Difference between Galgo Espanol and Greyhound engl. Version

Galgo Espanol Vs Greyhound

 A Guide to the differences between the Greyhound and the Galgo 

By Michaela Müller




I would like to express my gratitude to the many people within the Galgo and Greyhound communities for their support and help with this guide. This work could not have been realized without that support.  The expertise and the information they graciously provided made this document possible and it could not have been done without them.

Thanks to all who provided example photos and to the proof-readers and advisers: Greyhound breeder Barbara Kessler ("Rumford") for her remarks to the Greyhound sections and revision thereof; the Galgo Español breeders Christa Rodriguez ("San Agustín del Guadalix") and Gabriele Hübchen ("Del Niños Vencedores") for revision of the Galgo Español sections and additions thereto; the photographers who approved the publication of their photos: "Mein Kleines Fotohaus" - Michaela Schönfeld, "Picturegrafie" - Armin Hauke, Michael Schäfer, Andrea Willers, Angelika Heydrich and Christopher Grieb/USA, as well as the addition of individual sections and proof-reading by Caroline Löhr, Claudia Hoppe and Irene Boldt-Bregu.

Translation by Caroline Löhr and many thanks for the correction reading of the English version to Leslie Glynn (Manager of Communications and Public Relations Greyhound  Health Initiative USA)



The idea for this essay arose because people often ask me the following:

What is the difference between a Galgo Español and a Greyhound and how can one distinguish one breed from the other?

I hope this essay and its photos helps to shed some light on the issue. Usually, a comparison is only possible when the Galgo Español comes from an acknowledged breeder, i.e. bred to the standard, as comparing the different types of rescued Galgos with a Greyhound is quite difficult and only possible for expert eyes.


To illustrate the different body parts, I had to use details of some photos, losing the copyright sign in some cases, which I added next to the corresponding photo. I hope the photographers will forgive me, but it was the only way to attract the attention to the detail discussed. The photos that show the different types of rescue Galgos were provided by Jessica Eschweiler, Tanja Klemm, Sabine Ohlmann, and the Steppuhn family, Mona Gemke, Adriana Villa and myself.

In most cases, rescue Galgos only partially correspond to the standard of the Galgo Español, therefore, the photos serve as an example that shows the variety of appearance of those hounds.

I hope you will enjoy reading the following essay!


Country of Origin


Galgo Español / Greyhound

Galgo Español Spain, Mainland

"The Spanish Greyhound is known since the antiquity by the Romans, even though we are led to suppose that its arrival and implantation in the Peninsula dates back long before that period. Descended from ancient Asian greyhounds, Galgos have adapted themselves to our different terrain of steppes and plains. They were exported in large quantities to other countries like Ireland and England during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Our Spanish Greyhound is one of the ancestors of the English Greyhound which presents with the Spanish Greyhound (Galgo), the similarities true to the breed which have served as a base in its selection and subsequent acclimatization. ..." (Source: VDH)


The Greyhound Great Britain

"The experts, although not unanimous, consider that the Greyhound could have had its origins in the Middle East. Drawings of Greyhound-type dogs have been found on walls in Ancient Egyptian tombs ... Though dogs of the type spread through Europe over the years, it was in Britain that they were developed to a standard. The prototype of the so-called Sighthounds, or Gazehounds, the Greyhound is well known to many people. The coursing hound, which hunts the live hare, is what the racing Greyhounds were developed from. Only the cheetah tops the Greyhound for speed. ..." (Source:VDH)


Breeding in the Country of Origin

Galgo Español / Greyhound

The conditions, in which hounds are kept in their corresponding country of origin, are surely not what we (according to our feelings), consider the ideal upbringing and keeping of whelps or hounds. We must remember that in this case we are talking about working and farm animals, not about domestic dogs and family members which is what we consider our dogs to be. These hounds are bred to a certain purpose, born and prepared for their task to the best of the knowledge and belief prevalent there. Nonetheless, I have to mention that there is a bond/relationship between the hounds and their owners and the latter often show respect and care towards the hounds and their performance.


Galgo Español

In Spain there is no kennel standard like in the greyhound world. The facilities in which these hounds are kept, differ considerably and are usually located outside of residential areas and often cannot even be identified as such.

The keeping of dogs in Spain has to be looked at in a differentiated way because of what we consider good keeping of dogs. Frequently, the owners are afraid that their hounds might be stolen and, therefore, keep them hidden in cellar-like spaces or windowless halls, sometimes close to their homes, sometimes farther away. As with the Greyhounds, there are "better" and "worse" owners/breeders/huntsmen. Breeding and hunting are traditions that have been existing over many generations.



