The Greek Hound, Hellenic Hound, or Hellenikos Ichnilatis (Ελληνικός Ιχνηλάτης in Greek) is a rare, relatively unknown breed of dog that possesses both the character and athleticism of an Olympian! Courageous, outgoing, and energetic, the Greek Hound has captivating roots in southern Greece and can boast being an early scent dog. Although there is not extensive knowledge of its origin, it is believed that Greek Hounds are a pure breed that has retained its historical bloodline.
Males: 18-21.7 inches; females: 17.7-21 inches
Black and tan, white spots on the chest
Outdoor-oriented, active people/families/couples with daily time for walks/hikes, farm households or those living in the countryside, retired people with lots of free time
Highly intelligent, independent, energetic, brave, loyal, determined, fun-loving, gentle
With an exceptionally developed sense of smell, and fearlessness in all terrains, they are expert trackers and natural explorers, and guides in mountains and more extreme types of landscape. This light-footed, adventurous dog would be a wonderful companion for nature enthusiasts and a diligent, devoted farm dog or family member. There is so much information out there about Beagles, Harriers and other scent hounds so let us shed some light on this lesser-known four-legged friend.
Greek Hound Characteristics
Greek Hound Puppies
Globally, very little breeding of Greek Hounds takes place, and as such, it is mostly confined to their native Greece and the Balkans, where they serve as working hunting dogs. If you have your heart set on this unusual friend, then first ensure that you do not source one from a puppy mill, cruel backyard breeders, or a pet store.
Secondly, have a long, hard think about where you may be able to adopt either an adult Hellenic Hound or a pup. Obtaining a puppy that is under 12 weeks is not only damaging to the puppy’s overall mental, emotional, and physical health but also perpetuates the operation of bad breeding chains or inhumane shelters.
Any puppy needs its canine mother for the first 12 weeks of its life. It may be worth contacting larger animal shelters in Greece or the Balkans to get some idea of where you can find your new smooth-haired buddy. You must ask a local vet to check your new family member before bringing him/her to their home. If you are unsure about introducing your Greek Hound to your kids or small animals, ask if you can have a trial period. The last thing a faithful hound needs is to be back in the shelter after 6 months of adjusting to a new safe place.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Greek Hound
The hound variety of canines tend to be very active and enjoy being outdoors and this Greek beauty is no exception, they may be even more vigorous.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
The truth is these dogs are meant to be free. Closer to the wolf, they prefer to be in a pack with other dogs and have the independence to roam in nature and investigate scents along the way. Originally, their role in life was to accompany humans, sometimes on horseback, to hunt hares and larger prey. Don’t be surprised if these fast-paced paws bring you unexpected gifts after a trip to the countryside.
This dog is an enthusiastic, friendly companion for families and would love to play for hours. Bonding with your hound is enhanced with fun and exercise and at the end of a long day, they will enjoy nothing more than to sleep curled up next to the family. Of course, keep an eye on your dog with babies and toddlers if they are boisterous but socialization from early on will help a lot.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
If you have an exciting clan of dogs in your house, then the Greek Hound will fit right in it. They are assertive and natural leaders, so they make end up being the Alpha dog. Due to their innate predisposition to hunting, it may be wise to watch them with smaller animals as if they are new to the environment, they may believe it is their job to hunt them as prey.
A sociable, easy-going fellow, when they have had enough “work” for the day either alone or in a group, i.e., sniffing, running, adventuring, they will peacefully hang out with other animals. When there is more than one dog in the household, they may enjoy playing together which eases the pressure if we have the flu or it’s not very pleasant weatherwise.
Things to Know When Owning a Greek Hound:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Think of the greyhound or beagle when feeding if they are healthy, active ones. Diet would need to be adjusted depending on history, age, weight, daily routine, etc. At least 2 cups of wet or dry food in the morning and evening is necessary, ideally spread throughout the day. Unlike certain breeds, the Greek hound does not suffer from a sensitive stomach, so a varied diet is essential.
As dogs are not obligate carnivores, ensure that there is a mix of meat with carbohydrates and vegetables in all food provided. Most importantly, hiding some of the daily food in the garden or around the house will provide endless entertainment for this sniffer dog!
