That is, until it came to hunting, when the Podencos’ unrivalled skills would put them at the centre of the action. It’s their prowess in this field that led them on the long journey to the Mediterranean, when during the 8th and 9th Centuries BC, the Phoenicians set sail from North Africa and made haste for the Spanish coast, establishing trade routes along the way. The Podencos – or hunting hounds as they would have been known then – were brought along to catch rats and to hunt for game and rabbits whenever the ships made port. When they touched land in places like Ibiza, Malta, Sicily and the Canary Islands, they were permitted to run loose, and so began a process of evolution that took place over centuries.
With few other dogs on the island to mate with, the Podencos flourished and are now considered one of the oldest dog breeds in Spain. They are extremely recognisable with long, agile legs, large ears with a wide base and tips that stick up on end, and a lean neck that adds to an already present air of elegance. Their coat can be soft or wiry but predominantly consists of white with copper markings, and their eyes are nectar-coloured and always alert. They walk with a spring in their step and, unsurprisingly given their build, they’re extremely agile. This athleticism, along with speed, and a strong sense of smell, sight and sound makes them expert hunters – skills that have seen the breed become widespread throughout Spain.