Pharaoh Hounds are easily recognizable thanks to Egyptian mythology and religion which depicts the god of death, Anubis, as an anthropomorphized dog that bears striking resemblance to the Pharaoh Hound breed. Considering they are excellent hunting dogs, this connection is not too far-fetched. However, they are also much loved by owners around the world for their fun-loving personalities, intelligence, and loyalty. If you’re got your eye on a Pharaoh Hound, you’ve picked the right place! This is our comprehensive guide to the Pharaoh Hound dog breed including history, health, and everything in between.
History of the Pharaoh Hound
The Pharaoh Hound dog breed is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated dogs in existence, going back as far as 5,000 years. This breed owes its expansion and its existence to the Phoenicians, who took this regal hound out of Ancient Egypt and sold it across the world roughly 2,500 years ago. The first Pharaoh Hounds were sold as part of the luxury trade, as they were a very well-thought-of breed, much like the high-status dog breeds we have today.
Very few Pharaoh Hounds managed to keep their original form over the years, with various other dogs being born of this initial breed as a result of breeding dogs from the local canine population with the new Pharaohs. The breeds believed to be descended of the Pharaoh hound include the Ibizan Hound, Salukis, Israeli Canaan dogs, and Baladi Street dogs.
In Malta, however, they were able to maintain the original Pharaoh Hound physiology by avoiding breeding them with local dogs. This was believed to be in order to keep them in top shape so that they could be used to hunt rabbits. Hence their nickname is the rabbit dog. A Pharaoh Hounds’ bark is high-pitched and carried well. They are also extremely powerful, and light-footed with a high prey drive, making them ideal hunters.
In more recent history, this breed was imported into England for the first time in 1962. Shortly after, the official Pharaoh Hound Club was founded in 1968 to pay homage to this beautiful breed, which marked the first national breed club for these unusual dogs. Furthermore, the Pharaoh Hound became known as the national breed of Malta in 1979 owing to the fact that Malta was the only country to seemingly make a conscious effort to maintain the original Egyptian Hound.
- Pharaoh Hounds are not hypoallergenic
- They are the national dog of Malta
- Pharaoh Hounds have a very high prey drive and do not suit homes with other pets
- A Pharaoh Hound has very little natural protection from the elements due to having short fur
- They are extremely fast – the top speed of a Pharaoh Hound in 56km/h
- They are known to make great family pets
Pharaoh Hound Appearance
Pharaoh Hounds are powerful, lean, regal-looking dogs that have long, muscular necks which give them a sense of power and status. They also have narrow, chiseled heads and large, teeth capable of causing a tremendous amount of damage when needed.
They are typically born in various shades of tan and chestnut, with some having small white markings or a white chest. The American Kennel Club has a strict breed standard that describes what constitutes pure breed Pharaoh Hounds, including the fact that their exceptionally large ears should stand naturally erect.
A Pharaoh hound should have a proud stance and a muscular body. They are well-balanced dogs that can move freely and with a light foot. This also means their gait should reflect this freedom of movement, so they stand straight with their heads held high and shouldn’t struggle when walking over various terrains, nor should they be kicking their legs out sideways or taking overly high-kneed steps.
Fun Pharaoh Hound Facts
- A Pharaoh Hound blushes across its ears and nose when it gets excited.
- A Pharaoh Hound will show all of its teeth in a “smiling” gesture whilst maintaining joyful body language.
- Their tall, pointed ears a completely natural and not the result of human intervention.
- Pharaoh Hounds generally hunt best when working as part of a team alongside a ferret.
- The Pharaoh Hound was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1974.
- Pharaoh Hounds bear an uncanny resemblance to the Egyptian jackal God of death – Anubis.
The Pharaoh Hound Personality
Pharaoh Hounds are actually known to gain a strong attachment to their families and generally do very well with young children. Human companionship is an absolute must for these loveable pups. This makes them excellent family pets so longest that the household does not have small animals such as cats, hamsters, ferrets, or small dogs. This is due to their naturally high prey drive and habit of chasing small creatures thanks to their strong hunting instincts.
The Pharaoh Hound Temperament
Pharaoh Hounds are extremely intelligent dogs that have a history as hunting dogs. This ancient breed also has a deep-rooted and strong hunters instinct. This makes them a threat to smaller creatures. It can also make them difficult to train off the lead, which is why it is suggested that a Pharaoh Hound stays on the lead unless it is in an enclosed space where you can ensure they won’t escape.
