Pharaoh Hound Dog

Known as the national hound of Malta, the Pharaoh Hound (in Maltese, Kelb tal-Fenek) is a rabbit hunting dog of renown. Athletic, powerful and graceful by appearance,  the Pharaoh Hound Dog is a great addition to any family, dog breeder or hunting enthusiast.

The name, Pharaoh Hound, is seemingly misleading. After some careful investigation (DNA analysis), it was found that this dog breed has no connection to Egypt. Strange? We thought so to!

It seems that these dogs got their name from a myth. Many thought the likeliness of hounds painted on the walls of various Egyptian tombs, is that of the Pharaoh Hound – and is one-and-the same dog that can be seen in Malta today. Upon careful DNA analysis, it was found the Pharaoh Hound Dog actually has no ties to Egypt.

The Pharaoh Hound Dog Breed ProfileVarious sources and website pages contain erroneous information regarding the Pharaoh Hound. Many state the hound originated in Egypt, and therefore got its’ name due to this association. We thus suggest all prospective buyers and breeders err on the side of caution.

It is important to ensure your Pharoah Hound is bought from an owner and breeder who is up to speed. You must also ensure that the hound you are purchasing is indeed a pure-bred Pharaoh Hound (DNA analysis linking him/her to Malta.) If it is stated your Pharaoh Hound is Egyptian in origin, he might be a crossbreed.

The Pharaoh Hound is listed at number 168 on the American Kennel Club dog breed list, and was recognized in 1983. Considered a healthy breed, if fed well and nutrition is maintained, the Pharaoh dog can live a long life.

The Pharaoh Hound is considered one of the most expensive dog breeds to own and sells at a starting price of around $1,200. A large reason why they're so expensive is because they're very unique. Interestingly, the Pharaoh Hound's face glows or turns red when they're happy (like blushing in humans).

Pharaoh Hound Dog Breed Profile

Pharaoh Hound Dog

History and Ancestry of the Pharaoh Hound Dog

The heritage of the Pharaoh Hound Dog goes way back about 5000 years. As a matter of fact, this dog breed is considered one of the first modern dogs to tread on Earth.

In some documentation, these dogs were imported to Malta by Phoenician traders, and were used to hunt rabbits. It should be noted that this connection is not yet confirmed, for now it's just speculation.

In 1930, this breed was introduced in England. The United States received their first Pharaoh Hounds in 1967 when it was brought to the country by Ruth Taft Harper and assisted by General Adam Block and his wife. It was in 1970 that the first litter was born here in the U.S.

1970 was also the year the Pharaoh Hound Club of America was founded. Malta officially recognized the Pharaoh Hound Dog as their national dog in 1974.

The AKC included the Pharaoh Hound Dog in its Miscellaneous Class in 1979, but the breed was later recognized as part of the AKC’s Stud Book in 1983. Eligibility to compete in the Hound Group was provided by AKC in 1984.

Pharaoh Hound Dog

Main Characteristics of the Pharaoh Hound Dog

The Pharaoh Hound Dog is one of the oldest tame breeds. They are medium-sized and look fit for royalty. An attribute that is entirely their own is their “blushing” nose and ears, turning a deep rosy color when the dog is happy or excited.

The Pharaoh Hound Dog has an alert expression with graceful hard clean-cut lines. They are well-balanced, fast and agile. This dog's body showcases easy movement.

Their eyes are lightly colored, usually amber, which complements the coat. You might also notice their eyes are moderately deep set, which often showcases the intelligence they have.

Pharaoh Hound DogThe ears of this breed are set medium high, and they are mobile. The base is large and fine, but the ears are raised and erect when the dog is alert. The neck is long and lean. To carry the head high, it is muscular and has a slight arch.

The body of the Pharaoh Hound Dog is lithe, and the tail is medium-set. The base of the tail is thick and has a whip-like tapering. It is never tucked between the legs, else AKC finds it as a fault based on the breed standards.

The forelegs of this dog are straight, and the dewclaws may be removed. The coat is glossy, short, fine and has no feathering. The hindquarters are strong and muscular, with parallel limbs.

The average height of an adult male Pharaoh Hound Dog is 23″ – 25″. Females can grow to 21″ – 24″ tall. Both males and females average about 45 – 55 pounds when full grown. The average lifespan of the Pharaoh Hound Dog is at a range of 11 to 14 years.