In England and Ireland the Greyhound is not particularly a pet either, but a farm animal. For a long time, in Ireland, one was not allowed to keep a Greyhound inside a house (comparable to keeping cattle inside a house in Germany). It was clearly meant to be kept in kennels. Greyhound racing is an industry that provides an additional income or sometimes the only income to many families. Often the whole family is involved in the upbringing, care and training of the hounds and the corresponding knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. Kennel installations correspond to a specified minimum standard. Nonetheless, lots of installations are far beyond these standards. Kennels must be dry, lighted and may not be drafty. They must not heat up in summer or cool down in winter. As there are many animals to be attended, schedules are precise, a routine which is identical, day in, day out, with only minimum variations. Every Greyhound knows what happens and when, the knowledge of which makes cohabitation with an ex-racer easier, especially shortly after his adoption. A consistent routine makes adaptation easier for the greyhound and its new owner

If interested, you may find a kennel schedule here: 


On Facebook and YouTube you may find wonderful sites of Irish kennel installations like "Burma Kennels" or "Mount Cashel Kennel", which provide a good insight into the daily routine. Do not be afraid of visiting these sites!

The brood is transferred to a specially prepared kennel before whelping, which contains the whelping box and an infrared warming lamp. The whelps usually stay with their dam for up to 3 months and are then transferred to the extensive playgrounds together with whelps of other litters of the same age. The hounds in the kennel installations are often separated by age: saplings (the youngsters that are growing up and trained), fully trained racers and brood bitches (occasionally with their litter). Here they learn to play and compete with each other, as well as the social group behaviour. Their hunting instinct is already trained with corresponding objects. At the age of 10-12 months they are introduced to the racing activities like the start box and sprints. Lots of kennel installations have their own sprint tracks on their premises where the hounds individually run short stretches until they are old enough to run their first short stretches on the official race track.

Often the hounds are transferred to special training centres, in which case the owners of the young greyhounds pay for accommodation and training. One of these training centres in Ireland is the "Mount Cashel Kennel", for example, run by Martin Tucker.


Use in their Country of Origin

Galgo Español / Greyhound

Racing greyhound / Irish coursing greyhound ("Irish Hare Coursing Greyhound") / Show greyhound

Galgo Español 

Excerpt from the breeding standard:

"A dog hunting the hare in fast pursuit in open fields, being directed by his sight. Formerly he has also been used and can hunt other game animals like rabbits, foxes, also boars, however the primordial utilization of the breed has been and is the hunt of the hare in open fields."

Description according to the DWZRV


Hunting with Galgos was a tradition widely spread on the Iberian Peninsula, but it should also not be forgotten that in hard times, like the post-war years of recent history, the Galgo also provided hare to the family's diet.

While in former times, the most important thing when hunting was the number of prey. In present day sports it is the competition, the fast pursuit, the duel between two hounds competing with each other, the turns and the hunting instincts of the hounds that is important. The first competitions took place at the beginning of the 20th century. Since it was founded in 1939, the national umbrella organisation, Federación Española de Galgos (FEG), caters and organizes these competition on a regional as well as national level.

The conditions for the competition are the same as for hunting: in an open field. A group of people (called "mano") crosses the terrain in an organised and quiet manner, following an imaginary line, searching for the hare in its form (a shallow depression in the field the hare hides in). In front of the group is the dog handler (called "soltador" or traillero") with the two competing Galgos. When locating a hare, the "mano" flushes it out. The "traillero" runs after the hare with both hounds still on leash, allowing the hare to create a proper distance with a better chance to survive. The "trailla" is a special leash that automatically releases the hounds when pressure is applied and is fixed to the wrist of the handler. A course starts with releasing the hounds and ends with killing the hare or when the hare hides and the hounds lose sight of it.

When competing, the Galgos wear a red or a white collar for identification purposes. Two judges, who determine the moment of letting them off leash and evaluate their race, following the hounds on horseback. A valid race has to last at least 55 seconds.

 The evaluation concerns: 

-           velocity 

-           endurance 

-           passing the adverse galgo on a straight line 

-           contact with the hare 

-           zig zagging after the hare

-           killing of the hare

The judges signal their evaluation using coloured kerchiefs:

-            Red: winning Galgo is the one wearing the red collar.

-           White: winning Galgo is the one wearing the white collar.

-           Yellow: invalid race; this can have various reasons like incidents during the race, a race

             of less than 55 seconds, a race not clearly visible for the judges, etc.

-           Green:  tie.

-           Yellow, black and the colour of the collar (white or red) in the left hand:          

            admonishment of a Galgo due to an infringement during the race. Thus, the winning galgo

             is the adverse one, even if its victory is unearned.

-           Black and the colour of the collar (white or red) in the left hand: disqualification of the

            Galgo with the collar of the same colour. This can be due to a double admonishment or to 

            a halt  during the race.

To be allowed to participate in a competition like this, a Galgo has to be at least 16 months old. At the age of 14-15 months, however, the Galgos are "tried", i.e. set at a hare for the first time.

There is no strict training schedule for the Galgos like for the Greyhounds. It is recommended that they practice throughout the year, taking the Galgos for long walks with sufficient time off leash and a food correspondingly high in proteins.

