthounds
Section 3 : Short-haired Sighthounds
Physical characteristics of the Spanish Greyhound
Female : Between 24 and 27 in
Male : Between 24 and 28 in
Female : Between 55 and 66 lb
Male : Between 55 and 66 lb
Spanish greyhounds can be any colour, but the most common are: tawny, brindle and black.
Type of coat
Their coats are usually short. However, some may have a rough textured coat, for Spanish Greyhounds of this type, their fur is slightly longer.
The Galgo’s fur is fine, short and smooth. As the name suggests, those with the rough coat have coarse and wiry fur with a beard, moustache and a tuft of hair on the head.
Their eyes are usually dark hazel.
The Spanish Greyhound is a good-sized, compactly built dog with a long, narrow head, a large chest cavity home to strong lungs, they have a well tucked up belly, and a long tail. Their head is proportional to the rest of the body, long and lean with diverging skull lines. Their eyes are almond-shaped; small and slanting. Their ears are high-set and broad at the base, relaxed when at rest, semi-pricked when the dog is alert. The long, low-set tail is solid at the base but folds into a hook at the tip, it falls between the legs and almost touches the ground: this is an essential and distinctive characteristic for a “typical” Galgo. Their limbs are straight and slim, parallel and perfectly in line with each other.
Good to know
Virtually unknown a few years ago, we are starting to see more of the Spanish greyhound at exhibitions. Despite this, they are still a rare breed and if you would like one you will either have to reserve a puppy well in advance or adopt one through a rescue association.
The Galgo, like other greyhounds, are typically reserved. They are favoured for their seriousness and show great affection towards their owners.
Spanish greyhounds aren’t very playful with children. They like playful and stimulating activities such as trailing or tracking.
A calm poised and gentle dog, they know how to keep to themselves, despite their great stature. However, be warned, when out and about if they see something to chase, they can become very energetic!
Activities such as dog dancing which require lots of concentration and discipline can sometimes be difficult for the Galgo.
Despite this, the Galgo has a lot to offer which they will happily show off with an owner willing to invest the time and respect required.
The Spanish greyhound was bred to hunt hares, but it has also been used to hunt other animals such as foxes, rabbits and wild boar.
In Spain, the Spanish greyhound is only bred for hunting. This causes many problems when the hunt is not in season or if their performance isn’t up to scratch. These dogs can be badly treated as a result and many are abandoned. A number of associations (often French or Belgian) fight to save these dogs.
Fearful / wary of strangers
Spanish greyhounds are very cold, detached and haughty when it comes to strangers: they make it clear that their presence isn’t welcome.
Don’t be fooled! This attitude doesn’t mean they are aggressive, they just tend to keep their distance from guests.
Like any good greyhound, the Spanish greyhound is a fairly independent dog. This seems even more so considering their reserved nature and many owners mistake the true temperament of their dog.
Independence is not what characterises the Galgo, on the contrary, the more they are stimulated and in contact with kind people, the happier they are. It is true, however, that they know how to keep to themselves and be quiet when it’s called for.
Behaviour of the Spanish Greyhound
If they are used to being on their own from a young age, the Galgo won’t have an issue coping with their owner going away. However, although they might be calm and poised, it is important to make sure they get a good run around before and after each time they are left alone to stop them becoming too bored.
Easy to train / obedience
These dogs are very rare in the UK, and even more so outside Spain. Because of this, when they are adopted it is often through a charity which fights against the poor treatment they suffer in Spain.
Thus, the training needed for a cute puppy who has not experienced any trauma is very different to the training required for a dog who has.
To educate, or rather to rehabilitate a Galgo, it is important to arm oneself with patience and gentleness. Consider their past; offer a stable and secure environment; meet their exercising needs and especially never use violence to be "respected".
Moreover, these dogs have, in addition to their often painful past, a strong and tenacious character that requires a firm hand and consistency.
The Spanish greyhound is reserved and doesn’t generally bark.
Tendency to run away
The Galgo’s hunting instinct and speed make them likely to run away.
