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Greek Hound Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & Care Guides

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

Greek hound_Velimir Zeland_Shutterstock

Greek Hound Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & Care Guides

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 no extensive knowledge of its origin, it is believed that Greek Hounds are a pure breed that has retained its historical bloodline.

Breed Overview

Height:

Males: 18–21.7 inches; females: 17.7–21 inches

Weight:

37–44 pounds

Lifespan:

10–12 years

Colors:

Black and tan, white spots on the chest

Suitable for:

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

Temperament:

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 landscapes. 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

Energy
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High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Trainability
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Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Health
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Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Lifespan
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Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Sociability
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Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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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 breed, 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.

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.

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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. 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.

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Things to Know When Owning a Greek Hound:

Food & Diet Requirements

Diet will need to be adjusted depending on history, age, weight, daily routine, etc.  At least two 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

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 well-being but emotional health also.

Training

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.

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 a 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.

Grooming ✂️

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 bathe them 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 in general. 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.

Minor Conditions
  • Fleas/ticks
  • Mites
  • Arthritis
Serious Conditions

Male vs Female

We tend to think that in general male dogs are more dominant and aggressive, but there is 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 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.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Greek Hound

1. Greek Hounds are an ancient breed

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 wolfdogs 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 ancient 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 FCI-acclaimed Greek Dog

Greece is home to several interesting types of dogs such as the Cretan hound, which originates in Crete, and may be 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 was 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.

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Final Thoughts

With an almost mythological quality and free-spirited nature, the Greek Hound is closer to the wild wolf than some well-bred dogs. 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 match. 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 pooch 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

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