In this comprehensive Pharaoh Hound breed guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about this dog. We cover all the details from their history and how it affects their personality to their high exercise requirements, health, and more.
If you’re looking for a well-balanced family dog, the Pharaoh could be the hound for you. But they have a few quirks that might mean they aren’t suitable for your home or lifestyle, starting with their love of barking at everything!
Get ready to learn all there is to know about why this royal pup was the choice of Egyptian Kings. They are very rare dogs, so you are sure to be the only Pharaoh family in the neighborhood.
Many stories surround the history of the Pharaoh Hound, but the most accepted theory is that they originate from Egypt, making him one of the few African dog breeds. Artifacts dating back to 4000 B.C. depict a canine almost identical to the current breed, making him one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds on the planet.
If you are into Egyptian history, you will find reliefs of the Pharaoh Hound in the tomb chapel of Mereuwka and Senbi. Unlike many dog breeds, their physical appearance hasn’t changed much across many thousands of years.
From there, it is believed that Phoenecian traders were responsible for disseminating Pharaoh Hounds around the globe in return for luxury goods. One special place for this breed is Malta. Here they became an instant hit with rabbit hunters. In Malta, they are called the ‘Kelb tal-Fenek,’ which translates to ‘dog of the rabbit.’ The breed is beloved in Malta. So much so that they were named the official Maltese dog breed in 1979.
This breed remained relatively unknown in most of the world until the late 20th century. They first arrived in the UK in the 1930s and didn’t arrive in America until 1967. Three years later, the Pharaoh Hound Club of America was established. A few years later, in 1984, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized them as an official breed. Today they are ranked as the 172nd most popular breed in America (out of 200), making them incredibly rare.
First and foremost, the Pharaoh Hound is a scent and sighthound. Most hounds rely on just one sense. So, if you’re after a hunting dog, the Pharaoh is the top dog. But if you are looking for a calm dog able to walk off-leash and follow your commands over its nostrils, this is not the dog for you.
Like most other hounds, they are aloof with strangers. They are not aggressive in any way, but they show little interest in non-family members. When it comes to their family, they are very affectionate, and they love to snuggle up on the sofa (once they’ve burned off their energy.) Many Pharaoh Hounds are known to form a special bond with one person, usually their primary caregiver.
There are a few quirks that potential owners need to know about. The first one is that they are a very vocal dog breed. Whether it’s something super exciting or something they are displeased with, you’ll definitely know about it. This is great for those looking for an alert watchdog. But for those who find barky dogs annoying, you should look at another breed altogether.
The other quirk is that they are expert counter surfers. Even when fully trained, the temptation to grab that block of cheese or chicken leg from the table can prove to be too much. These guys LOVE food and will do anything for a tasty treat. For this reason, you need to be patient with these potentially mischievous pups. But it’s all part of the Pharaoh’s fun and charm.
Despite these quirks, the Pharaoh Hound is a comical and silly pup who loves nothing more than to entertain its favorite humans. This means a constant supply of fun for the whole family. When they smile, their grin spreads from ear to ear, and their zest for life is infectious. This trait (and many others) draws Pharaoh lovers back to the breed time and time again.
Size & Appearance
The Pharaoh Hound is a medium-sized dog, weighing in between 45 and 55 pounds. Males tend to be larger than their female siblings. Males are slightly taller, typically measuring between 23 and 25 inches tall. Compared to females who measure between 21 and 24 inches, from paw to the withers (shoulder). So this measurement doesn’t include their sky-high ears! Their ears are their most prominent feature, and they are exceptionally huge as a pup.
Their frame is slender and athletic, and you’ll rarely come across an overweight Pharaoh. With a deep chest and skinny waist, they look like a typical fast-footed hound. They have similar shapes to Greyhounds and Salukis, who they are often mistaken for. But once you know what a Pharaoh Hound looks like, it’s difficult to mistake this majestic mutt for anything else.
A unique trait of the Pharaoh is their ability to blush. Their ears, cheeks, and chest glow a reddish-pink color. This is why they are sometimes called the blushing dog of Malta. It is common for Pharaoh Hounds to have a white tip on the end of their tail. This was bred into the bloodline to help farmers see their Pharaohs when hunting on earthy-colored terrain.
