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Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography
The Spanish Greyhound, is a sighthound created to course rabbit and hare, but these days he is primarily a companion dog who is rarely seen outside of Spain.
You might think that sighthounds are hyperactive because of their speed, but just the opposite is true. Give your Galgo a long walk or a good run every day, and he will be content to spend the rest of the time relaxing on your sofa or bed.
The Spanish Greyhound, also known as the Galgo Español, has a serious, reserved temperament and can be shy in the presence of people he doesn’t know. He is affectionate toward his family and gentle with young children. Plan to give him frequent early socialization to overcome his tendency toward shyness. In the home, he’s quiet, but when he is hunting he turns into a lively, energetic dog.
A height of 24 to 27.5 inches gives him easy access to kitchen counters, so don’t leave food out where he can get to it. He will have no qualms about stealing it.
Give a Spanish Greyhound regular exercise to keep him conditioned. He’s an ace competitor in lure coursing, a sport that involves chasing a mechanically operated artificial lure.
The Spanish Greyhound gets along with other dogs and he has a reputation for being friendly around
cats. Even so, if you acquire an adult Galgo, it's best to supervise him around cats until you’re sure they get along. And the Galgo Español won’t have any qualms about chasing unknown cats or other small furry animals he sees outdoors, so he must always be walked on leash.
The 50- to 65-pound Galgo Espanol can live contentedly in an apartment or condo as long as he gets a daily walk or run of at least half an hour. He’s an excellent partner for joggers and runners and is satisfied to be a couch potato after exercise. Never permit a Galgo Español to run free except in a safely enclosed area. An underground electronic fence does not constitute a safe enclosure. The Spanish
Greyhound will run right over it, heedless of any level of shock.
Galgo Espanols respond well to positive reinforcement techniques, especially food rewards. If you are firm, fair, and provide the right motivation, they learn quickly and easily. If you don’t, well, this is a big dog that can do a lot of damage untrained and left to his own devices.
Looking for a dog with an easy-care coat? The Spanish
Greyhound has you covered. Weekly brushing of his smooth, shorthaired coat (the majority of Galgos have a smooth coat) and regular nail trimming and ear cleaning are all he needs to stay clean and in good condition.
The Galgo Español loves his family and should live indoors with them, preferably with access to furniture or soft bedding.
Sighthounds -- dogs that hunt by sight -- have existed since ancient times. Different types of sighthounds have developed in different countries depending on the terrain and quarry. The Galgo is a Spanish sighthound created to course hare and rabbit. His name comes from the Latin “canis gallicus,” meaning Celtic dog. The Galgo probably descends from Greyhound-type dogs that were influenced by
Salukis during the Moorish conquest of Spain.
The Galgo is rare in the United States and is not recognized by the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club. The dogs may participate in lure coursing events through the American Sighthound Field Association.
You might think that sighthounds are hyperactive because of their speed, but the opposite is true. The Galgo is a typical sighthound: quiet and a little reserved, but always affectionate with his family. Give him a long walk or a good run every day, and he will be content to spend the rest of the time relaxing on your sofa or bed. It’s when he’s running that you will see his energetic and lively side come out to play.
He can learn to get along with
cats or small dogs if he is raised with them, but furry outdoor animals may invite his chase instinct. He needs a securely fenced yard to ensure that he doesn’t chase prey into the street and in front of a car.
The Galgo can be prone to shyness, so early socialization is essential. It’s also important to get him used to absence so he doesn’t develop separation anxiety.
Train a Galgo with positive reinforcement techniques such as praise and food rewards (especially the latter!). He is more than willing to learn as long as he understands what you want. Rewards are a good way to show him what you like.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and
parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Galgo, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit disease. Run from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed has no known problems, or who keeps puppies isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur.
Because there are so few of them, little is known about the Galgo Español's health. In general, he appears to be a healthy breed. He may suffer muscle or toe injuries while running. Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, is seen in sighthound breeds, so it is something to keep in mind. A reputable breeder will discuss potential health problems with you, including any problems she has seen in her own lines.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas. A puppy may develop one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what are the most common causes of death.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Galgo Espanol at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Galgo is easy to maintain. Weekly brushing of his smooth, shorthaired coat with a hound mitt or rubber curry brush is all he needs to stay clean and in good condition. Give him the occasional bath with a dog shampoo if he rolls in something stinky. The wirehaired Galgo is also easy to groom, although his beard, mustache, and eyebrows may need some additional combing.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Like most sighthounds, Galgos are sensitive about having their feet handled, so practice this early on with a puppy and be sure you never hurt him when you are touching his feet. He’ll never forget it. Keep the ears clean and dry to prevent bacterial or yeast infections from taking hold. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approvet pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your
dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a quality breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out as many problems as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Reputable breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with. They will come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you plan to provide. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps were taken to avoid them. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
The Galgo is a rare breed in North America, and it may take some time to track down a breeder. Look for more information about the dogs and start your search for a breeder at the website of the
Galgo Espanol Club of America. You may even find yourself traveling to Spain in search of a dog.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will clear. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include over-availability, multiple litters on the premises, a choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders
The cost of a Galgo puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give him a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Galgo might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Petfinder.com can have you searching for a Galgo in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Galgos available on Petfinder across the country).
AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Galgo. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Galgos love all Galgos. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The
Galgo Espanol Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Galgo rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Galgo home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a
dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Galgo, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an
Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Galgo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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