Podenco Canario

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Podenco Canario

A medium-sized hunting dog, the Podenco Canario has a lean body with slender limbs, as well as a long muzzle and large, pointed ears. Their short fur can be white or brown and they do not tend to be heavy shedders. Those unfamiliar with the breed could easily confuse them for either the Ibizan Hound or the Pharaoh Hound.

This primitive dog is often very smart, but has a tendency towards being wilful, meaning that they benefit from an owner with experience. With early socialisation, they will happily tolerate other people and animals, though many breed members will be shy around strangers. The high exercise demands of the Podenco Canario mean that they are not a suitable breed for every household and will do best when provided with an active lifestyle in a rural setting.

About & History

The Canary Islands Hound, or the Podenco Canario, is a hunting dog that is native to the Spanish Canary Islands. When it comes to the origin of the breed’s ancestors, opinions are divided. While some historians claim that the Podenco Canario is derived from primitive Egyptian and other North African breeds, others believe the breed is actually more closely related to more modern European hunting hounds from the Mediterranean. What is known, is that the breed has lived on the Canary Islands for at least 500 years.

Still used today for rabbit hunting in their native land, they are utilised both as a type of ‘pest control’ and as a sporting animal. While relatively well-known locally, they are very rare outside of the Canaries. The FCI have classified the Podenco Canario under their Primitive dog breed group, whilst the UKC officially recognised the breed within the Sighthound and Pariah group.

Today, within the Canary Islands, there are a variety of rescue and welfare groups in place to deal with the large number of Podenco Canario dogs that are abandoned once the hunting season has ended and/or they reach the end of their working life. These organisations aim to educate people, as well as to rehabilitate and re-home the neglected dogs.


Podenco Canario Large Photo
Marianne Perdomo / Wikipedia.org

Resembling the Ibizan Hound and the Pharaoh Hound, it is likely that these breeds are close relatives. The Podenco Canario is an elegant and slender dog with a lean and muscular body. Measuring between 53 and 64cm at the withers, they are a medium-sized hound that should not carry excess body fat and should weigh between 20 and 25kg when fully grown.

The Podenco Canario has a long and narrow head, with prominent, pricked ears and a flat skull. Their amber eyes should be almond-shaped, while their nose is always a fleshy, red colour. Their back is strong and well-muscled, while their limbs are long and straight. Their characteristic paws are ‘feline’ with hardened pads. Their tail is long and slim and may contain a curve when raised. They should have a sprightly, extended gait.

Their short fur is relatively thick, offering them protection from the sun, as well as from the local environment in which they hunt. Their coat colour is red or white or a combination of the two. Coat colours and patterns tend to vary from region to region.

Character & Temperament

The enthusiasm of the Podenco Canario should be apparent to all. They are keen workers who love to keep active and have a job to do. A Podenco Canario should rarely, if ever, show aggression. They tolerate young children well and form close bonds with all members of their family. Gentle by nature, they show affection openly, appreciating any that is shown to them in return. They are known to be standoffish with new people, though this is due to their shy and reserved nature rather than any form of hostility. This inherent wariness means that they are often alert, making good watch dogs.

While they can be housed with other animals, when small animals are around, they may be tempted to instinctively chase them, so a Podenco Canario puppy should be familiarised with all of the family pets early on in their life. Noble and courageous, a Podenco Canario should be brave and resilient when working. They can reach great speeds but also have the stamina to work for many hours at a time, keeping their focus on the task at hand. They are rarely vocal, even when hunting.


The Podenco Canario is a smart breed that respects a trainer that displays confidence and the air of being in control. They are most responsive to fair and gentle training methods. Their sensitivity means that any form of criticism or punishment should be avoided, as it will lead towards feelings of resentment and make the Podenco Canario less likely to follow instruction or show their trainer respect.

It is not unheard of for a Podenco Canario to question their trainer and exhibit a stubborn streak. For this reason, it is often said that this breed of dog does best with an experienced trainer who will not tolerate any disobedience.


Owing to the fact that they have been bred for their working ability, they tend to a be a hardy and healthy dog that suffers from few health problems throughout their life. Most Podenco Canario dogs will live to their early teens. Anyone looking to purchase or re-home a Podenco Canario should be aware of the following potential issues.

SRY-Negative xx Reversal

This is a very rare genetic disorder that is more commonly seen in Cocker Spaniels. Affected female dogs will develop either ovotestes or testes in place of ovaries.

Hunting Injuries

Any working or hunting dog is more at risk of injuring themselves when on the job. Common injuries include bites (particularly for those Podenco Canario dogs that hunt rats or ferrets), flesh wounds or penetrating injuries.

Hip Dysplasia

A condition that is seen in a huge variety of dog breeds, hip dysplasia can be an issue for the Podenco Canario. A dog with this developmental disorder will frequently exhibit muscle wasting around their back end, an abnormal gait and stiffness on rising. Most dogs are managed with long-term medication and lifestyle adjustments. The frequency of the disease can be reduced within the population by screening breeding parents and neutering those that have bad hips.

Exercise and Activity Levels

It is vital that the Podenco Canario is homed with a family that are willing to dedicate the time and effort needed to ensuring this breed is sufficiently exercised. Given their history, they are a dog that love to run and can keep going for long periods of time, seemingly with little exertion on their part. They thoroughly enjoy hunting; a task that they need little to no training to know how to perform well. Generally hunting in packs, these light-footed athletes can perform well on an array of outdoor terrains.

Usually raised in rural conditions, Podenco Canario dogs appreciate the opportunity to have access to a lot of land on which they can roam. It is not recommended that they are housed in a small apartment, particularly if their high exercise requirements cannot be met on a daily basis.

If a Podenco Canario is under-exercised or under-stimulated, it is almost inevitable that they will use their energy to do something else – whether it be nuisance digging in the garden or chewing up the furniture in the home. An owner must understand that this is not the dog deliberately misbehaving, rather, it is their way of communicating that they are bored and unfulfilled. An intelligent dog, the Podenco Canario not only needs a couple of long hikes or runs each day, they should also have the opportunity to use their brain in a variety of activities, such as obedience and agility training.


The Podenco Canario is a low maintenance breed due to their short and easily cared for coat. A quick brush down every week will be more than sufficient to keep their fur in good condition. Feeding a good quality diet will ensure the coat maintains its natural shine. Additionally, frequent bathing is not advised – rather, a quick rub down after being outdoors is all they really need.

Famous Podencos Canarios

There are no well-known Podenco Canario dogs just yet, however, Instagram has a fair few Podenco Canarios with @ronda_y_elvis being a particularly lovely example of the breed who is best friends with a Galgo Español.


While some Podenco Canario crosses certainly exist within the Canary Islands, there are no established cross-breeds.

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