Exercise these four-legged friends as much as possible and minimum, about an hour of outdoor activity per day. Ideally, your home would be with a garden or close to a park as this breed is not suited to the inner city or apartment dwellings. Use the opportunity to go hiking and mountaineering as much as you can with this agile hound. It is imperative that Hellenic hounds have human and, if possible, animal interaction daily, as this develops not only physical wellbeing but emotional health also. We hear so much these days about holistic health and our faithful furry pals are no different.
To train a Greek Hound may be challenging as they tend to be stubborn and innately used to being almost wild. They certainly do not seem to possess traits that need a lot of handling, although every domesticated dog can benefit from positive reinforcement. Begin rewarding them with strokes and treats as puppies to keep them safe and happy. As an example, if you live near a road and you don’t want your Hellenic Hound to run into danger, the ideal solution is to take them on the leash or by car to a safe spot to exercise for miles and then reward them with treats and affection for staying in your garden perimeter.
A dog behaviorist and trainer may be required if your Greek Hound suffered trauma or displays an upsetting behavior pattern.
As with all scent hounds, there is very little grooming necessary. Their sleek, short, shiny black and tan coats should be easily brushed regularly with a specific firm bristle brush, especially after long walks. There is no need to bath too often, as naturally occurring oils keep these dark beauties glossy and trimming is never required. During shedding season, weekly grooming with a mitt can be used to aid the process. Nail trimming is also essential and will depend on how much activity your doggie gets up to.
Health and Conditions 🏥
This dog has exceptional health due to its lack of breeding which can cause genetic defects. It must be mentioned that due to this hound mostly living in isolated mountains in Greece, there is not a vast amount of research concerning rare health conditions.
Male vs Female
We tend to think that in general male dogs are more dominant and aggressive as that seems to be the case with human beings but with canines, there is much more to this than meets the eye. Firstly, females that have just given birth to a litter show the most aggression as their protective, motherly instinct takes over. Your male Hellenic Hound may display more challenging behavior to other male dogs, due to testosterone, although this is a ritual to establish pack rankings and may be more bark than bite! Females can be assertive just as much as males regarding territory and ownership of food, toys, etc. Finally, all dogs are unique, and their personality is rarely determined by their gender.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Greek Hound
1. Greek Hounds are Ancient
Ancient Greece is a pinnacle of legend and mythology, and Greek Hounds did roam the land. The goddess of the hunt, Artemis, and Hecate both had hunting dogs and they were common protectors and companions far and wide. Hellenic hounds are descended from the Laconikoi Kynes wolf/dogs that originated near Peleponessus in Southern Greece. “Lacos” means hare and “Kynes” means dog in Greek and these predecessors of the Greek Hound were described in antique literature. Legend has it that the Hellenics invented spiked dog collars to protect their familiar friends from wild wolves.
2. Greek Hounds may be one of the first scenthounds
The celts are believed to be the first to breed scent hounds and similar domestication of dogs was occurring in Greece. Greek Hounds can be thought of as a more natural breed, less domesticated, and one of the original hunting hounds that still exists today.
3. First Greek Dog FCI acclaimed
Greece is home to several interesting types of dogs such as the Cretan hound, which originates in Crete, and maybe one of the oldest scents and sighthounds in history along with the Hellenic Hound. However, possibly due to their exceptional hunting skills, the Greek Hound is the first to be internationally recognized by the FCI in 1996. The AKC has yet to include it due to its scarcity outside of Europe.
With an almost mythological quality and free-spirited nature, the Greek Hound is closer to the wild wolf than some well-bred dogs. It also must be mentioned how sweet and alert their faces are, full of curiosity and play. Why would someone go and find a Greek Hound to bring home to the fire? Well, most importantly if you are looking for something to cuddle all the time and keep indoors a lot, then this is most certainly not the right set of paws for you.
Think of this dog as a single-minded long-distance runner and see if you and your family are the right matches. Perhaps you are an outdoors lover or a nature enthusiastic couple/family with plenty of canine understanding and experience looking for a daring, unusual furry soul to take on hikes, trips, etc. If so then, this striking, unique creature may be just what you are looking for. Indeed, if by chance you came across one in a nearby shelter and are looking for a hound to spend time with, then there is no reason not to take him/her home!
Featured Image Credit: Velimir Zeland, Shutterstock