Spain is noted for having several breeds of hunting dogs. The Spanish Hound also known as Sabueso Espanol has been utilized since the late Middle Ages by Spanish hunters. In spite of the very Spanish name the dog was once considered to be a French hunting dog. This breed has an innate aptitude to hunt. A Sabueso Espanol hunts small game. It is considered to be a hare specialist. However the dog is brave and tenacious enough not to be reluctant to deal with big game such as boar, deer, bear and foxes. This hunting dog is good to work with… truly an indispensable hunter’s helper. The Spanish hunters and these dogs have worked together for so long so much so that the mere change in the dog’s voice modulation will bring the hunter up to date about the trailing and the scenting situation. The barking will let the hunter know whether the scent is a cold or a fresh one, whether the dog has found double scent lines or whether the hunter should be ready for the kill. This passionate hunting dog hunts in packs or individually. The excellent scenting ability is also used to track wounded game. In recent years, this skillful dog is used as a rescue dog that finds missing persons. This Spanish Hound has also evolved into a competent police helper that sniffs drugs and bombs.
The Spanish Hound is a medium sized dog with a height that would vary from 19 to 22.5 inches and a weight that would range from 45 to 60 pounds. This dog is not hard to feed but owners should be careful with the food ration of the dog as they have the tendency to be obese. Obesity can result to a number of health concerns. The Spanish Hound is a fairly healthy breed and has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years.
The Spanish Hound is a hare hunting specialist that is highly esteemed by Spanish hunters. This lively and passionate hunter is a sniffer. The dog is noted to have the tendency to lower its head and continuously sniff while walking. This breed has a harmonious head that is proportionate to the body. The Spanish Hound has a high level of dimorphism. Males are larger in size than females. A male’s skull is also broader than the skull of a female. This breed has a lightly marked stop and a muzzle that is slightly rectangular in shape. The color of the large moist nose with open and well developed nostrils varies from light to dark black. Loose upper lip covers the lower lip. Mucous membrane would be of the same color as the nose. White teeth meet in a scissor bite. A Spanish Hound’s eyes have an intelligent though rather sad expression. The eyes are medium sized, almond shaped and have an attractive hazel color. Pigmentation of eyelids is the same as the color of the nose. This dog had long hanging ears. Soft textured and rectangular in shape, rounded tipped ears are set on below the eye level and hang twisted like a corkscrew.
The neck takes the shape of a truncated cone. It is broad, well muscled and supple. The neck is covered with thick loose skin. This breed’s rectangular shaped body has a straight topline that dips at the back. The back of marked length is broad and powerful. Loin is very broad. A Spanish Hound has broad very well developed deep chest that is let down to the level of the elbows. Ribs are rounded. Belly is slightly tucked up but the flanks are deep and full. Set on at medium height, the strong tail is thick at the root. The short hair that thickly covers the tail forms a small paint brush at the tip. When the dog is relaxed, the tail hangs down with a slight curve. In action, the tail is raised in saber fashion. Perfectly vertical forelegs have short forearms. The powerful hind legs have broad and muscular well defined thighs. This breed has cat-like slightly oval feet.
Thick pink tinged skin is very elastic. Loose skin that covers the body may form wrinkles in the forehead. Short dense hair smoothly covers the whole body of the dog. Coat colors are white and orange with either color distributed in variedly shaped markings.
The Spanish Hound is an affectionate and loyal breed. This dog is lively and sociable as well. Although the dog forms a strong attachment to its master, this breed is not recommended as a house companion unless the dog is well trained and socialized. Obedience training can be challenging as this breed is temperamental and known to have a willful nature. The dog would rather work than be receptive to indoor or house living training. This breed is not overly dominant but neither is it good with children. The dog tolerates other dogs but it should not be trusted with other smaller pets because of its high prey drives. The Spanish Hound is a working dog. Because of high exercise requirements, this breed would need large spaces. Apartment living is definitely not for a Spanish Hound.
A Spanish Hound is chosen for its outstanding hunting abilities and not for its appearance. Nevertheless, the dog would benefit from regular grooming. Owners of this breed would not be required to devote too much time to the grooming of this hunting companion because it has a low maintenance coat. Regular brushing would maintain the good condition of the coat. Coat brushing is also an opportunity to check the dog for external parasites. A Spanish Hound’s ears though would need to be thoroughly cleaned especially if the dog has been hunted. The pendulous ears that remain moist would be a good place for bacteria and parasites to thrive.
The Spanish Hound is considered to be one of the oldest breeds of hunting dogs. This breed is believed to have descended from the Canis Segusius that the Gauls have brought to the Iberian Peninsula. This ancient breed was utilized and bred for hundreds of years but because very few data about the ancient people existed, the origin of this breed just like any other ancient breeds is lost in the mist of time.
Also known as the Chien Courant Espagnol, it was believed that the Spanish Hound was originally developed in France and that the name of the breed was given by the ancient people that inhabited central France. The Spanish Hound has the classic mastiff looks … heavy boned, massive ponderous head, flews and dewlaps as well as the long pendulous ears, thus it was speculated that this breed has descended from a St. Hubert type hound. In the beginning of this breed’s history two variants exist - the Sabueso Espanol Lebrero (small) and the Sabueso Espanol de Monte which is the large type. Both types were utilized to hunt small and big game. Unfortunately, Sabueso Espanol Lebrero is now extinct.
The first reference to the breed that was then known as English Hound was made in a 14th century hunting literature. Alfonso IX, King of Castile has described this outstanding scent hound that is used for big game hunting in the book “Libro de la Monteria”. Other foreign authors like Phoebus Gaston and Count of Foix who were known to have made trips to Spain have written about the breed.
Spain may be noted for its bull fighting but the Spaniards are dog loving people. The native Spanish breeds - the Spanish Mastiff, Spanish Greyhound, Alano Espanol, the Spanish Water Dog and the Spanish Hound are highly valued by Spanish hunters. For centuries, the Spanish Hound that remained isolated in the Iberian Peninsula has stayed pure. However, in later years, this breed was indiscriminately crossed with French breeds and other breeds of hunting dogs. After the Spanish Civil War years, the Spanish Hound was on the brink of extinction. British and German hunting dog became the rage and this breed fell to disuse. This breed may have been lost to the world of dog lovers if not for the efforts of Antonio Lopez Milan who reconstructed the Spanish Hound to its original appearance and made sure that the hunting prowess of the this breed is retained. The reconstruction was successful and the breed was saved from extinction. This breed is still hunted in Spain although it has never regained the popularity it once had.