The Pharaoh dog is a breed of dog that was developed as a hunting dog, which they do very well with their speed, alertness and agility. Being members of the Sight hound family, they were excellent as hunters. The difference between sighthounds and regular hunting hounds are that sight hounds hunt by speed and sight, whereas regular hunting hounds hunt by scent and endurance. They specialize in finding the prey, not losing it in their line of view, and capturing it with their agility, intelligence and great speed. They were originally used to hunt and capture small game. Their excellent eyesight, sense of smell and perfect hearing made them the perfect choice for hunting. Very seldom did an animal get past the Pharaoh.
The Pharaoh hound starting their great hunting ability on the islands of Gozo and Malta, where the dog spent almost 2,000 years. It was during this time the Maltese devoted their time and attention to turning the Pharaoh into the excellent hunters they are today as well as preserving this unique breed. They did such a superb job; the dog was given the nickname of "Kelb tal-Fenek", which means "rabbit dog", as well as becoming the national dog of Malta. Even today, the Pharaoh is used specifically for hunting rabbits. They have also proved their worth as dogs to help the shepherds guard the flocks.
The natural gait the Pharaoh possesses contributes to making them an excellent hunting dog. When they're moving, their trot is such a graceful gait, it's as though they are floating in the air, covering a lot of territory with very little effort. Before the game even realizes they are near them, the Pharaoh is upon them.
One thing many owners fail to realize is how much their breeding background affects their daily lives and interests. They were bred as hunting dogs for many years - exclusively as hunting dogs, and that instinct is still very much inside them. If they see a rabbit, squirrel or other small animal and it's possible for them to go after it, they will. They will chase it down and, very possibly, kill it. They are not doing this to be disobedient or mean. They are doing it because it's in their blood and they believe it's what they are supposed to do. This is the main reason why it's extremely important the Pharaoh be kept inside a fenced yard. With the intelligence and agility the Pharaoh possesses, the fence had better be higher than 5 feet or this dog will jump over it quite easily. Again, this is not the dog being disobedient, but rather following his instinct. Basic obedience training will help somewhat, but it's still an instinct with this hunting hound.
Many owners still take their Pharaoh out for an afternoon of hunting small game, always amazed at their excellent ability as a hunting dog.