Podencos are native to Spain and can be found across the different comunidades, or communities, of the country. They have traditionally been used as hunting dogs but as the number of abandoned Pondencos rises, many local rescues have stepped in to help.
Despite the fact that as hunting dogs, Podencos are kept outside, adopters are finding that they make wonderful family pets. Their energetic and playful nature makes them a lively addition to the household.
I adopted a Podenco Maneto/Dachshund mix from a rescue south of Madrid in March of 2019. Maisie is one of the funniest dogs I’ve ever met and constantly keeps me on my toes: it’s never a dull moment at our house.
Check out this little known breed below. You might find they’re the type of dog you’ve been looking for.
Maisie the Podenco Maneto mix at Parque del Oeste in Madrid
1. There are different varieties
Podenco puppy Nata enjoying a day in the park (credit: Ana V. from https://www.facebook.com/groups/madridpetlovers/)
Podenco in Spanish means hound. Much like how Pit Bull refers to a range of different breeds, there are many different types of Podencos. In Spain, there are seven recognized variations. The American Kennel Club recognizes the Ibizan Hound (Podenco Ibicenco) but the other six are solely recognized by the Spanish Kennel Club. The seven recognized varieties include:
- Andalusian Hound (Podenco Andaluz)
- Maneto (Podenco Maneto)
- Valencian Hound (Xarnego Valenciano)
- Canarian Hound (Podenco Canario)
- Galician Hound (Podengo Galego)
- Ibizan Hound (Podenco Ibicenco)
- Paternero Hound (Podenco Patenero)
Even though there are breed distinctions, many adopted dogs are simply referred to as Podencos since it can be difficult to determine their lineage.
2. One size does not fit all
Marley and Rita show the size differences among Podencos. (credit: https://www.facebook.com/marleythemaneto/ courtesy of Hayley Burton)
Podencos vary widely in size and are classed as either small, medium, or large. Due to their differences in size, height and weight also vary. The small Maneto variety resembles a Dachshund with its short, stout legs and long body but it has the face and erect ears of the larger hounds. The small varieties range in weight from 18-25 lbs and measure about 13 inches tall. Medium-sized Podencos such as the Canarian average around 44-55 lbs and stand around 21 inches tall. The largest, the Ibizan, weighs up to 66 lbs and stands up to 28 inches tall The average life expectancy for Podencos is between 12-14 years with the smaller varieties living slightly longer.
3. Podencos have three types of coats to choose from
Podencos have three different coat types: smooth, long, and wire. The smooth-coated varieties shed a moderate amount and simply need occasional brushing to remove dead hair. Long- and wire-haired Podencos will need a little more upkeep. Although the wire-haired Podencos barely shed, they will need frequent brushing to detangle their fur as well as clipping.
The typical colors for Podencos are shades of dark brown and red usually mixed with white. Their amber eyes are a striking identifying characteristic.
4. Your family will love them.
Yuki proudly performing a new trick (credit: https://www.instagram.com/pods_in_my_head/ courtesy of Joanna Roksz Weiss)
While they can be a bit timid with strangers, Podencos are loyal to their humans. They are affectionate and love to snuggle up with family members. They tend to be highly energetic and require daily exercise so they are well suited to active families and individuals.
There is a myth propagated by hunters in Spain that Podencos are not smart and can’t be trained. While they can be stubborn, they are highly intelligent and eager to please their owners. With the right type of training and persistence, your Podenco will be rolling over and giving paw in no time.
5. They’ve got a spring in their step
Kodak showing off her impressive skills. (credit: https://www.instagram.com/kodak_and_atlas/ courtesy of Gemma Eley)
While out on a hunt, Podencos can often be seen leaping straight up in the air from a standing position in order to spot their prey. Because both their standing and running jump is high,a yard with a sturdy fence a must. This athleticism would make them a good candidate for agility which provides both mental stimulation and exercise.
Though they are certainly high energy, they are not nervous or excited barkers. Podencos tend to be quiet dogs.
6. They are motion-activated
Podencos are sighthounds and because of this, need training to avoid chasing moving objects. From a car to a person on a bike, their instinct is to chase. Because they are so quick and agile, if not properly leash trained they may dart away potentially putting themselves in danger.
7. If you like to laugh, this is the breed for you
Marley and Rita say, “paint us like one of your French girls.” (credit: https://www.facebook.com/marleythemaneto/ courtesy of Hayley Burton)
Often regarded as clowns of the dog world, podencos will keep you entertained. They are very playful and will often do whatever it takes to get your attention. Podencos enjoy playing and socializing with other dogs as well.
8. They have an extensive history
Although their exact origins are murky, it is believed that the Phoenicians brought Egyptian hounds to areas across the Mediterranean around 3,000 BC. Modern day Spanish Podencos are likely related to the Pharaoh Hound of Malta and the Sicilian Hound of Italy. Podencos have been mentioned in literature spanning back to the 15th century during which time they were regarded as valued treasures by both royalty and peasants alike.
9. They are hearty and free of major genetic disorders
Yuki doing her best pose in front of traditional Spanish tiles (credit: https://www.instagram.com/pods_in_my_head/ courtesy of Joanna Roksz Weiss)
Most varieties of Podenco are generally healthy dogs. Despite this, some of the larger Podencos may be susceptible to hip dysplasia while the small Manetos may experience back problems due to their elongated spines. It is recommended that all Podencos have their large ears cleaned regularly to keep them free of debris. Additionally, high quality food should be fed in amounts appropriate to weight and activity level.
10. They are widely used for rabbit hunting
Whatever your views on the subject, in Spain Podencos are trained for the hunt. They are skilled sighthounds and are valued for their speed and endurance. Hunting dogs in Spain are generally not kept as pets and as such are housed in outdoor runs open to the elements. Under Spanish law, working dogs are classified differently from pets so the rights of hunting dogs are few.
11. There are many up for adoption across Spain
Kodak was rescued in Spain and now lives happily in the UK (credit: https://www.instagram.com/thedogsbyalex/ courtesy of Alex Wallace)
Due to their use as working dogs, Podencos are often abandoned in droves at the end of hunting season. Unwanted dogs are killed or dumped in rural areas. The problem is so large in scale that it has attracted both national and international news. Luckily, rescue organizations specializing in Podencos have formed across Spain and Western Europe to help combat this problem. Adoption fees range from 50-200 EUR (56-225 USD) and most money goes back into vaccines and other medical care for newly rescued dogs.
Podencos are the lively, funny, loyal best friend you were always looking for. Their distinctive look and personality will lure you in and turn you into a devoted follower. As these dogs are discovered outside of Spain, more new owners have become faithful fans of the breed. If you have room in your family for an energetic addition, the Podenco might be the right choice for you, too.