Breed Group: Hound
The Pharaoh Hound is a sensitive, gentle breed. Although not very affectionate, they are friendly, playful, and get along exceptionally well with children as well as other dogs. They tend to bond closely with people and need attention from their family. Although no two Pharaoh Hounds are alike, their personality can be similar to a cat. They can be discriminating in their need acceptance of new people and must be given the opportunity to make up their own minds about new people and situations. Intelligent and alert with hawk-like eyesight, these dogs are exceptionally fast and have a strong hunting instinct. With their keen eyesight, small furry creatures can be quickly caught and dispatched, even at great distance. Caution should be used when around small pets. When outside they must be kept on-leash or securely confined at all times. Fences must be a minimum of six feet tall as the Pharaoh Hound is a jumper par excellence. Knowledgeable owners recommend two hours of daily exercise. Simply confining them in a traditional backyard won’t do. They need long walks or runs, to play Frisbee, chase a ball, or lure coursing. Pharaoh Hounds are good watchdogs but are not considered good guard dogs, as they are rarely aggressive toward people. Characteristics distinctive to this breed are the Pharaoh Hound’s ability to blush and smile. They “blush” when they are happy or excited. When doing so, their noses and insides of their ears turn a deep pink. When greeting someone they like, some smile by crinkling up their noses and pulling back their lips.
The svelte Pharaoh Hound is a large, graceful breed. Males stand 23-25 inches tall at the shoulders with females an inch or two shorter. They weigh 40-70 pounds. Their short coat ranges from tan to chestnut with white markings. They shed little if at all making a good choice for those who are allergic to dog dander. A Pharaoh Hound needs virtually no grooming. But because they have sensitive skin, when they do need bathing, gentle shampoo should be used. Some owners use baby shampoo. Even when wet they have no dog odor. Moderate temperatures suit them well, but they need some protection against long exposure to sub-freezing temperatures.
Pharaoh Hounds need appropriate socialization, as they are not naturally highly sociable. They need to be given time to adjust to new people and situations. The Pharaoh Hound is a sensitive, independent thinker. Although trainable when positive methods are used, they are not among the easiest dogs to train and do not respond well to harsh training methods. They do best in the hands of an experienced dog owner.
Because of careful breeding througout history of this rare dog, Pharaoh Hounds are virtually free from genetic diseases. Only 2% suffer from Hip Dysplasia. Ask breeders about thyroid problems in their line. Like most sighthounds, they are sensitive to barbiturate anesthetics. Their ears are thin and prone to frostbite in cold climates. Pharaoh Hounds have a life expectancy of 11 to 15 years.
Pharaoh Hounds are rare outside of the island of Malta and rank 140th of all the breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. About 100 dogs are register annually with the AKC.
For a long time it was believed the Pharaoh Hound was one of the oldest known domestic dogs because pictures of similar animals appear in tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs dating back to 4400 BC and in ancient Greek art. The theory went that Phoenicians probably brought the Pharaoh Hound from Egypt to the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo where the breed survived for millennia. But recent DNA analysis disproves these ideas. In 1977 The Pharaoh Hound was declared the National Dog of Malta where it is used to hunt rabbits. Kelb-tal Fenek, the name it is called on Malta, means “rabbit hound.” The first Pharaoh Hound was brought to the United States in 1967, and the breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club 16 years later.
The national (US) parent breed club is the Pharaoh Hound Club of America.