Pharaoh Hound

Published: Updated:

Learn about the Pharaoh Hound, one of the most ancient breeds, in our guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 to 14 years
Size:

Medium

Maintenance Level:

Low

Shed Level:

Low

Temperament:
EnergeticCleverSelectively Affectionate
Coat Color:
ChestnutRed GoldenTan

Best For

The Pharaoh Hound is best for homes where their playful, athletic and affectionate-on-their-terms attitude is appreciated. They thrive best as the sole pet of an experienced pet parent—this breed can view cats or other smaller furry critters as prey. Friendships with other dogs are hard-earned, too (but well worth it). The Pharaoh Hound is friendly and great with kids but may be a little cautious with strangers. When they're not out sporting their noble and powerful frame, they're happy to lounge gracefully on a comfy surface close to you.

Pharaoh Hound Traits

What makes the Pharaoh Hound a Pharaoh Hound? Let's find out how they stack up.

Pharaoh Hound Temperament

Clever and independently minded (read: stubborn at times), Pharaoh Hounds have high intelligence and a reputation to be vocal, a trait that sets them apart from other sighthounds like the Greyhound. Expect them to bark to voice their displeasure. And that’s not the only thing setting them apart from the typical sighthound. While they bear a slight resemblance to the normally chilled-out Greyhound, they certainly have a bouncier and more excitable personality.

Sleek and striking, Pharaoh Hounds can be playful and affectionate with their people, but can be aloof with strangers. They tend to get along well with other dogs who can match their boundless high energy levels. But they also have very strong chasing and hunting instincts, so whenever they’re around small animals, you’ll have to watch them like an addictive Netflix show.

As the saying goes, these dogs’ bark is worse than their bite, which is rare. With their poised and peaceful demeanor, Pharaoh Hounds aren’t known for aggression. They are, however, known for their intelligence—you will be awed on the regular by their one-two punch of brains and brawn. When these two work together, it can result in antics that’ll have you laughing out loud—or cursing their wily ways. Case in point: They are often called “counter-surfers” thanks to their swiftness in scaling heights to scoop up food left out, a mischievous prank that is equal parts hilarious and maddening (not to mention dangerous, if they ingest something that’s toxic to dogs).

Pharaoh Hounds bond unapologetically with one single family member they deem their favorite. Because of this tendency for selectivity, early socialization (exposure to different people and experiences) from a young age is essential to help them warm up to the whole family and make them less wary of strangers.

How to Care for a Pharaoh Hound

Pharaoh Hounds may seem like they have a high-maintenance attitude, but they ultimately require low-maintenance care. For such a regal-looking breed, the Pharaoh Hound requires minimal help when it comes to hygiene. Their tight coat is very short, and they are low shedders, but they still require daily walks and consistent training to keep their stubborn streak in check.

Pharaoh Hound Health

The Pharaoh Hound is a relatively healthy breed with few health concerns, giving them a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. While the risk of developing serious conditions is low, it’s important to be aware of potential health issues so you can take a proactive approach to protecting your pooch. Do your research and ask your vet for more information about how to keep your Pharaoh Hound healthy and happy.

  • Abrasions and Lacerations: Because Pharaoh Hounds have a thin coat and don’t shed much, their skin is more at risk of abrasions and lacerations. Be careful on hikes and keep your dog on a leash to avoid contact with fencing and rough brush.
  • Patella Luxation: For all their bouncing around, Pharaoh Hounds can be slightly predisposed to patella luxation (that’s when the kneecap slips to one side). The condition often corrects itself, but can be corrected with surgery in severe cases. Reputable breeders and Pharaoh Hound clubs have been working to reduce the incidence through breeding recommendations.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is the inherited condition where the hip joint doesn’t form properly and rubs, causing the dog pain. Symptoms typically include decreased activity and “bunny hopping.” Treatments range from weight management to physical therapy to surgery. Responsible breeders test their pups for the condition to ensure it’s not passed to future generations.
  • Hypothermia: Because they have thin coats and little body fat, Pharaoh Hounds are often sensitive to the cold, so they should not be left outside in inclement weather as they can easily develop hypothermia, or dangerously low body heat. They should ideally live in warm climates.
  • Cancer: Hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and mammary cancer may appear in Pharaoh Hounds, often due to age and not related to the breed. Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer that affects the cells lining the blood vessels and often presents as black or red skin growths or bumps under the skin. If caught early, surgery followed by chemotherapy is the main form of treatment. Mast cell tumors commonly form masses in the skin, spleen, liver, intestine or bone marrow. Depending on the severity, treatment ranges from surgery to chemotherapy to radiation. Mammary cancers often affect unspayed females or those who were spayed after age 2 and appear as a mass under the skin of the abdomen. Treatment is usually surgery and can be followed by chemotherapy, depending on the severity.
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity: Pharaoh Hounds may be more sensitive to anesthesia due to their low body fat. Check with your vet to see if a special protocol may be needed for dental or surgical procedures.

