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Pharaoh Hound

Two standing dogs in a meadow - Pharaoh Hound

Pharaoh Hound

  • History

    The Pharaoh Hound is an ancient breed that originated in Egypt, and many reminders of its long history can be found in art and literature.

    An artifact from 4000 BC depicts two Pharaoh Hound-shaped dogs hunting gazelles; a dog resembling the Pharaoh Hound was often depicted as the companion of kings and nobles in ancient Egyptian art; and a letter dating to the 19th Egyptian dynasty mentions a red long-tailed dog whose face glows like a God, a reference no doubt to the breed’s habit of blushing. From Egypt, the Pharaoh Hound was imported into Malta by Phoenician traders. There they were called the “Kelb tal-Fenek,” meaning “dog of the rabbit,” after the prey the local hunters used the dog to catch. The breed thrived and became the official dog of Malta.

  • The Pharaoh Hound remained largely unknown in the west until arriving in England in the 1930s. The first Pharaoh Hounds were imported into the U.S. in 1967. The Pharaoh Hound Club of America was founded in 1970, and the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1984. The Pharaoh Hound is still an uncommon breed, but he can be found throughout the world, wherever people appreciate his unique appearance and personality.
  • Size

    The athletic Pharaoh Hound has a lithe and powerful build. They should be slightly longer than they are tall, with males standing 23 to 25 inches at the shoulder, females 21 to 24 inches. Pharaoh Hounds generally weigh 45 to 55 pounds.

  • Personality

    Pharaoh Hounds love their own people and happily entertain them with their clownish antics. The flip side is that they can be aloof with new people.

    This is a dog who likes to have his own way. Still, he’s smart and willing to please — most of the time — which generally makes training easy.

    The Pharaoh Hound can be a bit of a sensitive plant. He picks up on people’s feelings and may find a high-drama home very stressful. It’s always important to introduce a dog to lots of new people and situations as a puppy, but this is particularly true with a Pharaoh who can grow up to be timid.

    Enroll your Hound in a class. Help him polish his social skills, and invite visitors over regularly, and take him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors.

  • Health

    Pharaoh Hounds are generally healthy, but as with breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Pharaoh Hounds will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

    • Anesthesia Sensitivity: Pharaoh Hounds are not as sensitive to anesthesia as other sighthounds, but your veterinarian should be aware of the potential risks. The most important rule is to administer to effectiveness not weight. Because of their low body fat, sighthounds can be sensitive to anesthesia, and what would be a normal dose for another dog of his weight can harm or even kill a sighthound. Pharaoh Hounds are less sensitive than some other breeds, but you’ll need to find a vet who’s aware of the risks and knows how to dose your dog properly if he ever needs anesthesia.
    • Allergies: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs. There are three main types: food-based allergies, which are treated by an elimination process of certain foods from the dog’s diet; contact allergies, caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals, and treated by removing the cause of the allergy; and inhalant allergies, caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. The medication for inhalant allergies depends on the severity of the allergy. It is important to note that ear infections often accompany inhalant allergies.

    If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Pharaoh Hounds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

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  • Care

    With their calm nature, Pharaoh Hounds can live in an apartment or condo, though his barking has the potential to annoy close neighbors.

    If you leave him in a yard, you’ll need a fence that’s too high for him to climb or jump, preferably solid so he can’t see the squirrels or cats on the other side. Electronic fencing won’t cut it with this breed — no shock will stop a Pharaoh Hound once he decides to chase something.

    Because of his thin skin, he gets cold easily and will need a dog sweater or jacket when venturing out on cold or wet days.

    If you want a well-behaved dog, you’ll need to make sure your high-energy Pharaoh Hound gets at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. This dog can participate in lure coursing and agility, or come with you on a family jog or bike ride.

    Just make sure you keep him on a leash whenever you’re in an unfenced area. If he sees something small and furry, his strong prey drive will overcome the best training every time.

    When he’s not distracted by something chase-worthy, however, his intelligence and eagerness to please makes him fairly easy to train.

    Just make sure you keep lesson time interesting and pleasant; harsh or repetitive training methods don’t work with his sensitive, fun-loving personality. Keep training sessions short and end with something he’s done right so you can praise him for it.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.

    The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.

    Don’t be fooled into overfeeding; sighthounds have a slim build that many mistake as being underweight. Some Pharaoh Hounds suffer from food allergies; if your dog’s one of them, your vet can recommend a special diet.

    Keep your Pharaoh Hound in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise. For more on feeding your Pharaoh Hound, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The Pharaoh Hound has a short coat with a fine to slightly harsh texture. His color ranges from a rich tan to a chestnut tan. He may have a dab of white on the tip of the tail, the toes, the chest, or on the center of the face. The Pharaoh Hound sheds (as do all dogs) but a weekly brushing with a hound glove — a rubber mitt with a nubby palm that fits over the hand — removes loose hair and helps keep it from settling on your clothes and furniture.

    Pharaoh Hounds don’t have a strong doggy odor and don’t need frequent baths. Unless he’s been rolling around in something stinky, wiping him down daily with a damp cloth will in most cases keep him clean.

    Your Pharaoh Hound’s skin will need some care too. The short coat isn’t very protective, and cuts, scrapes, and other irritations are common. Check your dog for nicks and cuts every time you brush him.

    Brush your Pharaoh Hound’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you’re not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    Check his ears weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Introduce your Pharaoh Hound to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    Pharaoh Hounds are very affectionate with children. Nonetheless, as with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.

    Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Pharaoh Hounds generally get along with other dogs, although some are aggressive toward dogs of the same gender. And because they see small animals as prey, Pharaoh Hounds aren’t suited to sharing a roof with small pets such as rabbits or cats, or even smaller dogs.

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