  • Reference: "Vom Campo auf die Couch" by Claudia Gaede and Thomas Ebbrecht. (Author: The number of Sighthounds from Spain is continuously growing in this country and many a novices to this breed see themselves confronted with the extraordinary characteristic traits of these hunters that to some extent differ so much from those of "normal" dogs. Because the Galgo Español - no matter if from a breeder or animal welfare,  is a fast dog with a distinctive passion for hunting and exclusively bred for hare hunting throughout the centuries. Hence, it is astounding how quickly the Galgo Español can adapt to a life "from the campo to the couch". In order that this succeeds without conflicts and unpleasant surprises, this book is intended to give the corresponding information and support.)



 Excerpt from the breeding standard 

"Though dogs of the type spread through Europe over the years, it was in Britain that they were developed to a standard. The prototype of the so-called Sighthounds, or Gazehounds, the Greyhound is well known to many people. The coursing hound, which hunts the live hare, is what the racing Greyhounds were developed from.  Only the cheetah tops the Greyhound for speed. One racing Greyhound was clocked at over 45 mph."

Description according to the DWZRV



Racing Greyhound

Its main field of application is the racetrack (an oval track of sand or grass, whereat sand is preferred), the Greyhounds run after an artificial lure that is pulled in front of them at high speed.

They start simultaneously from starting boxes. The distances are from 280 m to 480 m. In some countries there are "long distance races" of up to 1000 m. The lure is pulled in front of the hounds that follow in a field of 6 or 8. The fastest hound not incurring any breach of rules wins the race.

According to their corresponding performance, the hounds are grouped in "grades". These reflect certain times they reach on the determined distance. They can work their way up or be downgraded when not keeping their performance level (slower). Thus, all hounds have nearly equal chances to win a field/race.

If a hound runs considerably faster or even slower in a race, the trainer accounts responsibly for the reasons. Furthermore, the hounds have to prove a determined racing weight and may not suddenly lose or gain weight or rather fall below or above the threshold weight values. All changes referring to time and weight may indicate a manipulation of the hound, are scrutinized and must be justified by the trainer.

In the stadiums, various races take place in one night. Some host races every day, some only twice or three times a week. The most famous race in England is the "English Derby" that took place for the first time in 1927. Since the 1990s many stadiums closed due to the economic situation. Currently there are still commercial Greyhound races taking place (with a "Welfare Programme" for retired Greyhounds) in Ireland, England, Australia, the USA and New Zealand. In several other countries there are also Greyhound races that, however, are not subject to the strict rules of a federation nor do they have a welfare program for retiring Greyhounds. In Ireland the professional sport is under the patronage of the IGB (Irish Greyhound Board), in Great Britain, it is under the GBGB (Greyhound Board of Great Britain) and in the USA, racing is governed by the NGA (National Greyhound Association). Whilst in Ireland and Great Britain, private persons may own and train Greyhounds and take them to races, this is not possible in the USA. Here the owners of the hounds place their hounds within racing kennels (which have to have a contract with the racetrack). Thus stricter controls are possible in order to comply with the stipulated rules.

For more about American Greyhound Racing


  • Reference: "The Dogs: A Personal History of Greyhound Racing" by Laura Thompson. (A good command of English language is necessary. A personal reflection on the history and appeal of dog racing and its greatest moments. The book evolved from the personal experience of the author, an esteemed sports journalist and the daughter of one of Britain's leading greyhound owners.)


Irish Coursing Greyhound ("Irish Hare Coursing Greyhound")

This is basically a bloodline of its own, hardly ever crossed with racing blood. Meanwhile though, crossbreeding is happening more and more often, meeting with approval by means of decent results. The addition of new blood is done due to the nowadays narrow gene pool of the coursing greyhounds.

The "Irish Park Coursing" is hosted by the clubs associated to the Irish Coursing Club (ICC). These clubs are committed to the regulations of the ICC concerning announcements, scheduling, regulations, standards and especially the optimum care and preparation of the hares as well as their release into the wild in their usual habitat. Regular trainings are offered, which are largely visited by the clubs and their responsible hare keepers.

The Irish coursing season lasts from the end of September until the end of February. At the yearly highlight of the season, Derby & Oaks (age group championships), only the winners (64 per gender) of one of the qualifying coursings (Trial Stakes/Reserve Trial Stakes) are allowed to race.

The "Irish Park Coursing" is based on a knockout system. Winning hound is the one that forces the hare to do its first bend. The average field length is approx. 300 m, the hounds are attached to a double leash and started by a slipper (an acknowledged official). The competing hounds are distinguished through a red and a white collar. The judge on a horse rides parallel to the hounds on the edge of the field and indicates his decision on which of the hounds won the race by means of a white or a red kerchief he wears under the button tab of his jacket.

The "Irish Park Coursing" under patronage of the ICC demonstrably protects the population of the brown Irish hare. The problems that the hare population has to suffer from are poachers. After prohibiting and abolishing organized coursings in Great Britain, their hare population drastically decreased.

