Choosing a Pharaoh Hound

As the name suggests, the Pharaoh hound was an adored companion of ancient Egyptian rulers. Considered representatives of the gods, the Pharaoh hound is a humble dog that blushes when excited.

History and Origin

The Pharaoh hound is one of the oldest recorded domestic canines. Ancient Egyptian stone carvings, dated before 4000 B.C., have been discovered with images of hounds that look like the Pharaoh. Historians believe that the ancient Egyptian god, Anubis, was modeled after the Pharaoh hound. Many primitive drawings found in Egyptian tombs depicted Pharaoh hounds. Pharaohs were regarded as representatives of the gods. They were companions for nobility and royalty.

Before 1 A.D., the Pharaoh found his way to Malta, an island just south of Europe. Probably brought there by Phoenician merchant traders, the Pharaoh remained isolated and unchanged for thousands of years. Like many sighthounds, they were bred to hunt small game such as rabbits. They are also known as Kelb-tal, the rabbit dog. The Pharaoh hound is the national dog of Malta.

In the 1930s, the first Pharaoh hound showed up in Great Britain. From there, the Pharaoh gained popularity as a companion pet, and eventually made it to the United States.


Pharaohs have short, shiny, somewhat coarse hair coats. They are generally some variation of reddish tan, with white markings. Their flesh-colored noses can be sensitive to sunburn.

They have lean, strong, muscular bodies. A sculpted head, an arched neck, and large, erect ears are defining characteristics of the Pharaoh. When alert, their foreheads wrinkle, giving them an intense expression.

One charming aspect of these hounds is that they smile and blush. When they are excited, they curl their lips up in a grin, and their cheeks and ears turn a deep red color as if blushing.


These are medium sized hounds, standing between 21 and 25 inches at the shoulder. They generally weigh between 45 and 55 pounds.


Living with humans for thousands of years, Pharaohs are natural companions. They exhibit affection and loyalty. The breed loves cuddling, and tends to be attached to the couch when indoors.

Pharaohs are especially affectionate with children. They make excellent watchdogs because they are leery of strangers.

These dogs are exceedingly athletic; they need a mountain of attention and stimulation. They bark at strangers, but don't generally show aggression.

Home and Family Relations

Pharaohs are excellent with children. They love to give and receive affection. They are not prone to biting or nipping.

Other dogs in the household will find the Pharaoh easy to get along with. They love to play, and spend a lot of time perfecting their skills. However, cats and other small animals may be in danger. The hunting instinct is intense, and a cat may be mistaken as a rabbit. It is not recommended to introduce a Pharaoh into a household with small animals.


Pharaohs have the ability to use sight, sound and scent for hunting. Intelligent and obedient, they are easily trained. Only positive training is effective since they do not respond well to rough handling.

Pharaohs get very upset when scolded. Punishment does not work with these dogs. Crate training is highly recommended since they are very curious creatures.

Special Concerns

These hounds require a lot of exercise. They need a fenced yard and should never be let off the leash when walked. They will run or chase anything that catches their eye. Pharaohs are emotionally sensitive to stress and rough handling, and they can bark excessively.

In cold climates, Pharaohs need sweaters or coats. They do not thrive as outdoor dogs or kennel dogs. Some Pharaohs are sensitive to certain foods, anesthetics, chemicals and medications. Always check with your veterinarian before using any flea products or medications on your Pharaoh.

Health Concerns

Gastric torsion (bloat) is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Patellar luxation is a disorder affecting the kneecap.

Pharaoh hounds have an average life span of 12 to14 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.