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Cretan Hound

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Cretan Hound
Cretan Hound

The Cretan hound is a medium to large purebred from Greece, or actually one of the Greek islands called Crete, hence its name. Other names it is known by are Kritikos Lagonikos, Cretan Rabbit Dog, Kritikos Ichnilatus,Cretan Hunting Dog, Cretan Tracer and Cretan Tracing Dog. It is an ancient dog thought in fact to be one of the oldest hunting breeds in Europe. Rather than being a scent or sight hound it in fact uses both and is often seen sucking in the air to taste or tasting dirt or pebbles. It loves to chase its prey and with its speed and stamina is good at it. It has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years and can also be kept as a companion dog as long as it is well exercised.

The Cretan Hound at A Glance
Name Cretan Hound
Other names Kritikos Lagonikos, Kritikos Ichnilatus, Cretan Rabbit Dog, Cretan Hunting Dog, Cretan Tracing Dog, Cretan Tracer
Nicknames Cretan
Origin Greece
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 66 pounds
Average height 19 to 27 inches
Life span 12 to 15 years
Coat type Short, smooth, hard, flat
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, sandy, fawn, cream, gray, black, brindle, bi-colored, tri- colored coat
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle most climates other than extremes
Tolerance to cold Good – as above
Shedding Average – there will be some hair around the home
Drooling Low to average – may be some after drinking
Obesity Average – measures its food and make it gets enough exercise
Grooming/brushing Low to average – brush once or twice a week
Barking Low – rarely barks unless needs to raise an alarm
Exercise needs High – needs active owners
Trainability Easy if you are experienced
Friendliness Good to very good
Good first dog Low to moderate – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Good to very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good – needs socialization, if raised with them it is better but not with strange smaller animals due to its prey drive
Good with strangers Good but reserved and will warn of stranger approaching – needs socialization
Good apartment dog Low to moderate – needs space and a yard
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues include hip dysplasia, ear infections, anesthesia allergies and Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local rescues and shelters
Biting Statistics None reported

The Cretan Hound's Beginnings

The Cretan Hound is thought to have been in existence for over 3500 years on the island of Crete. It is thought the ancestors of the dog came to the rocky terrained island from Africa and then mixed with local dogs and adapted to the conditions there. It was developed for hunting rabbit and hare and in primordial times this dog was seen by the Minoan people as the best hare hunter and they were bred and hunted heavily. The Minoan civilization ruled much of that part of the world at that time. For over a thousand years the dog was isolated there due to the remote position of the island.

Eventually it spread to other Greek islands then to Greece itself and some other European countries. In fact there are some classical works in which can be found praise for their hare hunting skill. Places like Britain and Spain then used the hounds to cross them with their own breeds to enhance their skills and make them more suited to their own needs and terrain. In Crete though it has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.

New Lease on Life

While there are some Cretan Hounds outside of Crete, because of its history if being invaded the people there are not that interested in giving away their dogs to outsiders so it is rare. Even today dog fanciers will find that the best of this breed are kept away from outside prying eyes! Over the years the breeding practices there though have become quite harsh with only the best males being kept and the rest being killed in order to keep the breed healthy. While it has Greek and some European kennels recognition it is not recognized by the AKC.

Cretan Hound Puppy
Cretan Hound Puppy

The Dog You See Today

The Cretan Hound is a medium to large breed weighing 44 to 66 pounds and standing 19 to 27 inches tall. It is a slender and light footed dog with a body that is longer than it is tall, slim but strong legs and prominent hip bones. Its stomach tucks up and its tail is long and curves up and over making a tight or loose ring over its back. It is also covered with longer hair making it a bushy tail. When comparing its stature to other sighthounds and scenthounds it falls somewhere in between.

It has a wedge shaped long head with mobile ears that are pricked and erect and are folded back when it is chasing after its prey. The skin is tight over its body and it has a short, hard and smooth coat that can be white, sandy, black, grey, cream, tri-colored, bi-colored or brindle./p> Advertisement

The Inner Cretan Hound


This dog is energetic, focused, and fairly intense when it is chasing or coursing, it really seems to come alive it loves to chase so much. As a companion though it is gentle, affectionate and humble and quite tolerant. It is a naturally curious dog and will like to explore and get into all sorts of places. It will be polite and put up with strangers but will be reserved or wary and socialization is needed to help them learn appropriate responses. It is alert and makes a good watchdog that will bark to let you know of someone approaching the home or someone trying to get in. Otherwise though it is a quiet dog, not prone to barking all the time.

A lot of homes and farms enjoy the fact that it is an excellent rodent catcher as well as being a good hunter and companion. It needs to be busy and with enough physical and mental stimulation is calm at home. With the right raising it is a well behaved dog and it is eager to please. It is intelligent and can have a m ind of its own at times though so is best with experienced owners. It prefers not to be left alone for long periods.