The "Irish Park Coursing" cannot be compared to our "Lure Coursing", in which the hounds are artificially forced to execute bends, not to mention the evaluation system. Just as well, we have to take a closer look at the definition of "coursing greyhound". When talking about "coursing greyhounds" in Germany, we mainly mean greyhounds of show lines that participate in lure coursings and have nothing to do with the original coursing greyhound, which weakens the classical meaning of the name.

Reference: "The Greyhound and the Hare" - A history of the breed and the sport by Charles Blanning.  A very comprehensive, highly interesting and recommendable work for all those, who are interested in the history of the greyhound and the coursing.)


Show Greyhound

The majority of the show greyhounds in Germany have a coursing license and some may have a racing licence. In Germany and the neighbouring countries, they mainly participate in coursings that are also known as "lure coursings". The hounds are evaluated in a simulated hunt with an artificial lure, judging the hound's passion for hunting, the persecution of said lure, the hound's hunting skills, its stamina and velocity (whereat not the fastest wins, but the one with the highest score from all aforementioned criteria). "Lure coursing" and "hare coursing" cannot be compared to each other.




Build / head / neck / back / skeletal muscles / feet / tail / angulations


The build of a typical Galgo Español is long, slim and narrow, sinewy and delicate. This build is typical of a persevering middle distance runner. Hunting hare in the wild can take several minutes and kilometres and shows the enormous adaptation of the body to the performance required.

The build of a Greyhound is athletic, seeming more compact, with well-developed muscles and, all in all, more powerful than that of a Galgo Español. It is the build of a sprinter made for short distances, with a wide and deep chest. This Greyhound body reveals its enormous acceleration skills through its well visible and defined skeletal muscles.

 During the last decades, the Greyhound was selectively bred to three different types: the coursing Greyhound from Ireland, the racing Greyhound and the show Greyhound. Therefore, all three have developed differently, shaping their appearance.

Whilst the Irish coursing Greyhound is quite tall and its weight is considerably high (in part 45-50 kg and more than 75-78 cm at the shoulder), one can still see the complete active athlete. The Irish coursing Greyhound is still sturdily bred and tested for performance through hare coursing. A sighthound with strong bones, high performance level and meaty appearance.

The racing Greyhound, in contrast, looks almost too delicate, too lightweight with an average weight of 25-38 kg, depending on its gender. Nowadays, the racing Greyhound is (unfortunately) only used on the perfect sand oval. A racing greyhound has to be fast, which is why its body developed away from the coursing Greyhound's shape. Among other things, it has more lightweight, delicate bones, which helps it’s faster speed (like in motor sports, saving weight), but also makes it more injury-prone.

Show Greyhounds clearly resemble coursing greyhounds. Strong, sturdy, taller and heavier than racing Greyhounds, but have visibly less muscle mass than the coursing Greyhound. Their breeding goal led them to perfect presentation in the show ring and lure coursing,  not the hunting of an artificial prey.

In all lines there are beautiful types as well as marginal types (high deviation from the standard).


Galgo Español


(c) Mein kleines Fotohaus


Racing Greyhound


(C) M. Müller


Coursing Greyhound


 (C) C. Hoppe


 Show Greyhound


(c) A. Heydrich



The rather delicate head of the Galgo Español has a long, slender fang, often with a form of the face known as "Roman nose". The ears are quite big, with a high set-on and fleshy at their base. Nonetheless, they are included among the "rose type" ears, but are a bit bigger and softer than those of a greyhound. Compared to the body, the ears of a greyhound appear very fine/thin-skinned and small and with a lower set-on. The eyes of the Galgo Español are slightly inclined, so called "almond eyes".

Overall, the head of the greyhound is a bit shorter and with stronger jaws, the fang is wider and with a slight stop between bridge and eyes. Sometimes it has a slightly tip-tilted nose. The eyes of a greyhound are rounder and thus appear bigger.

Galgo Español:


 (C) Mein kleines Fotohaus




              (C) M. Müller                              (C) C. Hoppe



The neck of the Galgo Español is long and slightly flattened at the sides, showing an oval cross section. The neck of a Greyhound is normally shorter, showing a round cross section and with strong muscles, often called a "bull neck".

Galgo Español:


               (c) Mein kleines Fotohaus            (c) M. Müller




(c) M. Müller



The Galgo Español has less visible musculature at both sides of the spine, so that the spine is more accentuated. Shoulder blades, lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones slightly protrude. The loin is slightly elevated, so that, when standing, the hind part of the back is higher than the withers.

The back of a greyhound from the shoulder to the loin is far more muscled and the broad back is also called "beamy" (wide like a wooden beam). On both sides of the spine there are strong muscles, so that the spine seems to lie in a kind of trench.




(c) Mein kleines Fotohaus / M. Müller



Galgo Español:


              (c) Mein kleines Fotohaus            (c) Ch. Rodriguez




              (c) Christopher Grieb / USA         (c) M. Müller


Skeletal Muscles

The Galgo Español stands out for his long, flat muscles, which, going down the shoulders and the hind legs, are long and sinewy. The Greyhound shows more the muscles of a bodybuilder, round and bulging with a high set-on.

