The Greeks have given the world so many great things: astounding works of art and philosophy, dazzling mythology, and most importantly, dogs.
Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of high-brow literature and ideas. However, the collected works of Aristotle aren’t nearly as adorable and engaging as a beautiful puppy, so we’re going to focus on the wonderful six Greek dog breeds.
1. Greek Shepherd
Also known as the Greek Sheepdog, the Greek Shepherd is a large dog that was bred to protect livestock in the mountainous regions of the country. Often weighing more than 100 pounds, these dogs are usually black, white, gray, or a mixture of the three, and they have big heads and broad chests — perfect for fending off predators.
Standing up to predators is something that these dogs don’t shy away from. They’ve been called upon to fight off wolves, bears, and other ferocious animals, so you can be absolutely certain that they can protect you from that suspicious-looking squirrel in your backyard.
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Alopekis are tiny little pooches that look more like foxes than dogs; in fact, the name means “fox-like” in Greek. However, they’re just as friendly, outgoing, and eager to please as any other mutt you’ll ever meet, making them ideal companions for both city- and country-dwellers alike.
Mentions of the breed have been found in the works of everyone from Aristophanes to Aristotle, giving them quite the distinguished pedigree. Sadly, though, they’re on the verge of extinction, and concerted efforts need to be made to rescue them from fading into oblivion.
Another small breed that also tops the scales at 17 pounds, Kokonis have long bodies and curved tails. They come in a wide variety of colors, so you can find one that comes in just about any mix that you prefer.
These dogs have a surprisingly powerful bark, making them excellent watchdogs. However, they don’t unleash that bark often, so they can make wonderful companions for apartment dwellers.
4. Greek Harehound
As you might expect, the Greek Harehound was originally bred for tracking and hunting rabbits in Greece. The only color that they come in is black and tan, and they weigh around 45 pounds or so.
They’re technically scent hounds, so they have powerful noses and love to track anything that comes across their paths. If you decide to own one, be sure to keep them on a tight leash, or you might discover that they’re racing down the road in pursuit of the last thing they smelled.
5. Cretan Hound
Originating on the island of Crete, the Cretan Hound is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, as its origins date back at least 3,500 years. They’re incredibly fast and agile, making them perfect for hunting smaller game like hares.
These dogs are slender and sophisticated, and you’d never expect them to be capable hunters by looking at them. Turn them loose in pursuit of their quarry, though, and you’ll see just what kinds of efficient predators these dogs really are.
6. Molossus of Epirus
The last dog on this list is also the biggest. The Molossus of Epirus is a truly massive pooch, tipping the scales at 140 pounds. They’ve been around since at least the time of Alexander the Great, as he used them to protect his livestock and subdue his opponents.
Many experts believe the Molossus of Epirus to be the dominant ancestor of modern Mastiff breeds. Regardless of whether that’s true, one thing’s for sure: If we ever decide to try to conquer the known world, this is the dog we want at our sides.
It’s All Greek to Us
While Greece may not be home to that many dog breeds, the few that it’s given the world have been wonderful indeed. From the small, fox-like Alopekis to the massive war beast, the Molossus of Epirus, Greek dogs are as varied and beautiful as their culture.
In fact, after seeing some of the mutts that this country can produce, we have a better understanding of how they boasted the world’s most dominant civilization for so long.
If you’re enjoying traveling the world through seeing the different dog breeds from different countries, take a look at some of our other international breed posts:
Featured Image Credit: leonardo_da_gressignan, Shutterstock