Is a Greyhound the Same as a Galgo?
Even though the Galgo Espanol is often referred to as the Spanish Greyhound, the Galgo is actually not the same as a Greyhound at all. The Galgo Espanol and the Greyhound are both sighthound breeds (dogs that hunt by sight and speed, instead of by scent and endurance), but they are not genetically the same.
The Romans believed that greyhounds came from Gaul (western Europe), the land of the Celts. The Celts, on the other hand, believed that greyhounds came from Greece, and so called them "Greek hounds" (Greyhound may in fact be a derivation of Greek hound). Every Greyhound alive today can trace its lineage back to one dog, King Cob, whelped in England in 1839. That is why sometimes you will see the term English Greyhound.
Many theories exist as to the lineage of the Spanish Galgo — it is a sighthound mix, possibly Irish greyhound and sloughi or deerhound, created to course hare and rabbit. The Moors, who conquered Spain in the eighth century, may have bred African sighthounds with Spanish Galgos. The name comes from the Latin “canis gallicus,” meaning Celtic dog.
The first, most obvious difference between a Galgo and a Greyhound is the size. Galgos are generally smaller than Greyhounds. The average male is 24 - 27 inches at the shoulder with an average weight of 60 - 65 lbs. An average female is 23 - 26 inches at the shoulder with an average weight of 50 - 55 lbs. Just like Greyhounds, Galgos can be either larger or smaller than the average.
The Galgo’s coat can be smooth or rough (wire-haired). It is believed that the rough coat gives the Galgo more protection when running through the fields. Both Galgos and Greyhounds can be any color. Both breeds are easily groomed, although not hypoallergenic.
As for build, structurally the Galgos are higher over the hip area than they are at the shoulder. Their bodies are longer, they have longer heads and necks, larger ears, and longer hooked tails. They have a flat muscular structure more conducive to endurance running (Greyhounds have very prominent rounded/bulging muscles). Their chests are not as deep and their tuck up is less extreme. Their lean, narrow musculature is characteristic of an endurance runner rather than a sprinter, like the Greyhound. Galgos can easily sit, whereas the Greyhound is often uncomfortable folding his hind muscles comfortably into a sitting position, due to their bulk and strong tone.
As for running, Greyhounds are sprinters and can hit up to 45mph for very short spurts. Galgos are endurance runners and can range around the 40+mph for long distances, even over rough terrain. Galgos have an impulse to wander, and in addition, they can jump really high, so a 6-ft. fence is a must if they are to be off leash.
In temperament, both can be a little bit shy, gentle and affectionate. Both breeds are calm and laid back. They are also similar in intelligence, trainability, playfulness, sensitivity. Neither breed barks a lot and both are friendly toward strangers, and so they do not make the best of guard dogs! They are apartment friendly. Galgos may have a slightly higher energy level than Greyhounds, but still enjoy lots of snuggles and sofa time! But like Greyhounds, personalities differ from dog to dog.
Although they may have high prey drive, both Galgos and Greyhounds are generally good with other dogs. Some believe Galgos tend to be better with cats than Greyhounds are. But it does depend on the dog. Both are good with kids and other people.
Health wise, although similar biologically, they do have some differences. Average Galgo lifespan is 12–15 years. For Greyhounds, it’s more like 10-13 years. In a 2013 study of North American Galgos and retired racing Greyhounds by Dr. C. Guillermo Cuoto, cancer was found to be the number one killer of both, although only half as frequent for Galgos. Osteosarcoma is rare in Galgos, but they are three times more likely to die from vector-borne diseases. Kidney issues and bleeding disorders were also leading COD for both.
Overall, Greyhounds and Galgos are more similar than they are different. With greyhound racing on the wane, fewer Greyhounds are available for adoption. It is possible that there may be a Galgo in your future, who knows? IMHO, you can’t go wrong with either breed – love ‘em both!