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Get to Know the Ibizan Hound: The Deer of Dogdom

With his deerlike elegance, you'd think he'd be more popular, but the Ibizan Hound is a rare AKC breed.

Caroline Coile  |  Apr 11th 2016


I was having dinner with a friend when we walked outside to find a crowd around her car. “You have a deer in your car,” reported one of them, as though we would not have picked up on this. “I see,” said my friend, because why ruin somebody’s good tale? Of course, the deer was her dog, an Ibizan Hound, and it wasn’t the first time she’d been alerted to the fact that she had a deer on the end of her leash — or in her driver’s seat.

With a deerlike elegance, the Ibizan is one of dogdom’s must stunning creations. But they were created for hunting ability, not looks.

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Ibizan Hound by Shutterstock.

More interesting things about the Ibizan Hound

  • As the name reflects, the Ibizan (pronounced ee-BEE-than) Hound hails from the Mediterranean isle of Ibiza, where the dog was traditionally used to hunt rabbits. There the recorded history ends and the mystery begins. How did a breed that looked as though it stepped out of an Egyptian tomb end up being discovered thousands of years later and thousands of miles away?
  • The dog probably shares roots with the Pharaoh Hound, as both have an uncanny resemblance to the dogs on ancient Egyptian tombs and the jackal god Anubis.
  • It’s possible that ancient Phoenician traders brought these dogs to the Balearic island of Ibiza and neighboring islands as early as 800 BC. Here they remained in seclusion, specifically kept and bred for their ability to hunt small mammals by sight, smell, and even hearing. The harsh conditions left little room for sentimentality, and those less fit were not kept or bred — circumstances that no doubt contributed to the breed’s hardiness today.
  • Ibiza saw a succession of rulers, coming under the rule of Egyptians, Chaldeans, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, and Spanish. We do know that Spanish farmers on Ibiza used the dogs for hunting.
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Ibizan Hound by Shutterstock.

  • In its native land, the breed is called Ca Eibisenc.
  • It was not until the 1950s that the breed was exported and began its new incarnation as a companion and show dog. The first Ibizan Hounds came to America during this time.
  • The breed remained in the AKC Miscellaneous class for many years. Finally, in 1979, it was admitted to the AKC Hound group.
  • It is considered a sighthound, a dog who hunts by chasing prey by sight, but it is really an all-around hunter who uses hearing, sight, and smell equally.
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Ibizan Hound by Shutterstock.

  • The Ibizan Hound is a popular breed for lure-coursing. Unlike most coursing breeds, Ibizans tend to bark when coursing.
  • The breed is especially known for its leaping ability, and the dog often leaps high above tall grasses and brush to spot game.
  • The breed comes in smooth-coated and wire-coated types. The coat can also be broken, which is a short wire coat. The wire coat is never sculpted as it is in terrier breeds, but may be stripped so that it still appears natural yet shows the dog’s streamlined body shape.
  • The color is either white or red, or more often, a combination, such as white with red spots or red with white trim.
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Ibizan Hound by Shutterstock.

  • The breed has some of the largest pricked ears of all dog breeds. The dog also has a peculiar gait and front assembly structure, tending to step higher than most dogs, with a very upright upper arm. The chest does not reach the elbow.
  • The Ibizan Hound is the 160th most popular AKC breed, down slightly from 155th five years ago. That makes the dog among the rarest of AKC breeds.
  • The Ibizan Hound has placed in the group at the Westminster dog show twice: Both were first placements, in 2003 and 2004, by the same dog: Ch Luxor’s Playmate of the Year. “Bunny,” as she was called, was so named because her spots formed the Playboy bunny logo on her back!
  • No celebrities are known to own an Ibizan Hound.

Read more breed profiles.