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Greek Hound

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021
The Hellenic Hound is a medium sized dog bred to scent, track and hunt hare in southern Greece and has been around for many hundreds of years. It has a life span of 10 to 12 years and is also called the Greek Hound or the Hellenikos Ichnilatis. It is an intelligent dog that is best kept as a hunting dog and companion rather than just the latter. It is smart, loyal, very playful and excellent at hunting hare and other fast prey.
The Hellenic Hound at a Glance
Name Hellenic Hound
Other names Hellenikos Ichnilatis, Greek Hound
Nicknames None
Origin Greece
Average size Medium
Average weight 35 to 45 pounds
Average height 18 to 22 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Short, smooth, sleek
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black with tan markings
Popularity Not a registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Very good
Tolerance to cold Average
Shedding Average – expect some hair around the home
Drooling Moderate to average – can be some slobber and drool when drinking but not especially prone
Obesity Average – measure its food and track its exercise
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush a couple of times a week
Barking Occasional to frequent – training to stop on command is a good idea
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Difficult – independent and stubborn
Friendliness Good to very good but is territorial
Good first dog No – needs experienced handling
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good to very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good with socialization but has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate – wary of strangers and territorial, socialization and supervision is needed
Good apartment dog No – needs space and a yard or land
Handles alone time well No – can be destructive if left alone for too long
Health issues Quite a healthy breed, a few general issues can include joint dysplasia, hunting injuries and ear infections
Medical expenses $460 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $215 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $820 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations None breed specific, look at local shelters and rescues for other options
Biting Statistics None reported

The Hellenic Hound’s Beginnings

The Hellenic Hound is an ancient breed from Greece where it was bred and used to scent, track and chase hare specifically. It has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years and its ancestors are believed to be the laconikoi or lagonikoi, dogs native to Peloponessus an area in ancient southern Greece. In ancient writings it is praised and it spread from Greece in trade on ships and during colonization. As a result many descendents can be found all around Europe. Its natural mountainous area it was in found in Greece though was remote and thus it remained a purebred for centuries with little changes made to it. Since Ancient Greece was larger than the Greece of today it can also be found in countries nearby now referred to as the Balkans.

New Lease on Life

It was recognized by the FCI in 1996 and was the first Greek breed to be accepted. It does not though have AKC recognition. It is still used much as it was before, but its numbers in its purebred state are fewer. While known in Greece it is very rare outside of it. It is fast, has a good nose, good stamina, athleticism and good at catching its prey.

The Dog You See Today

The Hellenic Hound is a medium sized dog weighing 35 to 45 pounds and standing 18 to 22 inches tall. It has a well balanced body shaped to suit its athletic work. It is a little longer than it is tall with a thick neck and a deep chest. Its legs are strong and its feet are shaped best for the terrain it deals with. It has a short coat with tight skin and sleek hair. It is black with tan markings and some can have small white marks on the chest. The tan can vary in shades from light to rich chestnut. The head is noble looking and rounded with a rectangular shaped muzzle. The ears are long and v shaped and the eyes are round. The nose is black as are its toe nails.

Greek Hound

The Inner Hellenic Hound


The Hellenic Hound is a smart, fearless and enthusiastic hunter with the cunning and bravery needed to face a wild boar. When indoors it is social, affectionate and good-natured and cheerfully meets its owner with a wagging tail. It has a very playful side to it but is also a hard worker and likes to have jobs to do. It can be a great farm dog for example it is a great vermin hunter and it is alert so will act as watchdog, barking to let you know if there is a stranger approaching or even breaking into the home. Given that it is territorial it may act to defend its home too.

It is an independent dog though that can have stubborn moments so is best with experienced owners not new ones. It also matures later than some dogs, reaching adulthood between the ages of two to three years. It does bark occasionally and it is loud, developed to be like this so that hunters chasing after it can follow it as it tracks its prey. While it is confident and friendly with those it does not know it will be more wary and that can turn to suspicion if it is not well socialized. It also does not like to be left alone for long periods. Really it is happier when it is kept as a hunting dog and companion rather than just a pet.

Living with a Hellenic Hound

What will training look like?

It is important when training the Hellenic Hound to avoid handling it roughly, it does not respond well to these techniques. It is not easy to train though so experience is needed too. Be firm and consistent and prepared for its stubbornness. Stay patient and positive, encourage, motivate and use treats while keeping sessions interesting and short. Males that are not neutered are especially hard and need a very confident owner. Start socialization early too, introduce it to different places, sounds, situations, animals and people so it learns how to react and recognize genuine threats. This is definitely not a breed for meek or inexperienced owners.

How active is the Hellenic Hound?

