The Pharaoh Hound, also known as the Kelb Tal-Fenek and the Kleb tal Fennec (meaning "rabbit dog), is one of the very oldest of all domestic dogs. In 1979, a silver coin with the likeness of a Pharaoh Hound was minted to commemorate the breed as the National Dog of Malta. This is an elegant, graceful and friendly dog that excels at both sight and scent hunting and also makes a remarkable family companion. Pharaoh Hounds have huge upright ears and haunting amber eyes. They are known for their distinctive smile, as they tend to show their pearly whites when they are happy or otherwise excited. Another feature of this breed is that they do not develop a "doggy" smell, even when wet.
The mature male Pharaoh Hound should stand 23 to 25 inches at the withers; bitches should be 21 to 24 inches in height. Adults typically weigh between 45 and 55 pounds. Their short, glossy coat ranges from rich tan to burnished chestnut, with some white markings being allowed. This is an easy-to-care-for breed, with an occasional brushing being all that typically is necessary.
Dating to roughly 3000 B.C., the Pharaoh Hound's history is fairly well-documented in paintings and carvings of ancient Egypt. This breed has long been treasured for its rabbit-hunting skills and fondness for family. King Tutankhamen had a Pharaoh Hound named Abuwitiyuw; when his beloved pet died, the King buried him in a coffin with fine linen, perfume and incense befitting a burial of a nobleman of the time. A striking statue of a dog virtually identical to a Pharaoh Hound was found at the entrance to King Tutankhamen's tomb when it was excavated.
Most experts agree that the Pharaoh Hound originated in ancient Egypt and came to the island of Malta with Phoenician traders before the time of Christ. The Maltan breeders kept the breed pure for at least 2000 years, and as a result the modern Pharaoh Hound closely resembles its very oldest ancestors. The breed was used in remote regions of Malta to hunt the elusive island rabbit. Only the best specimens were incorporated into selective breeding programs. Similar breeds were developed on the nearby islands of Sicily and Ibiza, as well as on the Portuguese and Spanish mainland. The existence of the Sicilian Hound, the Ibizan Hound, the Portuguese Podengo and the Spanish Greyhound supports the theory that the Phoenicians actively traded Egyptian-type dogs in ancient times.
Pharaoh Hounds reportedly were first imported to England in the 1930s, but they did not gain significant popularity until the 1960s. In 1963, author Pauline Block brought Bahri of Twinley from Egypt to England. This Pharaoh Hound was the first to be shown in that country. The first Pharaoh Hound was brought to the United States four years later in 1967 by Ruth Taft Harper, with the help of Mrs. Block and her husband, General Adam Block. The first American Pharaoh Hound litter was whelped in 1970. Another breed enthusiast, Rita Laventhall Sacks, also brought Pharaohs from England and Malta to enrich the American gene pool and helped found the Pharaoh Hound Club of America in 1970.
The Pharaoh Hound was admitted into the American Kennel Club's Miscellaneous Class in 1979. The breed was recognized for full registration in the AKC Stud Book in 1983, and became eligible to compete in the Hound Group in 1984. Today, this bred excels in conformation, lure coursing, hunting, field trials, obedience, agility and many other disciplines. He is an extremely affectionate and even-tempered dog that if well socialized will easily overcome his tendency towards shyness.
Both the Pharaoh Hound Club of England and the Pharaoh Hound Club of America use as their emblem the dog depicted on the tomb of Antefa II from the Eleventh Dynasty, dating to about 3000 B.C. A letter translated from the Nineteenth Dynasty describes the breed as follows: "The red, long-tailed dog goes at night into the stalls of the hills, he is better than the long-faced dog. He makes no delay in hunting, his face glows like a god and he delights to do his work." Today's Pharaoh Hounds still glow when they are happy, turning a deep rose color about their face.
The average life span of the Pharaoh Hound is 11 to 13 years. This is a remarkably healthy breed, with no particular breed predispositions to health problems.
Like many breeds that were developed in Ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh Hound is a graceful sighthound. Light on his feet, graceful and an exceedingly fast sprinter. Pharaoh Hounds are sensitive dogs who prefer a quiet house and a gentle touch. They are quiet and clean housemates, so light on their feet that they can sneak up on you in a room with hardwood floors. They are loyal watchdogs who will alert you that someone is approaching, but Pharaohs are timid and are not guard dogs. Active empty nesters will get along well with Pharaohs, who can be too skittish to live with a lot of children, and they make good companions for first time dog owners.
