Pharaoh Hound

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Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Pharaoh Hound
Average Cost to keep/care for a Pharaoh Hound

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #188 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Pharaoh Hound breed is also commonly known by the names Kelb tal-Fenek (Rabbit Dog).
12 - 14 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Hound Group
Males 56 - 63 cm
Females 53 - 61 cm
Males 20 - 25 kg
Females 20 - 25 kg
Health Tests Available
Breed Club - Patella Testing
Average Price (More Info)
£2,000 for KC Registered
£275 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


Pharaoh Hounds are thought to be one of the oldest breeds on the planet. They are elegant, noble dogs that over the ages have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people throughout the world thanks to their distinctive looks, kind and loyal natures. Pharaoh Hounds, true to their breeding are never happier than when they are kept busy and as such they are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be trained and handled by someone who is familiar with the needs of this type of energetic hound. They thrive in households where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out and they make great companions and family pets for people who boast large, secure back gardens.


The Pharaoh Hound is thought to be one of the oldest domesticated breeds in the world with similar hounds having been around since the Ancient Egyptians. However, the exact origins of the breed remain a bit of a mystery. With this said, artefacts have been found in Pharaoh's tombs and hieroglyphs on walls show a similar type of hound that could well be the Pharaoh's Hounds ancestor.

In ancient times, these hounds were used to hunt small game, but they were also the loyal companions of Pharaohs. Some people believe these hounds were introduced to Malta by the Phoenicians when they occupied the island in 1000 BC. With this said, there is some evidence of the breed originating in Malta and that they were taken to Egypt by travellers and traders in ancient times. Today, the Pharaoh Hound is Malta's national dog and are known as the Kelb Tal-Fenek, which literally translated means 'Dog of the rabbit'.

The Pharaoh Hound first appeared here in the UK in the 1930's, but the breed was not recognised by The Kennel Club until the 1960's. Today, anyone hoping to share their homes with one of these proud and noble dogs might find it hard to find a breeder because very few puppies are registered every year with the kennel club here in the UK.


Height at the withers: Males 56 - 63 cm, Females 53 - 61 cm

Average Weight: Males 20 - 25 kg, Females 20 - 25 kg

Pharaoh Hounds are elegant, noble looking medium sized dogs that boast an extremely athletic and graceful appearance about them. A unique trait of these lovely hounds is that they blush when they get excited and this sees the skin on their noses and on the insides of their ears turn a rosy pink colour. Their heads are quite long, yet lean and nicely chiselled which adds to their noble appearance. Their forefaces are slightly longer than a dog's skull with dog's only having a slight stop.

Their eyes are an amber colour to match their coats and are quite deeply set with dogs always having an intelligent, alert and keen look in them. Ears are set quite high which dogs carry erect when they are excited being broader at the base, large and fine to the touch. The Pharaoh Hound has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their noses are flesh coloured so they blend in with a dog's coat.

Their necks are lean, well-muscled and long which dogs carry slightly arched and which adds to their noble appearance. Shoulders are long, well laid back and strong with Pharaoh Hounds having straight and powerful front legs. Their body is athletic, lithe with a virtually level topline although it slopes slightly from the croup to the root of a dog's tail. Their brisket is deep with dogs having well sprung ribs.

Hindquarters are muscular and strong with dogs having well developed second thighs and strong back legs. Feet are well knuckled, strong and firm with pads being nicely padded. Their tails are thicker at the root but taper to the tip which dogs carry high and curved when they are excited and lower when they are relaxed and at rest.

When it comes to their coat, the Pharaoh Hound boasts having a short and very glossy coat that can be anything from quite fine and close to the touch right through to having a slightly harsher feel to it. Accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • Rich tan
  • Tan
  • Tan with white markings

Pharaoh Hounds should have a white tip to their tail as well as a white star on their chests. Dogs are allowed to have a bit of white on their toes and a very slight white blaze is allowed on the centre of their faces.


Pharaoh Hounds are known to be quite independent thinkers, but they form strong bonds with their owners and families. They are quite placid although they are also known to be quite fun-loving in a home environment too. They enjoy being around people and if they have grown up with children in the house, they generally get on very well together.

