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Pharaoh Hound Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Personality & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Pharaoh Hound standing in the meadow

Height: 21-25 inches
Weight: 45-55 pounds
Lifespan: 11 to 14 years
Colors: Tan, red golden, rich tan, chestnut
Suitable for: Experienced dog owners, hunters, families
Temperament: Affectionate, sociable, playful, intelligent, active

The Pharaoh Hound is an ancient breed, and these dogs have not changed much in the almost 5,000 years since their inception. They are highly intelligent, with a playfulness and affection of a lapdog and the energy and stamina of an elite sporting dog. Indeed, these dogs were bred to work.

They are social dogs that love companionship, but they are slightly on the shy side. They can be wary of new faces, but they’ll soon become fast friends. The Pharaoh Hound is a naturally happy and upbeat pooch and is even known to smile at times. Unfortunately, this friendly and happy nature makes them less-than-ideal guard dog material, but they are astoundingly alert and aware, and as such, they are perfect watchdogs. They may be too aware for some, though, and they will bark at anything they deem suspicious — which is almost everything!

They are loving and gentle dogs, and they make great additions to families. If these royal Hounds sound like they may be the right breed for you, read on below to find out more.

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Pharaoh Hound Puppies

Pharaoh Hound and other puppies
Image Credit: PxHere

The Pharaoh Hound is a slender, fast, and agile dog bred for high-speed hunting and scenting. One look at a Pharaoh Hound, and one can see precisely where these dogs got their name, with an uncanny resemblance to the Egyptian jackal-god Anubis. They have long and pointy snouts with small, endearing amber eyes and characteristically upright pointed ears. Their short and sleek, aerodynamic, and tan-colored coat adds to their ancient mystique.

As puppies, these dogs are gentle and sensitive with children, and they are much the same in adulthood. While the breed bears a great deal of resemblance to their Greyhound cousins — their long and narrow body, slender legs, short coat, and long tail — they are not as fast but do have unmatched stamina. They will take off after prey with enthusiasm and delight and will need a firm hand in training to curb this centuries-old instinct.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Pharaoh Hound

1. They blush!

The Pharaoh Hound has no dark pigment in their skin, and when they get excited, they smile and show rosy pink blushing in their nose, cheeks, and ears. Pharaoh Hounds lack the pigment that gives other dogs their black nose and paw pads, causing their skin to flush red similar to humans. While many dog owners claim that their dogs smile, these dogs really do smile, and the long grin pulls back their oversized ears to further emphasize their friendly nature.

2. Pharaoh Hounds are not from Egypt

You’d be forgiven for thinking these dogs have their roots in ancient Egypt, being named after Egyptian royalty. But in fact, they are not at all genetically liked to any dogs native to Egypt and originally hail from the Island of Malta. In Maltese, they are called “Kelb tal-Fenek,” meaning, “rabbit dog.” They were and still are used on the island primarily for rabbit hunting. The confusion stems from the resemblance to the dogs depicted in tomb paintings from ancient Egypt, which is what gave them their common name. However, it is not known exactly where this name originated from.

3. They like to bark

It is common knowledge that most sighthound breeds are not prone to barking, making them great hunting dogs but less-than-ideal guard dogs. The Pharaoh Hound breaks this mold, however, because they bark quite frequently. It takes very little to get them going on a barking rampage, and it can be difficult to get them to stop!

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Pharaoh Hound 🧠

Pharaoh Hounds are highly intelligent, and if you don’t mind having a dog that is smarter than you are, they are a great choice. This intellect is well balanced with a goofy and playful side, and these dogs will often crack you up with their unique antics and expressions. While they are social animals and love to be around their owners, they are not people-pleasers but are independent dogs that prefer to do their own thing. They will cuddle and play when they are in the mood and will flat-out ignore you if they are not.

Pharaoh Hounds are highly sensitive pooches and don’t take well to harsh reprimands or aggression. This goes for loud and sudden noises too, and they can quickly become fearful in nature if not trained correctly. They are also aloof and cautious of strangers and may take time to warm up to new faces.

These dogs have a strong prey drive and should always be kept on a leash in an unfenced area. They will take off at the slightest hint of something to chase, even when well-trained. To add to this, these dogs can jump, clearing a 6-foot fence with ease! You’ll need a fence at least 8 feet in height to keep these athletic pooches contained.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Pharaoh Hounds make great family dogs. They love kids and will play with them non-stop for hours. Once they are sufficiently tired out, they will be satisfied lounging with you — but not on you — on the sofa. They are independent animals who are content to entertain themselves and may check in from time to time to make sure you are not doing anything especially entertaining, but they are happy to be alone in the yard. This makes them a good choice if you are not at home with them all day, as they won’t likely suffer much separation anxiety. They are easily excitable and boisterous animals at times and may be a bit much to have around small toddlers.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Pharaoh Hound will get along well with most other pets, but they do have a strong prey drive that may cause your cats stress. They can be trained out of this trait but may occasionally find the temptation too much to resist. The same goes for any other pets that are smaller than your Pharaoh Hound. Early socialization is key to mitigating this chasing urge and will go a long way in helping your Hound stop seeing other pets as a target to hunt.