The muscular structure is a result of the function of the breed: like in humans, one can recognize the middle-distance runner in the Galgo Español with long, fine muscle fibres, whilst the Greyhound is the classical short-distance sprinter with short, bulging muscles.

Thus, the body of the Galgo Español seems more wiry and sinewy, whilst the body of a Greyhound seems brawnier.

A long muscle fibre is more fatigue resistant and, thus, more persevering to enduring force than a short muscle fibre, which can contract enormously fast, but thus also fatigues quickly 

Later I will come back to the skeletal muscles, a significant distinctive feature of both breeds



The Galgo Español often has big paws with long, flat toes, also called hare paws (while the paw itself should not be flat), while Greyhounds normally have small, round, compact paws , so called "cat paws", with well knuckled toes.

The form of the paw is an advantage for the application field of the Galgo Español. Wide paws cover more space and, thus, are more appropriate for the required terrain, while the paws of a Greyhound (racing Greyhound) are not appropriate for an uneven ground. This is due to the selective breeding towards speed, essential on racetracks. The paws of a coursing Greyhound and a show Greyhounds are wider and more stable than those of a racing Greyhound.

Forepaw: Galgo Español (left) – Racing Greyhound (right)


 (c) M. Müller



The tail of the Galgo Español is very long and thin and (normally) carried low to medium-rise, often arched and with a lateral hook at the tip. The tail of a Greyhound is shorter, often bushy, and thicker and in excitement may be held over the back like a sickle. The tail root of the Galgo Español is far lower than that of the Greyhound, hence the Galgo Español shows a far steeper angle between the pelvic bones and the tail root than the greyhound, the croup of which does not slope that much.



Galgo                                                      Greyhound

(c) Mein kleines Fotohaus                      (c) M. Müller


Tail root

The Galgo Español has a lower tail root due to the steeper croup.

(Left: Greyhound; right: Galgo Español Source: http://chazhound.com)




The hind quarters of the Galgo Español are clearly "vertical", while those of the greyhound are clearly more angulated. The croup angle of the Galgo Español is steeper than that of the greyhound.

Left: Greyhound – right: Galgo Español (Source: http://chazhound.com)




Galgo Español

"Greyhound of good size, eumetricsubconvex(*Description follows), sub-long line and dolichocephalic. Compact bone structure, head long and narrow (dolichocephalic), ample thoracic capacity, belly very tucked up, very long tail. Hindquarters vertical and muscled. Hair fine and short or semi-long and hard ... Sub-longuish line structure; length slightly more than the height. Proportions and functional harmony is to be sought after as much in static position as in movement." (Excerpt from the FCI Standard Nr. 285, 24.05.2002 EN


(c) Mein kleines Fotohaus



"Strongly built, upstanding, of generous proportions, muscular power and symmetrical formation, with long head and neck, clean well laid shoulders, deep chest, capacious body, slightly arched loin, powerful quarters, ..." (Excerpt from the FCI Standard Nr. 158, 23.03.2011 / EN

 The Three Greyhound Lines: 

Coursing Greyhound


 (c) C. Hoppe


Show Greyhound


 (c) B. Kessler


Racing Greyhound


(c) M. Müller


Front/Rear View

Seen from the front, the Galgo Español appears very slim and fine, whilst the greyhound shows a wide chest. Also seen from the rear, the Galgo Español appears far slimmer, due to the sinewy, flat muscles of its hind quarters, while the greyhound shows a real "fat bum" (Galgo Español 19,5 kg / Greyhound 28 kg - same size of 67 cm at the shoulder).


 (c) M. Müller


 Another nice example when lying down! Which is the galgo, which the grey?


 (c) M. Schäfer / M. Fank


Of course, these statements only make sense comparing a greyhound to a Galgo Español bred to the standard. 

There is a broad variety of specimens to be found in the Spanish animal rescue that can hardly be assigned to the purebred Galgo Español and its characteristics typical for the breed. Thus, their appearance differs and they cannot directly be identified as Galgo Español, but clearly as a mix of both breeds, Galgo Español and greyhound. Furthermore, there are different breeding aims according to the Spanish region and the field of application, which also leads to a non-uniform appearance.


 Motion Study

While the Galgo Español flies over the ground, light-footedly and nearly floating, with a greyhound you perceive their mass and velocity. The movements of a Galgo Español are sophisticated and elegant, while the greyhound shows the heavy power of a workhorse.


Galgo Español


(c) M. Müller




(c) M. Müller



(c) C. Hoppe


Skeletal Muscles:


Source: https://www.marathonfitness.de/muskelfasertypen-tabelle-bestimmen/

As mentioned above, due to the origin and application field of the breeds, skeletal muscles are good distinctive feature. Therefore, I would like to deal with the skeletal muscles more in detail.

Muscle fibres can differ considerably in their features, so that there are different types of muscle fibres.


