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 :
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.