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Personality Characteristics of Pharaoh Hounds

Independent is one adjective to describe a Pharaoh Hound Dog. They can tolerate being alone and don't have a need to follow you around everywhere. They will check up on you from time to time, but they can also just curl up into a ball in a secluded corner with a soft blanket

However, they are an energetic dog that still needs to have activities to place their energies into. If your Pharaoh dog doesn't get to burn his energy, he may end up becoming bored and start looking for ways to entertain himself. This could lead to chewing and destruction if you're not paying attention.

Their basic temperament, at most times, depends on their mood and because of this, they can be aloof, funny, intense, or friendly.

The Pharaoh Hound Dog is like a cat in the aspect that they can be friendly with their human family, but on their own time and terms. They are also quite sensitive, thus whatever the owner is feeling, can also affect the mood of the Pharaoh Hound.

Beware if you don’t like noise or live in a close proximity to other people. Barking seems to be one of the Pharaoh Hounds' favorites pastimes. They are fond of ‘communication’ via barking and when the mood takes them to start, its hard to stop. If they see, hear, or want something, they bark and are not shy in making themselves heard.

The Pharaoh Hound Dog should be able to socialize and mingle with others from a young age. This can help them to be friendlier and more affectionate to their family, other pets and animals, as well as strangers.

Although they are friendly with other animals they grew up with since they were puppies, they also have a high prey drive. This means you should still be guarded when smaller animals are around. Considering that these dogs were read for rabbit hunting, they may take off after a smaller animal due to their natural instincts.

Cold weather affects the Pharaoh Hound immensely, as they do get cold quickly. However, this can be rectified by keeping the dog indoors during chilly weather and having them wear warm coats during winter.

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Pharaoh Hound Dog

How to Train the Pharaoh Hound Dog

The Pharaoh Hound is easier to train than most dogs, most probably due to their intelligence. Of course, their brains have had the time to develop for more than 5000 years!

They tend to pick up what they have learned very quickly, even with their independence. Naturally, they behave well, so it is usually easy to train this breed. However, house training will prove difficult. If the potential owner is not new to taking care of a pet and house-training, this will not pose a problem though.

These dogs are sensitive, so trainers/owners need to handle them carefully and calmly. Sudden burst of anger towards them, or a showcase of dominance, will have them quite frightened and might make the Pharaoh Hound become unresponsive over time.

They need to be motivated and positively reinforced during training.

Verbal corrections are a more effective way than physical corrections with a Pharaoh Hound, as it does not distract the dog. Given that they tend to be easily surprised and uncomfortable when touched, physical corrections are likely to push this dog away rather than fostering the bond between the two of you.

As mentioned before, the Pharaoh Hound Dog should be socialized at an early age to develop the comfort and relationship of the Pharaoh Hound with other people and animals. Attending a dog training school in this regard is recommended.

Best owner for a Pharaoh Hound Dog

Each breed is fit for owners with different characteristics, with each prospective owner in turn looking for something specific in a companion they want to care for.  When it comes to the Pharaoh Hound, you need to considered various aspects about this unique, intelligent dog, before getting one.

A Pharaoh Hound needs an owner who is willing to exercise and run with them every day (or at least every other day). This breed is fit, athletic and agile hunters, which was also the ancient reason they were bred and for which they were used.

Pharaoh Hound DogThese dogs thus need an owner who is active, athletic and will help them get the exercise they need to get rid of vent up energy. An owner who cannot provide daily exercise, should rather refrain from ownership. Unless, of course, you have a big yard that is secured with a fence where your Pharaoh dog can run and play freely.

The ideal owner for this breed is someone who is willing to have the Pharaoh Hound Dog socialize and mingle with other people and animals. They need to get used to strange sounds and sights to be able to develop the dog's confidence, else they will be quite hard to live with, with their timidity or aloofness.

These dog also need someone who is willing to put up with a pet who's fond of chasing other animals. They need an owner willing to accept that Pharaoh Hounds are independent in nature and can be stubborn and strong-willed, even during training as a young puppy.

Unlike other puppies, you will find your Pharaoh Hound pup quite in control of himself and already quite strong-willed. They often do training when they feel like it, and not when you initiate training. You will thus need to learn to adapt to your new pup’s moods and whims.

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Your living environment is also very important if you're considering adopting a Pharaoh dog. Due to the very sensitive nature of this breed, you will often find they pick up very quickly on any underlying tension in the home. And, strangely enough, arguments or violence in the family of any nature upset these dogs greatly. They need a calm and peaceful home and living environment.

