Andalusian Hound

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Andalusian Hound

The Andalusian Hound is a dog traditionally used for hunting and is revered for its heightened senses, and stamina and endurance when running. A handsome and noble dog with a well-proportioned, lithe and muscular body, the first thing you are likely to notice about this animal is it's large ears. While the Andalusian Hound comes in three distinct sizes (small, medium and large), its ears are always its most prominent feature.

While not yet universally accepted as a dog breed in its own right (mainly due to the similarities it shares with the Portuguese Podengo), the Andalusian Hound is well-known in southern Spain, where it is still used to this day for hunting small prey.

About & History

Originating from the Andalusian region of southern Spain, the Andalusian Hound is thought to most likely have descended from the European hunting dog. There had been some speculation that they may have been one of the ancient breeds depicted on cave paintings within the Iberian Peninsula thousands of years ago, but recent genetic studies have rendered this theory unlikely.

Also known as the Podenco Andaluz, this breed was only officially recognised within Spain as recently as 1990 when a breed group was established. Due to the lack of distinctive unique characteristics and the similarities it shares with other breeds of dog, in particular with the Portuguese Podengo, the Andalusian Hound is not typically recognised in its own right outside of its native country.

Traditionally used as hunting dogs, their senses of sight, hearing and smell have been keenly developed over the years, and they have the ability to endure the hot and dry conditions of the barren landscape from which they originated. They are known for being successful and methodical hunters. The smaller Andalusian hounds traditionally hunt hare or rabbits, while the larger variants can be used to hunt wild boar. They will typically hunt in packs.

Appearance

Andalusian Hound Large Photo

The Andalusian Hound bears remarkable similarities to other Mediterranean breeds, including the Portuguese Podengo, and the Ibizan Hound. Their body should be in proportion and well muscled, positioned on top of straight, lean legs. They will have a pointed muzzle, and a long face. Their most noticeable feature is their large and erect ears, which will occupy most of the space above their head. Of course, these ears will serve the hounds well as they listen out for signs of life when hunting on vast, empty terrains.

Similar to other Mediterranean hounds, the Andalusian Hound can be small (talla chica), medium (talla mediana) or large (talla grande), and these various sizes of dogs should not be interbred.

The tall variant will typically measure between 53 and 64cms, weighing from 21kg to 33kg. The medium hound will stand between 42 and 53cms, weighing between 10kg and 22kg. While, the smallest of the Andalusian hounds measures in at only 32 to 42cms and weighs around 8kgs.

It is worth mentioning that there is also a dwarf variant of the ‘medium’ Andalusian Hound. Known colloquially as the Maneto, this dog has achondroplasia, and thus will have short and compact limbs. In spite of (or perhaps thanks to) its dwarfism, this dog is commonly used to hunt small prey, and is known for making a good family pet. It is often lovingly referred to as ‘The Dachshund Podenco’.

As well as the three recognised sizes of Andalusian Hound, they also have three accepted coat types. These include: smooth, wirehair and longhair. Due to this diversity of accepted heights and coat styles, there are technically nine physically distinct varieties of Andalusian Hound that exist! Their coat should be white, cinammon, or a combination of both colours, and they should not have an undercoat.

Character & Temperament

The Andalusian Hound is known for being loyal to its family, and gentle in nature. They are celebrated for their intellect and can learn new tasks quickly. Their intelligence can make them more demanding, and they are prone to behavioural issues if under-exercised or under-stimulated mentally.

The smaller of the varieties, and the Maneto (or dwarf version as mentioned above), can do particularly well with children, especially if introduced when the dog is very young. Once adapted to family life, they can be affectionate, and are always up for a game, possessing a decidedly mischievous streak.

It is prudent to be cautious when introducing other animals, particularly smaller ones, as it is not unusual for the Andalusian Hound’s natural hunting instinct to kick in, and for them to give chase.

Naturally good guard dogs, they are attentive and observant, quick to alert their owner of the presence of a new person. They can be wary of people they do not know, and do best when in their owners’ presence, where they are most at ease. With a propensity to, at times, be submissive, a good relationship with a confident and encouraging owner is critical to get the most out of these sweet-natured hounds.

Trainability

Photo of Andalusian Hound puppy
Nefci / Flickr.com

Always keen to please their master, these dogs will respond well to a firm and consistent leader who uses positive reinforcement training. If treated unkindly, the Andalusian Hound will lose respect for its owner, and will not happily perform the tasks asked of it.

They are fast dogs with a natural instinct to hunt, and so must be kept on the lead in open spaces as they can easily become distracted by small, moving prey. Clever and willing, they are generally good fun and quite rewarding to train.

Health

There are no known health conditions associated with the Andalusian Hound. While this is possibly in part due to the natural survival of the hardiest dogs in harsh conditions, and the general healthiness enjoyed by most hunting hounds, it is also likely that due to poor record keeping and lack of relevant studies, the health conditions experienced by this breed are not yet widely known or publicised.

Saying that, however, all dogs can suffer from a variety of health conditions throughout their lifetime, and not having a predisposition to a certain disease does not mean the Andalusian Hound is guaranteed a disease-free life. Routine health checks at a veterinary clinic are highly recommended, and all dogs should receive vaccinations and routine parasite prevention. The average life-span of an Andalusian Hound is typically between 10 and 12 years.

Exercise and Activity Levels

As is true of most working dogs, the Andalusian Hound naturally thrives when outside and active. It is evident that in order to catch a fleeing hare, they must be agile and speedy. They love to run, and relish time spent off the lead. Known for their stamina, they are happy to continue running for long periods of time, so if left outside unsupervised, they must be fenced in.

Failure to provide the Andalusian Hound with adequate exercise can result in pent-up energy, that may be released in undesirable manners, such as through destructive behaviours. If kept as a pet, it is vital to provide the Andalusian Hound with adequate daily exercise, which should consist of long daily walks and various activities to keep its mind active; such as obedience training and agility classes.

Grooming

Regular brushing of all three coat varieties is recommended and is most needed in the longer-coated varieties, to prevent matts. This is not a hypoallergenic breed, and thus is not recommended for allergy sufferers.

Like all dogs, regular tooth brushing and claw clipping should be introduced from an early age to ensure the Andalusian Hound will regularly accept them as part of their routine. Additionally, their large ears should be regularly checked to ensure they are free from wax or debris, and the ear canals must be thoroughly dried after swimming or bathing.

Famous Andalusian Hounds

While certainly well known in its native Andalusia, this dog breed has not yet produced any Hollywood A-listers.

Cross-Breeds

There are no popular cross-breeds of the Andalusian Hound recognised yet.

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