If you want to show your Pharaoh in the competitive ring, they’ll need to conform to the Pharaoh Hound breed standard. A white patch on the back of the neck, shoulders, or any part of the back or sides is undesirable. But, if you don’t plan on showing them, you don’t have to worry about this; their appearance does not affect their ability to be good boys or girls.
Coat & Colors
The Pharaoh Hound has a short and glossy coat that is super easy to groom. It’s straight fur can fall anywhere between fine and slightly harsh when it comes to texture. They have a double coat that sheds lightly during the shedding seasons. Despite being low on the shedding scale, they are not a hypoallergenic breed. Officially, there are four shades listed as chestnut, red golden, rich tan, and tan.
Pharaoh Hounds need an average of one hour of exercise every day. So, it’s safe to say that they need to be placed with an active family who can guarantee them this fitness level. Without adequate exercise, they could become destructive and problematic. A tired dog is a happy dog.
A great way to burn off their explosive energy is to enroll them in local lure coursing events. Chasing fast and furry animals is in their DNA, and it will keep them happy and fit too. These are controlled and safe environments to let your Pharaoh off leash and chase until his heart’s content. We wouldn’t recommend letting these guys off-leash unless in a secured environment because they will run away out of sight for sure.
Pharaoh Hounds don’t like to spend too much time alone as they are sensitive pups. So, they’ll need to live with a family who does not work long hours away from home. They could happily live in an apartment if well exercised.
Like most dogs, they would be thankful for a backyard to relax and play in. If they are lucky enough to have this, you’ll need to have fences that are a minimum of six feet tall. Pharaohs can jump incredibly high when chasing visiting yard animals, so be sure to keep them securely contained.
Pharaohs are sweet dogs that tend to get along well with children. And, children tend to love them too because they are not overly boisterous. With the proper training and socialization, they could easily slot themselves into a multi-pet household, making them great options for families of all shapes and sizes.
Pharaoh Hounds are trainable pups. However, their strong prey drive can make them stubborn, commonly following their sight and smell over your commands. If you are seeking a fully obedient off-leash dog, the Pharaoh might not be the best choice for you. Recall training is still advised just in case they slip their leash.
The positive reinforcement training method is best for your Pharaoh. They are sensitive pups who do not respond well to harsh training or masters. They are highly motivated by food, so be sure to use treats in their training sessions. Socialization from a young age is also valuable because it teaches them how to interact with other dogs, humans, and the world around them. Taking them to the local doggy park is a great way to mix them with four-legged friends.
Because the dog is such a vocal pup, teaching them the ‘quiet command’ will be a crucial part of your training schedule. Otherwise, headaches and frustrated neighbors are forecasted for the next fourteen years or more. Start training your dog as soon as they come home with you for the best results.
Pharaoh Hounds have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. But like all dog breeds, they are prone to some health conditions more than others. This is why working with a reputable breeder who screens for predisposed concerns is recommended. Let’s take a look at what these conditions are.
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common canine skeletal problems. A Pharaoh can inherit poor hips from their parents, so it’s important to ask for their hip scores. It can also occur when the hips grow too rapidly as a puppy. Symptoms include mobility problems or struggling to sit, stand, and climb.
Eye conditions are another common concern in dog breeds. The most common eye condition found in the Pharaoh is distichiasis. This occurs when the eyelashes grow inside of the eyelids, irritating and damaging the eye. Other eye-related issues that plague this breed are progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and glaucoma. Symptoms include light sensitivity, bumping into things, and pawing at their eyes.
The Pharaoh is more likely than most other breeds to experience thyroid gland problems and other hormonal imbalances. Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid condition. Although it can be managed with medication, without a diagnosis, it can be life-threatening. Cushing’s disease is another hormonal imbalance concern to watch out for.
This is another skeletal concern, but this time it affects the knee joint. The knee cap fails to sit properly on the joint and floats. Although this doesn’t sound serious, it can be very painful for the pup. Symptoms include irregular gait, kicking out with the affected leg, and general pain.
