Dog Breed Group: Hunting Dog
Life Span: 12-15 years
Weight: Male: 32-32.5, Female: 30-30.5
Height: Male: 23-24.5, Female: 20-22.5
Origin of Name: The Cretan Hound is a slender dog, somewhere between a scenthound and a sighthound in body.
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The Cretan Hound was developed many centuries ago, written records were kept for dog breeding, and much of its history has been lost over time. Almost nothing about the lineage of the breed is little more than pure speculation, although there are several theories that are supported by some evidence. It is all clear that the Cretan Hound was developed on the island of Crete and is an incredibly old breed. Dogs almost identical to the Cretan Hound appear on the oldest Cretan artifacts, and the breed is almost certainly at least 4,000 years old.
The first artifacts depicting the Cretan Hound begin to appear during the period when Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization, the first major European power. After Minos, the famous first king of Crete, the Minoans were famous in the ancient world for their advanced technology, military strength, merchants exploring the world, and maritime skills and expert skills as sailors. Some of the best evidence suggests that the Cretan Hounds near the Minoans come from the island of Santorini, which was also part of the Minoan civilization. Professor S. Recent archaeological digs from Santorini, led by Marinatos, have depicted a wall mural depicting dogs that are essentially indistinguishable from the modern Cretan hound. The Minoans developed almost certainly and kept the Cretan Hound for the same reasons their descendants the Greeks had found for millennia, to hunt rabbits and other small animals found on Crete.
Although the evidence is largely convincing that the Minoans developed the Cretan Hound, it is unclear how it was developed. The ancestors of the Cretan Hound have two major lines of thought. The first, and most popular, assumes that the breed was descended from ancient Middle Eastern hunting breeds, particularly those of ancient Egypt. Originally, all domestic dogs were almost identical in appearance, similar to the dingoes of Australia and the modern pariah dogs of India and the Middle East. Prehistoric artwork from around the world shows dogs that are remarkably similar in form and function. It first began to change in ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia from 7,000 to 14,000 years ago. The artefacts of the time clearly show a variety of dogs, including a fleet of footprints of giant mastiff-type dogs for hunting and protection. The earliest known breeds of dogs were the tessam, a favorite Hunting Dog of the Egyptian pharaohs. The images of Tessem that survived reveal that it was similar to the modern day Pharaoh Hound and, to a lesser extent, the Cretan Hound. The ancient Minoans had extensive trade and political contacts throughout the Middle East, and were probably also mentioned in the Bible (as Capuchar Island). It is entirely possible, and perhaps very likely, that Minoan traders encountered Middle Eastern Hunting Dogs while working abroad and brought some back to Crete. Many believe that these dogs were ancestors of the Cretan Hound, or at least greatly influenced its development.