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Is a Greyhound the Same as a Galgo?

Two Galgos

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 Greyhhounds 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, 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!




    Toby Vawter


    Toby Vawter
  • I have a 4yr old 98lb Brindle greyhound rescued race dog from Australia, shipped to me in Spokane Wa at 2yrs old. VERY confused on what breed he TRULY is? Galgo? Greyhound? Both? Papers say pure breed greyhound. I do not doubt that….but HE’S HUGE.😁😉
    (NOT FAT)

  • I have 3 Galgos and several friends with English Greyhounds and I would agree with everything in the article. My experience is that they are generally good with cats and chickens. Some great Galgo rescues in Spain and the biggest is the English run Galgos Del Sol. Adoption fee and transport to Europe (including UK) is £400 which is still much cheaper than the price of a pedigree puppy. Although I do really like English Greyhounds, I’m a Galgo girl through and through – it’s just something about those long pointy noses that gets me.

  • I love them both also but can not afford the adoption fee for a Galgo. I understand it’s higher because of travel fees but it is not realistic to pay $1000 for the average working or retired person.

    Terri Burke

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