How much you feed your Pharaoh will depend on many factors, including their age, weight, and activity levels. A typical Pharaoh Hound will consume between 1 ½ and 2 cups of food every day, split into two meals. But their love of food means that they will eat whatever you put in front of them, so it’s important not to overfeed them.
Feeding an age-appropriate kibble is very important to ensure that you meet the nutritional needs at each life stage. This is particularly important during their developmental stage as they need more protein and fats to grow healthy and strong. Although you might need to spend a little more on high-quality dog food, you can rest knowing they will be much healthier.
Pharaohs only need brushing once a week with a hound brush. This is a rubber mitt that will remove any dirt and dead hair, keeping it off your furniture and clothes as much as possible. Professional grooming is rarely needed unless you fancy spoiling your pup with a spa day.
This breed isn’t particularly smelly, and you should limit bathing to once every three months to avoid damaging their coat. Because this pooch has such a fine coat and loves to run through bushes, its skin is prone to nicks and scrapes. This can lead to sores and infections, so be sure to check under their belly and legs and keep any sores clean.
Pharaoh Hounds have a thinner muzzle than most, meaning their teeth are more cramped. This is why you should brush their teeth two to three times a week to keep periodontal diseases at bay. Keep their nails trimmed too. You’ll know when they become too long because you’ll be able to hear them tapping on the floor.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
There are limited Pharaoh breeders in the United States. Depending on where you live, you will probably have to travel to find a reputable and responsible breeder. A great place to start your breeder research is on the AKC’s Pharaoh Hound breeder list.
Responsible breeders will only breed Pharaohs who pass all of the relevant health checks. And don’t take the breeder’s word for it, be sure to see the certificates to prove it. Always meet the puppies in person, in their home environment, with at least one parent present. Reputable breeders will be knowledgeable and ask you lots of questions about your lifestyle.
The average starting price for a Pharaoh puppy from a responsible breeder is around $1,500 to $2,000. They are reportedly one of the most expensive medium-sized breeds to buy as they are so rare. Irresponsible breeders and puppy mills work by tempting customers with lower prices. But, the pup is usually unhealthy and unsocialized, so please don’t be tempted to work with them.
Remember that there are ongoing lifetime costs to think about as well. Setting up your home with everything your puppy needs can be pricey. Plus, insurance costs and unexpected medical expenses can be very costly. Thankfully, the Pharaoh Hound isn’t one of the most expensive dogs to care for when compared to a Mastiff or a breed predisposed to many health concerns.
Rescues & Shelters
Buying a puppy is not the right choice for everyone or every situation. However, it is unusual for a Pharaoh to end up in a rescue shelter, considering how uncommon they are. And when they do, they are likely to be snapped up quickly.
The Pharaoh Hound Club of America’s rescue program is a great place to begin your search for a rescue hound.
As Family Pets
- They are a medium-sized dog that is very adaptable to most types of families.
- Pharaohs are a very energetic breed, so they need to be home with an active family who can exercise them for at least one hour a day.
- They are affectionate dogs in the family home and commonly form a special bond with the primary caregiver.
- Pharaoh Hounds are very vocal dogs, making them excellent watchdogs.
- They are aloof with strangers and show little interest in making friends – but they aren’t rude about it.
- They are eager to please and highly motivated by food, making them relatively simple to train.
- They can live with children of all ages thanks to their calm nature indoors, and they can live with other dogs too.
- Pharaohs have a very high prey drive, and living with cats or other small furry creatures isn’t the best option. They should be leashed in public at all times too.
- They have a comical and funny personality, and they are always up for a game of fetch with their humans, making them tons of fun.
The Pharaoh Hound is a very rare but special dog breed. As you have learned throughout this guide, they are pleasant and easy-going dogs who can adapt to most types of homes and families. They are great with other dogs, kids and aren’t overly needy or boisterous in the home.
But like all dog breeds, there are certain things that you need to be aware of. One of them is that they are a very vocal breed and will bark at everything. They shouldn’t be let off-leash in public due to their high prey drive, making them a little stubborn at times. And they need to be homed by a family who can meet their high exercise needs. If you are sure that the Pharaoh Hound sounds like the right pooch for you, we think you’ll fall head over heels in love in no time.