Greek Harehound

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Greek Harehound
Canarian /

Much like the ancient Greek Olympians, the Greek Harehound is an athlete of prowess. His sport is sniffing (he has an excellent sense of smell) and his qualities include strength, stamina, skill, and being fearless. This is no surprise, given that his original purpose was to hunt down wild boar and other game.

Considered as ‘open air’ breed that thrives when given plenty of space and a job to do, the Harehound is definitely not an apartment dog. He does, however, have a keen sense of loyalty and for the right owner, makes for a great family dog in the right circumstances.

About & History

The story of the Greek Harehound is that of a venerable and ancient breed. It is unusual that a breed passes down through the centuries in an almost unchanged state, but such is the Greek Harehound. This is in part due to the breed being so successful in certain inaccessible mountainous regions of Greece, that there was little competition from other breeds. His bloodline therefore remained pure and true to its ancient roots.

Indeed, the ancestors of the Greek Harehound go back not hundreds of years, but thousands. His forerunners were the ancient ‘Laconikoi’ dogs of the Peloponnese (lagos being a Greek word for "hare"). We know something of these dogs because ancient writers praised them. Indeed, ancient mariners travelled with Laconikoi and via sea-trade these dogs set paw far and wide in the ancient world.

These original dogs were black and tan or tricolour, which is typical of the scenthounds currently found in the region. In Greece, however, the Harehound is only officially recognised as black and tan, with the tricolour looked on as something of an upstart.


Greek Harehound Large Photo
Canarian /

The Greek Harehound is a sensible looking, well-proportioned dog of medium-size. There are no exaggerated features here, such as a flat face or shortened legs. No, the Harehound is a functional dog with suitably long legs that are strong and not too spindly.

His head is exactly as a dog’s head should be, with a longish muzzle that tapers slightly, perfectly designed for taking a long lungful of air. Of course, the long muzzle also provides plenty of opportunity for scent molecules to encounter the moist mucous membrane lining the nose, equipped with thousands of olfactory (scent) receptors.

This Greek hound is black and tan with a smooth, short coat and appealing dark coloured eyes. In common with other scent hound breeds, such as Bloodhounds and Beagles, he has heavy ears that are set down and fall low over his cheeks.

The body of this dog is adapted to action, with a strong, level back and a deep chest with roomy ribs to accommodate those hard-working lungs. He also boasts a medium length tail, most commonly found held in an upward curve.

Character & Temperament

The cheerful outgoing character of the Greek Harehound suggests he thinks hunting a game, rather than taking life too seriously. With an addiction to following a scent, he’s never happier than nose to the ground tracking a promising lead. In turn, this gifts him other characteristics, such as the ability to track all day and a lack of concern for his own safety. Indeed, being active is a hallmark of the breed, and perhaps one of the limiting factors when considering one as a pet. It is a rare city dweller who can give this breed the exercise they crave.

Although principally a tracker, the Harehound does have a sense of place and will bark enthusiastically if someone intrudes on his place. This dog was also created to live in packs and happily gets along just fine with most of canine kind.


The Greek Harehound is more free-spirit than disciplinarian. He is not wilfully disobedient, but is easily led by his nose that on occasions makes him conditionally deaf to his owner. His other great love is running free and feeling the wind in his ears, which means he’s prone to run off first and consider the consequences… well… not at all.

All things considered, although the Harehound is considered loving, loyal, and gentle to his owner, this isn’t a breed for the inexperienced. The first time dog owner is likely to spend more time trying to track down their dog than walking him.


The Greek Harehound has an excellent health record. However, this could be down to him being a country dog that is treated more like livestock than a pet. As such, living in the remote Greek mountains, he’s unlikely to be diagnosed with complex or rare conditions, so statistics as to the breed’s main aliments will be lacking.

However, the Harehound’s deep chest does place him at increased risk of gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV, also known as bloat) and those pendulous ears need special care. Given his outdoor lifestyle, his health is best protected with regular applications of anti-parasite products, deworming, and vaccination.

Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)

Sadly, deep-chested dogs have an anatomical quirk which places them at increased risk of bloat. This occurs because their stomach is suspended, hammock-like, within their deep body. With the weight of food inside the stomach, should the dog exercise this can cause the stomach to swing and potentially flip over on itself.

With the entrance and the exit to the stomach sealed off, gas builds to dangerous levels. The stomach walls become so stretched, the living tissue dies off. In addition, the distension places physical pressure on the main blood supply to the organs, cutting it off.

The end result is a dog in organ failure and shock. Immediate emergency surgery is required, and even then recovery is not guaranteed. Prevention is better than cure. To this end, the dog should be fed a high quality food, with few fermentable ingredients. In addition, it’s best to feed from the floor, and never exercise the dog immediately after eating.

Ear Health

Drop ears can predispose a dog to ear infections. This is because the earflap reduces air circulation within the ear canal, making it a warm humid place. This is exactly the sort of environment that bacteria, ear mites, or yeasts love to live, making the ear canal ripe for infection.

Preventing an ear infection can be difficult, but spotting it early prevents it becoming well-established. For dogs predisposed to ear infections, regular use of a good ear cleaner can reduce the debris available for bugs to feed on.

In addition, active dogs are prone to picking up foreign bodies, such as grass awns. It’s important to check outdoor dogs after every walk, and make a point of raising their ear flaps to peer underneath. It’s easy to remove a grass awn at the entrance to the ear canal, but once it migrates downwards, then sedation is often required to extract it.

Preventative Healthcare

Dogs exercising in woods or fields are in contact with many different types of parasites, including fleas, ticks, and mites. Regular use of a good parasite control product will help to keep the dog healthy.

A hunting Harehound may also scavenge and potentially consume a variety of internal worms, which also require control. Thus speak to your vet about a risk assessment to decide which worming product is most appropriate for the dog.

Sadly, there are some parasites that are potentially life-threatening, including heartworms and lungworms. Again, speak to your vet about which pose a risk in your area, so as to properly protect your pet.

Exercise and Activity Levels

If one word sums up the need of the Greek Harehound, it is ‘freedom’. When roaming free he can follow a scent and get the exercise he needs. Of course, this is great on a farm with acres of land, but not so good in a city where rules apply and the dog must be kept on a lead.

In short, the proud owner of a Greek Harehound either needs to be a country-dwelling farmer or an athlete in training. Only if you love to run for miles and can take the dog with you, will the Harehound make a suitable city dog.


The Greek Harehound is an example of a ‘brush and go’ dog. His short, smooth coat requires little by way of maintenance. A quick weekly brush helps spread those natural conditioning oils over his coat and captures shed hair.

There’s no salon trips needed for this hunting hound, and he only requires the occasional bath should he roll in something unmentionable.

Famous Greek Harehound

The Harehound has plaudits from ancient writers, but in the modern day, Pinterest and Instagram is a good place to track down this scenthound. We especially love the adorable Zeke from Greece who is now living in Queens, New York.


The Greek Harehound is a working dog, and as such, not subject to the vagaries of fashion. If he is cross-bred, it’s most likely to be because he escaped and found a neighbour’s dog in heat, rather than a deliberate mating.

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