  1. Colour
  2. Number of mitochondria (mitochondria are the "power stations" of the muscle cells, where fat and sugar are converted to the only energy form our muscles can use: ATP)
  3. Rate at which the muscle fibre can contract
  4. Volume (how "thick" will the muscle fibre be when it gets stronger?)


There are three muscle fibre types:

Type 1 – The Marathon Runner

Colour: red

Fatigue: very slow

Mitochondria: numerous

Contraction: slow

Strength: low

Volume: thinner

Sports: long distance run


Type 2a – The Middle-Distance Runner

Colour: red

Fatigue: slow

Mitochondria: many

Contraction: relatively quick

Strength: medium

Volume: thicker

Sports: middle-distance run


Type 2b – The Weightlifter

Colour: white

Fatigue: quick

Mitochondria: few

Contraction: very quick

Strength: high

Volume: thicker

Sports: sprint

The breed a dog belongs to determines its muscle fibre type, which basically cannot be changed, not even with training. Neither will a greyhound ever develop long fibre muscles turning it into an effective long distance runner, nor will a Galgo Español ever develop fast contracting muscles that allows it to keep up with a sprinter.

Of course, it has also to be considered that among the greyhounds there is the typical coursing greyhound that can cope with far longer distances than the racing greyhound, but it will never develop the velocity as explosive as that of a racing greyhound.



Galgo Español

The coat of the Galgo Español is smooth, close-lying and usually without any undercoat. Nevertheless, it feels a bit rough. The Galgo Español comes in two coat types, smooth and wirehair.



Provided that the greyhound is held in kennels in its country of origin, it has a strong undercoat. Its coat is usually dense and smooth, even fluffy, but I have also seen greyhounds with a very fine coat.

The difference can be well appreciated on wet hounds. While the coat of the Galgo Español is close-lying when drying, the coat of the greyhound can even appear curly.


Galgo Español


              (c) M. Gemke                             (c) J. Eschweiler




 (c) M. Müller



General description. Behaviour and temperament may, of course, vary, according to the individual character of the hound.

In the House

The behaviour of the Galgo Español and the greyhound in the house does not really differ. Both have a calm, well-balanced temperament as long as, on the other hand, they are offered activities according to their breed.

Both are very cuddly, affectionate, quiet, but immediately interested, when something attracts their attention (like the sound of fridge door opening, a plastic bag, etc.). Both love to lie in higher positions from where they can see everything. Furthermore, galgos love the heat of the fireplace in winter, the warm heater, the warming blanket, while greyhounds are not as sensitive to the cold due to their different coat. But both can also develop watchdog qualities and announce visitors, which, nonetheless, is not a usual habit. They love the company of other hounds and can easily live in a pack. Of course, there are those living alone, but they really enjoy the company of similar breeds.


On the Walk

The Galgo Español can be differentiated from the greyhound through its discreteness, its independence, its bigger radii when off-leash. It loves discovering, what is around the next corner and is actively searching for adventures. The greyhound is clearly more attached to its human and interested in the closer surroundings, if not distracted. It loves sniffing, marking or simply strolling or running some rounds just to happily come back afterwards. However, one thing must not be forgotten and that is what they were bred for: persistence hunting!

As soon as something attracts their attention, it can be the trigger for hunting and it can happen in the blink of an eye. Due to their high level of attention and their highly developed eye (sighthound), they see a possible hunting object far earlier than the untrained (and sometimes even the well trained) sighthound owner.

Once scanned and started, there is no holding back. No calling, whistling or screaming will help. In such occasions, both act beyond their frontiers in order to successfully do their work. These antics can end up at the veterinarian - especially for untrained hounds. Torn muscles, bone fractures, skin injuries to deeper wounds and myoglobinuria (greyhound cramps) can be the consequence, if they are lucky and are not hit by a car or a train or break their neck in a ditch or running against a fence. Nothing can stop them when hunting and obstacles may be missed, which may be lethal. They are in a tunnel, the hunting tunnel. The huge area for a supposedly secure off-leash walk quickly becomes too small at their velocity.Greyhounds get to an average speed of 70/75 km/h and more, while that of a Galgo Español is of about 60-65 km/h. This makes clear how fast dangerous parts (roads, fences, railroad tracks) can be reached. Therefore, the off-leash area has to be chosen with care.


Hunting Abilities

Galgo Español 

The Galgo Español is bred for hunting small game on the Spanish peninsula. The landscape greatly varies, depending on the region. On YouTube you may find lots of videos of Galgos Españoles taken to hunt, where you can get a quick impression of their performance abilities. When pursuing their purpose of catching the hare, they light-footedly and elegantly fly over the partly impassable terrain. Almost carefree and unbraked they run over rough and smooth, through bushes, over ditches or paths. They fly, nearly float, and this is exactly what this tenacious, robust, but slender sighthound is made for!