However, they are extremely high energy hounds and as such they are not the best choice for people who lead more sedentary lives. They are not the best of choices for first time owners either because these sensitive hounds need to be trained and handled by someone who is familiar with the breed or similar type of dog. They are, however, a good choice for people who lead active, outdoor lives and who live in the country where a dog can run around off their lead so they can really let off steam as long as it is in a safe environment and dogs have been taught to respond well to the recall command.

If a Pharaoh Hound is not given enough daily mental stimulation or exercise, they quickly get bored and this can lead to a dog developing all sorts of behavioural issues which includes being destructive around the home and suffering from separation anxiety. Pharaoh Hounds need to be well socialised from a young age and this has to involve introducing them to new situations, people, noise, animals and other dogs as soon as they have been fully vaccinated for them to grow up into well-rounded, more confident mature dogs.

They are quite demanding and as such are not suitable for people who do not have the time it takes to care for such high energy dogs. They are best suited to households where at least one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out. They tend to be a little wary and standoffish when they meet anyone for the first time, but rarely would a Pharaoh Hound show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance until they get to know them.

Intelligence / Trainability

The Pharaoh Hound is an intelligent dog and therefore they are quite easy to train. However, because of their high prey drive, they are not the most obedient of hounds when it comes to the "recall" command which is why their training has to start early in their lives. Their training has to be consistent and always fair with these hounds not responding well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods because like a lot of other hounds, they are quite sensitive by nature.

In the right hands and with the correct amount of training, Pharaoh Hounds excel in all sorts of canine sports and this includes activities like agility and obedience. It would be fair to say that at times these hounds are far too quick thinking for their own good which often sees them outsmarting their owners. This is one of the reasons they are not the best choice for novice dog owners who may inadvertently send a dog the wrong signals which they quickly pick up on and which could end up with a Pharaoh Hound becoming wilful and unruly.

Children and Other Pets

When Pharaoh Hounds grow up with children in the home, they are usually very well behaved around them. However, any interaction between a dog and children and more especially toddlers, needs to be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay calm and playtime does not turn too boisterous.

Rarely would a Pharaoh Hound show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards other dogs because they are known to be quite sociable by nature. When they have been well socialised from a young age, Pharaoh Hounds enjoy the company of other dogs they meet and would rarely be the first to show any sort of aggressive behaviour. However, care should be taken when they are around any small animals, cats and other pets because of their high prey drive which would get the better of them.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.

Pharaoh Hound Health

The average life expectancy of a Pharaoh Hound is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like so many other breeds, the Pharaoh Hound is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and noble looking hounds. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

Caring for a Pharaoh Hound

As with any other breed, Pharaoh Hounds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Because the Pharaoh Hound's coat is short, tight and close it is quite low maintenance when it comes to keeping things tidy. All it really takes to keep the sheen on a dog's coat is a weekly wipe over with a chamois leather. These hounds have very sensitive skin and as such great care has to be taken when using any sort of product on it which includes dog shampoos.

They tend to shed their coat steadily throughout the year although more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to get rid of any loose or shed hair. It has to be noted that Pharaoh Hounds are quite sensitive to the cold and as such when the weather turns very cold, dogs need to wear a coat when out on a walk to prevent them getting a chill.

It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


Pharaoh Hounds are extremely high-energy dogs and as such they need to be given a ton of daily mental stimulation and at least 2 hour's exercise for them to be truly happy, well-rounded and obedient dogs. Their exercise has to be vigorous and should include lots of interactive games to keep these hounds focused and on their toes. The old saying of a "tired dog is a good dog" is never truer than when describing a Pharaoh Hound. When they get home after a good walk, they are quite happy to chill out and relax with their owners.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these highly active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble. As a general rule, any outdoor time in the garden should be supervised just in case.

With this said, Pharaoh Hound puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because these are the sorts of things that put a lot of strain on a dog’s joints and bones.


If you get a Pharaoh Hound puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Because Pharaoh Hounds have been known to suffer from bloat, it is really important that they be fed twice a day instead of giving them just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand to place their feed bowl which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down low to reach their food. You should never exercise a dog just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more a risk of developing bloat.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Pharaoh Hound

If you are looking to buy a Pharaoh Hound, you may have to go on a waiting list because very few puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Pharaoh Hound in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Pharaoh Hound and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Pharaoh Hound would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.

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