Native to the island of Malta, our featured breed this week is the graceful hunter, the Pharaoh Hound. This hard working dog may not be right for apartment living, but they certainly make excellent companions to the hunters of Malta.
There are no records showing when this breed was developed. It is thought that the Pharaoh hound is so ancient that they existed before humans started writing. Many people believe the Pharaoh hound is related to the Podenco Canario and the Ibizan Hound. The Pharaoh hound was introduced to America in the late 1960’s, but the breed is still quite rare in North America today. Although rare to most of the world, the Pharaoh hound is the official breed of Malta and an important part to the citizen’s daily lives. Even today, Pharaoh hounds are used as guard dogs in Malta as well as for hunting (specifically rabbit). The Maltese people call the Pharaoh dog ‘Kelb tal-Fenek’ meaning ‘Rabbit dog’. Not only are they used most often for hunting rabbits, they have a slight resemblance to rabbits with their big tall ears.
Grooming for the Pharaoh hound is extremely minimal. You won’t have to take him in for any haircuts and with their short hair you don’t need to worry about brushing out any knots or tangles. Pharaoh hounds are not big shedders at all, in fact, some allergy sufferers who normally react to dog hair, have reported having no reaction when around the Pharaoh hound. The only things you’ll need to take care of are making sure their ears and teeth stay clean and nails trimmed.
Pharaoh hounds are recommended for more experienced dog owners, and do well when they are used for specific job such as hunting. They need to have enough space to run and get out their energy. Don’t expect your Pharaoh hound to be satisfied with one game of Frisbee every day. They are extremely intelligent dogs that were built to be hard workers. Not only do you need to fulfill their needs for mental and physical stimulation, you also need to come up with ways for them to feel accomplished. Pharaoh hounds gain satisfaction when they catch the rabbit after a hunt as they have completed their task, and telling them to go fetch a tennis ball with no reason why, will not keep them happy. If you aren’t interested in having your Pharaoh hound go hunting, another job you can give them is search and rescue. Find a toy that they like and they recognize the smell of, and teach them the game of search and rescue. Give them lots of rewards when they find the object, and make sure to keep it challenging, change up the toy/ object, hide it farther and farther each time, etc. This will help keep your Pharaoh hound from becoming bored and unhappy.
The Pharaoh hound can be a wonderful companion with the right owner, but can easily become bored, destructive, and unruly with the wrong one. They require an owner who has lots experience with more primitive-type dog breeds as well as someone who has the proper time to dedicate to this high energy dog every day. With lots of consistent training, exercise, and fulfilling mental stimulation, the Pharaoh hound can be a loyal and sweet dog who is a pleasure to be around!