Spanish-Speaking Four Legged Friends
Today, it’s estimated that over 437 million people internationally speak Spanish as their native language, making it the second most spoken language on Earth. That estimate accounts for all the humans who speak Spanish, but what about their four legged companions?
For thousands of years, we’ve suspected that our dogs understand human speech, but in 2016 a group of Hungarian scientists proved that dogs can understand language. Their findings indicated that a dog’s brain processes language with mechanisms very similar to the way humans process language, with both sides of the brain working in tandem to decipher a word’s meaning, tone, and its resulting reaction. Thanks to these findings, it’s safe to say that millions of dogs on our planet speak Spanish too! Here’s a few of the most popular breeds in Spanish speaking countries near and far.
Spanish Greyhounds (Galgo)
These slender small pups are known for their unparalleled speed and agility and powerful sight. Originally bred for hunting hare, Galgos have evolved over centuries into tender companion dogs with timid natures when they’re not on the hunt. Rarely seen outside of Spain, the Galgo is cemented as one of Spain’s classic breeds. Unfortunately, as the Galgo breed grew in population, mistreatment of these loyal companions has been on the rise. In recent years, Spanish shelters have been overrun with Galgos who have fallen victim to fighting rings and puppy mills breeding them for game. You can support efforts to aid Spanish Greyhound rescue with the great folks at Galgo Rescue International Network here: http://www.galgorescue.org/#canvas
This fine-framed hound is known for their smooth or wiry caramel coats and for having “legs for days.” These two traits and an excellent sense of sight and smell make the Ibizan Hound Dog Spain’s most agile tricksters. The Ibizan Hound has roots, dating back to 8th century Egypt’s Tesem breed. The breed was refined as a sight hound on the isle of Eivissa to hunt for rabbits and small game on varied terrain. When the breed first gained popularity, they were used to hunt as a means of survival, but today these polite, little dogs make excellent companions for any adventurer. It’s even rumored in Spanish folklore that the Ibizan Hound will bring it’s companion good luck if well cared for!
Ah, the famous Chihuahua… a spunky dog that is one of Central America’s most famous exports (though historians have little understanding of how the breed landed on the continent in the first place). Chis are known for their compactness, on average weighing six pounds. When the Aztecs conquered the Toltecs in the 12th century, they refined the Toltec-favored Techichi breed from their larger, stockier frame into the pint size version we see today nestled in travel bags worldwide. The recognizable apple shaped faces and large expressive eyes of these larger than life pups have extended their reach from Central America to laps all over the world.
The Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo, is known today for its primarily hairless coat and fierce loyalty, but holds a sacred history and was revered by the Aztecs as a spiritual guide. The Xolo was named for the Aztec god of lightning and death, Xolotl, and evidence of the breed being used to ward off evil spirits and protect homes dates back over 3,500 years. There are accounts of Xolos being buried alongside their owners to act as a spiritual escort on their journey to the underworld. Their impact as a protector has carried the Xolo into modern culture, being dubbed the National Dog of Mexico.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the various Spanish-Speaking Four Legged Friends around the world! Wishing you could understand Spanish as well as these pups? Our culturally immersive group classes and native teachers can help put you on the path to fluency faster than you may think! Click below to learn more.