Sighthound Plus

With the issue of possible group realignment, there comes the question; is the Ibizan Hound a sighthound? The FCI, (Fédération Cynologique Internationale), classifies the Ibizan Hound (podenco Ibiceno) as a primitive hunting dog. Here in the United States the general consensus is that the Ibizan Hound is a sighthound.

The Ibizan Hound is undoubtedly built for running. The legs have long, fine, bladed bone. The feet are oval as in the hare. The chest is deep and relatively narrow. The head is long and narrow as befitting a sighthound. The tuck up is pronounced and the overall impression is elegance and grace. In speed the breed can compete with the other sighthounds on the lure-coursing field.

As long as game is in sight, the Ibizan Hound pursues by sight. This is when they give voice; this is why they bark as they chase the lure. This barking helps the pack to function as a unit. Ibizan Hounds are team players.

What sets the Ibizan Hound apart is the additional use of hearing and scent when game goes to cover. A hunting pack of Ibizan Hounds stand and listen for the rustle of the rabbit in the dense brush of their Spanish homeland.

They also use their sense of smell to locate the rabbit, although they do not cold trail like a scenthound. The Ibizan Hound's light, precise, high stepping action allows them to traverse very harsh rocky, brushy hillsides without injury to themselves. Their springiness allows them to do spectacular leaps from a standstill. This above all makes them unique.

I believe the fear of losing these specific abilities is the reason Spanish breeders hesitate to classify the Ibizan Hound as a sighthound, equivocating “sighthound” to “greyhound.”

The FCI standard warns against this fear in the breed disqualification: “anything in the characteristics that reveal admixture of Greyhound blood, since although speed in racing is increased, the sensitivity of hearing is diminished, as is the standing jump and especially the sense of smell, which are the principal physiological qualities of the breed. There is moreover a noticeable lowering of intelligence and judgment.”

Please, Greyhounders, many of my best friends are Greyhounds. There is just a great difference in the specific hunting techniques. Both breeds are wonderfully evolved for their respective hunting approach.

The Ibizan Hound is a sighthound with added talents. It is a sighthound that evolved to hunt in rough terrain and cover. In our modern world so removed from their heritage, without the pressures of natural prey and habitat, we as breeders must strive to do our best to preserve and protect these wondrous abilities.

Nan, 2009