Preserving the Rhomboid Ear

What sets apart a breed? It is the distinctive particulars of conformation and abilities. One of the most striking aspects of a perfect Ibizan Hound is the elusive rhomboid ear. The rhomboid ear is precisely delineated in the old Spanish standards and was in our previous IHCUS standard until a change was made to the ICHUS standard. Those who felt rhomboid was too difficult to understand made this change.

The Rhomboid ear is described in the Spanish standard and our original AKC standard as:

Prominent prick ears, always ridged; erect on alert, but highly mobile and at times pointed forward, sideways, or backward, according to mood. The center of the base is at the level of the eyes, and in the form of an enlarged rhomboid truncated at the third of its longer diagonal. Thin, with texture of fine leather, no hair interior

The Rhomboid ear is an ear designed for acute hearing; it is not a fashion statement. The Ibizan uses its hearing as it hunts in rough cover of brush and rocks. I have heard it said that the Ibizan does not run on its ears. This is exactly what the originators of the breed feared from the dog fanciers.

The Ibizan is a sighthound, not a greyhound. The Ibizan also uses its keen hearing in the pursuit of game. Ibizans work as a pack, encircling a rabbit in the brush, spacing themselves, they pounce straight up and land heavily in an attempt to flush the rabbit. Meanwhile all are cocking their heads and listening! Ibizans are fast. Lure coursing is great fun but the Ibizans true hunting style and purpose is working in a pack, leaping to great heights to clear the tops of brush to get a reconnaissance view of the fleeing rabbit. When they sight their prey they give tongue, alerting their teammates and the accompanying human hunter.

This year at our National Specialty our most qualified and experienced judge, Mr. Ed Gilbert commented on his concern for the scarcity of the rhomboid ear. It is heartening to have such a noteworthy judge aware of the refinements of the Ibizan.

I have enclosed a diagram of the rhomboid ear. As an artist specializing in the canine I am acutely conscious of the physical aspects of my own breed.

The ear set of the Ibizan is high. Unfortunately the ear set of the Ibizan and the Pharaoh are often confused and transposed. The Pharaoh hound has a more open set. A very intense Ibizan can lift its entire ear set quiet high. A low key or reticent Ibizan may “pin” its ears when intimidated.

I, as a breeder, would be thrilled to get perfect rhomboid ears on my dogs. The rhomboid ear sets off the head, gives expression and type and most of all is entirely functional as a sort of sonar device. The Spanish hunters did not select this feature for looks. Their goal was to be the most successful in capturing rabbits with a particular breed in a very specific environment. Now it is up to us, without the evolutionary forces of nature to preserve the heritage of our most ancient breed.

Nan, 2009