Though they are athletic sprinters, you don't need to be a runner yourself to raise this breed. Pharoah Hounds should be allowed to run several times a week, but they are not built for endurance activities. A few sprints and a Pharaoh is done for the day, happily retiring to his bed for some rest and relaxation. They are fine city dwellers, as long as they are allowed to get to a park for regular sprints. Other than that, regular walking will keep the Pharaoh Hound happy and healthy.
Taking your Pharaoh Hound to the agility track where he can use his mind and body also provides an excellent outlet for exercise.
Gentle consistency and lots of praise and treats are all you need to train a Pharaoh. Though they are independent, they pick up on tasks fairly quickly. They are naturally well-behaved so training is usually easy, even for first time dog owners.
Housetraining a Pharaoh Hound can be difficult. Crate training for six to eight months is to be expected. Some owners pay their breeder to housebreak their Pharaoh before bringing him home.
Early and frequent socialization is very important so that their natural tendency toward shyness does not become all out fearfulness.
Their chasing instinct is strong. Cats and small dogs an be in peril if your Pharaoh's hunting instinct is as strong as his need to chase moving objects. Running should always happen in an enclosed area, and Pharaohs should never be trusted off-leash for both their safety and the safety of other animals.
Pharaoh Hounds are sensitive animals who are not emotionally equipped to live in hectic environments where there may be lots of shouting or fighting. Large families may not provide the best homes for Pharaohs because of the natural chaos. They are better suited for single people or empty-nesters.
General Appearance is one of grace, power and speed. The Pharaoh Hound is medium sized, of noble bearing with hard clean-cut lines-graceful, well balanced, very fast with free easy movement and alert expression.
The following description is that of the ideal Pharaoh Hound. Any deviation from the below described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Height--Dogs 23 inches--25 inches. Bitches 21 inches--24 inches. Allover balance must be maintained. Length of body from breast to haunch bone slightly longer than height of withers to ground. Lithe.
Alert expression. Eyes amber colored, blending with coat; oval, moderately deep set with keen intelligent expression. Ears medium high set, carried erect when alert, but very mobile, broad at the base, fine and large. Skull long, lean and chiseled. Only slight stop. Foreface slightly longer than the skull. Top of the skull parallel with the foreface representing a blunt wedge. Nose flesh colored, blending with the coat. No other color. Powerful jaws with strong teeth. Scissors bite.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck long, lean and muscular with a slight arch to carry the head on high. Clean throat line. Almost straight topline. Slight slope from croup to root of tail. Body lithe. Deep brisket almost down to point of elbow. Ribs well sprung. Moderate tuck-up. Tail medium set -- fairly thick at the base and tapering whip-like, reaching below the point of hock in repose. Well carried and curved when in action. The tail should not be tucked between the legs. A screw tail is a fault.
Shoulders long and sloping and well laid back. Strong without being loaded. Elbows well tucked in. Forelegs straight and parallel. Pasterns strong. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet neither cat nor hare but strong, well knuckled and firm, turning neither in nor out. Paws well padded.
Strong and muscular. Limbs parallel. Moderate sweep of stifle. Well developed second thigh. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet as in front.
Short and glossy, ranging from fine and close to slightly harsh with no feathering. Accident blemishes should not be considered as faults.
Ranging from tan/rich, tan/chestnut with white markings allowed as follows: White tip on tail strongly desired. White on chest (called "the Star"). White on toes and slim white snip on center line of face permissible. Flecking or other white undesirable, except for any solid white spot on the back of neck, shoulder, or any part of the back or sides of the dog, which is a disqualification.
Free and flowing; the head should be held fairly high and the dog should cover the ground well without any apparent effort. The legs and feet should move in line with the body; any tendency to throw the feet sideways, or a high stepping "hackney" action is a definite fault.
Intelligent, friendly, affectionate and playful. Alert and active. Very fast with a marked keenness for hunting, both by sight and scent.
Any solid white spot on the back of neck, shoulder, or any part of the back or sides of the dog.
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Sources: American Kennel Club