Otherwise, Pharaoh Hounds are gentle, loving, playful, affectionate, friendly dogs that will always adore having their human around. This does also mean separation anxiety is a common issue with the Egyptian Pharaoh Hound as with many dogs with highly sociable personalities.
Because they are an extremely intelligent breed, the Pharaoh dog breed typically requires plenty of mental stimulation outside of its usual training sessions. This can be achieved during playtime, or with dog toys that contain a puzzle element. Depending on the dog in question, you can vary the level of difficulty when it comes to selecting their puzzles. There is a wide variety of doggie puzzles out there, with varying levels of difficulty to suit almost any pup.
Pharaoh Hounds are wonderful with children, generally speaking. They are kind-natural, playful, and affectionate. However, they’re also quite large, and Pharaoh Hound puppy dogs can take a while to get used to their long limbs making them rather clumsy. This means if you have a house with particularly young children you might find that your dog bowls the toddler over occasionally until it’s more used to its own size.
If you opt to have a Pharaoh Hound your latest family member, be sure to teach children the house to respect the dog’s personal space. They might be affectionate, but they are also entitled to have an area that is just their own. Additionally, be sure to teach any children to be gentle when handling the dog so as not to stress them out.
Around Other Animals
The high prey drive and strong hunting instinct of a Pharaoh Hound can be difficult to deal with at times. If you live in an area that often has small creatures passing through, such as a rural setting, you may find that your dog spends a lot of its time looking out for animals to hunt. It’s also recommended that a Pharaoh not be let off the lead in areas where it may encounter small creatures, as once a Pharaoh has begun the hunt, it can be exceptionally difficult to get them to respond to commands to stop.
Quick Personality Facts
- Pharaoh Hounds can be particularly sensitive to sudden changes and stressful situations.
- They are gentle with humans but have a high prey drive and will chase other smaller animals.
- Pharaoh Hounds bark often, making them the exception to the rule of silent sighthounds.
- Pharaoh Hound puppies need to be socialized at an early age to avoid temperament issues.
- They get on well with other dogs so long as they are a similar size or bigger.
Pharaoh Hound Care
There are many different areas of dog care outside of just food and a place to sleep. All dog breeds have different requirements when it comes to training, diet, health, activity, and grooming. Be sure to familiarise yourself with this information before deciding on whether this particular dog is the right fit for you.
Once a command has been taught to a Pharaoh Hound they hold onto that information extremely well and take a lot of pride in doing something that makes their owner happy. Their loving nature makes them eager to please in this way. Their intelligence also makes them very receptive to the training environment – just be wary of those same smarts causing a problem.
Like many intelligent dog breeds, Pharaoh Hounds can be difficult to train due to a stubbornness that is part and parcel of intelligence. Smart dogs like to test boundaries and see what they can get away with before submitting to learning a command.
Additionally, as previously explained, they should not be let off the lead in open areas as they have a habit of charging off into the unknown in search of prey to hunt. Letting your Pharaoh off the lead runs the risk of your losing them completely, as only they’re gone it’s very hard to get them to come back to you unless they are exceptionally good at recall – which is difficult to perfect with this breed.
Pharaoh Hounds, as we now know, were originally bred for hunting rabbits and other small animals. This is still an ongoing tradition with this unique breed to this day. It is thought that the reason the Pharaoh Hound remained the same over the centuries is that its long neck, narrow face, slender body, and speed made it the perfect hunting companion. With that in mind, it would make no sense to mate it with a local dog and run the risk of removing features that would prove so helpful.
Thanks to this working history which has continued on to this day, Pharaoh Hounds make excellent hunting companions and thrive on hunting work outside of the home. Some owners even have their Pharaohs participate in lure coursing to exercise that hunting instinct without endangering any other animals.
Pharaoh Hounds have high metabolisms that help them to worth through their food very easily, making it difficult (but not impossible) for them to gain unnecessary weight. This means food with a slightly higher fat percentage is more easily doable as they often work off the fat through exercise, which needs to be fueled by fat anyway.
However, you also need to keep in mind that they are very muscular, lean dogs, and so protein is an absolute must. A high-protein diet will help a Pharaoh to keep up an active lifestyle, proper exercise, and muscle development. Pharaoh Hound Puppies, in particular, need the right nutritional levels to ensure they grow smoothly. As larger, taller dogs have a tendency to develop skeletal deformities and muscular problems if they’re not getting enough nutrition during a growth spurt.
