Kokoni – Dog Guide (Personality, Health, Grooming etc.)


A sweet fluffy and intelligent looking dog, you might have seen a kokoni without knowing the exact breed. Also called Greek kokoni, these are small Greek domestic dogs and a very ancient Hellenic dog breed. They are hunters and companion dogs and adapt very well to an active lifestyle with plenty of time spent outdoors on the chase, or on their owners’ heels.

The Militeo Kinidio or Greek Kokonis, as they’re also known, are dogs that have been known to be good companions to humans for centuries. They are not a singular pure breed but rather an amalgamation of small dogs known locally in the Greek isles, that have been bred to enhance their intelligence and Compliance traits.

Kokonis are dogs that are known to be extremely intelligent, trainable into doing a multitude of activities, as well as a local favorite in every segment of the population for their affectionate behaviour and expressive features. They are also very photogenic – you’ve probably seen one or two kokonis on TV as canine actors without recognising the breed.

Highlights about Kokonis:

  • Kokoni dogs are not a pure breed but rather the derivative of small to medium sized dogs local to Greece being bred to uniformity. In fact even the name officially is small Greek domestic dog.
  • They are thought to have originated in Malta and have been a local favorite along with Alopekis, another larger ancient Greek dog breed that they are related to.
  • The presence of kokonis in Greece can be traced into the bygone centuries with depictions on pottery, coins, vases, etc.
  • They were preferred by aristocrats as companions, but also as a part of working households, where they were trained as hunting and herding dogs.
  • Because of their variable genetic ancestry, kokoni dogs are safe from a lot of inherited diseases that purebred dogs often have.
  • The breed remains very popular in Greece and is slowly gaining popularity internationally as well. A kokoni played onscreen in the 2005 movie Bewitched! 
  • They are rather small dogs with both males and females averaging 9-11 inches/ 24-28 cm in height and 9-18 lbs/ 4-8 kg in weight.
  • They are extremely active and need to run around and play and burn off a lot of energy every day.
  • If not exercised properly, they can lapse into bad habits and be destructive around the house. They are also very loud Barkers!
  • Although very easy to train initially, they do often need reminders to treat the owner as the Alpha.
  • Kokonis suffer from the classic small dog syndrome, which can make enforcing or getting rid of certain habits a battle of wills.
  • If they are exercised properly and receive enough mental engagement they are relaxed and affectionate family dogs as well
  • Kokonis are hunting dogs in essence and will chase squirrels, small birds, rats, etc.
  • Their other name, Meliteo Kinidio, translates approximately to honey small dog, because of their sweet nature and size.

Kokoni Size

kokoni laying down

Kokonis firmly fall under small sized dogs. Some of them which are more closely related to alopekis or are kokoni mix dogs might be a little bigger, but they do not get to being a medium sized dog or larger.

Height: An average kokoni is about 9-11 inches /24-28 cm tall. Males and females are approximately the same size, although males may be a little broader in the shoulders and hips. Kokoni puppies attain a height of 9 in or 24cm at around 6 months of age, at which point they weigh about 10 pounds or 5 kilograms. In the next one year of their life, they attain their adult size and tend to stay at it.

Weight: kokonis weigh between 9-18 lbs / 4-8 kg. This is the normal weight range, but being small dogs, they are susceptible to obesity if they are not being exercised regularly  

Conformation: a very traditional way to describe the kokoni dog breed’s appearance is ‘foxy’. They are a small dog with an elongated body, usually longer than their height.

They have a roughly triangular head, and a moderately domed skull with a medium-sized snout, shorter than the length of the cranium. The skull itself is slightly broad in comparison to its length.

They have a sweet round to heart shaped nose, which can be black or brown. The eyes are almond shaped, with colours that can vary from Amber to Hazel to different shades of brown.

Kokonis’ ears are fluffy and drop shaped, set well above the ears. This gives kokonis a perky and alert appearance, almost as though they are wearing ponytails.

They have a slightly arched neck with a broad chest, with a slightly arched back. The tail is carried high above the back. Their front legs are proportionate to the body with small, delicate paws. They come in a multitude of colours and coat lengths.

All in all, they have a very alert and intelligent expression with very mobile features.

Kokoni Temperament and Personality

Kokonis are very well natured and good-tempered dogs. Any irregularities in their behaviour usually can be traced to not receiving enough attention or engagement during the course of the day.