Living with a Cretan Hound

What will training look like?

As mentioned it is a smart breed and inclined to be obedient and wants to make you happy. This means it is easy to train as long as you approach this right. You need to be firm and consistent and patient with it and keep things positive. Offer it encouragement and rewards its successes, and use things like treats to motivate it. Do not punish it with words or physical handling. Along with at least basic obedience training you need to socialize it well too. Introduce it to different people, places, animals, sounds and situations so it learns how to deal with them, what responses are acceptable and is a happier, more confident dog you can trust more.

How active is the Cretan Hound?

As a dog developed to be a hard worker it is one that needs a lot of exercise as it has a lot of energy, stamina and endurance. It will need a couple of long walks a day but also regular opportunities to run off leash somewhere safe, and some king of games that involve chasing something. However make sure it is leashed when walking as that strong love of chasing moving things means it can go after cars and such. Give it lots of play and it can happily join you for a jog. It is best in a home with a yard to explore in too. Along with its physical activity also ensure it gets mental stimulation too.

Caring for the Cretan Hound

Grooming needs

The short coat on this dog means the brushing itself is easy to do with a firm bristled brush once or twice a week. It does shed an average amount so there will be some hair around the home to deal with. Rather than bathing too often which can dry out its skin give it a dry shampoo now and then and save the real baths for when the dog really needs it. Only use a proper dog shampoo too. Check its ears once a week for infection signs like redness, bad odor and sensitivity. Clean them carefully not inserting anything into them, but by wiping them using a dog ear cleanser or damp cloth. The nails need to be clipped when they get too long taking care not to cut too close to the quick of the nail where the blood vessels and nerves are. This will hurt the dog and cause bleeding should you cut too far down. Also brush its teeth at least two to three times a week using a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.


Feeding Time

The Cretan Hound will eat about 3 to 4½ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. The amount it needs will vary as it depends on the dog's size, rate of metabolism, level of activity, health and age. Make sure it has access to water that is changed fairly regularly.

How is the Cretan Hound with children and other animals?

With socialization and when raised with them the Cretan can be very good with children, play with them, help each other burn off some energy, be affectionate to them and is gentle and patient. Children should be taught how to play and touch the dog in a kind and appropriate way. It can also learn to live with other pets and other dogs with that socialization and when raised with them. However its chasing and hunting drive means strange animals like squirrels or cats entering its yard will be chased down. And in some cases even with socialization some Cretans should be kept away from other small pets, especially rabbits!

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Cretan Hound will live for around 12 to 15 years and is a hard breed with little specific health issues. Some general dog issues it can be prone to include hip dysplasia, anesthesia allergies, ear infections and eye problems.

Biting Statistics

In reports of dogs attacking people and doing bodily harm over the last 35 years in Canada and the US there is no mention of the Cretan Hound. It is not a people aggressive dog, nor aggressive in general apart from when it is on the hunt. All dogs have the potential to have a bad day though even those breeds you associate as the most family friendly ones. To lessen the risk your dog gets drawn into something make sure you supervise it, it is well trained and socialized and that it gets plenty of exercise, mental stimulation and attention.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Cretan Hound puppy will cost about $800 for a good quality dog from a decent and experienced breeder. However getting one will take some patience as they are rare outside of Crete and hard to get inside Crete! Avoid puppy mills, pet stores and back yard breeders that look like they might speed up the process. These are not places you can trust. If you can consider other options like mixed dogs there is always looking at local shelters and rescues. So many dogs hoping for a new forever home and with lots of love to offer. Adoption fees start at $50 and can run to $400.


Then there are initial costs to consider. When you have found the puppy or dog you want to bring home there are some items it will need. A crate, carrier, collar and leash, bowls, bedding and such for about $240. When you are bringing it home arrange an appointment for a vet visit where it can have certain medical needs dealt with like deworming, shots, spaying or neutering, blood tests, a physical exam, micro chipping and such for about $290.

Ongoing costs are a part of owning a pet. Its basic health care like check ups, flea and tick prevention, shots and dog insurance will cost about $485 a year. A good quality dry dog food and dog treats will cost another $270 a year. Miscellaneous costs like toys, license, basic training and miscellaneous items is another $245 a year. This makes a total annual starting figure cost of $1000.


Looking for a Cretan Hound Name? Let select one from our list!

The Cretan Hound is not an easy dog for people in North America to find so if specific breed is the one for you, be prepared for some extra work and time to achieve this. It was bred to be a working dog so it has a lot of energy and stamina and it is important owners are experienced and prepared for its needs. It will be very loyal and can be an affectionate and joyful companion to have around.

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