Breeds

Pharaoh Hound

GROUP 4 - HOUNDS

History:

For many years, the Pharaoh Hound was considered one of the oldest dog breeds, because it is thought by some to resemble paintings of dogs featured on the walls of ancient Egyptian pyramids and tombs. Recent DNA analysis reveals, however, that this breed is actually a more recent construction, developed out of different lines of European hunting dogs. This DNA data now puts to rest the “Egyptian Myth” and proves the breed did not originate from Egypt. Another study -”Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in Portuguese native dog breeds” - found no evidence of connection between Iberian dogs and those of North Africa; showing again, no connection between Mediterranean hounds and dogs of North Africa.

The first two specimens of the breed were taken to Britain from Malta in the 1920s, but at that time, 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. (1)

The Pharaoh Hound is a Maltese breed of dog and the national dog of Malta. It is traditionally used for hunting rabbit in the Maltese Islands. (2)

Characteristics:

An alert keen hunter, the Pharaoh Hound hunts by scent and sight using its large ears to a marked degree when working close. The Pharaoh Hound’s ears are extremely mobile, turning to catch the slightest sound - always listening and prepared to spring into action. (1)

Pharaohs also have a unique trait of "blushing" when excited or happy, with their ears and nose becoming bright pink. (2)

Appearance:

The Pharaoh Hound is medium sized, of noble bearing with clean-cut lines. Graceful yet powerful, the breed is very fast, with free easy movement and an alert expression. (1)

Its build is one of strength without bulkiness or excessive musculature. Its head is elegant without being fine or extreme. The skull resembles a blunt wedge, and is long and chiseled with only a slight stop and a snout of good length. (2)

Although most coats are short and glossy, fine and close, many Pharaoh Hounds do not begin life that way. Many, from a few days of age, develop a “puppy” coat, which is somewhat longer and possibly a bit fuller than the coat would be at maturity. Colour is tan or rich tan with allowable white markings. Eyes are amber-coloured, blending with the coat; oval shaped, moderately deep set, with a keen, intelligent expression. The ears are large but fine, and broad at the base. They are not to be upright and parallel, being carried not on top of the head but at the outer corner of the skull, in the position often described as “Five to One on the clock face”. When alert the ear is carried erect but it is an extremely manoeuvrable organ and very expressive, turning to catch the slightest sound and when happy or showing affection the hound will fold them back against his neck. (1)

Temperament:

An intelligent, friendly affectionate, playful and alert breed. The Pharaoh Hound has a truly outstanding personality, highly intelligent, alert, fun loving and affectionate, and also very sensitive. He is full of vitality and animation.

While many Pharaoh Hounds are extroverts, it is definitely not a temperament fault should the dog be initially wary on introduction to strangers. (1)

Sizes:

Dogs: 56-63.5 cm

Bitches: 53.5-61 cm (1)

Health:

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. Life expectancy is about 12 to 14 years.(4)

Suitability:

Anyone considering owning a Pharaoh must know that the breed does require a regular exercise schedule to keep happy and in good condition. Be prepared to walk your Pharaoh for at least 20 minutes twice a day. No amount of training should be trusted to overcome the Pharaoh's strong hunting instinct. He should never be allowed to exercise off-lead in an unenclosed area.The Pharaoh is quick to learn and eager to please. However, there is a problem in teaching him to come if he is off lead in an open area. It has been proven time and again that most Pharaohs, no matter how obedient or well trained, will not come when called when they find themselves suddenly in a 'free situation. They will run off, happy to be hunting'”.


Pharaoh Hounds do not require a great deal of grooming. Daily light brushing or a heavier weekly brushing will do, with baths given as necessary. Particular attention should be paid to keeping the ears clean, and keeping the nails trimmed short enough that they do not make a tapping sound when the dog walks across the floor. Teeth should be cleaned at home on a regular basis but also should be checked by your veterinarian when the dog has his yearly checkup. Pharaohs do not normally have a 'doggy odour,'so if an odour is present, check him to find the cause. (5)

In Conclusion:

Now you know a little about the Pharoah Hound you may have think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Pharoah Hound and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.

References:

  1. DOGSAUSTRALIA.org.au
  2. wikipedia.org
  3. Coile, Caroline (2005). Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds (second ed.). Barrons. p. 352
  4. Pharaoh Hound Club of America. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  5. American Kennel Club

    Image: Shutterstock.com


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