To describe the hunting of the three greyhound lines would go beyond the scope of this essay. However, I would like to point out how the three lines developed. The Irish coursing greyhound hunts the hare in the fields in Ireland, which requires robustness and also velocity. In many countries show greyhounds are successfully presented in coursings, which requires hunting instinct and passion. The racing greyhound is used on the racetrack, in most cases a sand oval, nonetheless, still a grass oval in some countries.

What distinguishes all three lines is that they hunt, regardless of the consequences! They apply their elemental force of velocity and mass to follow the prey, their object of desire. And, attention: only because they are called "show greyhounds", this does not mean that they do not have a hunting instinct. Never succumb to this erroneous belief.



Galgo Español

The Galgo Español is deemed to be far more robust than the greyhound. It is lightweight and light-footed, sinuous, gracile and very sure-footed. The hunt in impassable terrain shaped its body. Due to the special build of its paws (see anatomy above) and its lightweight body it gets on very well with stony, uneven, impassable terrain. But even the Galgo Español can get injured and present fractures of toes or legs, capsular injuries in toe joints/joints and muscular injuries, as well as myoglobinuria (greyhound cramps), which not only affects greyhounds but any sporting dog with increased muscle mass.




The racing greyhound is considered to be more injury-prone. In order not to be pushed too far to the outside in the bends of the oval racetrack due to centrifugal force, the greyhound's weight shall not be too high. The corresponding reduction of weight has been mainly achieved by decreasing the bone mass, making legs and toes progressively thinner. Nonetheless, thinner bones translate into higher possibilities of contracting injuries, which result in bone fracture and, a theory discussed recently, may be responsible for bone cancer due to microtraumas as a consequence of the stress the bones are exposed to. As the greyhound is provided with an enormous muscular mass, besides bone injuries, muscle injuries are also found very often. In most cases this affects the muscles of the hind quarters (on the inside), shoulder, neck, upper front legs and the bigger muscles of the trunk.


e.g. for german readers:



Show and coursing Greyhounds clearly have a heavier build and are clearly taller in most cases. Show Greyhounds are not bred for velocity, are slower, but far more all-terrain and foot sure. Irish coursing Greyhounds are as fast as racing Greyhounds, but have to be able to follow the hare's sudden bends or shifts in direction at high speed. A higher weight due to more robust bones does not suppose a disadvantage in coursings. The muscle and bone injuries often seen in racing Greyhounds are less frequent here, although the same injuries presented by the Galgo Español or the racing Greyhound can be seen.



Important Links (in German):

 Myoglobinuria (greyhound cramps): https://www.info-hz.de/greyhound/viewforum.php?f=33

 Muscles and injuries: https://www.info-hz.de/greyhound/viewforum.php?f=39 

Haemogram: https://www.info-hz.de/greyhound/viewforum.php?f=141 

Many translations of USA/IE/GB texts about health can be found under the following link: 



Reasons for Retirement

Galgo Español

It is often heard that a Galgo Español has been retired due to injury or a lack of hunting instinct.

Nonetheless, the statement "for lack of hunting instinct" has to be handled with care. In many competitions, the course of hunting is evaluated. A Galgo Español that hunts cleverly and catches the hare too quickly or cuts the run of the hare (such a hound is called a "foul galgo") is just as unsuitable for competitions as a Galgo Español that does not follow the hare due to a lack of hunting instinct. Both faults lead to a deduction of points. Thus, a retired galgo can be an EXCELENT hunter! To advertise such a hound in animal welfare as retired due to a "lack of hunting instinct" can lead to an unhappy ending, mainly for the hound. An experienced veterinarian, expert in sighthounds, can tell you if a Galgo Español was retired due to an injury. Bone fractures or tendon- or ligament injuries can still be determined even after years, as in many cases they have not been cured properly and there may be a misalignment of the bone and ossifications or a fibrosis in case of tendon- and ligament injuries. Hence, you can see more retired galgos than greyhounds still taking part in sporting activities like coursing- or racetrack trainings.


Greyhound (only UK & IE)


The reasons for a Greyhound to be retired from racing are varied.


Many retire after a certain number of races or when reaching a certain age (about 5 years), or when for whatever reason the owner decides this individual greyhound has done his share of races. Other however, are retired after injuries that either render them unable to continue after treatment/healing or will pass their planned retirement age before the completion healing process.


In my opinion it is, therefore, advisable not to let a greyhound from animal welfare, the past of which and its reason for retiring are unknown, take part in racetrack- and/or coursing trainings. An injury that led to retiring may not be recognizable during everyday life, but can cause major secondary injuries when under strain due to high performance stress (like coursing or racing).


Another reason for in this case early retirement can be that an individual Greyhound is not suitable for professional racing due the lack of interest in the race/chase itself or lack of mental strength to face competition on the track. While most Greyhounds are excited to face the mental and physical challenge of professional races, not all Greyhounds are.


