Blog #25 – Patagonian Greyhound

The first time I heard about the Galgo Barbucho aka Barbucho Criollo from Patagonia in Argentina, was over ten years ago. When a family member of mine in Venezuela first told me about the breed. It immediately grabbed my attention as I have always had a soft spot for a hairy lurcher, as you can’t beat a nice running dog with a good coat. It’s a great shame that breeds like the Scottish Deerhound and Irish Wolfhound are now mere shadows of their former selves. It’s disappointing that more hasn’t been done by fanciers to bring these breeds back into the fields of the British and Irish countryside. It’s hard not to look at pictures and videos of the Galgo Barbucho and imagine what the many Irish and British long haired greyhounds used to look like  two or three hundred years ago.

The Galgo Barbucho was bred from a variety of working dog breeds that were taken to Argentina over the years to work and hunt large game in Patagonia. This is an extremely hard and testing area in South America for men and dogs and therefore a dog with exceptional qualities was required. It’s believed that local hunters over the last 200 years have combined six different breeds; the Greyhound, Scottish Deerhound, Irish Wolfhound, Borzoi, Dogo Argentino and Great Dane to create the foundation for the Galgo Barbucho. These crosses were done on a best to best basis between hunters.

These hunting hairy greyhounds were deemed more valuable than anything else in Patagonia as they not only provided security from the many wild animals in the area but they also provided their owner with a regular source of food. The ‘father’ of the modern day Galgo Barbucho is Dr. Aldo Omar Iriarte, who dedicated over forty years of his life developing and promoting the breed. Thanks to the efforts of Dr Iriarte, the breed is officially recognised by the Argentinian Kennel Club and is slowly gaining popularity in its country of origin. The breed is still relatively unknown outside of its homeland and therefore the FCI have not officially recognised the breed yet.

It gives me great pleasure to see a breed like the Galgo Barbucho flourishing and gaining in popularity. A breed that was heavily influenced by British and Irish dogs like so many others all over the world. There is no doubt that the British created some fantastic working dog breeds but it does appears that over the last 100 years many have fallen by the weigh side. There is no denying that mentalities have changed over the years, egos have grown and many modern dogmen seem to think they know better and try to re invent the wheel. Whilst others move onto the new foreign cash cow that emerges every couple of years to make a quick buck whilst the traditional British breeds are forgotten about and left to the show fraternity to play “operation” with.

I always find that many of the working British breeds which have been forgotten about over here are still working and performing their original function in other parts of the world. There is still Scottish Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds both in their pure form and crossed working in South Africa, Australia and America. I am aware that Mr David Platt continues to develop his strain of English Deerhound and I wish him all the very best in his endeavour. I look forward to seeing how he develops his dogs over the next few years.

It would be great to bring back the British and Irish rough coated greyhounds of the past and not let them fade away into the history books and allow other countries to take them on as their own. We must act now before it’s too late to preserve the working instincts of our long haired greyhounds so that we can enjoy them just as much as many dogmen do, all over the world. In the mean time, I wish the breeders of the Galgo Barbucho every success for the future and I hope that they continue to work the breed as they always have. It’s unfortunate, in my opinion, that the breed has been recognised by the Argentinian Kennel Club as this always tends to be the beginning of the end for many working dog breeds. My advice to the Barbucho fanciers is to stay well away from the kennel clubs as much as possible and keep the dogs where they belong, in the field doing what they were bred to do.

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