Kokonis are also wary of strangers, although tolerating of people in their immediate vicinity. They are also prone to jealousy and unless trained to be open and accommodating from the start, they can become territorial and possessive with regards to their owners.

Relationship with Owners: Kokonis are extremely loyal dogs and very brave despite their size. They are smart and attentive and make a very great watchdog for larger spreads. They love spending time with their owners as well as their families. However, if they are not trained properly they tend to lapse into small dog syndrome and disobey commands, if not corrected right away.

That being said, kokonis are very courageous and large-hearted dogs. They will throw themselves headlong into danger without any regard for their own safety, if they think that their owner or their family is in trouble or needs protection. This is just one of the many reasons this hardy little breed is such a favourite in its country of origin.

Relationship with other pets: Kokonis are hunting dogs and tendentially treat smaller animals like rabbits or hamsters as prey.

So, a kokoni puppy who has grown up being socialized with cats or bunnies as companions and not food, will adjust to a multi-pet household. But an adult dog who has not been socialized with other animals may have trouble adjusting to their presence. They instinctively chase cats and squirrels, which can have fatal consequences for small animals.

Relationship with Children: Kokonis do great with children because playing with children is an excellent way for them to blow off some steam and work off their excess energy. However, it is not recommended that kokonis be left alone with small children unsupervised.

This is because despite their patient temperament, they might be provoked by small children hurting them unintentionally and may retaliate to this. With older children who can give the dog clear commands, kokonis have a great dynamic.

Kokoni Health

cute kokoni

Health Issues: because of their various genetic background, kokonis have almost no recovering inherited health issues. Being a small dog, they are susceptible to developing dental issues.

But even this can be avoided with brushing their teeth on a regular basis. Fluffy dog problems also afflict them occasionally, such as mites in their ears or dirt build-up in their ear flaps.

Lifespan: these small Greek domestic dogs live up to an average 16-19 years or more.

Kokoni Care

Because they were originally hunting dogs, kokonis are physically very active and require both exercise as well as intellectual engagement on a daily basis. They need to be taken out for walks at least twice a day and then allowed to run around enough to tire themselves out. About 45 minutes a day is a good average to hold them to.

They are exceptionally trainable and excel in shows or activities that showcase their agility, such as obstacle course running, barn hunts, freestyle dancing, as well as elaborate tricks. A kokoni is an ideal partner for a magician on stage.

When their physical needs are being met, they can adjust to life in a small apartment or house just as comfortably as live on a farm or a larger spread. A smaller living space is not a problem for this small dog, but a lack of exercise will definitely be.

Kokonis who are not giving enough exertion everyday channel their excess energy into destructive behaviour like chewing up carpets and furniture around the house. They can also become frustrated and disobedient against their established training.

Kokoni Grooming

Because of their variable ancestry, kokonis can have a rather large amount of variety in their coats. Traditionally they have short hair on the face and on the inside of their legs.

Most kokonis have a medium length coat with straight or slightly wavy hair, which can be curly on the belly and tail as well as on the ears. They also have an undercoat which is short-haired and tightly woven. The colours can vary from white to pied, fawn, Isabella, red, light to dark brown, black, and multiple combinations of these.

Because of their dense undercoat and fluffy, wavy fur coat, kokonis need to be brushed regularly every day. This is to comb out any tangles and dirt from their fur. However, the daily grooming sessions need not be excessively long: a quick thorough brush will suffice. They need to be bathed about once a month, whether professionally groomed or at home.

This suffices to keep their fur nourished with enough natural oils to maintain its silky texture. Their nails may need to be filed or cut if they are not naturally eroding down from exercise.

Kokoni Feeding

On an average, Kokonis need about 1 cup of dry food per day. Older dogs also need vitamin D and calcium supplementation after getting approval from their vets.

Kokonis: Everything Else

Kokonis are small but lionhearted, active and intelligent dogs and loyal companions to their owners and families. Both dog and owner benefit from training early on in life.

Lack of training results in kokonis trying to assert and establish themselves as dominant in the dynamic between dog and owner. But because they are intelligent and perceptive, kokoni puppies and adolescents retain and flourish with positive reinforcement and simple commands.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do kokonis shed?

Yes, Kokonis do shed a fair amount. However, daily brushing with a stiff bristled brush helps get most of the loose hair out.

Are there any Greek dog breeds?

Yes. Apart from Kokonis, other Greek dog breeds include Alopekis, Cretan hounds, Greek shepherds, Greek Harehounds, and the Molossus of Epirus.

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