Raw Dog Food
Pharaoh Hounds are natural hunters, and so it stands to reason that a raw food diet would be very much appreciated, as it closely mimics what they might be expected to eat in the wild. This is certainly true, however, like any diet, it has its ups and downs. An adult dog is capable of digesting a raw food diet a little easier than a puppy owing to its stronger immune system, and so raw feed is not recommended during early development stages.
Additionally, raw food can’t be found at just any pet store. It ordinarily has to be sourced from a raw-feed specific store which can work out significantly more expensive in the long run. Raw feeding a dog also requires a lot of forethought with meal planning, the appropriate space to store the meal, and a strict cleaning routine to avoid the spread of dangerous bacteria. Especially if your dog has a habit of dragging it’s food away before eating.
However, on the positive side, raw feeding a dog is extremely natural and provides them with all of the nutrients they could possibly need (provided you are feeding them vegetables and fruit alongside the meat). You’re also likely to avoid the common difficulty of food sensitivities and allergies which often crop up with pre-made dog food.
Biscuits / Dry Kibble
Dry kibble is always the preferred option for dog owners on a budget. It is generally affordable, easy to keep, and lasts for a long time when stored properly. Additionally, cheaper doesn’t always mean worse. There is now a tremendous range of dry dog food on the market today which enables owners to provide their dog with a grain-free, gluten-free, high-protein, limited-ingredient diet if needed.
However, the downside to dry food is finding the right brand for your dog. You need to ensure you’re getting the right quality for your pup. That means avoiding foods with unnecessary fillers which have little to no nutritional value. You will also need to check the ingredients list carefully to ensure you’re avoiding any ingredients which may be problematic for your dog, especially if they have any pre-established allergies.
Wet Dog Food
Wet dog food is not certainly a delicious option and one that many dogs will find difficult to resist. However, this too has its pros and cons. The pros include the fantastic flavor of wet dog food which is great for particularly fussy dogs. Additionally, wet food helps to boost your dog’s hydration levels and keep them regular.
The only real problems with wet food are that it often requires quite a lot more than you would think for a single meal, which can be offputting for some dogs. This is due to the high water content meaning they need to eat more to get the proper nutrition and calories. Additionally, wet food, like raw food, is one of the more expensive options to keep up with, especially as each can costing several dollars and several cans are needed for each meal with a large dog breed.
Pharaoh Hounds have especially short, smooth coats. This means that unlike many other dogs with longer hair, they are far more susceptible to the cold. Their slim frames do not help when it comes to maintaining their body heat, and when coupled with a thin and short coat, they generally need a little extra help at keeping warm – and cool for that matter.
In the winter your Pharaoh Hound should be wearing a doggie of some kind to keep the heat reflected inwards when they are out and about or in cold environments. When it comes to hot weather they may need to be kept out of direct sunlight where possible. This is because they are more exposed to sun rays and more likely to develop sunstroke in hot climates.
The upside to a Pharaoh having such a short, smooth coat is that it requires minimal grooming. Other dogs typically shed more when their fur is longer or more heavily layer, which means additional brushing is needed to help your dog keep on top of knotting and general hygiene.
However, the Pharaoh Hound dog breed required minimal upkeep, with occasional brushing – predominantly to remove excess debris and dirt from the surface. You may also want to bathe them every now and then for general hygiene reasons and to help them maintain healthy skin.
Pharaoh Hound Health
Fortunately, Pharaoh Hounds are generally a healthier dog breed than you might expect given their purebred lineage. However, they are not the result of inbreeding or selective breeding – the Maltese have done nothing to try and change their shape or biology, and as a result, the dogs remained in their natural state. Therefore, fortunately, they don’t tend to suffer from as many genetic health problems as some of their purebred counterparts. Though like any dog breed, there are a few health conditions they could develop with age, though these health issues are quite common across the canine community.
- Hip Dysplasia: This is a health issue that affects pretty much every large breed dog to some degree. It’s not known why this is, though it is something worth looking out for as it can cause serious complications later down the line if not kept on top of.
- Autoimmune Thyroiditis: This condition can cause the thyroid to become inflamed and underactive. There are some treatments available for this condition, however, it’s not completely curable, simply something to keep an eye on.
