Everything about your Pharaoh Hound

  The Pharaoh Hound is one of the oldest known breeds of domestic dog and is the National Dog of Malta. A medium-sized dog with hard, clean-cut lines, and noble bearing, it is considered a fast hunting dog.
  The Pharaoh Hound is an ancient dog breed who has changed little since his development more than 5,000 years ago. He was the dog of kings and may have hunted gazelles with pharaohs, hence his name. This loyal hunting companion. 



  The Pharaoh Hound has a remarkable personality characterized by an immense joy of life. Intelligent and affectionate, he takes life as it comes and enjoys clowning for his people.
  As with any hound, he has moments of aloofness and can be strong-willed. But in the main he’s a gentle dog who gets along well with others, including children and other dogs. He loves human companionship and will seek out affection and attention from his people while still maintaining his independence.
  One of his most endearing traits is his ability to blush. You may spot a deep rose color on his nose and ears when he’s excited, happy, or enjoying some affection. Many owners will train their Pharaoh Hounds to smile. Since this fun-loving breed enjoys smiling so much, it isn’t a hard trick to teach.
  While he’s too friendly to serve as a guard dog, the Pharaoh Hound will bark to alert you to anyone or anything that seems suspicious. Unfortunately, a lot of things look suspicious to a Pharaoh Hound. He’ll also bark if he’s left alone for too long or when he’s bored, so it’s best not to leave him alone for long periods.
  It’s wise to keep this dog on leash whenever he’s in an unfenced area. Even if he obeys your every command at home, his prey instinct is so strong he’ll be off — and temporarily deaf to your commands — if he spots anything interesting.

Other Quick Facts

  • The Pharaoh Hound is the national dog of Malta. His job there was to hunt rabbits.
  • The Pharaoh Hound has a rich tan or chestnut coat with white markings. He has a long, lean, chiseled head, a flesh-colored nose and amber-colored eyes.
  • The Pharaoh Hound blushes a bright pink when he is happy or excited.
  • Pharaoh Hounds are food thieves and don’t mind if you know about it.


  • Introduce your Hound to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences, preferably as a puppy. He can be sensitive to changes in schedules and stress, and an unsocialized dog has a harder time adapting to abrupt changes. A properly socialized is a polite and undemanding dog who is wonderful with strangers and other dogs.
  • Pharaoh Hounds can get cold very easily, but they can live in a chilly climate if they’re kept indoors and wear a warm coat on wintertime walks.
  • Don’t let your Pharaoh Hound run off-leash in an unfenced area. He’s got a strong prey drive and will chase other animals for miles. Backyard fences should be too high to jump or climb, and preferably solid so he can’t see through it. Underground electronic fencing won’t stop a Pharaoh Hound with something interesting in his sights.
  • Pharaoh Hounds can do well in homes with other canines but smaller dogs may trigger their prey drive — as will small pets such as cats and rabbits — and some Pharaoh Hounds are aggressive toward dogs of the same gender.
  • Although sighthounds are not known as barkers, the Pharaoh Hound is an exception. They bark when chasing prey, when they see intruders or hear an unusual noise, or when bored. They can indulge in long bark-a-thons, usually when you’re away from the house, which could cause problems if you live in a place with noise restrictions or neighbors that could be disturbed.
  • Pharaoh Hounds are low to average shedders depending on the time of the year and the individual dog. The thin coat leaves their skin vulnerable to scrapes, tears and nicks.
  • Coprophagia, better known as stool eating, is commonly seen in the Pharaoh Hound. The best way to avoid this habit is to scoop the poop right away.
  • Pharaoh Hounds require at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
  • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.

Breed standards


  • AKC group: Hound
  • UKC group: Scenthound & Sighthound
  • Average lifespan: 11-14 years
  • Average size: 40-60 pounds
  • Coat appearance: Short and glossy
  • Coloration: Red, tan, golden, chestnut
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Other identifiers: Athletic, slender, and sleek body type, strong and broad shoulders, ribs protrude out of body, high ears that stand straight, deep-set amber eyes, pinkish-tan nose, long and thin face, pointed muzzle, long and lean neck, long tail that is whip-like
  • Possible alterations: Blushes when excited.
  • Comparable Breeds: Ibizan Hound, Cirneco dell’Etna
  In 1647 Giovanni Francesco Abela, in his Della Descrittione di Malta isola nel Mare Siciliano: con le sue antichità, ed altre notizie, wrote “… we have the dogs called Cernechi, much valued for rabbit-hunting, which are often in demand as far away as France, mainly for  steep and stony mountain terrain”. Authors such as Cecil Camilleri have taken this to refer to the Kelb tal-Fenek. The modern Cirneco is a Sicilian breed, very similar in structure and appearance, but somewhat smaller 43–51 cm (17–20 in) than the Kelb tal-Fenek.
  In Britain, the first two specimens of the breed were brought from Malta in the 1920s, but no litter was bred. Again, some dogs were imported to the UK in the early 1960s, and the first litter was born in 1963. The breed standard was recognised by The Kennel Club in 1974. The breed was called the Pharaoh Hound although this name was already used by the FCI as an alternative name for the Ibizan Hound at that time. When the FCI abolished this name in 1977 and decided to call the Ibizan Hound exclusively by its original Spanish name Podenco Ibicenco, the term Pharaoh Hound was transferred to the Kelb tal-Fenek, whose breed standard had been recognised by the FCI at the same time.
  There are a number of breeds similar to the Pharaoh Hound in the Mediterranean area, including the Cirneco in Sicily. Others include the Podenco Ibicenco, the Podenco Canario and the Podengo Português. Each breed is slightly different with physical characteristics that match the terrain the dogs hunt on. It is not clear whether those breeds have descended from the same ancestral lines, or whether their similarities have developed due to similar environmental conditions.



