The Galgo Español is an ancient breed. For centuries they have been most used hunting dog in Spain. They are different from the English Greyhound in that they are smaller and bred for hare hunting in rough terrain. Although they may not be just as fast as a Greyhound, they make up for that in endurance and agility. Even today, thousands of of Galgos are used each year during the hunting season and for coursing on local and national levels. You may find hunters and their Galgos in the rural areas but also in the bigger cities.
It is estimated that every year in Spain thousands of Galgos are the victim of great cruelty and abuse after and during the hare hunting season. In many cases the dogs that are no longer considered useful by the hunters are abandoned or cruelly slaughtered. Although no official data exists, the animal welfare associations believe that close to 100,000 Galgos are destroyed each year. Ignorance, fear of reprisal when denouncing hunters that abuse or abandone their galgos, and the lack of clear enforcible legislation to protect animals, their rights and welfare, greatly contribue to the problem. In February of each year, shelters are flooded with Galgos. They are brought in suffering from numerous injuries and illness from being beaten, abandoned, and neglected. Dogs are required to be microchipped but many have these chips cut out so the hunter can avoid being traced. Others are found roaming the streets where they run the risk of being hit by cars or are dumped in situations that offer no escape like deep wells. The hunters leave them behind in shelters controlled by local government, the so called perreras where they are euthanised within days as they are not considered pets.
Breed Traits: The Galgo Español - a dog that looks fragile, but possesses enormous strength and speed. It presents itself in two different shapes - elegant with smooth hair or rustic with rough hair. Both types are characterized by robustness, agility and energy, paired with a pleasant nature.
Temperament: The Galgo Español shows typical characteristics of a sighthound. At home, a Galgo behaves relative calmly and unobtrusively. Galgos bark very rarely. He saves his energy and his Spanish fire for the outside walks. The Galgo normally can be kept in a city dwelling without problems, if it is given sufficient opportunities for movement. When running in the fields, he inspires the viewer by his fiery temperament. He is very affectionate to his master or his family. With strangers, he commonly behaves reserved and careful, but not aggressive. He wants to decide who may pet him. Because Galgos incline to caution and reserve, puppies should be exposed to different situations early in their life. It is also important for them to learn to know other people, so that caution does not change to fear. Galgos get along easily with other dogs. They do not like quarrels. They also are gentle and sensitive with children.
Size: A male Galgo measures on average 25 to28 inches and weighs around 60 to 65 pounds, the female 23 to26 inches and weighs around 50 to 55 pounds.
But keep in mind, these are averages and we have seen taller (31 inches), smaller, heavier and lighter(36 pounds) galgos.
Body Type: The Galgo is a typical sighthound. The loin should be higher than the shoulders. In contrast to the Grey, the Galgo does not have thick and round muscles portions at rear spar and back. He has a flat musculature, which is characteristic of a long-distance runner. Its rib cage is less deep than that of Greyhounds and should not reach the elbows. The head of a Galgo is very long and fine with relatively large rose ears. The tail is very long and has a lateral hook at the end.
Coat: There are two types of Galgos, the smooth and the wired haired. There is no separation in breeding and dogs of different hair types are also paired together. Though it has to be said that most galgos these days are smooth haired. In addition there is a whole variety of colors: brindled, black, dark and bright beige tones, cinnamon, yellow, red, white and pied marked. White markings at head, tail and feet are also existing.
Things to consider before adopting a Galgo Español: The galgo you may consider adopting is a rescue and may come from an abusive back ground. Many of them have been kept in very different conditions than we are accustomed to seeing. Most are housed in sheds that are packed full with other dogs. Some come with several fears as they try to adjust to their new lives. Some may exhibit a fear of men.
Others may be scared to go through an open door while you are standing next to it.
Still, many of them do not have these fears and adjust really fast to living in a home, taking over your couch and your heart.
Galgos are also very agile in general and for most at least a six foot fence or just leash walking is necessary. Galgos can quite often live peacefully with cats and other small pets, but keep in mind that they were bred to hunt so outside animals may be fair game.
We will try to give you as much information on every individual galgo as we can.
Every shelter we work with in Spain provides us with as much info as they can, this includes testing with cats, small dogs and how they react to young children.