Let's talk Pharaoh Hounds

It’s no coincidence that the Pharaoh Hound breed’s distinctive noble silhouette – long muzzle and huge alert ears – calls to mind the evocative images of ancient Egypt and the dogs depicted in statues in hieroglyphics in the pyramids: legend has it this breed’s distant ancestors used to hunt with the pharaohs. Nowadays, the Pharaoh Hound may be a rare breed but those in the know appreciate not only their eye-catching looks, but also their lively and affectionate nature.

Official name: Pharaoh Hound

Other names: Kelb tal-Fenek

Origins: Malta

Pharaoh Hound lying down looking at camera in black and white
 Drooling tendencies:

Very low

Warm weather? Very high
 Shedding level:
Suited to apartment living? 
 Physical activity needs (high, low, medium): Moderate Kid-friendly? 
Very high
 Compatibility with other pets: Medium
Can stay alone?

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches.
Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour.
Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.
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Illustration of Pharaoh Hound
56 - 64 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
20 - 25 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
53 - 61 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
20 - 25 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 15 months
 Adult age  15 months to 5 years
 Mature age  5 to 8 years
 Senior age  from 8 years

Two Pharaoh Hounds running through tall grass


Get to know the Pharaoh Hound

All you need to know about the breed

With their sandy-coloured coats and their proud silhouette, not to mention an uncanny resemblance to the dogs depicted in statues found in ancient Egyptian tombs, Pharaoh Hounds’ looks certainly do not disappoint. These affectionate and playful dogs have much to offer besides their regal bearing and evocative name, however.

In their home country of Malta (where they first arrived with Phoenician traders) they were bred for hunting in the rugged terrain. They now make charming and largely easygoing companions at home, although they do have a tendency to bark, especially if they’re left alone for extended periods.

Once trained, Pharaoh Hounds get on well with adults and children alike (although like any other breed they shouldn’t be left unsupervised with little ones) as well as other dogs. However, their prey drive is still strong and they are not suited to homes with small pets. For the same reason, they cannot be relied on to come back when called (even if they are otherwise straightforward to train) – so they should only be let off the lead in safely enclosed areas.

Side view of Pharaoh Hound


2 facts about Pharaoh Hounds

1. Crimson canine

Ancient Egyptian women used to use a mix of ground red ochre and a natural fat as blusher. Pharaoh Hounds don’t need any cosmetic help. Yes, that’s right, this surprising breed can “blush” – their nose and ears turn a charming deep rose colour when they’re content or excited and their expressive faces mean they even seem to be grinning (albeit in a canine way!).

2. All ears

As if their amazing blushing ability was not enough, Pharaoh Hounds’ ears also provide an insight into their state of mind. These intriguing dogs hold their outsize ears pricked up when they’re alert or excited, and flatten them back when they’re quietly content.


History of the breed

Pharaoh Hounds are an ancient breed, thought to date back many thousands of years. As the name suggests, they trace their distant origins to Egypt – artefacts from as far back as 4,000 BC show their forebears hunting gazelles with the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. But the modern-day breed hails from Malta, where they were initially prized as a companion to hunters and given the name Kelb tal-Fenek (rabbit dog). The breed was even named Malta’s national hound in 1979.

Pharaoh Hounds are thought to be the descendants of dogs that were brought to Europe, and specifically the Mediterranean, by the ancient Phoenician seafaring traders and while they became popular in Malta, they remained little known elsewhere until the 1930s, when the first Pharaoh Hounds arrived in the UK. It was there that the breed received its English name. A few decades later they reached the United States, with the American Kennel Club recognising the breed in 1984.

Close-up of Pharaoh Hound looking at camera in black and white


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Pharaoh Hounds

1. Ears

Distinctive large triangular ears and long slim muzzle.

2. Body

Lithe, lean body and high-carried tapering tail.

3. Coat

Short coat in shades of tan.

Close-up of Pharaoh Hound


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Pharaoh Hound
Pharaoh Hound sitting with mouth open


Caring for your Pharaoh Hound

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Grooming your Pharaoh Hound should be simple: a weekly brush will keep that lovely smooth coat in top condition. They also need regular tooth brushing (daily if possible) and nail clipping. You should also check their ears frequently for any signs of build up of wax or dirt, which can lead to ear infections. Pharaoh Hounds need a decent amount of exercise to stay in good physical and mental shape. That can take the form of regular walks on the lead, or chances to run around off the lead – but only in a safely enclosed space: Pharaoh Hounds’ prey instinct means that given the chance they will run and run. Apart from coming when called in the face of an interesting smell, training an eager-to-please and intelligent Pharaoh Hound should be a walk in the park. Just make sure that any food rewards come out of their daily rations to avoid them becoming overweight.


All about Pharaoh Hounds

Pharaoh Hounds are not known to be aggressive with people. However, because of their prey instinct, they are not suitable additions to a household with smaller pets such as rabbits or hamsters.

Yes, they are. The Pharaoh Hound is a very rare breed – you may need to be patient if you want to get your hands on one of these striking one-of-a-kind dogs.


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/