Europe’s oldest hunting dog breed, the Cretan Hound (Kritikos Lagonikos) faces a government-imposed mandatory sterilisation law, that will force the amateur breeders of this unique and rare dog to abandon their quest for preservation. The Cretan Hound, a breed that is possibly 9,000 years old by some estimates, is a legendary hunting breed like no other. Without financial support to submit mandatory DNA testing for all the hounds, many of the most famous amateur breeders will simply be forced to discontinue their lifelong guardianship of the dogs the oldest Cretans call “human.”

We, the owners, breeders, and admirers of the unique and endangered Kritikos Lagonikos, urgently need your help. Without donations, most of the significant breeders of this ancient dog breed will be unable to continue their work. In the end, the only living heirloom of Greece will be no more.

The largest animal welfare organisation in Greece, the Pan Hellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation (PFPO), exerted much force to pass the so-called “Argos Program” into law. Named for the canine companion of Alexander the Great, the law combined a series of much-needed legislation stuffed with uncompromising Draconian measures aimed mainly at hunters across Greece.

Photo: Supplied

The Kritikos Lagonikos (Cretan Hound) was particularly endangered by the mandatory sterilisation measures and penalties contained in the legislation. To avoid getting into the politics surrounding this controversial law, this statement from the Hellenic Veterinary Association is telling:

“Regarding the issue of the mandatory sterilization of pet animals, we want to inform you that this is not the case in any other EU country. In addition, such a regulation violates medical ethics and morality, reveals an unscientific approach, incomplete analysis of the phenomenon of overpopulation of strays and of course, violates the rights and freedom of animals in general.”

Nikos Anetakis, President of the Cretan Hound Club, and club members went to great lengths to try and get special consideration for the scarce Cretan Hound breed. This unique canine has been protected and nurtured for countless centuries by the very hunters and amateur breeders the Argos law aims to eliminate (essentially). This Argos Law was passed even after owners and interested parties (me included) managed to solicit/submit over 50,000 signatures in opposition to the law (as written). The power behind the mandatory sterilisation law did not so much as budge. Even with the Greek Kennel Club’s ongoing efforts to try and moderate this law and save the Cretan Hound, little or no headway has been made.

When the proposed new law was announced, I talked with the people in Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s inner circle about the probable extinction of Europe’s oldest dog race. Those conversations revealed the unrelenting effort against hunters here. The people behind it all said openly there would be “no special consideration” for the endangered breed.

Cretan Hound mom carries one of her puppies. Photo: Terracotta V century BC – Staatliche Antikensammlungen Munich/Supplied

So, with less than 400 Cretan Hounds in existence, and only about 10% of those being registered quality specimens – their fate is extinction unless these owners can get help.

Now that the law has passed, the owners/breeders of the dogs referred to as “The Living Legends of Crete” are hard-pressed to meet the government’s demands. Most will not be able to continue to either maintain or extend the Kritikos Lagonikos breed.

One of the goals of Anetakis and famous amateur breeders like Giannis Geniatakis is to get international recognition for this unique dog breed. The dogs are recognised in Germany and by the Kennel Club of Greece, but there are insufficient numbers for international status. With the passage of this law and the strict guidelines the government is following, this recognition seems highly unlikely unless we take action.

In conclusion, unless all of the Cretan Hounds suitable for breeding have their DNA submitted by August, the owners/breeders face outlandish fines and other penalties unless their dogs are sterilised. Each test costs 150 euros, plus any additional fees associated with submitting per Greek governmental specifications.

The only way the Cretan Hound can survive and flourish is to establish funding to meet these medieval regulations. The companions many famous owners have called “human” for their natures, the finest hare-hunting dogs the world has ever known, are not long for this world.

To help get the required DNA testing for the dogs contact the Cretan Hound Club via email:

*Phil Butler is the founder at Keftiu, editor and journalist at The Epoch Times – Argophilia Travel News – Kathimerini and many more.