Pharaoh Hound History

Pharaoh Hounds are one of the oldest documented breeds in history, and what a history they have. It’s said they resemble the Egyptian god Anubis, and have remain unchanged since the earliest depiction of Egyptian dogs in ancient tombs—one dating back to the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt. With the breed’s origin going as far back at 4400 B.C., you might say the Pharaoh Hound is timeless.

Even though the Pharaoh Hound dog is most commonly associated with ancient Egypt, the modern version of the Pharaoh Hound has their roots in Malta. Lore has it that the Phoenicians transported the hound from Egypt to the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo, just south of Sicily and east of Tunisia. Here, the Pharaoh Hound remained isolated from the rest of the world for over 2,000 years, giving the people of Malta the ability to refine the breed as we see them today. The Maltese proudly stake their claim as cultivators of the Pharaoh Hound, which they refer to as Kelb tal-Fenek, meaning “rabbit dog.” That name makes perfect sense, because this national dog of Malta was originally used by farmers primarily for hunting rabbits.

Despite their tales from antiquity, the Pharaoh Hound can be considered a 1980’s dog by American Kennel Club standards. The breed was recognized as part of its Hound group (dogs bred for hunting) on August 1, 1983.

Ready to add a Pharaoh Hound to your family? You can find a list of responsible Pharaoh Hound breeders at the American Kennel Club website or through the Pharaoh Hound Club of America. The average cost for a Pharaoh Hound puppy is between $1,500 and $2,500 depending on the breeder. For that price, you’re usually getting a dog who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. And though this breed is rare, you may also be able to locate and adopt a Pharaoh Hound by contacting the Pharaoh Hound Club of America.

FAQs

Do Pharaoh Hounds shed?

Pharaoh Hounds are very low shedders. Their tight, taut coat is a dream for dog lovers who want to avoid extra vacuuming or lint-rolling. Consider the Pharaoh Hound the alpha canine when it comes to clean.

How do you pronounce Pharaoh Hound?

Think about the pharaohs of ancient Egypt here. Pharaoh Hound is pronounced feh-ROW hawn-d.

Are Pharaoh Hounds aggressive?

No, Pharaoh Hounds aren’t aggressive. While Pharaoh Hounds may bark to express themselves, their tendency for aggression and biting is very low. They prefer to make a grand impression with their beauty as opposed to their brawn.

Why do Pharaoh Hounds blush?

Pharaoh Hounds can “blush” when excited. This is due to increased blood flow in the relatively thin ear leather, along with a lack of black pigment. They are actually not embarrassed at all.

Are Pharaoh Hounds rare?

Yes, the Pharaoh Hound is relatively rare, even though they are an ancient dog breed.

What are the most popular Pharaoh Hound names?

Some of the most popular Pharaoh Hound names include Cleopatra, King Tut, Amun, Ra, Bisu, Nile, Anubis, Red, Tutankhamun, Midge, Nerertiti and Phoenix. Get more dog names here.

What are the most common Pharaoh Hound mixes?

While Pharaoh Hound mixes are not common, you could potentially see some of the following:

  • Pharaoh Hound-Pit Bull mix
  • Pharaoh Hound-Labrador mix
  • Pharaoh Hound-German Shepherd mix
  • Pharaoh Hound-Chihuahua mix
  • Pharaoh Hound-Rhodesian Ridgeback mix
Image

Top Takeaways

Pharaoh Hounds exude an aura of independence, and though they come off as being highly opinionated, the breed really is quite gentle and is an ideal choice for families. If you’re looking for a doting breed who’ll stay by your side or answer your beck and call, this is not the dog for you. Your Pharaoh Hound will rule the roost, so to speak, curling up on the sofa at the end of an adventurous day and doling out affection as they see fit. But if you’re looking to liven up your household with a dog who keeps you on your toes, the Pharaoh Hound can step into that role with noble swagger—and make it look good.

Expert input provided by Dr. Joseph Barrington, BVSc MRCVS from TheConsultVet.com; Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH, founder of concierge veterinary practice Animal Acupuncture; Sheila Hoffman, Breed Education Committee Chair of the Pharaoh Hound Club of America; Dr. Natalie L. Marks, DVM, CVJ, VCA Blum Animal Hospital, Chicago, Ill., and a host of TopVetsTalkPets.com; and Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM and author of the children’s book, “Lisette the Vet.”

Published: