Here is a taster of my book 'From Pyramid to Perrera - The Story of the Podenco'. Print version on sale shortly.
Table of Contents
Room for One More
About the Author
Foreword by Edwin Verhaegan, Founder, Podencoworld, Holland
Chapter 1 Origin and Development of the Podenco
Chapter 2 Present Day Situation
Chapter 3 Present Day Situation Canary & Balearic Islands
A Stray’s Poem
Chapter 4 Types of Podenco
Chapter 5 Methods of Disposal
Chapter 6 Theft of podencos
Chapter 7 Character and breed traits
A Dog’s Soul
Chapter 8 Health Care and Diseases
Chapter 9 Inherent health problems
Chapter 10 European Union Law
Chapter 11 Spanish Animal Welfare Law
Chapter 12 Podenco Hunting and Showing
Chapter 13 Refuges, Shelters and Perreras
Chapter 14 Animal Rescue Associations in Spain
Chapter 15 Spanish and International Organisations
Chapter 16 Educating the Next Generations
Chapter 17 The Waste of Spanish Society
A Dog Sits Waiting
Chapter 18 How Can We Solve the Problem?
The Selfishness of the Spanish Hunter
Adopting a Podenco by Joanna W Simm
Introducing a New Dog by Beverley Farmer
Make Room in Your Heart
Training a Podenco by Beverley Farmer & Ed Verhaegen
Activities with your Podenco
Leishmania – A Case History by Anne O’Connor
Leptospirosis – A Case History by Chris Mosey
Origin and Development of the Podenco
The podenco is believed to be a primitive hound dating back to the times of the Phoenicians, Romans or Egyptians who brought them to Spain and the Mediterranean islands
Images in the tomb of Tutankhamen, an Egyptian Pharaoh from 1358-1350 BC depict a dog with slender limbs, large pointed ears and a curled tail, thought to be the Tesem, the Ancient Egyptian name for a ‘hunting dog’, whose skeleton was more like a ‘terrier’ than a greyhound. Tesem were found in the Nubia area around the Horn of Africa, perhaps developed by domesticating and breeding from the jackal and greyhound, for catching fast prey. Archeological digs have unearthed jugs and pots with images similar to the podenco which date back to 2200 BC.
When a pharoah died, a favourite hound would be mummified and buried with him as a companion to the other world, illustrated on the walls of the Egyptian tombs of Rekhma Ra (1400BC), and pharoahs Tutankhamen, Amenhotep II, Queen Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII.
Superstition followed the Podenco – the goddess Isis believed they kept vigil over the coffin of her husband Osiris; in the houses of the pharaohs the podenco was admired because of its similarity to the dog-god Anubis. To kill a podenco was believed to bring bad luck.
During the 8th and 9th Centuries BC the Phoenician and Libyan merchants sailed with a number of these hound-type dogs along their trade routes from North Africa to the Spanish coast, the Mediterranean Islands – Malta, Ibiza and Sicily – and the Canary Islands. Because of the remoteness of the Islands, there was no cross-breeding with other dogs, and the podencos were kept and bred for hunting rabbit to put food on the table, an explanation of the development of the Pharaoh Hound (Malta), the Ibizan Hound (Ibiza), the Canarian Hound (Canary Islands) and the Cirneco dell’Etna (Sicily).
In the 15th century the Portuguese explorers used the smaller types of hound on their ships for catching rats, particularly the Portuguese Podengo, thus keeping ships’ stores free from vermin and the crew from rat-carried diseases. The dogs were also used for hunting game whenever the ships made port.
Greek art and coins depict short-haired hounds, some claim these are the ancestors of the Ibizan hound or Podenco, and in 325BC or thereabouts the Macedonian monarch Alexander the Great reportedly had a hound named Peritas accompany him on his military campaigns. A scene often depicted in Greek and Roman art is the mythical tale of the goddess Artemis bathing in a river. A human named Actaeon, accompanied by his hounds, saw her and punished him by turning him into a stag and had him hunted down by his hounds.
Iberian ceramics and sculptures also feature these hounds and rabbits.
The Podenco in Sicily
The Cirneco dell’Etna was introduced in Sicily by Phoenician traders to hunt wild rabbits. History shows us that since the time of the Phoenician domination (VIII century earlier up to 241 BC) there is evidence of the Cirneco dell’Etna in Sicily.
The name Cirneco originates from the Greek Kyrenaicos, dog of Cyrene (Greek colony in the Mediterranean that is now Libya in North Africa), and it is assumed that the ancestors of Cirneco dell’Etna were the dogs of the ancient Egyptians .
Despite its name indicating a specific area of Sicily (Etna), the Cirneco has always been present throughout the island, although it seems that Adrano is its hometown .
The small town Adrano take its name from god Adranòs, similar in appearance to god Ares, who had his forge in the bowels of the volcano Etna. His temple, the legend goes, was guarded and defended by a thousand Cirnechi escorting the pilgrims who had lost their way, and they also were able to recognize thieves and criminals who were attacked and killed by themselves.