Bear in mind that the Spanish greyhound can jump very high, so it is important to have an enclosure of a suitable height if living in the countryside.
The Galgo is very calm and won’t usually mess around, especially if all their needs are met and they are kept physically and mentally stimulated daily.
Greedy / Gluttony
Although the Galgo is unfortunately used to going without, since malnutrition plays a huge part in the violence inflicted upon them by the Galgueros (hunters with greyhounds), this dog is not greedy, they are content with what they are given.
Very wary of strangers, to the point of ignoring them completely, they are not good guard dogs. The Galgo will never raise the alarm because they prefer to go and find somewhere they feel safe and wait for the intruder to go.
This dog is both calm and energetic and would of course be suitable for many first-time adopters. However, it is important to learn about the breed because their character may not be suitable for everyone.
In addition, if the adoption is via a rescue association, it should be assisted by a dog behaviourist, specialised in the gentle and non-violent rehabilitation of abused dogs.
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Spanish Greyhound in a flat
They can happily live inside thanks to their calm temperament and docile manner.
However, knowing that greyhounds are generally characterised by their liveliness, living in an apartment may not be ideal. It would be important for them to be walked several times a day in large spaces.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Whether they live in an apartment or in a house with a garden, the Galgo must burn off their energy every day in large and open spaces.
When walking this hunting dog, only let them off the lead in a secure environment free of any temptations.
Since the predatory instinct of the Spanish greyhound can make walking in complete freedom difficult, sports activities specifically designed for dogs are encouraged. Fun activities which stimulate their sense of smell are favoured.
Travelling / easy to transport
The Galgo’s great size can sometimes restrict travelling, especially in public transport. However, if they have been trained intelligently and are well socialised, they can go with their owner wherever.
Spanish Greyhound and cats
It is ill-advised to have a cat and a Spanish greyhound live together due to their strong hunting instinct.
Spanish Greyhound and dogs
If they are well socialised, the Galgo will get along well with other dogs. Note that due to their sensitive nature, they may not be compatible with some temperaments.
Spanish Greyhound and children
They have been shown to be patient with children, even if they don’t like to play too much with them.
Spanish Greyhound and the elderly
It is possible to adopt an adult Galgo into an elderly home. However, it may be necessary to employ a company or individual to help walk the dog if the owner is not sufficiently active.
The price of a Spanish Greyhound varies according to their lineage, age and sex. It is very difficult to find an exact price of a Galgo puppy.
On the other hand, they are a number of associations which rehome adult Spanish greyhounds after they have been mistreated or abandoned. The prices differ depending on the association, the dog’s past and their traumas as well as the expected veterinary costs in the short, medium or long term.
The average budget needed to meet the needs of a dog of this size is about £35 / month. In addition to this, it is necessary to budget for extra veterinary care for dogs that have suffered numerous abuses.
The Galgo doesn’t need any grooming and should not be given baths too often. Simple weekly brushing is helpful to maintain their beautiful glossy coats.
A plus to the Spanish greyhound is that like other greyhounds with a short coat they don’t lose too much hair. Additionally, as they don’t have an undercoat they don’t really moult.
Nutrition of the Spanish Greyhound
Often thin as a result of malnutrition, these sporty dogs need a balanced and healthy diet to fuel their daily activities.
This is an easy dog to care for, they are perfectly happy with a standard diet of dog biscuits. Although it is important that what they eat is premium quality, so try not to buy their food in normal supermarkets.
Having regular check-ups at the vets is essential to monitor the growth of a Galgo puppy and to make sure they are developing well.
Health of the Spanish Greyhound
Their life expectancy is around 12 years.
Strong / robust
This is a strong and robust dog but they struggle in low temperatures.
Accustomed to a hot climate in their country of origin, this dog doesn’t struggle in the strong heat.
The Spanish greyhound has a strong aversion to the cold due to their lack of undercoat. A coat in winter is more than accessory but a necessity for them.
Tendency to put on weight
If they run every day the Galgo won’t put on any weight. They are far more often lean than they are fat.
No particular illness has been reported for this breed. Although it may look like they have a fragile physique they are in fact rather robust.