History of the Podenco
Podencos are often confused with the Basenji and the Pharaoh Hound. Similar-looking dogs with tall upright ears and the distinctive sighthound shape have been seen in the tombs of ancient Egyptians, including that of Tutankhamen.
It is believed that the Phoenician merchants (an ancient civilization originating in Lebanon), were the first to bring these types of dogs over to the Mediterranean. They introduced them when travelling along the coastal trade routes from Africa to Spain as far back as the 8th century BC.
The dogs were probably landed on the Islands off the coast and this is how some of the Island specific podenco-type dogs developed. These included the Podenco Canario, from the Canary Islands, and the Podenco Ibicenco (the Ibizan Hound). There is also the Podengo Português, native to Northern Portugal.
The dogs began to flourish as rural hunting dogs across Spain, and the different types of podenco started to develop across the regions, adapting to the kind of terrain they were hunting on. They are more robust and suited to hunting rougher terrain than the other commonly used Spanish hunting dog; the galgo (greyhound).
Today, the podenco is still used as a hunting dog but rather than being revered, they are often seen as just a tool. They are frequently abused, neglected, and abandoned. They sometimes learn to survive on the street or are surrendered to perreras (high kill shelters) or the owners kill them at the end of the hunting season. It’s cheaper to breed another litter than feed a dog when it’s not working.
As their plight is gaining more recognition, there are now several charities that work to offer homes to podencos, nationally and internationally. This means that they are gradually becoming more well known but there is a long way to go before they will be safe from cruelty and abuse.