- Patellar Luxation (Elbow Dysplasia): This is a complication with the knees which is often seen in larger dogs, much like hip dysplasia. The Pharaoh Hound dog breed has very muscular, slim legs and they are exceptionally mobile by nature. It is important that whilst exercising your Pharaoh, you try to avoid high-impact activities as they can trigger Patellar Luzaxation at an earlier age.
- Sight Loss: This is something that the AKC recommends testing on a yearly basis. Sight loss is something that comes with age for most dogs. though the Pharaoh has an elevated chance of developing sight complications at a younger age. Regular checks can help keep any sight loss to a minimum and potentially prevent any major problems. The Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) is excellent at supporting concerned owners of pure breed dogs prone to eye problems.
- Dental Problems: Often the cause of bad breath and dental pain, and most common in older dogs. Dental hygiene is imperative to preventing dental problems which can have severe side effects if left untreated.
Pharaoh Hounds tend to do particularly well in several different dog sports owing to their natural athleticism and enthusiasm. As a result, there are a plethora of activities you can take part in to wear out your pup:
- Lure Coursing
- Agility Courses
- Swimming (though this isn’t for all of them)
- Running Laps
- Training Sessions
- Hunting Work
- Cycling (with the dog alongside)
Are Pharaoh Hound should be exercised at least twice a day, ideally around half an hour at a time. But during this time you need to ensure they’re getting proper exercise, which includes a chance to sprint and work out that excess energy. A short walk will not help with this breed.
Adopt Don’t Shop
Wherever possible it is always better to go with adoption over puppy purchasing. Adoption gives lost Pharaohs a chance for a new forever home – a second chance at life. With more and more dogs being abandoned or surrendered due to changes of circumstance following the pandemic, adoption is more important now than ever. Furthermore, the more people that adopt, the more it will impact and reduce the demand for puppy breeding – reducing the risk of puppy farming.
Pharaoh Hound Rescue Organizations
There is one key Pharaoh Hound Rescue, should you wish to adopt one of this beautiful, ancient dog breed:
Pharaoh Hound Club of America (PHCA) – Works across the entire United States
Alternatively, you can look at general dog rescue groups in case someone who has surrendered a Pharaoh Hound was not aware of the specialist rescue organization. These rescue groups include organizations such as:
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) – Works across the entire United States
- Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) – Works across the entire United States
- Hope for Paws (HFP) – Based in California and Las Angeles
If it is that you are unable to adopt a Pharaoh Hound, or would simply prefer to raise one from puppydom, we would advise sticking with the well-establish, trustworthy breeders. Ideally, you will want to watch the American Kennel Club Market for puppies bred by AKC registered and approved breeders.
This does usually end up being more expensive, but you can rest assured that the puppy’s parents and the puppy itself will meet the breed standard. Additionally, they will be properly cared for and raised, as well as being fully vaccinated.
Pharaoh Hounds can vary in price depending on where you get them from. A purebred puppy can cost anywhere between $2,000-5,000. Though if you do aim to adopt, then the price of adoption is significantly reduced, usually sitting at around $
You also need to keep in mind that adopting or purchasing a Pharaoh Hound isn’t the only cost. There are many other costs you need to consider before fully committing to getting a dog. Some one-off, some lifelong, such as:
- Toys and training equipment
- A collar and ID tag
- Neutering or spaying (if wanted)
- A crate (if wanted)
- Food and water bowls
- Monthly food cost
- Pet health insurance
- Veterinary care
Q. Are Pharaoh Hounds aggressive?
A. Not towards humans, however, they have a high prey drive and a strong hunting instinct. As a result, it’s not recommended to have a Pharaoh Hound in a home with small pets (even small dogs), as they may be inclined to chase them.
Q. Where did Pharaoh Hounds get their name?
A. Pharaoh Hounds are aptly named owing to their ancient history as Egyptian animals as well as their uncanny resemblance to Anubis, the Egyptian god of death. Anubis was therefore featured on many tombs, including the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. As a result, the name of this ancient breed is entirely based on their overall look and history.
Q. Are Pharaoh Hounds from Egypt?
A. Originally, yes. However, it is believed that they were sold in several countries by the Phoenicians around 2,500 years ago. They were then continuously bred in Malta until the current day, where they are now known as the national dog of Malta.
Q. Do Pharaoh Hounds make good family pets?
A: Yes. They are generally friendly, affectionate, and playful towards human companions. They also form very strong bonds with their human family. However, the family cannot own any other pets at the same time as owning a Pharaoh – particularly small pets as they will feel naturally inclined to chase them.