  Pharaoh Hounds love their own people and happily entertain them with their clownish antics. The flip side is that they can be aloof with new people.
  This is a dog who likes to have his own way. Still, he’s smart and willing to please — most of the time — which generally makes training easy.
  The Pharaoh Hound can be a bit of a sensitive plant. He picks up on people’s feelings and may find a high-drama home very stressful. It’s always important to introduce a dog to lots of new people and situations as a puppy, but this is particularly true with a Pharaoh who can grow up to be timid.
  Enroll your Hound in a class. Help him polish his social skills, and invite visitors over regularly, and take him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors.

  Pharaoh hounds, being somewhat uncommon outside of the Maltese Islands of Malta and Gozo, and because they are not profitable for commercial breeding, have not been subjected to as much irresponsible breeding as some more popular breeds.
  Breeders try hard to prevent hereditary diseases from entering the gene pool and according to the American breed club, Pharaohs are virtually free from genetic diseases.Reputable breeders continue to test their breeding stock for genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, and myriad eye conditions just to ensure that these disorders do not become a problem. Reputable breeders should be able to show documentation of health screening performed on their breeding dogs. Note that Pharaohs, like most sighthounds, are sensitive to barbiturate anaesthetics. Their ears are thin and prone to frostbite when in cold climates.
  The dog’s coat does not demand much grooming; the occasional brushing is sufficient for removing dead hair. The Pharaoh Hound is capable of sleeping outdoors if given warm shelter and soft bedding, but it prefers to remain indoors with its master and family.   Moreover, a daily leash-led walk or occasional run is recommended, but it will be content as long as it has sufficient room around the home to stretch out in.
Living Conditions
  The Pharaoh Hound will be okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. It is relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least a large yard. It needs soft bedding and warmth and generally should not be expected to sleep outside except in warm climates…but it would still prefer to sleep with its family. This breed likes to chase things and should not be let off the leash unless it is in a safe area. It can go far away from you if it spies or scents wild game because it never loses its instinct to hunt alone. To prevent this you will need a secure, high fence around your yard. This breed can jump very high to get out of a space.
The Pharaoh Hound relishes the opportunity to stretch its legs in a safe area—with frequent long runs. Try to set aside an hour each day to bicycle while the dog runs alongside you on a leash, although it can manage with a long daily walk on the leash and occasional sprints. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog’s mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human.
  The Pharaoh Hound has a short, glossy coat. The texture ranges from fine to slightly harsh. This type of coat is simple to groom. Give it a good going over with a rubber curry brush weekly, then polish it with a chamois cloth (not one that has been treated with any chemicals). The coat sheds very little, and with regular brushing the Pharaoh should need a bath only rarely.
  The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Is this breed right for you?
  A loyal and playful dog, the Pharaoh Hound does extremely well with children. Shy and reserved with strangers, he is a quiet and odorless pet in the home. An athlete outdoors, he will do well with a fenced-in yard, but can also fair well with apartment living if exercised regularly. Prone to hunting small animals, the Pharaoh Hound is not paired well with cats. Dominant with other male dogs, the hound generally gets along well with other animals. Due to his nature to feed off human emotion, he will need an owner that possesses both leadership qualities and consistency when training.
Children and other pets


  Pharaoh Hounds are very affectionate with children. Nonetheless, as with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.
  Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
  Pharaoh Hounds generally get along with other dogs, although some are aggressive toward dogs of the same gender. And because they see small animals as prey, Pharaoh Hounds aren’t suited to sharing a roof with small pets such as rabbits or cats, or even smaller dogs.
Did You Know?
  The Pharaoh Hound has long had a reputation as one of the oldest of breeds, said to date to 3,000 B.C.E. Modern genetics, however, show that the breed was created much more recently, perhaps in the 17th century on the island of Malta.
A dream day in the life of a Pharaoh Hound
  Waking up in the plush and softness of his owner’s bed, he would love an early morning snuggle session. After going downstairs for breakfast, he’ll say hello to every member of the family. Going outside for a small run and smell of the backyard, he’ll head back inside to watch the kids play. Staying calm while they run around and play, he’ll be content just being part of the family. After his nightly walk, he’ll be just fine snuggling to sleep with his master.

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