The Pharaoh Hound, ancient “Blushing Dog” of Malta, is an elegant but rugged sprinting hound bred to course small game over punishing terrain. Quick and tenacious on scent, these friendly, affectionate hounds settle down nicely at home.
Pharaohs are sleek, aerodynamic coursing hounds bred for high-speed pursuit on rocky terrain. Among their several distinguishing traits are a tight tan coat with matching leather on the nose, ears, and eye rims; ravishing amber eyes; a white-tipped tail; the ability to smile; and a unique way of blushing when happy or excited (‘His face glows like a god,’ wrote an admirer some 3,000 years ago). These elegant visitors from antiquity possess the speed and graceful movement of all coursers descended from Bronze Age hounds.
The history of the canine race might be very different without the Phoenicians. These seafaring traders, from what is today Lebanon, sailed the Mediterranean 2,500 years ago doing a brisk business in luxury items. It’s assumed that the Phoenicians disseminated Egyptian hounds throughout the ancient world, as far west as Britain. The prevailing theory suggests that Phoenicians introduced the Pharaoh to Malta, where they were used as rabbit hunters. In 1979, the Pharaoh was named the national hound of Malta.
Temperament: friendly / smart / noble
Height: 21 to 25 inches
Weight: 45-55 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
Dr. Stephen Sipperly, chair of the Pharaoh Hound Club of America health committee, notes that the requirements for a CHIC certification for a Pharaoh Hound include screening for hip and elbow dysplasia, patella luxation and eye disorders, and he adds that the majority of results for all those screenings are normal. The most common cancers in the breed are hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumor and mammary cancer, though some of these conditions are likely age related and afflict all dogs, regardless of breed or mix. ‘Looking at the results, I can say with confidence that the Pharaoh Hound is not plagued with any significant disorders,’ Dr. Sipperly says.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Patella Evaluation
- Hip Evaluation
- Thyroid Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Pharaoh Hounds do not require a great deal of grooming. Daily light brushing or a heavier weekly brushing will do, with baths given as necessary. Particular attention should be paid to keeping the ears clean, and keeping the nails trimmed short enough that they do not make a tapping sound when the dog walks across the floor. Teeth should be cleaned at home on a regular basis but also should be checked by your veterinarian when the dog has his yearly checkup. Pharaohs do not normally have a ‘doggy odor,’ so if an odor is present, check him to find the cause.
Anyone considering owning a Pharaoh must know that the breed does require a regular exercise schedule to keep happy and in good condition. If you are fortunate enough to have a ‘self-runner,’ just let him run 15 to 20 minutes twice a day. This requires a six-foot-high fenced-in area of about 50 feet by 50 feet, minimum. If this is not possible, or if he is not a natural ‘runner, be prepared to walk your Pharaoh for at least 20 minutes twice a day. No amount of training should be trusted to overcome the Pharaoh’s strong hunting instinct. He should never be allowed to exercise off-lead in an unenclosed area.
The Pharaoh is quick to learn and eager to please. However, there is a problem in teaching him to come if he is off lead in an open area. It has been proven time and again that most Pharaohs, no matter how obedient or well trained, will not come when called when they find themselves suddenly in a ‘free situation.’ They will run off, happy to be hunting’ with some dogs finally caught after several days, but others, sadly, killed in traffic, or gone forever.
The Pharaoh Hound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.