Pharaoh Hound

Aside from their pure and original bloodlines, there is truly something unique about the Pharaoh Hound. Perhaps it’s their ability to blush and smile — or maybe it’s the fact that the breed is one of the oldest dogs today, domestically, of course.

If you take a casual look at the Pharaoh, say, from the side, you may think you’re looking at a deer. Yet, there’s nothing deer-like about this breed. Indeed, the ‘dog of the rabbit,” has been a true treasure from the island of Malta.

So what can this breed offer you and your family?

Here is what you need to know about the Pharaoh Hound.

History

Earlier, we told you that the breed is truly a unique specimen. If you take one good look at their muscular and compact body frame, you would agree, physically. Yet, it is the breed’s hunting prowess and abilities of being a true versatile hound. Sight—or scenthound.

The point is, the Pharaoh Hound can do it all. For hundreds of years, mainly on the island of Malta, sportsmen would use the breed for multiple reasons. The biggest role the breed would play in Malta history is helping hunt rabbits. Hence the title, dog of the rabbit.

The United Kennel Club suggests the breed traces as far back as 4,000 B.C. Moreover, the breed’s club in America postulates 5,000 years ago as a hunting hound in Egypt. Although the breed undoubtedly came from Egypt, it was their arrival in Malta, and subsequent development, that really made this breed into the dog they are today.

Aside from their rabbit hunting expertise, the Pharaoh could also serve as a sheep and goat drover as well as a bird retriever. Thanks to their intelligence, keen sense of smell, and agility — the Pharaoh Hound became a national symbol and significant resource for the people of Malta. Moreover, in 1977, the Pharaoh became the National dog of Malta, even getting a mint coin commemorating their importance and value.

For the rest of the world, however, dog enthusiasts would have to wait until the 20th century. The Pharaoh Hound’s first appearance in the west was likely in Britain. It is said that the breed did show up in the 1920’s, however,  no litter was made to further the breed in that country.

That would change in the 1960’s. In fact, thanks to the efforts of the Block Family, the United States has been able to enjoy the beauty and gifts the breed brings to the dog kingdom. The Block family saw the Pharaoh Hound in Malta, where the husband was stationed by the British military. The wife fell in love with the dog and thought the Pharaoh was elegant and beautiful.

Imports into Britain would occur shortly after in the 1960’s. In the U.S., the Pharaoh would first emerge in 1967, but it wasn’t until 1970, that the first litter was born. In 1974, the English Kennel Club gave the breed formal recognition, and the FCI would follow suit in 1977. Moreover, their name would change to the Pharaoh Hound right around that time as well. Prior to that, some would the breed the Ibizan Hound or the Kelb Tal Fenek.

As more people grew of interest for this majestic breed, so didn’t the two biggest kennel clubs in America. First, the United Kennel Club gave the breed recognition in 1983. A year later, the breed would receive recognition by the American Kennel Club.

Today, the breed is still a big factor back in Malta as far as hunting concerns. The breed has won in the show ring at Crufts: In 2009 and 2010, winning top honors in the Hound group. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed is the 168th most popular.

Size

A Pharaoh Hound that meets standard, is typically tall, yet their frame is lithe. According to the American Kennel Club, a male will stand between 23 to 25 inches. A female should range between 21 to 24 inches.

Both male and female Pharaoh’s should weigh 45 to 55 pounds making them a medium dog breed.

Personality and Temperament

As hunters, you can rely on this breed to get the job done. Whatever that job may be; Whether it’s working as a sighthound coordinating with their packs, or as a scenthound tracking down a lead. This breed has a keen sense of smell and incredible instincts. It’s almost not fair, which is why the breed was so popular with the people of their home country. Moreover, you can also utilize them as drovers and as retrievers. The Pharaoh Hound is agile, and loves to test out their speed as they are sure to go for a run. Athletic and alert, this quick breed is the consummate hunting hound.

While they are a very intelligent breed, capable of learning commands with ease, they may present a bit of a stubborn streak. They need constant mental and physical stimulation. The Pharaoh will appreciate new challenges and new roles. And while they may be a bit independent, the breed is eager to please, a delight to train.

At home, you can expect more of a calm dog indoors. They are loving, and will not stop attempting to get your love in return. Affectionate with everyone in the family, the Pharaoh is a kid’s best friend especially if they grow up together. That’s because the breed enjoys playing and good romp in the backyard. They even get along with cats —that they grow up with.

Running and chasing, maybe a little bit of a dig, this breed is a fun treat to have around the home. All in all, a great family dog, Strangers and people the Pharaoh isn’t all too familiar with may experience an aloof response. They will bark to alert of any suspicious activity and do have a vocal side to them. They get along well with other family pets and are very productive and versatile working dogs.

Health

For the most part, the Pharaoh Hound is a healthy breed that has few issues. Most of those problems consist around their eyes, hips and elbows. 

You can avoid a lot of heart ache and high costs in veterinarian bills by purchasing from a reputable breeder. A breeder who will provide you with the proper documentation and health clearances. In addition, you should schedule regular visits with the veterinarian to maintain your dog’s health for the long haul.

