The Ibizan hound is one of the ancient breeds of dog. It is thought that the Ibizan Hound dates back to the Phoenicians and were used for hunting by the Pharaohs. The dog is featured in hieroglyphics, statues and are depicted in papyrus, tablets and on pyramid walls. During the 8th century the Phoenicians did much travelling and trading throughout the Mediterranean and it is believed that they took the hounds with them to the Balearic Islands. The dogs are seen on all the Balearic Isles but prolifically in Ibiza hence the name – the Ibizan Hound or Podenco Ibicenco in Spanish. The breed is now common on the Spanish peninsula where variations upon the original breed have resulted in the Andalucian Hound (Podenco Andaluz), Manchego Hound (Podenco Manchego) and Maneto/Podenco Enano (a miniature version of the breed).
They are a very versatile sighthound being used to hunt, point and retrieve. Ibizan Hounds will retrieve game live to hand, and are quite "soft mouthed" not unlike some gundogs, yet their lips fit very tightly over the teeth, hard to believe with such sharp muzzles they can have such soft mouths.
The first thing that most people notice about the Ibizan Hound is its pink nose, the second thing being its large mobile ears. They have the most amazing amber eyes and are very expressive.
Their movement is unlike that of any other hound. They have a far-reaching stride, and a slight "hover" before placing their front paws on the ground, a suspended trot is the best way to describe the movement. It is breathtaking to watch these hounds work and it is common practice for them to go upright in a “meerkat” stance to sight prey at a distance when in hunting mode. They are a very affectionate breed, and are mortified when shouted at; the look in their eyes make you wish you could take it all back. A most wonderful loyal breed, they have an affinity with children and love to join in whatever game is going, even to climbing trees! A long-lived breed, seventeen years-plus has been recorded. They have never been one of the more popular sighthound breeds in the UK and have been loved and cherished by a small group of owners over the last 50 years or so.
Firm handling and basic training (especially for the recall) are vital if you wish to own a breed which is led by thousands of years of hunting instincts. The ibizan is a sensitive breed and this must be remembered if you do not wish to turn your dog into a quivering wreck. The breed is sensitive to harsh handling and judges who do not have an in depth knowledge of the breed should do well to consider this when going over for showing especially with younger ibizans who are just coming into the showring.
The Ibizan Hound does make a good pet, but it is not a breed for the fainthearted, they can be fairly vocal, and adore company, they take a long time to mature, sometimes physically and mentally, but if you want a hound that has remained unchanged for thousands of years, and if you can give buckets of affection, and don't mind sharing this is definitely a breed to consider.
Ibizans are generally a healthy breed and here in the UK we have no incidents of hereditary disease or defect, listed with the English Kennel Club (as at March 2011). However like any other breed careful consideration should be given prior to breeding in order to keep the breed to its true type and to avoid bringing any problems to this wonderful breed. There have been ibizans past and present that don't show full dentition; this is not generally the case, however it is not listed as a fault as long as the jaw, remaining teeth present and canines are all in correct position and it does not affect the dogs ability to perform its original function to hunt.