After adopting, such a greyhound can be trained in small fields or solo races in Germany, allowing it to act out its inherent hunting instinct. Nonetheless, the exact reason for retiring is often unknown, which, in my opinion, makes an extensive examination by a sighthound experienced veterinarian absolutely indispensable, possibly including a cardiac ultrasound and a complete blood analysis, as well as a good physiotherapy to recognize any problems concerning bones or muscles, before using it on the track. If the reasons and circumstances of a Greyhound´s retirement are unknown. Even then, there remains a residual risk, which one has to be aware of. Racing is high-performance sports and a greyhound does not go to the track "for fun" and just run around as possible, but always tries to give 100 %, be its body capable or not!



Animal Welfare – Adoptions


Galgo Español            See Galgo Español & Animal Welfare on the Internet

 Greyhound                  See Greyhound & Animal Welfare on the Internet


(Ex)Racing Greyhounds and Coursing?

A racing greyhound should better not be used in a coursing field. Of course, there are exceptions able to do so and even successful ones. Nevertheless, this breeding line does not correspond to the field of application (the position of the shoulders, for example: the steep shoulders of the racing greyhounds do not have the mobility a hound needs for secure, quick turns required in coursings). Furthermore, most ex-racers never learnt to control their maximum speed on uneven terrain. Of course, one can train anything, but still there remains the question, if it makes sense to do so.


Fields of Application in Germany 


On the racetrack you may find both breeds. The Galgo Español may be bored easily by the oval of the track or question it and lose interest and, thus, turn into a bad racer (stopping or "entertaining" its co-runners). The greyhound is rarely ever distracted.

 The running styles of the Galgo Español and the greyhound are very different. The Galgo Español flies over the track, light-footed and elegant, whilst the greyhound, due to its body mass and speed, makes the earth tremble. A field of Galgos Españoles impresses through its effortlessness, but a field of greyhounds makes you feel your stomach.


Galgo Español


(c) A. Hauke


(c) M. Müller



Racing Greyhound


(c) A. Hauke


 (c) M. Müller



Show Greyhound


(c) C. Böhmer



(c) A. Willers / M. Woltersdorf



According to the statements of many owners, the coursing field is more the home of the Galgo Español than the racetrack. Usually, in a coursing field in Germany you only find coursing-/show greyhounds.


 Galgo Español


(c) M. Müller




(c) Greyhoundshow.de


Retired Galgos Españoles on Racetracks/Coursings? 

As the retiring or the way of a Galgo Español into animal welfare can have a variety of reasons (escaped and saved, dumped and saved, not suitable for hunting, over production), the share of healthy galgos in animal welfare is far bigger than that of healthy greyhounds (please find the reasons below). Of course, there are also injured Galgos Españoles, which is why the following examinations are to be done BEFORE any application of the hound on a racetrack or at a coursing: blood analyses (including the tests for Mediterranean diseases), extensive examination of the musculoskeletal system by an experienced veterinarian (expert in sighthounds and sports), as well as a cardiac ultrasound. If there are no compelling reasons, an application on the racetrack can be envisaged. Racetrack training should then be taught by a racing experienced sighthound person.


Retired Racing Greyhounds on Racetracks/Coursings?

Contrary to the Galgo Español, most greyhounds end up in animal welfare due to injuries. Injured or at an age, at which an application on the racetrack does not make sense. Only a small share of the hounds is healthy and without restrictions for high-performance sports. Therefore, I would not put a retired ex-racer on the racetrack. Young greyhounds that were hardly raced or not raced at all and do not have any health restrictions (indicated at hand-over) may be brought to training after the aforementioned examinations (see Galgo Español, but without the test for Mediterranean diseases). Racetrack training should then be taught by a racing experienced sighthound person.


 Differences in Galgos Españoles from Spain in Animal Welfare

In animal welfare, THE Galgo Español does not exist. Put 10 galgos from animal welfare in a row and you may see 10 different types. This is due to the fact that the hunters/galgueros (not breeders!) breed their hounds according to their field of application and use. In the past, they were also cross-bred with other sighthound breeds like the greyhound (in this case to give them a better impulse for the lift-off, which made them more injury-prone) or possibly the Sloughi during the 8th to 15th/16th century when the Moors reigned in Spain.

Below you find a selection of types as an example. Hardly any two hounds are alike.

















Well, this is the end of my portrayal and I hope that I have been able to give you a rudimental insight to the differences between both breeds.

One thing I have to emphasize: no matter if you opt for a greyhound or a galgo, never forget why these breeds are what they are! 

They do not have this appearance, because it looks beautiful, they have it due to the principle: 

"form follows function", the function they were bred for: hunting!

To "save" them or "having saved" them is not a permission for depriving them of their provenance or their passion!

There are numerous books specialized on these breeds, forums and FB-groups, where you can inform yourself about their origin, history and development, as well as their passion. And this is exactly what I urge every novice/newbie to do!


FB (German):

 Galgo: https://www.facebook.com/groups/331216800416578/ 

Greyhound: https://www.facebook.com/groups/189583338061300/


Forums (German):

Galgo: https://www.info-hz.de/forum 

Greyhound: https://www.info-hz.de/greyhound


Accept them as they are and the reasons for it.

Michaela Müller, im November 2018






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