The ancestors of the Pharaoh Hound are believed to have been domesticated dogs that lived alongside the Egyptian pharaos thousends of years ago, serving as close companions and for hunting small game like rabbits. Dogs that closely resemble the Pharaoh Hound in appearance have been depicted in numerous artworks in Ancient Egypt. However the connection between these dogs and the Pharaph Hound has not yet been proven. Other varieties of dogs with similar characteristics have lived in different countries around the Mediterranian sea and several Spanish islands in the Atlantic ocean. One of these breeds must have been introduced to Malta around 2000 years ago, where it was developed and eventually became known under the name of „Kelb tal-Fenek“, which means „Dog of the Rabbit“. In den 1960s, shortly after the independance of Malta, the Kelb al-Fenek was discovered by British dog enthusiasts, who brought the breed back to Britain. It was there that this dog was given the name Pharaoh Hound, because it reminded the breeders of Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god who protects the dead. In Britain the first litter was produced outside the Maltese islands in 1963. Finally, in 1983 the Pharaoh Hound became recognised as a breed internationally.
In 1974 the Pharaoh Hound was declared national dog of its homeland, the islands Malta and Gozo. Today the breed is still mainly kept by local farmers to hunt rabbits and to protect their goat and sheep herds, farms and houses.
Like the ancient Egyptian God of funerals and death, the Pharaoh Hound is of slender yet powerful and athletic build with a long, slightly arched neck. It reaches a shoulder height of up to 63 centimetres and weighs up to 25 kilos, males being bigger and heavier than females. With its very elegant frame the Pharaoh Hound has a long mussle, large and pointy ears and a whip-like, long tail. The coat is glossy and short, colours vary between different shades of tan and red and can show white markings on the end of the tail, on the chest, neck and as a thin line along the middle of the face. Black pigment ist missing, which makes the nose appear in nearly the same colour as the coat, the eyes are of an intense amber.
Temperament and personality
In contrast to its very elegant, statue-like frame, the Pharaoh Hound is a loyal and playful companion, that under certain circumstances can easily be kept as a family dog. It is of a calm nature, provided it gets lots of exercise and time outside. It is devoted to its owner, gentle even with little children and is generally easy to train. If introduced to other dogs and humans as a puppy, it is also friendly to strangers, although it will always protect its home and family with loud barking. The Pharaoh Hound tends to be very sensitive and timid, which means it finds it difficult to adapt to new surroundings and can’t cope with stress very well. Regular walks in busy areas, lots of visitors to the house and gentle company should settle this characteristic easily.
Care and grooming
With its calm nature, the Pharaoh Hound can be kept in a house or apartment, although regular exercise is vital to its wellbeing. The loud barking however could be a great deal of annoyance to next door neighbours. Due to its short coat, extensive grooming is not necessary. To maintain its balanced character, the Pharaoh Hound should only be kept by people who can invest time in long walks and exercise like dog races or agility on a daily basis. If kept in a house with a yard or garden, a strong and high fence is needed to make sure it doesn’t escape. His strong hunting instinct will always make it him run off as soon as it hears or sees potential prey.