The Ibizan Hound (also known as the Ibizan) may have been recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1978, but these dogs are one of the oldest breeds in existence today with an ancient heritage that reaches back over at least 5,000 years.
The ancestry of this sighthound from the Hound Group can be traced through art and hieroglyphs, including drawings on the walls of the tombs of Ptolemy and Tutankhamen. The hounds depicted on these artifacts are prick-eared and alert and resemble both modern day Ibizans and Pharaoh Hounds. These dogs are thought to be the ancestors of the Ibizan of today.
Ibizan Hounds were hunting companions for the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. In the 8th and 9th centuries B.C., Phoenician traders brought some of the dogs to the Balearic Islands (an archipelago off eastern Spain in the Mediterranean.) Although they have been known to bring down larger game, on the island of Ibiza farmers used these dogs in packs to hunt rabbit in the local rocky terrain. The farmers of Ibiza bred the best hunters, giving us the Ibizan Hound we see today. It wasn’t until 1956, over 2,000 years after the breed left Egypt, that Ibizans were introduced in the United States.
The Ibizan is named after the island of Ibiza, off the coast of Spain. Ibizan is pronounced i-bee’-thin, i-bee’-zan, or Ee-bee-than (Spanish). You might find it easier to simply call them Beezers, a name some fanciers use to show their affection for the breed. In Spain, the Ibizan Hound is known as the "Podenco Ibicenco" or "Ca Eivissenc." These dogs are still used today in Spain for hunting rabbits.
Ibizan Hounds are lithe, unique-looking dogs with their large upright ears, deerlike elegance, and light pigment. According to the breed standard, their eyes are clear amber to caramel-color, and their noses are a rosy flesh color. The Ibizan comes in two coat types, smooth and wire. Both coat types are hard in texture, shed moderately, and require weekly brushing and occasional bathing. Ibizans are shown untrimmed, whether they are smooth or wire-coated, and their coat comes in white or red, either solid or in any combination.
Although Ibizans are considered sighthounds, they share many of the traits of scenthounds, as well. Because these dogs hunt in packs rather than on their own, they tend to vocalize while giving chase to their quarry. This means they might bark at home whenever they are excited by something outside. Training can help your Ibizan know when to keep his voice down, but beware, these are sensitive and playful dogs who do best with a positive approach.
This dog breed is athletic and agile. Ibizan Hounds are just as fast as the top coursing breeds and excel at high jumping and broad jumping. In fact, they can leap up to 6 feet in the air from a standstill. So you might find your Ibizan on your countertop or even jumping to the top of your fridge in a search for goodies. They are quite independent, but they are trainable and versatile and enjoy working with their humans. Such a natural athlete will benefit from any number of dog sports such as obedience, conformation, lure coursing, tracking, or agility.