As perhaps one of the most misidentified dogs in the hound group, the Ibizan Hound really does bear special mention. These dogs, almost appearing to be a cross between a Greyhound and a Basenji are a wonderful companion dog as well as an amazing hunter.
The breed is one of the oldest dogs, considered a primitive type of dog because of their features. Dogs that very closely resemble the Ibizan Hound and Pharaoh Hound are found on the walls of ancient Egyptian temples dating back to close to 3400 B.C. These dogs had the highly pricked, triangular ears, the lean hound bodies and the typically graceful elegance of the modern Ibizan Hound. The modern Ibizan Hound varies little from these ancient Egyptian depictions other than they have developed three distinct coat types from the original short, sleek coat. The most famous representation of an ancient Egyptian dog god was the statue of Anubis, found in the tomb of Tutankhamen. This life sized statue is not only life size but it is a perfect representation of the modern Ibizan Hound.
The modern Ibizan Hound is most closely associated with areas of Spain, specifically the Island of Ibiza. Historians believe that the first Ibizans arrived in areas around modern Spain at about 700 to 900 B.C, and were largely kept by those in positions of power and royalty, away from inbreeding with local dogs and hounds. Those living on the Island of Ibiza kept these medium sized, relative lightweight hunting dogs isolate from the mainland dogs, resulting in a genetic pool of purebred Ibizans. They local farmers and hunters used the dogs in packs, hunting rabbits and other small game. As a pack dog they are extremely fast and highly skilled at tracking over a wide variety of types of terrain.
The history of the Ibizan as a hunting hound is legendary. These dogs are one of the few hound breeds that hunts by multiple modalities. They are generally considered sight hounds although they will also use scent and sound to locate game and alert on rabbits and other small animals. In addition the Ibizan is one of the very rare hounds that will occasionally have some natural pointing ability and can also be taught to retrieve.
The first Ibizans were not brought to the United States until 1956. The first litter in the USA was born in Rhode Island and and the Ibizan Club has worked hard to ensure that all breeders are maintaining both strict genetic breeding for soundness as well as maintaining the outstanding physical attributes as well as temperament of the breed. Most Ibizan owners in the United States don't use their dogs for hunting, however they are often used of agility, obedience and lure coursing as well as fun types of events that highlight the athletic ability and intelligence of the breed.
The Ibizan Hound is also one of the few hound dogs that absolutely needs to be around people. They thrive on human attention and are not considered to be good kennel dogs since they do need regular human contact and interaction. The modern Ibizan is still used in hunting trials but also does outstanding in obedience, agility and in lure coursing and racing types of events. The versatility of the breed makes it a very much in demand dog, even if they are not as well known as most of the other hounds.
One of the key features of the Ibizan Hound is its gentle and very affectionate personality. Even though they are a larger dog measuring up to 29 inches at the shoulder they rarely exceed 55 pounds at maturity. They have a very Greyhound type body with long, straight legs, well cut up abdomen and body that is very muscular yet lean. Unlike the Greyhounds they are more square in appearance and more sturdy and rugged.
The Ibizan is an indoor dog and is not suited to living outside or in kennels. This is partially due to their short coat and relative intolerance to the cold as well as to their need for human interaction and companionship. In the house the Ibizan is very cat like in their cleanliness and will groom themselves and actually shed very little year round. They are also one of the easiest of the hound group to housetrain, seeming to dislike messing within the house even as puppies.
Training an Ibizan is really a pleasure provided the owner treats the dogs with firm, consistent and positive types of methods. They do not learn under stress or when punished but rather will strive to do what the owner wants in order to earn praise and rewards. They enjoy a pat on the head and being told what a good dog they are even over a food treat. Much less independent than some of the sight hounds, the Ibizan does need routine socialization in order to avoid being timid and shy around new people. They tend to watch strangers from a distance, then move closer in as they become comfortable with the person. A well trained Ibizan is not a social extrovert but they are friendly and accepting of new people.
As a pack hound the Ibizan gets along very well with other dogs, even those that are more dominant. If there are cats in the family the Ibizan must be slowly introduced or raise from a puppy with the cat. Stray cats or cats outside of the home may be seen as prey and the Ibizan is fast enough to catch and kill these cats. Any type of small rodent animals, particularly ferrets, rabbits or hamsters are not a good match for these dogs.
With proper socialization and interaction with children the Ibizan does well with older children but may be somewhat timid of younger kids. They are very willing to work with children and can be great companions for kids of all ages once introduced and socialized. As with any dog having the Ibizan puppy and children interact all through the dog's life is the best possible option for making this a terrific experience for both.