What Kind of Dogs Were in Ancient Greece?

Dogs have been a part of human civilization for thousands of years, and the ancient Greeks were no exception. Ancient Greek literature, art, and mythology provide us with glimpses of the types of dogs that were present during that era. In this article, we will explore what kind of dogs were in Ancient Greece.

The Role of Dogs in Ancient Greece

Dogs played an essential role in ancient Greek society. They were primarily used for hunting, guarding, and as companions.

Hunting was a popular activity among the wealthy Greeks, and dogs were often trained to assist in the hunt. These dogs had a keen sense of smell and were skilled at tracking prey such as deer and wild boar.

The Breeds of Dogs in Ancient Greece

It is challenging to identify specific breeds of dogs that existed during ancient times because breeding practices were not well-established at that time. However, some descriptions from ancient literature give us a hint about the types of dogs present in Greece.

One breed that is frequently mentioned is the Molossus dog. This breed was known for its size and strength and was often used for hunting large game such as bears. The Molossus dog was also used as a guard dog due to its intimidating appearance.

Another breed that was popular during ancient times was the Laconian dog. This breed was known for its speed and agility, making it ideal for hunting small game such as hares or foxes.

Lastly, there is evidence to suggest that greyhounds were also present during ancient Greek times. These dogs were used specifically for racing events held at festivals such as the Olympic Games.

Dogs in Greek Mythology

Dogs played a significant role in Greek mythology as well. The three-headed dog Cerberus guarded the gates to the underworld while Hades ruled over it. Artemis, goddess of the hunt, had several dogs that assisted her in hunting, including a pack of swift-footed hounds.


In conclusion, dogs have been an essential part of human civilization for thousands of years, and the ancient Greeks were no exception. While we may not know specific breeds that existed during ancient times, descriptions from literature and mythology give us a glimpse into the types of dogs that were present. From hunting to guarding to companionship, dogs played a vital role in ancient Greek society and continue to do so today.