Form, Function or Fashion?
There has been the suggestion that the American show breeder may have changed the Ibizan Hound into a more elegant and leggier dog than the original stock brought to this country. Partly this is true in that much of the original stock was from Ibiza rather than the Spanish mainland or the other Balearic Islands, particularly Mallorca. I have previously written on the diversity of the Ibizan Hound. There has always been a healthy range of type in the breed. Some being more compact than others. I believe we as Americans got used to seeing the more moderate, middle of the road types.
With the great flood of information now available to us we are more aware of various types and most of all the amazing videos of Ibizans hunting in their native land. Seeing the Ibizans flying over high brush in pursuit of rabbits was certainly an eye opener to me. So I will address the standard and explain why these beautiful dogs are so correct. These wonderful hunting dogs, bred for the hunt and not show are certainly beautiful creatures.
First, general size and shape. The size limitations are for the most workable mass of a dog expected to be very agile, leap high in the air and hunt for hours. This is not the swift short chase of the Greyhound. The dog is only slightly longer, if at all, than height. For agility and jumping a long body would be counterproductive. Fine clean bone, dense and bladed as befits a fast agile dog is required. There should never any sign of heaviness.
The head is long and narrow, but in the form of a cone. This gives the Ibizan the long jaw to snatch up a rabbit on the run, but the delicacy to retrieve it alive. The eyes are set obliquely and not large, giving good peripheral vision and not so much in danger of injury from brambles. The ears, the crowning glory of the Ibizan, are set high and are quiet large. Ibizans use their sense of hearing to trace the rabbit through heavy dry cover. The large ear also helps in cooling the dog as it leaps and runs.
The lovely arched neck is used for reconnaissance in heavy cover. Though the neck is flexible and quiet mobile, the characteristic high carriage allows for the lift in the movement. The shoulders are well laid back but the upper arm is straighter, though not dead upright, dropping straight from the point of the shoulder,, but set slightly back, but well in front of the deepest part of the chest. This unique conformation allows for the springy, lift and reach of the suspended trot. The ribs are only slightly sprung as this is a dog of speed that is expected to go airborne in pursuit of rabbits. A cumbersome body will not serve. The topline has a rise over the loin, denoting muscle and flexibility, The tuck up does not appear as great as some other sighthounds because of length and placement of upper arm and a moderately deep chest. The sternum should have a little hollow on either side as this is a hound of lean and spare body, not beefy as in some working breeds. The legs have bladed bones and are lengthy. Needed for hunting in high cover. Considerations should be made for some variety within the breed, a range of type from more robust to more leggy and sinewy. Within the parameters of the standard this is correct. Similar to variation of type within the Saluki breed, different locations with different geography developed an acceptable range of types. The foot is an elongated oval with deep strong pads. This breed is expected to climb rock walls and land safely from high jumps.
The muscling is flat and sinewy. This is a breed of long distance and endurance. Bulging thighs as in a track Greyhound is a serious fault in their native land. As is anything suggesting crossing with Greyhound blood. Unlike the Greyhound, the Ibizan hunts with its ears and scenting as well as sight. Though once game is sighted it gives voice and keys in visually.
The Ibizan comes in two coats. Smooth and sleek with a hard sheen and rough, or wire that can be quite short to several inches long often with beard and much facial hair as in a Scottish Deerhound. Certainly the wire coat gives good protection in rough cover, though Ibizans maneuver so well through the rocky, brushy Spanish landscape as to remain unscathed. Neither coat is preferred.
The color is restricted to shades of red and white. Some can be almost solid red and some almost solid whites or everything in between. At present time there appears to be many primarily white dogs hunting in their native land. Certainly white shows up in the landscape. Red dogs always have a white tip to the tail and this is a signal to human and canine hunters as to the progress of the hunt. That is why the tail should not curl onto the back. Any combination is correct. Anything brown or black would be sign of impurity as the red is recessive to these colors.
The Ibizan Hound should be good tempered as it is a pack hunting dog. Squabbling in the field does not catch rabbits. The Ibizan is a team player. Judging a single Ibizan hunting would be like judging a single soccer players talents. The same even temper that serves the hunter makes the Ibizan a fine companion.
The attributes that set the Ibizan apart are large high set rhomboid ears, for hearing the rabbit in the brush and for cooling the body, The long straighter upper arm that allows for higher action when needed, and the beautiful combination of red and white that declares its breed and shows up so well in the hunt. It is our endeavor as breeders to retain these qualities and preserve this bit of history for the ages.
There has always been a respective range of type within these parameters. But an Ibizan is a unique and functional breed and must remain so.