All About The Spanish Greyhound

The Spanish Greyhound (known as the Galgo Español ), is quite rare in the UK, purely because breeding has only started in the last couple of years, and this has been from rescue dogs imported from Spain to centres that have only been set up since the plight of these dogs became evident. Pups do come up from time to time, but you must be quick to purchase them, as they do sell well.

This is a pity, as these dogs can make delightful pets and compare well in temperament with both standard greyhounds and the Italian Greyhound. Due to the ‘newness’ of the breed in the UK, it is not yet recognised by the Kennel Club. If you are a greyhound lover, it would be well worth considering rehoming one of these breeds.

History of the Spanish Greyhound

The Galgo can be traced back as far as the 10th Century, although information on this is quite scant. It became better known in the Middle Ages, when it was mainly used to hunt hares and was known to be an excellent sighthound. Open land was the favourite haunt of Galgos, and this sleek breed would run and run in pursuit of food for their rich owners to be served upon their opulent tables at banquets. Once only owned by families of the nobility, gradually these dogs became a favourite with poorer families who relied upon hunting to survive.

Galgos were once cross bred with Salukis, which gave them their ultra-sleek appearance, but breeds today more resemble the traditional greyhound. These days, however, they are not treated well in their homeland of Spain and are often bred just for one hunting season and then disposed of. Hence the need for rescue centres which now have a solid appearance in the UK.

Appearance of the Spanish Greyhound

This ‘greyhound’ has little fat on their slim bodies and should remain that way. Of course, if you do not exercise a Galgo, they will put on weight, mainly around the stomach area. Their coats can be either rough or smooth and with many different colourations, but the main colours are fawn, red, black, ‘toasted’, cinnamon, brindle, golden, brown or white. The Spanish have names for each of the colours, including those that have white patches (known as ‘berrendo’) or white muzzle and forehead (‘pio’).

In terms of height, they are smaller than the UK greyhound, and stand in at an adult height of 60cm-66cm/24-26 inches (females are at the lower end of the scale). Maximum weight should be between 22.5kb-30kg/50–65lb, again with the female being at the lower end. It is unusual for a Galgo to exceed these specifications, and next to a standard full-size greyhound they can look much smaller.


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Are there any main differences with standard greyhounds?

Quite a few in fact:

  • Greyhounds have longer legs than Galgos, making them slightly taller
  • Galgos are built for endurance, as opposed to the greyhound being built for speed. However, they certainly aren’t slow!
  • Their chest structure is different – it is ‘flatter’ than that of a greyhound and should not reach the elbow area.
  • Galgos have longer hair than the greyhound, a longer head and a longer tail.
  • Their muscle tone is flatter than that of a greyhound.

As greyhounds are now mainly bred for racing, over the generations their skin and hair have become ‘thinner’ in order to accentuate speed. Galgos however, bred for ‘coarse hunting’ have thicker hair and skin, so that they are protected from the environment a lot more. Any brushing against thorny bushes will rarely do damage to a Galgo, but with such sensitive, thin skin, the greyhound will often need stitches for a wound.

Briefly, a word about the Italian greyhound, which is different again. If you don’t know a greyhound from a whippet, the Italian version (commonly know as ‘Iggy’), are smaller and more akin to the whippet than to a Galgo.

Temperament

These dogs are highly recommended as pets, just as the standard greyhound.

Whilst your Galgo is a calm, affectionate and loving dog to both adults and children in the home, they can be sensitive to strangers, so it is advisable to socialise them at a very early age. They are also happy to share their home with other dogs or cats. Whilst out for the daily or twice daily run, they are quite exuberant, but their docility in the home makes it easy for them to be around small children without knocking them over or causing harm.

A word of warning – this docility can lead to laziness! Once in the home they are generally happy to simply curl up in a comfortable place, be it the sofa or lazing by the fire and dozing off for hours on end. Therefore, it is imperative just as with a standard greyhound, to exercise them regularly.

Grooming

This couldn’t be easier. All that needs regular treatment are cleaning of the ears and nail trimming. Galgos take care of themselves, which makes them super companions.

Potential Health Issues

Overall, the Galgo is a very healthy breed, and as long as there is no uncontrolled weight gain, they should not suffer from hip dysplasia or similar. However, they do have an incidence of osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. This disease can spread very rapidly, so keep an eye on changes in behaviour or potential pain.

Minor injuries in the feet can also be common, so always check the condition of their toes.

Galgos do suffer in cold weather, their country of birth makes them prone to inclement very cold conditions. Keep them warm when venturing outside.

Should your Galgo need an operation, they are somewhat prone to reacting against anaesthetics. Hopefully your vet will know this and take the necessary precautions (under anaesthetics, hypothermia can set in).

Do consider rehoming one of these delightful dogs, you will not be disappointed, if you do your homework with the rescue centre.


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