Hellenic Hound (Greek Harehound, Hellinikos Ichnilatis)
The Hellenic Hound (Greek Harehound) is an ancient efficient multifunctional hunting dog, which came from Greece. For thousands years it has been perfecting its skills as a hare hunter and today it still serves in its primary role in its homeland and several neighbouring countries. This easy-going and spirited dog can make a first-rate companion animal provided it’s been properly socialised.
The Hellenic Hound was invented multiple centuries ago in ancient Greece. Its exact origin will forever remain shrouded by mystery but it’s widely suggested that it descended from the Laconikoi Kynes (from greek “lacos” = hare, “kynes” = dog), which inhabited in Peloponessus of Southern Greece. These dogs were repeatedly described in old Greek writings as superb trackers and hunters of hare. The Hellenic Hound inherited from them its keen nose and unparalleled hunting skills. It was equally effective both as a pack and single hunter.
The breed was especially complimented for its incredible endurance, which allowed it to operate in any sort of terrains – be it cliffy plateau or pure highlands. While on a chase the dog was tasked to bark continually to guide the hunter to the quarry. Once it caught up with the game it changed the timbre of its voice to indicate that that it had located the hunted animal. The Hellenic Hound was supposed to keep it at bay and gradually direct to the hunter. Actually the breed was powerful and quick-witted enough to hunt not only hares but also such ferocious beast as a wild boar.
For many centuries the breed has wandered the Greek islands as a highly successful hunter’s companion. These mountainous territories are situated fairly isolated so the Hellenic Hound developed independently from the influence of foreign dogs. That’s why its appearance evolved very insignificantly over the years and it still retains much of its original features. By and by the breed became known in near-by countries and then it was spread all over the world with the help of marine traders and travellers who were frequent guests in these lands.
Despite the venerable age of the Hellenic Hound it has received formal international recognition just recently. This regrettable disregard can be partly explained by the fact that there is virtually no organised breeding of the Hellenic Hound in its homeland. Nevertheless the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) granted its official acceptance to the breed in 1996.
The Hellenic Hound is an innate hunter, which is characterised with unbelievable stamina and determination. It won’t make an agreeable companion animal unless it’s provided with a regular opportunity to satisfy its craving for a good chase. On the whole this dog has sociable and energetic demeanour and will perfectly suit for sport-minded families. It’s usually tender and considerate with children and will happily participate in any type of their exuberant activity. It’s wise to remember though that the breed needs ample socialisation to learn to behave itself mannerly and politely in any circumstances.
The Hellenic Hound has very friendly character so it’s usually nice with unfamiliar people. This kind-hearted dog will never demonstrate an open aggression unless it has been heavily provoked. At the same time it’s highly protective of its human family and will resort to any means in order to defend it. With its sonorous loud voice and excellent vigilance it can be turned into a very decent watchdog. The breed won’t be especially useful as a property guardian since it lacks necessary ferociousness.
As a pack hunter the Hellenic Hound got accustomed to the presence of other canines. It can enter the household with one or a few pre-existing dogs with minimal problems. The dog is ill-suited for families with non-canine inhabitants as it tends to treat every moving object as a potential prey. It should always be led on a strong leash in order to avoid sad incidents with homeless cats. With that being said, it will be able to peacefully coexist with other pets if they’ve been introduced to each other early enough.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· patellar luxation;
· sensitivity to anaesthesia;
· food allergies.
As a working breed the Hellenic Hound is really unpretentious when things concern its grooming. Its sleek short coat should be periodically brushed with a firm bristle brush. Bathe your dog only when it’s absolutely necessary since aggressive shampoos can wash off protective natural oils of its hair and skin.
It’s extremely important to examine the dog’s ears, foot pads and eyes for the traces of dirt, thorns and debris after each and every hunting adventure. These parts of the dog’s body are susceptive to infection and irritation, which without proper treatment can become chronic. The nails of the Hellenic Hound should be trimmed every two months.
The Hellenic Hound is somewhat challenging to train. It’s notable for tricky and quick mind, which allows it making numerous difficult decisions while on a hunt. Unfortunately the very same independent thinking and persistence in pursuit add to the dogs’ character certain stubborn streak. That’s why it should be trained by a competent, strong and firm handler who will be able to assert his unshakeable authority in the dog’s view.
The breed works most willingly if it’s encouraged with positive reinforcement and its favourite food. Rude and disrespectful attitude should be avoided at all cost as it only strengthens tendency to stubbornness in the dogs’ disposition.
The Hellenic Hound is a very athletic breed, which needs a great amount of intensive physical exercise to stay healthy and fit. It won’t be fully satisfied with some potty daily walk and should have enough space to roam and play, preferably in the form of a large but securely fenced yard.
Proper daily physical stimulation is also essential for the dog’s mental health as an under exercised specimen is apt to develop serious behavioural issues including destructiveness, over excitability, on-going barking and nervousness. This implies that this breed is ill-suited for a life in apartment where it would feel itself highly uncomfortable.