The Podenco – Do They Make Good Pets?
These unusual dogs are Spanish sight hounds used in hunting. They are becoming more well-known in the UK thanks due to British and Spanish rescues who work to re-home these dogs across the rest of Europe. This Holidays4Dogs article will take a look at this beautiful breed, which unfortunately, suffers a great deal of mistreatment in its Spanish homeland.
There are several types of podenco depending on the region they originate from. Podenco canarian, podenco andaluz, or the miniature podenco meneto, all vary in size and type.
Character and temperament.
They are very much like greyhounds, or lurchers, in terms of temperament and are generally hardy and rugged dogs. They are very active and can jump surprisingly large heights from a standing position. Like the greyhound, they hunt by sight – jumping high in the air to spot their quarry, is a typical podenco trait. They are also good at scent tracking.
The podenco has a very strong strong chase instinct. Due to their multi sensory awareness, it means recalling them back can be a huge challenge. However, they are generally sweet-natured dogs and are calm and gentle with people and other dogs. Rescue dogs may need some time to settle, as many have sadly only ever known harsh handling and abuse.
Many rescue dogs can, and do, make lovely pets. There are dozens of success stories of people adopting these dogs from Europe. They are active and sometimes demanding dogs, so they do require an equally active owner. Not surprisingly, quite a few podencos are pretty good at agility and this is an ideal outlet for the fast and springy fellow.
They will certainly require firm, but gentle handling, using positive training methods. This is particularly so for rescued pondecos, many of whom have come from dreadful living conditions and have suffered appalling cruelty at the hands of their hunter owners.
Welfare and legislation.
Spain has one of the biggest stray dog populations in the whole of Europe. Sadly, there are some terrible cases of explicit cruelty towards dogs (and cats) in Spain. The hunting season in Spain lasts only for 12 days (Sundays) per year. Sadly, when they are no longer useful as a hunting dogs , they are frequently killed, or left to die out in the open.
Furthermore, owners of hunting dogs believe that a dog has to be hungry in order to work more successfully. Therefore, they are often underfed to the point of being dangerously close to death.
Due to exposure and pressure from animal rights groups and rescue workers, there has been a marginal change in attitudes by Spanish hunters. However, more change is needed.
There are is no legislation regarding breeding, or micro-chipping practices. Large numbers of abandoned dogs cause problems for communities by causing accidents and spreading disease. They even affect the tourist industry because visitors avoid certain areas affected by street dogs.
Podencos are becoming more popular in the UK. In 2010, there was even a class at Crufts dog show for the breed. However, supporters of podenco welfare and rescue have concerns this dog will become another ‘must have’ breed here in the UK. As a result, this may cause over-breeding at a time when there are hundreds of dogs desperate for kind new homes. The welfare situation is at critical levels. Therefore, any attempt to start breeding puppies here in the UK can only hamper the efforts of those desperately trying to re-home older dogs.
There are many charities across the UK, such as ‘SOS Animals‘, who work alongside Spanish rescue shelters to save these wonderful dogs, and others, from their torturous life in Spain. The dogs are neutered, vaccinated and pass-ported before being sent to foster homes in the UK and elsewhere. By bringing these dogs out of countries where dog abuse is rife, charities are able to raise awareness of the way animals are treated the world over.