Andalusian wine-seller rat-hunting dog granted special status in Spain

The Andalusian wine-seller rat-hunting dog is a terrier type of working dog which has been declared a protected part of Spain’s cultural heritage. This dog breed evolved out of the Anglo-Spanish sherry trade which has been in existence for 500 years since it started in 1778. Foreign traders were allowed to own cellars or bodegas in Spain.

Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz (Andalusian wine-cellar rat-hunting dog)
Ratonero Bodeguero Andaluz (Andalusian wine-cellar rat-hunting dog). Photo: Torsten Dickmann on Wikipedia under CC license.

British wine merchants living in the Jerez area of Spain in the 18th century imported terrier dogs, the ancestor of today’s fox terrier. These dogs were crossbred with local Spanish dogs which were employed to catch rats in their winecellars in the ports of Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria. These two locations plus Jerez are said to form the Sherry Triangle.

Sherry matures in very old oak casks. Nowadays, the dogs have been retired off because of rules concerning animals in places where food and drink is produced. Beltran Domecq Williams, a former chairman of sherry’s regulating body said that the Andalusian wine-seller rat-hunting dogs are excitable and great companions for children.

The City Hall of Jerez de la Frontera, which is the centre of Fino Sherry production in southern Spain bestowed the honour on the breed. A spokesperson said that this dog is the only breed linked to the tradition of a specific city which they considered a rare characteristic. The award of this status should boost the value of this native breed which has historically been connected to Spanish wineries.

This dog breed is said to be brave with strong hunting instincts. They are friendly and good with children. There appears to be no inherited genetic diseases of note. They’re sometimes referred to as the Spanish Jack Russell. They are agile, lean and athletic. They have long muzzles and dark eyes. The ears are set high on the head and bend over at the tip. The tail is normally docked to 1/4 of its length. They may be born with a natural bobtail. The breed is recognised by many kennel clubs and by North American dog registries. Buyers of puppies of this breed should make sure that the dog’s pedigree originates in Spain in order to make sure that it is a genuine Andalusian wine-seller rat-hunting working dog!

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