Article: Movement: Uniquely Ibizan

Nothing moves like an Ibizan. Conformation and temperament makes this singular breed animated like no other. The Ibizan should be of light structure, high on leg, short of back and narrow of body. The chest should be shapely but not down to the elbow. If so, one of two things are incorrect; either the upper arm is too short, or the upper arm is set back at too great an angle. The space between the front legs should be just wide enough for the average hand. The ribs are very slightly sprung.

Collected Phase
Ibizan Hound's Collected Phase

The Ibizan should move with a light, high action gait, with much flexion of the pasterns. This gait is a very precise elegant reaching movement, high, but not above the parallel. The pasterns should be long and slightly sloping. The feet should be tight and hare like. Bone must be fine and strong. Because of the slight build of the breed, it is of utmost importance that the Ibizan be kept in hard running condition. If this is done there is no stronger more robust breed. I believe that by keeping puppies too plump and restricting exercise one can actually promote too heavy of a body in the dog.

Once I raised fifty Cornish-Rock cross chickens for meat. They are extremely fast growing, and can be butchered at eight to twelve weeks. This is the same breed that is used by commercial poultry processors. When I buy a chicken in the grocery store the bones are soft and almost flexible. The chickens I raised free-range had hard dense bones and strong joints. The meat by the way not fatty, but very tender. I have never had an Ibizan break a leg in the 27 years I've owned them. Even though they have done steeple chase coursing and I persistently run them in rough terrain, such as cut over forests.

The Ibizan is foremost and always a jumping breed. A dog that is too heavy bodied or too long cannot jump as well as a tall light bodied dog. The Ibizan should move with his head held high. Their natural movement is the reconnaissance trot. This trot looks something like a fine Arabian horse in action. Also their carriage says a lot about their temperament. This breed should be alert and inquisitive. Socialization is important to allow the Ibizan to strut his stuff in public. In late years I have not taken my own dogs out much and it shows in their attitude. They prance and pose at home, but are intimidated under show conditions.

Full Extended Phase
Ibizan Hound's Full Extended Phase

Ibizans should single track at a trot. If one views the tracks in the snow or sand they will be in a straight line.

Tail carriage finishes the final picture. The tail should be long and set fairly low. I do not mind a curly tail, heaven knows they come by it naturally. All old Egyptian wall paintings depict similar hounds with curly to very curly tails. The set is what is most important.

While I'm at it I would like to comment on the slight evolution of the Ibizan. I believe topography of the Balearics, especially Mallorca, has shaped the Ibizan. Hunting in rough brushy hillsides has caused the breed to become a taller, (not so much bigger), than their ancestors depicted in Egyptian artifacts.

The Pharaoh Hounds is slightly longer and does not move with as much lift as the Ibizan. I was once shown a film taken in Malta of Pharaohs hunting. They were fast, agile, and great climbers. They often ran rabbits into rock piles, where a ferret was sent in to flush it out. I was amused to see several young haraohs stop at the first pulley in their maiden field trials to cock their heads and listen for the rabbit! Genetic memory? But I digress. Form follows function. Form and function create the movement. Now we have the task of trying to keep the Ibizan in its unique type without the natural conditions that shaped it. The best show dog is not necessarily the best Ibizan. The best courser is not necessarily the best Ibizan. In Virginia my best rabbit hunter is not my best Ibizan. Virginia Cottontails are not European rabbits, though the landscape here is similar to the Balearics. Probably a small compact dog would fit the bill better here. In the past many of the more compact, less elegant dogs came from the island of Ibiza. This may be because this was the type there, or what they let us have.

Study your history. We must keep the Ibizan in its wonderful unique and exotic form. In the past, the native environment and function shaped this breed. How can we maintain the Ibizan's unique form in the alien environment of this modern world. From what I saw at the Ibizan Hound Club of America 2000 Specialty I would say was a nice cross-section of correct types. I especially thought there were some very lovely wires.

Nan, 2000