Adopting A Galgo

 

The Plight of the Galgo

The Galgo Español (or Spanish greyhound) is an ancient breed of dog of the sight-hound family. Despite being called a ‘greyhound’, the Spanish Galgo is not closely related to the English Greyhound. Every year at the end of the hunting season 60,000 galgos are disposed of, many brutally, as they are no longer useful.

The average age of an abandoned galgo is between 2-3 years.  Methods of disposal by the galgueros (hunters) include being hung, thrown down into wells, shot, poisoned, burned alive, having a stick wedged in their mouth so they die of hunger or thirst, knocked down by cars on roads or motorways or ending up in perreras (dog pounds), also known as the killing stations.

Adopting a Galgo

Does a Galgo Make a Good Family Pet?

The galgos in Spain are unfortunately still not considered to be a pet, just an agricultural animal but more and more people are discovering that they actually make excellent pets.  They are quiet, loving, discreet and affectionate.  Galgos show their gratitude and reward you with their total loyalty.  They are very calm with children and elderly people.  It´s very difficult to resist their subtle charm and a lot of people after having adopted one, adopt a second or third! Galgos have typical breed characteristics but each dog is an individual and may be confident or shy, young or old, friendly or fearful and may or may not be sociable with other animals.

Misconceptions about Galgos as pets

They need a lot of space – FALSE
They quickly adapt to small spaces and can easily live in flat.  Remember that they are used to living in minute kennels during their time with the hunters.

They need a house with a garden – FALSE
In general they are not territorial and don´t  usually bark so those wanting a guard dog will be rather disappointed.  They cannot sleep outside, or in the garden, as they suffer from the cold.  They don´t have fat beneath their fine skin so they need to be inside wrapped up warm in cold temperatures.

Galgos don´t play – FALSE
When adopting a galgo you should bear in mind that they have had a life of suffering which can sometimes lead to them feeling shy and nervous.  But…when they come out of their shell…they love nothing more than to play with their soft toys.

They need a lot of exercise, they need to run a lot – FALSE
They need regular exercise, just like any other dog and don´t have the need to run more than other dogs.  It´s more of an explosive, a 2 minute sprint and then they will sleep for hours, curled up on the sofa as true couch potatoes.  Don´t be surprised if your galgo sleeps up to 16 hours as they are known to be quite lazy.

Why Adopt  a Galgo?

Adopting a galgo is a truly unique and rewarding experience, but the decision must be an informed one as they can live for many years.  You will need to commit to caring for them for the rest of their life and be prepared for the financial implications and time needed to exercise and interact with them.

Galgo Adoption Advice

  • Should you have a property with a garden, this needs to be securely fenced to 2 metres high. Galgos are excellent jumpers and can easily clear a fence lower than that.
  • Never leave an open window unattended or let them have access to a balcony as it has been known for galgos to jump from balconies or through windows causing terrible injuries or even death.
  • As with any rescued dog, be prepared for possible damage to your home and/or garden.
  • As galgos are sight-hounds, they should be kept on leads and totally secured when walking in the street, near roads or danger until recall has been established.  In some cases, recall is not guaranteed and therefore, these galgos will always need to be kept secured.  An anti-escape collar is fundamental (Martingale collar) and for extremely timid dogs, an additional system with a harness is recommended.
  • Some galgos have a fear and flight reaction so if you do not have a firm hold of them, at all times, this could lead to them escaping.
  • All galgos should be treated with a calm, low voice and slow movements.
  • An ideal environment for most galgos would be one filled with routines, regular exercise and quiet feeding time with as little stress as possible.
  • They quickly learn how to co-habit with a family, other dogs and perhaps cats, although you should bear in mind that patience is needed as the period of adaptation is stressful for the animal.
  • It will soon be apparent whether or not the galgo suffers from separation anxiety problems. If they were to show symptoms of anxiety in the absence of the owner, a behaviour modification programme will be needed.
  • The physical scars of their abuse may heal quickly, but their emotional and mental scars will take much longer to heal. Anyone wanting to adopt a Galgo must appreciate this and work with kindness and patience on the continued rehabilitation of their hound.

Why Adopt a Galgo From Pepis

Many galgos are dumped in killing dog pounds to be put to sleep and adopting directly from there may lead to all sorts of problems.

You do not know if your galgo has Mediterranean diseases or infections that they have picked up at the dog pound or indeed has been spayed or castrated.

By adopting from Pepis you will have the guarantee that your galgo will have been seen by the vet, tested for diseases, has been handled at the refuge and their behaviour observed for signs of dominace, level of energy, good with cats, children, chickens etc.  In this way Pepis can better match a dog with prospective forever home.

You can read more about the Galgo Espanol on www.galgonews.com and purchase a copy of the definitive guide to the Galgo – ‘From Heaven to Hell’