Ancient coins of the Greek era depict god Adranòs on one side and a Cirneco on the other. Even in the famous mosaics of the Roman Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina there are depicted various scenes of hunting which it is possible to recognize the Cirneco dell’Etna.
Development of the Podenco in rural Spain
As the dogs flourished, they developed according to the local climate, terrain and style of hunting – on the plains, in the mountains, in scrub/brush, hilly terrain, adapting to hunt large or small game– hunting by scent, sound and sight by day and night. For this reason it became the most widely used hunting dog, especially in the Canary and Balearic Islands where the terrain is not suited to the Galgo Espanol.
An Alternative Suggestion
Some research was carried out in 2004 and 2010 where scientists disagreed with the above. The following is a précis and you can read more about it via the weblinks in the bibliography.
In 2004 it was reported in Science that a group of scientists claimed it was possible to determine the breed of any dog simply by analyzing an anonymous sample of DNA. They surveyed over 400 dogs, 85 different breeds. From this they deduced that the Chow, Siberian Husky and Lhasa Apso were the oldest breeds of dogs originating in Asia and Africa and that the Ibizan Hound and Pharaoh hound were not included in this group but were of recent European origin. ‘These breeds were probably recreated from other breeds by humans in modern times’.
Another report in 2010 claimed the Siberian Husky, Afghan hound, Africa’s basenji, Chow Chow, Akita and Saluki were ‘most closely related to the dog’s ancient wolf-like ancestors’ and the dogs originated in Asia and Africa.
Dr. Melinda Zeder, curator of Old World archaeology and archaezoology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., USA, also believes the Ibizan hound, Pharaoh hound and Norwegian elkhound are not ancient breeds.
The Spanish View
The book ‘El Podenco Andaluz y Del Manteo’ was written by Jose Antonio Villodres in collaboration with the Club Nacional Podenco Andaluz. This is a translation of their opinion on the origin of the Podenco Andaluz.
The Podenco Anduluz is one of the oldest breeds in Spain. There is no official historical documentation of their origin but of all the known data about the breed, the theory is that they originated from the Pharaoh Hound of Egypt and the Basenji from Central Africa. It is thought that these two breeds were introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians between 1550BC to 300BC who at that time were the major maritime traders between the two countries. The Phoenicians had many colonies in Spain, in particular Andulucia, and to translate literally ‘it is speculated this is where the “cradle of life” of the Podenco Anduluz began, with the amalgamation of the two breeds’.
Over centuries of evolution it has produced a dog suitable for different terrains and a superb athlete which is tough and hardy. Because they are bred for a purpose and not beauty to comply with a breed standard they seem to suffer few illnesses. Today you can find different varieties of the Podenco ranging from the small, medium and large with coats that are smooth haired to long haired. In addition to the Podenco Anduluz there are other regional breeds including the Ibicenco, Canario, Manteo, Montas and Orito.
To quote the Real Sociedad Canina Espana breed standard. The Podenco is of great intelligence, nobility, sociability and always alert with just enough reactions to stimulations that show a lively and balance character. Very warm, submissive and loyal to his owner, but breaks the bond when unjustly punished. All of these characters give him a great capacity for training.
It's estimated there are over 200,000 podencos and galgos abandoned every year in Spain. These are specifically bred for the hunting season and, after it ends, most of them are discarded with very little consideration for their welfare.
For a country that is so proud of its culture and history it is heartbreaking to see how many people treat the Podenco with so little respect for such an ancient and noble breed.’
Podengos in Portugal
The Portuguese Podengo is also considered by the Portuguese as one of the oldest known breed of dog, thought to have been introduced around 700BC by Phoenician merchants. The first written reference to podengos hunting rabbits is in 1199 during the reign of King D. Sancho, after which records tell of them being used in royal hunts.
It is interesting that the Spanish and Portuguese opinions completely disagree with that of the scientists!
La Real Sociedad Canina de Espana
On 27th June 1911 La Real Sociedad Canina de Espana was founded as the Real Sociedad Central de Fomento de las Razas Caninas en España (R.S.C.F.R.C.E.) and on 30th May 1912 it became a full member of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) (World Canine Organisation), which is an international Kennel Club based in Thuin, Belgium.
Its goals are described in Article 2 of their regulations:
aims of the F.C.I. are to encourage and promote breeding and use of purebred dogs whose functional health and physical features meet the standard set for each respective breed and which are capable of working and accomplishing functions in accordance with the specific characteristics of their breed; to protect the use, keeping and breeding of dogs in the member countries; to support free exchange of dogs and cynological information between member countries and initiate the organization of exhibitions and tests.
The question can be asked, if the RSCE enforces these aims, why is there such a problem with over-breeding and mass abandonment of podencos and other hunting dogs?