With tongue in cheek, we write that the Cretan Hound is either the “missing link” between scenthound and a sighthound, an amalgamation of both, or a reptile in dog’s clothing because these dogs not only use both senses, but often suck in air to taste it, or just get down-and-dirty by tasting dirt or pebbles to find its prey. Once the scent of the prey has been found from the air or ground, the Cretan Hound becomes rigid with only its tail gyrating in circular fashion to signal that the game is afoot. This is a quiet hunter, but his body language speaks volumes. The wag of her tail, the positioning of his ears, and the look on his face are “tells” indicating the progress of the hunt. Patience is a breed trait. A Cretan Hound will wait however long it takes for the prey to leave its warren or den, but once it has emerged, our hound goes after it with impressive tenacity.
Prehistoric settlements of Crete that predates the Minoan civilization have given up artifacts depicting the breed at a time when Crete was the first major European power. Add to this ancient writings and epic poems of Homer that specifically mentioned the “Kressai Kynes” or Cretan Hound, and that makes many cynologists think the Cretan Hound is the oldest dog breed in Europe.
Image: Drawing of a female Cretan Hound by Maria Gkinala shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.