Hellenic Hounds have a great deal of stamina and endurance and are very active, powerful and quick. It should be kept as a hunting dog as this is something it thrives on doing. If it is not out every day though it will need exercise opportunities in between, expect to spend a good couple of hours a day on vigorous walks, play with you and if there is a long period between hunts it will also appreciate some roam time safely off leash somewhere. When out walking keep it on the leash though as it will take off after a scent. It is not suited to living in an apartment, it needs a yard or even land outside to explore and play on. Without enough physical and mental challenge it can become restless, destructive, unhappy and unhealthy as well as being hard to live with.

Caring for the Hellenic Hound

Grooming needs

The short and smooth coat of the Hellenic is easy to look after and brush. It sheds an average amount so there will be some hair around the home to keep on top of and brushing twice a week will help manage that too. It is also a good way to remove debris and move its natural oils around its body giving it a healthy sheen. Only give it a bath when it really needs one using a proper canine mild shampoo. Bathing too often can damage those necessary natural oils. When you brush use a firm bristled brush and in between baths if it needs it you can do the occasional dry shampoo.

It will need its ears checked and cleaned weekly. Check for signs of infection like redness, bad odor, swelling and if there are none wipe them clean with a cotton ball and ear cleanser or just a damp cloth. Never put anything down into the ears though as that could hurt the dog and do permanent damage. Its nails should be trimmed when they get too long using care and the right tools. Do not use regular people nail scissors, get proper dog clippers or scissors. Make sure you take the time to learn where to cut as there is a section called the quick where there are blood vessels and nerves. Cutting into that part of its nails will hurt the dog and cause bleeding. Its teeth and gums can be looked after with regular brushing using a dog toothpaste and toothbrush.

Feeding Time

The Hellenic Hound will eat about 2 to 3 cups of a good to excellent dry dog food, split into at least two meals a day. This varies depending on its size, age, health, activity level and metabolism rate. It should also have water at all times which should be changed when possible.

How is the Hellenic Hound with children and other animals?

It is able to get along well with other dogs as it has been bred to be able to work in a small group of them when out hunting. It is territorial though so strange dogs on its home turf will be challenged. It has a high prey drive and is a good vermin hunter so small non-canine pets should be watched or kept separate and it should have good socialization. It makes a good family dog and can get on well with children though it is best with ones that are older and have learned not to tease and pull at it. It will do best with children when well socialized and raised with them.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

It should live for between 10 to 12 years and is generally a healthy breed. A few issues can include ear infections, hunting injuries and joint dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

Looking at reports of dogs attacking people and doing bodily harm over the last 35 years in Canada and the U.S the Hellenic Hound is not mentioned in any of them. This is not a dog to be feared, it is not people aggressive. Keep in mind though that any dog can snap or become aggressive and cause serious injury no matter its size. There are some things owners can do to lessen the chances of an off day though. Only own a dog you can offer the right kind of care for. Do not take on an active dog if you are not active, do not take on a hunting dog if you are not going to hunt with it! Make sure you can feed it, offer it physical and mental stimulation and give it the kind of attention it needs. Very important is to ensure it is well socialized and has at least basic training.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Hellenic Hound puppy is going to vary in cost depending on where you buy from and also the age of the dog. From a good breeder it is going to be somewhere around $800. For something from a top breeder expect to pay a lot more. If you opt to get a dog from an ad online or such places prices can widely vary but so can the quality of the breeding and the health of the dog. It is best to avoid puppy mills, pet stores and backyard breeders. If you do not mind having an adult dog rather than a puppy a great idea is to offer a shelter or rescue dog a new life with you. Adoption is going to cost $50 to $500.

Upon choosing your dog you should have a vet take a look at it as well as carry out some tests and such. It needs to be dewormed, have blood tests, be vaccinated, spayed or neutered, micro chipped and given a physical exam for example. These costs will be about $270. You will also need some items ready, a crate, carrier, leash and collar, bowls and bedding for example for another $200 or so.

Annual costs for feeding a good to excellent quality dry dog food and treats are going to start at about $145. It will also need basic medical care such as pet insurance, check ups, flea prevention and shots for another $460 annually. There will be other costs too such as toys, basic training, license and miscellaneous items that will come to at least $215 a year. This means each year your Hellenic Hound will cost you $820 or more.


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The Hellenic Hound is an athletic, energetic, hard working hunting dog. It does not shed as much as most dogs and it can be a good companion along side that. It needs lots of activity and mental stimulation so needs active owners who are experienced too as training can be difficult. It can be an affectionate and loyal dog so if you are ready for this independent but happy and devoted dog you will soon be friends for ever!

Featured Image Credit: Velimir Zeland, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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