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Kelb tal-Fenek
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The other Mediterranean Hounds

In different regions of Southern Europe one can find breeds of hunting dogs, which show more or less a pronounced similarity with the Kelb tal-Fenek. Similar to the Kelb tal-Fenek, these breeds are also used for hunting wild rabbits. The hunting method is also similar to that of the Kelb tal-Fenek: The hounds mainly use their well developed sense of smell and their large prick ears to detect a hidden prey. Except for the Podengo Português, none of these breeds have black pigmentation, but fleash coloured pigment; the same as the Kelb tal-Fenek.

We do not know whether the similarities between these breeds are the result of a common origin, or whether similar breeds have developed due to similar environmental conditions in different places without having any direct connection to each other.

Here you can find the portraits of the four Mediterranean breeds, which are, same as the Kelb tal-Fenek, currently recognised by the FCI. Apart from the breeds presented here, there are some more local forms which have not yet been recognised by the FCI, e.g. the Podenco Andaluz (Andalusia/Spain), the Kritikos Lagonikos (also known as Kritikos Ichnilatis or Cretan Hound; Crete/Greece) and the Podengo Galego (Galicia/Spain).

It is important to know that the FCI recognises all Mediterranean breeds - except the Kelb tal-Fenek - by their original name and has also given the responsibility for the breed standard to the true countries of origin.

The Cirneco dell' Etna (FCI breed standard Nr. 199)

Male Cirneco dell' Etna Ch. Giltedged Gandalf Seta del
Oro, breeder: B. Novak/SLO, owner. A.D. Nielsen/DK

The region of origin of the Cirneco dell' Etna is Sicily. There, the breed is used for hunting rabbits in the rough lava fields in the area surrounding Mount Etna. The general appearance of the Cirneco dell' Etna is very similar to that of the Kelb tal-Fenek (and due to the short distance between Malta and Sicily, a relation between the both breeds is a probability). However, the Cirneco dell' Etna is remarkably smaller than the Kelb tal-Fenek: The maximum size of the Cirneco dell' Etna is 50 cm (dogs) and 46 cm (bitches). A divergence of 2 cm is tolerated. The coat of the Cirneco dell' Etna is short and tan coloured. White markings are permitted.

The Podenco Canario (FCI breed standard Nr. 329)

Podenco Canario bitch Melita, breeder & owner:
Nicolás Antonio Porras Gomez/

As the name suggests, the home of the Podenco Canario are the Canary Islands, an archipelago situated off the north-western coast of Africa, but politically a part of Spain. Similar to the Kelb tal-Fenek, also the Podenco Canario is also used for rabbit hunting in co-operation with a ferret. However, different to hunting with the Kelb tal-Fenek, the hunters in the Canary Islands usually have large packs of dogs (up to twelve hounds), whilst the use of the net is not permitted. Rabbits are therefore either caught by the dogs, or the hunters using shotguns. Sometimes, the hunters also catch a rabbit by hand when it leaves a tube in the lava rocks. Very typical for the Podenco Canario are the large paws with the long, flexible toes, which allow the dog to get a good hold on the loose, sharp-edged volcanic stone of the islands. The maximum size of the Podenco Canario is 64 cm (dogs) and 60 cm (bitches). The coat is short, the colours are red, red with white and white.

The Podenco Ibicenco or Ca Eivissenc
(FCI breed standard Nr. 89)

Podenco Ibicenco bitch Balena del los Ninos del Sol,
breeder: G. Benecke/D, owner: E. Scheringer-Bartnick/D

The region of origin of the Podenco Ibicenco are the Balearic Islands, a part of Spain, situated in the western Mediterranean. In the local Catalonian language of the Islands, the breed is also called "Ca Eivissenc", whilst it is also known as "Ibizan Hound" in the UK and in the USA. Notwithstanding the name, which exclusively points to the Island of Ibiza (Eivissa), the breed can be found on all Balearic Islands as well as in mainland Spain (Catalonia). The breed is used for rabbit hunting in large packs, and it is a common behaviour for the dogs to get a survey in the high grass through high jumps. Up the 19th century, the Podenco Ibicenco could also be found in Southern France, where he was known as 'Carnigue'. The maximum size of the Podenco Ibicenco is 72 cm (dogs) and 67 cm (bitches). The coat is red, red-white or white. The Podenco Ibicenco is found in short and rough coated varieties.

The Podengo Português (FCI breed standard Nr. 94)

Podengo Português Grande (smooth coated); dogs of the 
kennel "da Estrelinha" of José Formosinho Sanches/P

Male Podengo Português Grande (rough coated) Cocas, breeder: 
José Eduardo Martins/P, owner: Manuel Mendes Velez/P

Male Podengo Português Medio (smooth coated) Dunga, 
breeder: António Barbosa/P, owner: Eduardo Pereira/P

Female Podengo Português Medio (rough coated) McGavin's
Yama, breeder: S. Sauerer/D, owner: A. Gerdes/D

Male Podengo Português Pequeno (smooth coated) Aaron vom 
Jadewind, breeder: E. Sanders-Saathoff/D, owner: E. Tiemann/D

Female Podengo Português Pequeno (rough coated) Sana,
breeder: M.A. da Silva-Rodrigues/P, owner: C. Leupelt/D

As the name suggests, the Podengo Português is a breed from Portugal. It is the only recognised Mediterranean breed whose region of origin is not an island, and it is the only one which is allowed to have black pigmentation. There are three different sizes - Grande (large), Medio (medium) and Pequeno (small). The Medio and Grande varieties (the latter being relatively rare even in Portugal) are used for hunting purposes similar to the other Mediterranean breeds, whilst the Podengo Português Pequeno also works inside the rabbit burrow, similar to a Terrier.  All sizes of the Podengo Português are found in short and rough coated varieties. The maximum sizes of the Podengo Português are - 30 cm (Pequeno), 55 cm (Medio) and 70 cm (Grande). The colours are yellow, tan, faded black and white.

Jan Scotland