Galgos, also known as Spanish Greyhounds, are similar in appearance to Greyhounds, but are distinctly different in their conformation. Galgos are higher in the rear than in the front, and have flatter muscling than a Greyhound, which is characteristic of endurance runners. They also tend to be smaller, lighter in build, have longer tails and have a very long, streamlined head that gives the impression of larger ears. Their chests are not as deep as a Greyhound's and should not reach the point of the elbow.
Unlike Greyhounds, Galgos come in two coat types: smooth and rough. The rough coat can provide extra protection from skin injuries while running in the field. They come in a variety of colours and coat patterns. Main colours are "barcino" or "atigrado" (brindle), "negro" (black), "barquillo"(golden), "tostado" (toasted), "canela" (cinnamon), "amarillo" (yellow), "rojo" (red), "blanco" (white), "berrendo" (white with patches) or "pío" (any colour with white muzzle and forehead).
Galgos have a very similar nature to Greyhounds. They are sensitive, gentle and laid back, happy to sleep their day away on their backs on a sofa, but also have a playful side. Galgos have a very reserved personality and they have a tendency towards shyness.
Like many other sighthounds, Galgos are a fairly healthy breed although they are sensitive to anaesthesia. As such, proper care should be taken by the owner to ensure that the attending veterinarian is aware of this issue. Although Galgos are big dogs, their history of selection as a working sighthound, their light weight, and their anatomy keep them safe from hip dysplasia. These dogs must run regularly to keep in perfect health, combined with their characteristic tendency to sleep all the rest of the day.
There is little evidence for mention of the Galgo or its antecedent in the first centuries of the Middle Ages but it appeared to have survived and flourished in the second half of the period.
In the 9th and 10th centuries, coinciding with the Reconquista, great spaces in Castile were colonized resulting in Christian military repossession of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim control. This open land introduced a new mode of hunting with dogs: while the North of Spain is mountainous, the regions progressively recovered were flat, open areas full of small animals like hares, which provided the Galgo a useful opportunity for hunting. At that time it was considered a noble dog, and was kept mainly by the aristocracy of both the Christian and the Muslim Kingdoms in which Spanish territory was still divided. It is likely that the Galgo and the Sloughi or Saluki, were interbred during this period.
The great esteem in which the Galgo was held is evident by the many laws of the time designed to punish the killing or theft of the breed: Fuero of Salamanca (9th century); Fuero of Cuenca; Fuero of Zorita de los Canes; Fuero of Molina de Aragón (12th century); Fuero of Usagre (12th century). In the Cartuario of Slonza we can read a will written in Villacantol in which, using an odd mixture of Latin and Spanish, the Mayor Gutiérrez bequeaths a Galgo to Diego Citid in the year 1081:
"Urso galgo colore nigro ualente caetum sólidos dae argento";
"a black Galgo with patches of silver";
The fact that this dog was a significant item in a noble's will, demonstrates the great value accorded it at the time.