The Pharaoh Hound Dog needs space. This applies physically and psychologically. It is suggested that apartment life is not quite suited to the Pharaoh Hound. They will respond best to living in a yard or large open area, such as a farm. Beware, though, that the yard will need to be securely fenced, since your hound may run after anything that looks like prey.

Apart from this, the Pharaoh Hound also likes time on his own. They don’t like continued petting, and don’t need that much attention. They are quite independent. If you are looking for a pet that craves attention, is home-bound or one to be a consistent companion at your side, this is not really the dog for you.

Farm owners, active agriculturalists, hunters and individuals who likes an independent dog, will be good companions to a Pharaoh Hound. Basically, someone who can take their hound with them on a daily basis and get them a lot of exercise would be the best fit for this breed.

One who does not mind a noisy companion is also a necessity if you're planning to adopt this breed. The Pharaoh Hound likes to bark at anyone or anything. It’s the neighbors who you should be worried about, especially if they don’t like noise.

Pharaoh Hound Dog

How to Care For A Pharaoh Hound Dog

It is quite easy to clean and care for a Pharaoh Hound. They just need a weekly brushing and occasional bath. This may also be a fun bonding experience for you and your pet.

To avoid splitting and cracking of the nails, their nails should be trimmed regularly as they can grow quite long. Risks of infection should also be avoided in the ears, therefore cleaning them regularly is a necessity. As with any dog breed, it's also important to keep up with your Pharaoh Hound's dental health.

Regular exercise is needed, most often on a daily basis. They need this exercise to release the pent-up energy they have, else they will be quite naughty and harder to handle.

Generally healthy, you should still be vigilant of some possible health concerns that may occur with this breed. Screening and genetic testing may be done by breeders to determine possible ailments.

Some of the most common issues in the Pharaoh Hound Dog are allergies and hip dysplasia. Have the following recommended health tests done to check if your future Pharaoh Hound Dog is healthy:

  • hip evaluation
  • ophthalmologist evaluation
  • thyroid evaluation
  • patella evaluation

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Pharaoh Hound Dog

Where to Adopt A Pharaoh Hound Dog?

If you're looking to add a Pharaoh Hound Dog to your family, you have the option of adopting one from a shelter or rescue organization or purchasing a puppy from a breeder. Because the Pharaoh Hound isn't one of the most popular dog breeds, it may be difficult to find one at your local shelter.


When choosing the right breeder, their reputation is extremely important. They should be responsible and have a harmonious relationship with the pets and you. Pharaoh Hounds are sensitive, therefore if a breeder has been harsh with pups from an early age, your pup might be even more sensitive than he should be.

This can lead to problem in future with a dog that is hyper sensitive to the point of nervous breakdown.

Always visit the premises of the breeder. Observe the puppy in an environment he is used to, and note the cleanliness of the place, the health of the pup and other physical characteristics. You should also be able to check if the puppy is well-fed and happy. Check how the pup interacts with you, his responsiveness, as well as inspecting the parents.

Ask the breeder questions as to the parentage of the pup and any health issues they might have had. The breeder will be able to answer your questions and provide you with the complete papers of the puppy, which includes any documentation of health screenings that have been done.

Shelters and rescue organizations

Making use of adoption from a shelter or animal rescue is a fantastic option, which can save the life of a puppy (or adult) that might be terminated after some time due to the tight budget constrains these institutions have. As mentioned, it may be difficult to find a Pharaoh Hound at one of these places, unless it happens to be a breed specific rescue that specializes in these dogs.

There are quite a lot of puppies needing the love and care of an owner. Here are some websites you can visit to get ideas and links to organizations handling these cases regularly:

Final Decision

Consider getting an adult Pharaoh Hound, especially if you are adopting and have the ideal environment and patience for one. They are very intelligent, and you will find them having a personality of their own from the first moment you meet.

These dogs are quite individualistic and enjoy an owner who honors their moods and preferences. If you don't have time to train and be with your puppy, but you still want to have this breed, just remember that they take some time and effort to train and manage, even as small pups.

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Patrick has been a long-time dog adopter and currently lives with his two dogs - Tarzan and Loki - in Brooklyn, NY. He is a certified dog trainer, writer on all things dogs, animal shelter volunteer, freelancer researcher of animal sciences and aspiring author.