Podenco andaluz - The soul of Andalucia
"And thus to the present time and with very few variations, the podenco is an authentic alive relic of our own history that has coexisted and survived the successive human settlers of the Iberian Peninsula, their wars and their mixtures, serving to all of them faithfully and remaining like common denominator of many stages of our memory”.
(Manuel Pedrosa Valverde "El Podenco Andaluz en caza menor")
As you can hear on the name, the PA is the Spanish mainland’s own podenco. Podenco Andaluz is one of the lesser known podencoids. That's because they have not yet been approved by the FCI. They were approved by the RSCE (Spanish Kennel club) in 1992 and they are working to bring about a recognition also by the FCI. The reason why they have not yet been approved is because there are too few registered dogs. There are many Andaluces in Spain so the problem lies elsewhere. The problem is that the owners are not interested in registering their dogs. In order to exhibit in dog shows it is required that the dog is registered with a pedigree but it does not apply to the hunting dogs. Hence the low interest since the vast majority of the owners are hunters.
Podenco Andaluz comes in three sizes. Chica, which is the smallest one at 32-42cm. Mediana of 42-53 cm and finally Grande at 53-64 cm. They also come in three different coats, pelo corto (smoth), cerdeño (wirehaired) and sedeño (longhaired). The colors are different shades of red and white and combinations of them. Unfortunately there is no standard translated into English. To get a better understanding of their appearance go to the photogallery, the photostandard or read Erica Kaspers English summary of th Spanish standard.
The Podenco Andaluz is just like the rest of the podencoids, a hunting dog. The main prey are rabbits, but the Andaluz is an all-around dog in hunting contexts. They are also used to hunt bears, deer, wild boar and birds. It is mainly the Podenco Andaluz grande who is used for the big game hunting. There are two different lines of breeding when it comes to the PA. One is bred for the wild chase hunt. These dogs track, chase, kill and retrieve the prey to the hunter. The other line works more like a retriever and stays much closer to the hunter. They find the prey for the hunter, who then shoot it and the dog retrieves it for him. Most Spanish hunters uses several dogs since they collaborate with each other to encircle and rouse the prey.
Unlike many other hunting breeds the Andaluz requires no initial training to cope with the hunt, everything runs on instinct. What the hunter does at an early stage is to introduce the prey to the puppy. The young puppies may get a dead rabbit to play with, just to trigger the instinct a little bit more. You can see it on some of Juan Ledesmas photos in the photo gallery under Podenco Andaluz. After that the young dogs are released together with more experienced dogs who shows them how the hunt is conducted in the most efficient way.
To believe that by buying a puppy, you can escape the hunting instinct is to terribly mislead yourself. Since the hunt is conducted out of pure instinct, even the sweetest little puppy will bring it with him in his baggage. If a rabbit runs out in front of your feet the puppy will run directly after it. There are many people who can have their PA’s without a leash but even more can not.
Anyone who chooses to acquire a Podenco Andaluz must be aware of that it will require much patience and practice to get the dog to come to you when you call him back outdoors. These dogs must also have a safe place where they can not damage the wild life but still get what they so desperately need, namely to stretch out and run in a big dogpark or a sheep pasture. In other words, it's not a dog for those who find it hard to see her dog in a leash.
In general, the breed can be a bit reserved towards strangers, but to their owners they are timid, loyal, respectful and affectionate. They are never aggressive towards humans. Manuel Pedrosa Valverde, the author of the book "El Podenco Andaluz en caza menor," says in his book that he has never heard of a dog, not even of the big variety, grande, who have attacked a man.
The trait of being a one-man-dog makes it important to be careful when you receive one in your home, especially if the dog is an adult. There are many cases where these dogs have traveled considerable distances to be reunited with their former owner. You should never let them off-leash until at least after a month. They need a long time to accept its new owner. To win their trust you should spend a lot of time together with your new dog, especially in the beginning. To be close, offer candy, long nice walks in a leash, etc. Anything that can strengthen the contact between you and your new dog is a guarantee of a happy and lasting relationship between the two of you.
Regarding the absence of aggression, it does not apply to other dogs. They are not more aggressive than other breeds, perhaps even the opposite, but problems may occur when you introduce a new dog into the pack. If you have several dogs since before, these dogs can get together and attack the newcomer. You should therefore be extra careful the first time. They may also fight with each other if the pack isn’t in harmony with each other.
The Andaluz is very responsive and easily trained. But easily trained here is not the same as with, for example, a German Shepherd or Border Collie. The Podenco is very independent and do not do things only to please their owner. They only do things because they feel like it. This means that we have to be inventive to make our dogs believe that they are doing things out of their own free will. The training sessions have to be short, fun and conducted in a positive state of mind. Otherwise they will quickly be bored and find something else to amuse themselves with. The downside of this is they are easily trained but very quickly learns things we do not appreciate. In other words, if we once forget the dinner on the table, they will for the remaining of their life constantly jump up on the table in their search for something edible. There is now a Podenco Andaluz in Spain who have won the title Spanish champion in obedience. So it is possible if you train in the right way.
Since they are slightly nervy you have to train them with gentle methods. A Podenco who feels offended or unfairly treated may end his acquaintance with his owner and it can be very difficult to repair the loss of confidence again. I know of one podenco breeder, who thinks this trait in the podencoids is so important for the buyer to understand, that he has it written down into the contracts of sale. A Podenco remains faithful to the owner who he has confidence and trust in but he can also choose to depart from someone who does not live up to his dog's expectations.
* Note that a breed presentation is only a general description. A breed consists of numerous individuals, where each one is unique