Cretan Hound

The Kritikos Lagonikos (Cretan Hound) (Greek:Kρητικός Λαγωνικός) is a breed of dog from the island of Crete, in Greece.[1] The Cretan Hound is recognized both in Greece and in Germany.[2] The breed is also considered to be the oldest European dog breed dating to perhaps before 3200 BCE and Neolithic times. [3]

Cretan hound
Kritikosichnilatis 1.jpg
Other namesKritikos Lagonikos, Kressa Kyon, Kritikos Ichnilatis
Common nicknames"Ntopio"
Origin Greece (Crete)
Height Dogs 52–60 cm (20–24 in)
Bitches 50–58 cm (20–23 in)
Weight 15–22 kg (33–49 lb)
Coat Short, smooth, hard, flat
Color solid, particolor or tricolor
Life span average 14 yrs or more
Kennel club standards
Kennel Club of Greece standard
Dog (domestic dog)



Cretan Hound at Athens Int. Show, October 1997

The Cretan Hound is a slender dog, somewhere between a scenthound and a sighthound in body, particularly light on its feet (that are oval rather than cat-like) and strong in loin, specially adopted for swift reflexes and high speed over dangerous, rocky terrain. The head is wedge-shaped, elongated and dry, with pricked and very mobile ears that fold backwards. The tail is a key breed characteristic, long and curved upwards, forming a loose or tight ring and covered with a brush of longer hair underneath.

The dog is slightly longer than tall, with medium angulations, slender legs and muscle. The loin is slender yet powerful and there is tuck-up, with the points of the hipbones slightly prominent. The breed has a balance between characteristics of speed and stamina, the conformation being a compromise producing great agility.

The breed can range in colour between pure white, cream, sandy, fawn, grey, black or brindle, bi-colored or tri-colored.

The males of the breed can be 27 inches or more (60+cm) and the females 19+ inches (50+ cm). The weight for both males and females can be between 44-66 pounds (20–30 kg).


The Cretan Hound uses both sight and scent on the hunt and has a particular tendency to taste aerial or ground scent, even able to suck it from pebbles and stones. When they sense prey, the tail moves in circular fashion and the hound becomes rigid, moments before it begins chasing.


The ancient origins of this rare primitive breed date to a time before written history. According to the Cretan Hound Dog Club, the breed is linked in its DNA and its characteristics to hunting dogs represented in ancient artworks discovered by archaeologists in prehistoric settlements of Crete. The hound's ancestors are clearly depicted on Minoan seal stones, on ceramic and metallic utensils, ornamental objects, in sculptures and on frescos of now housed in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. [4]

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  1. ^ Pashley, R. Travels in Crete, p. 33, vol. 1, J. Murray, 1837.
  2. ^ Der VDH erkennt vier neue Rassen national an. VDH.
  3. ^ Grano, Mauro (2020). "The Cretan hound and the Karpathian hound: two breeds compared. Historical, morphological and osteological considerations". Naturalista Siciliano. IV (XLIV): 161–168. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Cretan Hound". Only Crete. Only Crete. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  • METAMORPHOSES by OVID: Book III:206-231 Actaeon is pursued by his hounds
  • CYNEGETICUS by Xenophon: Chapter X
  • "Cretan tracer hound - dog breed in Crete". issue #50. STIGMES, the magazine of Crete.
  • Κρητικός Ιχνηλάτης: Ο αρχαιότερος κυνηγετικός σκύλος της Ευρώπης. Κρητικό Πανόραμα, τεύχος 10, σελ. 118–145, 2005.