The galgo is one of the oldest canine breeds and it has only evolved little throughout the centuries. A distant resemblance with the greyhounds of the old Egypt of the Pharaohs is probable, due to its great morphologic similarity and due to the fact that the Romans could have carried that race to Spain. There is also the hypothesis that the celts brought the galgos via the Roman empire to our country, descendants of an old Gaelic greyhound, Canis Gallicus, and from it derives the name of “galgo”.
There are historical references of galgos in Roman writings or paintings in Romanic churches, but perhaps we have in literature one of the most famous references. This refers to the beginning of El Quijote, by Miguel de Cervantes, where it says: “In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing”.
It is mainly at that time when the galgo takes great importance within the daily life of all the social classes and stops being a dog destined to the high society, becoming very fast a tool for the hunting of hares.
There are three types of the Spanish galgo, the short hair, the hard hair and the long hair galgo (the latter practically disappeared).
In our days the galgo is a mere hunting tool in Spain. Most of them have a terrible life in the hands of unscrupulous galgueros (hunters), the majority lives penned up in small kennels, in many cases they hardly have ventilation and light, they are victims of continuous robberies and illegal animal traffic without any type of governmental control.
They are raised en masse to be later “selected” and “just a few lucky” dogs will serve to run and to hunt hares, the rest are exterminated in different forms (the most famous forms being the hanging “in favour” of other “systems”, the throwing into deep fosses or drowning in water rafts, sacrificed by veterinarians with no ethical sense, taken to municipal killing stations where they are sacrificed and exterminated massively, or simply left by chance, dying in this case often in car accidents, of hunger and thirst, by traps, poison….)
We calculate that every year between 50,000 and 75,000 galgos have to die in our country, although unfortunately no concrete data exist since the animal protection is a decentralised competition in the independent communities and there is not even one general register, so that these data are just an estimation of galgos sacrificed in municipal killing stations, with other words this is only the top of the iceberg.
And this happens year after year. It is not seldom that you see a galgo roaming on a highway or near a petrol station, searching for food in rubbish containers in towns and villages…. Nevertheless, it is as if all of them were invisible or ghosts… galgos can be roaming during weeks before somebody really “sees” them and tries to help, many of the dogs never have that luck.
Unfortunately the majority of the galgos hardly have contact with people, and if they have it is mainly with the hunter who raises them and usually they do not receive very good treatment. This is why the galgos which are roaming through the streets or highways are evasive animals, distrusting the human beings who mistreated them, and usually it is very difficult to rescue them. Only people with a lot of patience can, little by little, gain the confidence of these animals by facilitating food every day thus being able to rescue them and to give them a better life.
This crude reality does not receive any response from the authorities, neither autonomous nor national, whose excuse lies in the lack of denunciations or the supposed “economic benefits” of the hunters’ activity with galgos.
It is important to denounce, it is fundamental to make pressure and not to accept pretexts like “it is impossible”, “I can’t change anything”, “it won’t help” …
Don’t give up. Little by little this injustice will stop and change.
The Galgo – your pet
Contrary to the opinion in Spain, in other European countries like Germany, Holland, Switzerland, France or Finland, galgos are very appreciated pets.
Galgos, in spite of what people think, are extremely lazy dogs, they like to sleep and to sleep and to return to sleep. Generally they are very calm animals that adapt perfectly to the modern life in flats. They are dogs that do not need much space at home, since – as we mentioned before – they like to sleep J.
Since they are puppies the galgos are accustomed to live with many other animals in small places, reason why they are very sociable with other dogs. In addition, the calm and noble character of these dogs is ideal to coexist with other types of species, being especially compatible with cats and rabbits, contrary to what people usually think. They are especially affectionate and sweet beings, as much that sometimes they are quite annoying!
The galgos are patient and noble by nature, ideal for families with children or older people, since they adapt perfectly to their rhythm of life.
As far as their needs are concerned, they are not very different to the needs of any dog, which means they need affection, care, routine, 3 or 4 walks a day, good food…. In many cases, and due to the hard life they had previously, they need a little patience and more affection to be able to surpass that terrible past and to get ready for a new life. But once they get used to it you won’t find a more satisfactory thing, it is an experience we can recommend you to 100%.
The majority of the galgos that are looking for a good home are adult, this guarantees that you know beforehand how the dog is and you will not be surprised like when you adopt a puppy.
In Spain many people have the absurd idea that if the dog does not come to your family as a puppy it cannot adapt to the new life. This idea is far from reality, the dogs, like the people and other beings, are absolutely adaptable to any circumstance of life, they can learn during their whole life. In fact, if the galgo is adult when he joins you can be seen as an advantage, it is a very safe adoption, we know the character of the animal and will know if it adapts well to our form of life or not. In addition, the galgo puppies are especially “naughty dogs” and destructive, which disappears completely when they reach the adult age.
If a galgo enters your life then you can be sure that you will no longer be able to live without these wonderful beings. Take courage, we guarantee that you will not regret it.