About the Breed
Pharaoh hound is one of the most ancient breeds in the world. Historic sources testify that this breed has changed little since 3000-4000 B.C. Pictures of similar hounds are found in Egypt on numerous sarcophagi and frescos. Erect ears, long face, lean and slightly curved neck reminds a copy of the heavenly Anubis. Anubis had a distinct and honorable place among other dogs. Anubis was the God of the Afterlife World. It depended on Anubis’ decision whether the soul of the deceased would enter the Realm of the Dead, because the dog attended weighing scale during the “Weighing of the Heart”. Souls heavier than a feather would be destined to Hell while souls lighter than a feather would ascend to heavenly existence. At this point it comes to mind that an expression “a dog feels a good person” has a deeper meaning. Why a dog – not any other creature – was charged to measure the weight of the soul? It may be because a dog is the most honest of all living beings. A dog is incorruptible. A dog loves people selflessly. Consequently, only a dog can deliver the last service to a man…
It is assumed that Pharaoh hound was brought to Europe from Egypt by Phoenician traders, though no reliable proof exists about the place of origin of the breed. In 1930 the first Pharaoh hound was imported to Great Britain. Later, in 1963 a Pharaoh hound puppy was again brought to Great Britain, this time from Malta and Gozo islands. One Mr. Harper imported a Pharaoh puppy to the United States of America in 1967, while 1970 witnessed the establishment of the American Pharaoh Hound Club (PHCA). The breed standard was recognized in 1974 and the breed was named Pharaoh hound, though at that time the same name was alternatively used for the Ibizan hound. The FCI decided to end the confusion with breed names by officially naming the Ibizan hounds by their original name in 1977. The Pharaoh hound breed was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1983 and in 1984 the breed was included in hound group.
Today the Pharaoh hound is the national breed of Malta. These dogs were bread on the island for rabbit hunting and house guarding, local people named them “Kelb-tal-Fenek” for “Rabbit dog”. Pharaoh hounds hunt by sight, smell and sound. They rely on smell to find prey and when it is found, dogs start chasing it. At times Pharaoh hounds are used in bird (quail or woodcock) hunting. They also accompany goats and sheep to the pastures. Maltese farmers carefully bred their dogs selecting only the best hunters and keeping the breed pure. Pharaoh dogs usually participate in hunting during the dark periods of day when there is less distraction. The Pharaoh hound is portrayed on the 1977 Maltese coin.
The first Pharaoh hound reached Lithuania in 1998. It was Scheik’s VANESSA MAE, a bitch from a well-known Finnish kennel “Scheik’s”. She was brought to a Lithuanian kennel “Gintariniai namai”. The population of Pharaoh hound dogs in Lithuania is growing – currently there are 36 registered dogs.
There are a few similar breeds of dogs in the Mediterranean area: Cirneco Dell’Etna, Podenco Ibicenco, Podengo Portugueso, Podengo Canario as well as some other local breeds. It is not known whether the similarities of these breeds are due the same ancestor or similar environmental conditions.
Pharaoh hounds are clever and independent, active, perfect companions. They love children but are cautious around strangers. One harsh lesson or unfortunate event will be remembered for their whole life, thus Pharaoh hound has to be trained carefully and consistently. They may be used as guard dogs but the territory should be fenced. They are very sensitive to physical punishment. They can be stubborn, impulsive or unpredictable. When excited, they “blush” – their nose and ears become pink. It is necessary to socialize the dogs since very young age, otherwise they can become hostile towards other dogs or act cowardly. They would usually get along well with other pets at home. If left alone at home they can make a terrible mess of the house.
Pharaoh dogs enjoy running off-leash. They are great cycling and jogging companions. If exercised enough, they can successfully live in an apartment. Soft and warm bedding is a must, because they cannot stay outside all year round in our climate zone.
They have a strong prey drive, so it is not recommended to let a Pharaoh hound run off-leash close to street traffic or in an unfenced area. They jump high, so a 2 meter high fence is recommended if you live in a house.
Pharaoh dogs’ life expectancy is 11-14 years, they mature slowly. This dog is undemanding for living conditions or food. Pharaoh hounds usually enjoy a good health and are enduring dogs, but they are sensitive to drugs (medication) and insecticides. Pharaoh dogs never enjoyed the popularity which could have negatively affected their breeding.
Pharaoh Hound males stand 59-63,5 cm at the shoulder and females are 53-61 cm tall. They weigh 20-25 kg. They are slightly longer than they are tall. Sometimes Pharaoh dog is classified as hound and sometimes as primitive breed (same FCI group as spitz-type dogs). Their movement is easy, flowing. Head is held high, gait wide. Legs and feet should move in line with the body, tendency to throw feet sideways or high stepping is a fault. This dog is graceful and elegant as well as athletic and powerful. Head is elegant, resembles a blunt wedge. Foreface is a bit longer than the skull. The skull is lean, long and chiseled. Eyes are small, oval, amber-colored (this coloring is acceptable to all kennel clubs) or light brown. Pharaoh hounds are born with blue eyes, later the color will change to light gold or yellow and darken with full adulthood. Their glance has enthusiastic, honorable, keen and intelligent expression. Ears are medium high set, broad at base, very mobile, fine and large they point upward when alert. Flesh-colored nose blends with coat color.
Neck is quite long, lean and muscular, slightly arched. Deep chest extends down to the elbows. Moderate tuck-up. Straight topline. Tail is medium set, thick at the base and tapers off reaching below the point of hock. In movement or when alert the tail is curved and carried high. Tail should not be screw-like or tucked between the legs.
Pharaoh dogs do not require much grooming. A rubber brush used to remove lose hair is enough. Bathe your Pharaoh hound only when necessary, because these dogs have a sensitive skin and shampoo may cause allergic reactions. It is recommended to use baby or gentle dog shampoo. This dog does not have specific dog odor even when wet.
The coat is short, glossy, its’ structure varies from silky to harsh texture with no feathering. Color ranges from different shades of red (accepted by all kennel clubs) or rich tan to chestnut tan often with white dab on the tip of the tail (some clubs highly value dogs with white tail-tip), the chest, the toes. Slim white line on the center of the face as well as white on chest (“the Star”) is also permitted.