Like most breeds, Hip Dysplasia creeps up on the Pharaoh’s list of health issues. Hip Dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint, where the ball and joint don’t properly align. This, in turn, will cause the joint to loosen, which will result in rubbing. Pain, lameness and discomfort are the effects of Hip Dysplasia. Osteoarthritis is a possibility. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals survey on this condition, the Pharaoh Hound ranks 176th with a low occurrence for this orthopedic condition. Moreover, with over 540 evaluations, the breed has only a 2.4 dysplastic rating putting them among the Greyhound. The Bulldog and Pug suffer the worst from this orthopedic malformation.

If your dog has a malformation or abnormal growth of the elbow joint, then there’s a great chance they are suffering from Elbow Dysplasia. This is the most common form of elbow pain and does lead to discomfort, lameness and other issues such as Osteoarthritis. The breed ranks 82nd in the OFA survey out of 117 evaluations with a 2.6 dysplastic rating putting them among the Norwich Terrier. Chow Chows suffer the worst with Elbow Dysplasia.

Patellar Luxation, which affects the Pomeranian the worst, is when the kneecap slips out of place and causes agitation from the constant rubbing. The breed ranks 59th on the survey with a 2.7 dysplastic rating out of 222 evaluations, which puts them in the company of the Bloodhound and Labrador Retriever

Cataracts may be a concern for this breed. This is when the crystalline lens has a partial to complete opacity that can result in vision loss or blindness.

Other issues like Distichiasis, an abnormal lining of the eyelashes along the eyelid resulting in ocular irritation, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy has been seen in this breed. The breed also ranks highly for thyroid conditions on the OFA survey at 23rd with only a 82.7% normal rating  out of 162 evaluations. Epilepsy and sensitivity to certain types of anesthetics can also hamper this breed. 

Care

Pharaoh Hounds are or a more active family with past dog ownership experience. They are rather adaptable, in the sense that you can have other pets or dogs. However, you’ll need to start up early with training and socialization to ensure you have yourself a friendly Pharaoh. The one knock on them is that they can play a little rough especially if you don’t supervise their romps. So, leaving them alone may be an issue, however, most people tend to be okay with leaving their Pharaoh with other dogs, just as long you raise them properly together.

In addition, you’ll want to invest in a fence. This is a breed with a proclivity to run off and chase. Prey drive is strong with the Pharaoh Hound, which means you may want to avoid interaction between the dog and smaller animals like birds and mice. Also, they do tend to block out your call, so always walk them on a leash if possible.

Checking their ears regularly for bacterial infection is smart, just as trimming their nails monthly to prevent overgrowth and splits. Brush their teeth regularly to avoid tartar buildup and decaying gums.

Smaller children and Pharaohs tend to get along great. Furthermore, the only caution to take is how powerful the breed is. They may not be aware of playing too rough, which is why you should supervise your children around this breed.

Moderate to high amount of exercise is necessary for this breed. The Kennel Club calls for two hours, but truthfully, 45 minutes to an hour should suffice. The breed is much better with bigger homes, warmer climates and will do fine with pets including cats. They will need a role or job — just as they will require plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy.

Feeding

This breed will do fine with a high quality animal protein formula. You can always consult your local vet on the best dry kibble formulas out there, but, by rule, steer clear of preservatives and by products. Typical animal protein sources like beef, fish, poultry and eggs should do well with the Pharaoh Hound. 

Most people recommend a feeding of 1.5 cups to 2 cups of top quality dry kibble a day. You can break that up into one meal in the morning and again the in evening. This protects your dog from Gastric Torsion, which is a deadly condition affecting their stomach.

As always, you should provide your Pharaoh Hound with fresh drinking water.

Coat

The beauty about the breed is that they don’t shed frequently. You will only need to groom or bush their short, glossy and fine coats once a week. Moreover, you shouldn’t have to worry about frequent baths either, as they don’t omit much of a dog odor.

According to the American Kennel Club, the Pharaoh Hound has four coat color options: Chestnut, red golden, rich tan, and tan. 

In addtiion, there is one acceptable marking for the breed: White markings.

Fun Pharaoh Hound Facts

  • The Pharaoh Hound is the 59th most intelligent breed, which means they will obey commands 75 percent of the time, according to the credible source, Intelligence of Dogs.
  • It is said that people of Malta have kept the breed’s bloodlines pure for at least the past thousand years.
  • Egyptian temples feature a dog god, Aubis, which closely resembles the Pharaoh Hound.
  • A professor in the 1950’s claims to have found remains of a Queen that was buried with her hound, which most believe was the Pharaoh.
  • A 2013 article from Women’s Day put the Pharaoh as one of the top ten most expensive breeds to buy as a puppy —costing a steep $5,000 per pup.

Closing Words

As one of the oldest breeds alive today, the Pharaoh Hound remains to be a viable hunter for sportsmen all around the world. It is their versatility, the ability to be a sight or scenthound, and their quickness, that makes them such a talent outdoors.

Indoors, however, they are winning many hearts over and over again. That’s because they are fun, loving and loyal. Who wouldn’t want that in a dog, especially one as unique looking as the Pharaoh Hound.