Pharaoh Hounds
Image Credit: Lenkadan, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Pharaoh Hound

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Pharaoh Hounds have a slender build that leads many owners into believing that they are underweight — but don’t be fooled. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them, and if you can’t, they are on their way to being overweight. They will attempt to eat everything you give them, so they can quickly become overweight or obese. Table scraps and other “human foods” should be strictly avoided for this reason, as well as the fact that the breed is prone to allergies and will benefit from as simple a diet as possible.

We recommend around 1-2 cups of good quality dry kibble a day. However, it’s important to note that the amount that your Hound eats will depend on their size, age, and activity levels, and so careful monitoring is required to find the right median. Quality of food also makes far more difference than quantity, and the more nutritious the food they eat, the less you’ll need to give them. Commercial foods often have empty-calorie filler ingredients that are devoid of nutrients and will quickly lead to obesity, ill health, and allergies.

Exercise 🐕

It is said that Pharaoh Hounds have two distinct energy levels: high-power mode and rest mode, with little in between. This is a generalization but has truth to it. When they are in exercise or play mode, there is not much you can do to calm them down except assist them in burning off the energy. But once they are down, it takes a great deal to get them going!

They need a large amount of yard space to run around in, nonetheless, and at least 2 hours a day of intensive, playful exercise. Without the required burn-off of energy, these dogs will turn to digging and chewing. They will also resort to barking at almost everything, which your neighbors will love.

Training 🦮

Pharaoh Hounds are sensitive animals and do not respond well to negative or aggressive training methods. Any form of shouting or aggressive discipline will work the opposite way, causing them to shut down and be far less likely to respond to commands.

They are intelligent animals that can easily learn basic commands and even tricks — if they want to. They are not too concerned about impressing or pleasing their owners and will do things on their own terms. This is why it is essential to make training sessions fun and entertaining, something they look forward to engaging in. One thing you can be sure of is that they love treats, and using reward-based training methods while including tasty treats will get them obeying commands fast.

The powerful prey drive of these dogs makes good training essential, as they are prone to chasing anything that moves. Leash training is important, as they need to be on a leash in unfenced areas. We recommend a harness rather than a collar, as they have long, thin necks and a harness will be far more comfortable.

Pharaoh Hound in beautiful autumn park
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

The Pharaoh Hound has a short, glossy coat that is easy to look after. An occasional brush to remove any dead hair and help reduce shedding is all that’s really needed. Give them a good brush around once a week, and you’re good to go. Their short coat means they’ll rarely need a bath, and a rinse with clean water if they get muddy is sufficient.

Apart from that, brush their teeth regularly to avoid bad breath and dental issues, and trim the toenails every couple of weeks to keep them short and free from injury. They will usually wear their nails down on their own through regular outdoor activity, but it’s good practice to keep an eye on them.

Health Conditions ❤️

Since Pharaoh Hounds are such an expensive and rare breed, breeders will usually perform health checks and genetic screenings on a regular basis. This makes them a healthy breed free from most genetic issues that Hounds and other large dogs commonly suffer from. That said, there are a few concerns to be aware of.

These dogs tend to suffer from dry and flaky skin, especially in winter months. This can be mostly avoided with an adequate diet that includes healthy oils and fats and by not using shampoos or soaps to wash them.

Pharaoh Hounds and Hounds in general are more sensitive to anesthesia than other breeds, mostly due to the low body-fat ratio they have. A normal dose for another breed of the same weight may kill a Pharaoh Hound, but most vets are aware of this risk. Still, be careful when sending your dog in for surgeries like spaying or neutering, and mention this to the vet performing the procedure.

Dental disease, obesity, allergies, and bloat are common minor issues than these Hounds can suffer from, but these are all conditions of poor diet and can easily be avoided.

While these dogs rarely suffer from the genetic diseases associated with Hounds and larger dogs, they can still get them. However, conditions like luxating patella and hip dysplasia are exceedingly rare.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Bloat
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Dental disease
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Anesthesia sensitivity
  • Hypothyroidism
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Male vs Female

Male Pharaoh Hounds are slightly taller than females, by around 2-4 inches at most, and may be slightly heavier. Other than that, there is little difference between the two, especially if they have been spayed or neutered, and there are no real good reasons to choose one over the other. It all comes down to personal preference and what other dogs you may already have in your home. Dogs of the same sex may be more prone to fighting, but again, neutering and spaying will mostly resolve this issue.

The personality of your dog has far less to do with gender than it does with upbringing, environment, and good training.

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Final Thoughts:

Pharaoh Hounds are truly a unique breed, with an ancient heritage stretching as far back as 5,000 years. Their resemblance to the Egyptian god Anubis gives them a royal and regal appearance, and they have long and slender bodies with recognizable pointy ears for an even more unique look. These dogs have a strong prey drive that can be difficult to keep at bay, and they are extremely independent, which can make training a challenge. That said, they are sensitive animals that love children and will rarely, if ever, show any aggression.

If you have the time and patience, these dogs are well worth the challenge and make an ideal loving family pet.

Featured Image Credit: Julia Suhareva, Shutterstock

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