The Greek Shepherd, the dog which has been bred for centuries for guarding livestock in the mountainous regions of the country, is now in danger of extinction, experts are warning.
The decline of livestock farming, along with an increase in uncontrolled interbreeding with other dogs, have altered the Greek Shepherd’s distinctive characteristics. It has been estimated that currently, fewer than 3,000 pure Greek Shepherd dogs remain in Greece.
They are considered brave, decisive, and loyal working dogs with a highly developed sense of duty and a strong protective instinct toward herd animals and their territory. These independent dogs, however, need consistent training and intelligent guidance.
The Greek Shepherd is a medium to large size dog, with a solid body and great physical strength, capable of not only guiding the herd but also fighting with an enemy while maintaining its physical superiority. Its head is massive, featuring a large muzzle.
In an attempt to rescue the breed, the “Arcturos” animal sanctuary, located in northern Greece, has been implementing their Greek Shepherd Dog Breeding Program since 1998.
“The Greek Shepherd Dog is one of the oldest breeds and should survive. It is a shame that all European countries have managed to recognize their breeds, and we in Greece have not,” says Panos Stefanou, communications officer for Arcturos.
Stefanou notes that there is a lack of a sufficient number of purebred dogs which would enable experts to even create a registry.
In addition to Arcturos, an organization called Friends of the Greek Shepherd (http://www.ofep.gr) is also trying to help the breed recover and continue to serve as the iconic Greek dog.