The Ibizan Hound, pronounced "I-bee-zan", also called Podenco Ibicenco in Spanish or Ca Eivissenc in Catalan, is an agile, deer-like dog of the hound family. There are two hair types of the breed: smooth and wire. The more commonly seen type is the smooth. Some consider there to be a third type, long, but most consider the longhair to be a variation of the wire.
The Ibizan Hound is an elegant and agile breed with an athletic and attractive outline and a ground-covering springy trot. Though graceful in appearance, it has good bone girth and is a rugged/hardy breed. Its large upright ears - a hallmark of the breed - are broad at the base and frame a long and elegant headpiece. The neck is long and lean. It has a unique front assembly with well laid back shoulders and straight upper arm. In this way it is different from most other sighthound breeds in construction. It comes in both smooth and wire coated varieties. It is either red or white or a combination of red and white. Its nose is flesh colored, as are its ears, eye rims, and pads of feet. Its eyes are a striking amber
color and have an alert and intelligent expression. The Ibizan may range in height from 24 to 29 inches and weigh from 45 to 65 lbs, males being larger than females.
Ibizan Hounds are very intelligent, active, and engaging by nature. They are true "clowns" of the dog world, delighting in entertaining their people with their antics. Though somewhat independent and stubborn at times, they do take well to training if positive methods are used, but will balk at punitive training methods. They are generally quiet, but will alarm bark if necessary, so they make good watch dogs. They are sensitive hounds, and very good around children and other dogs alike. They generally make good house dogs, but are active and athletic, therefore need a lot of daily exercise. They do not make good kennel dogs.
Ibizan Hounds are "escapologists." They are able to jump incredible heights from a stand still. As such, they need very tall fences. They also have been known to climb. They have a strong prey drive, therefore they cannot be trusted off lead unless in a safely enclosed area.
The Ibizan Hound is typical of the Hound Group
in that it rarely suffers from hereditary
illness. Minor health concerns for the breed include seizures
; very rarely, one will see axonal dystrophy
, retinal dysplasia
in the breed. Ibizan Hound owners should have their dogs' eyes tested by a veterinarian
before breeding. Ibizan Hounds are sensitive to barbiturate anesthesia
, and typically live between 12 and 14 years.
For many years, this breed was considered one of the ancient dog breeds
. It was believed the Ibizan Hound originated in ancient Egypt
, as pictures that appear to be of Ibizan hounds have been seen on the walls of ancient pyramids
However, according to Elaine Ostrander, a geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington, recent DNA analysis reveals that this breed is actually a recent construction, bred to resemble an older form.
In a study directed by Dr. Ostrander, with the aid of her colleague, Dr. Leonid Kruglyak, "they have found genetic variations that allow them to distinguish among 85 dog breeds and to identify an individual dog's breed with 99 percent accuracy," according to Mark Derr, a science writer for the New York Times.
"We can assign a dog to a breed, but we can't tell what behavior it will have," asserts Ostrander. "There is huge variation in behavior between dogs within breeds." The results of the study, published in May 2004 in Science magazine, may help in the study of disease, both canine and human, because certain breeds are prone to some of the same genetic diseases as humans.
The breed is believed to have originated in Muslim Spain and was used to hunt rabbits and other small game on the Balearic Island of Ibiza. The Ibizan Hound is a fast dog that can hunt on all types of terrain, working by sight, sound, and scent. Spanish hunters run these dogs in mostly female packs, with perhaps a male or two, as the female is the better hunter. This breed is similar to the Pharaoh Hound, but the Ibizan Hound is larger and can have a multicolored hair pattern. The Ibizan Hound was fully recognized by the AKC in 1979.
In Ibizan folk culture
According to journalist Norman Lewis, when an owner no longer wants to own one of these dogs (having too much of an appetite, for instance), it is considered very bad luck to kill the dog. Instead, they release the dog on the other side of the island, so that someone else might 'adopt' the animal.