The Pharaoh Hound is perhaps the oldest breed of domesticated dog in the world. They can be traced, as a breed, back to the early years of the Egyptian culture. It is estimated that this dog existed as a defined and distinctive type by 3000 to 4000 B.C. Carvings, drawings and sculptures as well as records clearly show a dog that is identical to the modern Pharaoh Hound within tombs and burial areas within Egypt, clearly indicating these dogs were not only present but valued by the various royalty and individuals of the time.
The Pharaoh Hound, as with any dog, was a working dog as well as a companion pet in early Egyptian times. These smaller sized, sleek and extremely athletic dogs were used for hunting small game, typically rabbits and hares. The Pharaoh Hound was prized for its ability to literally run down these fast prey animals, plus they could and still can jump and leap incredible distances while hunting.
From its early origins in Egypt the Pharaoh Hound was transported to the islands of Malta and Gozo. The dogs were still used as hunting hounds, typically used for rabbit hunting, but were also still considered to be outstanding companion pets. In the Mediterranean Islands the Pharaoh Hound was kept separate from many outbreeding situations and the breed itself largely remained free from any outside bloodlines or other breeds. The Pharaoh Hound did also, of course, help establish other local breeds of dogs, most which are now extinct or are distinctly different from the Pharaoh Hound.
In addition to being a hunting dog in the Mediterranean area, they were and are also used in a type of flock guardian role for goats and sheep. Not a true herding dog and not a typical working type of dog, the Pharaoh Hound still will act as a watchdog, barking to alert shepherds to the presence of predator animals. Some Pharaoh Hound may be more aggressive and may even chase and track smaller predator animals. Like some of the hounds, the Pharaoh Hound may also be a good retriever and can also be trained to work as a bird hunting dog, flushing out upland game birds.
The Pharaoh Hound, like the Ibizan Hound, hunts using both scent and sights. Their primary mode of hunting is with sight, and they do chase smaller prey that they see moving. However, the Pharaoh Hound can also be used to scent game as a hunting method. They are considered a hot nosed dog as opposed to a cold nosed dog which means that they are good at tracking fresh trails but may not be as effective on older scents. In addition to both sight and scent, the Pharaoh Hound can also hunt by sound. They will listen for rustling and movement in the brush or long grass, then leap or run to the sound, using sight and scent to then track the smaller game from their cover.
The breed largely remained on the island of Malta until the early part of the 1960's. At this time breeders in the United Kingdom imported Pharaoh Hounds that were used typically as show dogs, establishing the breed outside of the homeland of the dog. Very shortly after the Pharaoh Hound was also brought to the United States, Canada and Australia. The American Kennel Club first accepted the Pharaoh Hound as a recognized breed in 1983.
The modern Pharaoh Hound maintains all the instincts of their ancestors but they also have readily made the adjustment as a companion pet and show dog. They can compete in agility and obedience work and can be great at Flyball and even Frisbee types of competitions, although the relative rarity of the breed doesn't make them common in many of these events. The running and athletic ability of the Pharaoh Hound also makes them terrific as lure coursing and racing dogs and they are seen in these types of specialized competitions.
The Pharaoh Hound is a good family pet, although they often do best with slightly older, active children. With proper socialization with younger children the Pharaoh Hound can be a terrific companion since they are receptive to listening to children and recognizing them as a leader. Often used as a single dog in hunting, the Pharaoh Hound doesn't need to have other dog companions but really will adjust very well to living with other dogs in the family. They can do well with cats in the household provided they are raised from puppies with the cats, however most Pharaoh Hounds will not accept stray cats and will chase felines and other animals.
Like most sight hounds the Pharaoh Hound is a notorious chaser and will need to be kept on a leash or inside a secure, tall fence. Also like the Ibizan and similar types of hounds the Pharaoh Hound can also jump incredibly high from a standing position. This means that these dogs can often jump out of fences that owners assume are high enough to securely contain the dogs.
The short coat of the Pharaoh Hound means they are not suitable for outside life, especially in any colder or wet climates. They are not a kennel dog and need to be inside the house and feel that they are a member of the family to be truly happy and well adjusted. A breed that has been a companion dog for thousands of years they do not like to be left along for long periods of time, however they are also typically good as stay at home dogs for working families. This is only acceptable if the individuals in the family spend lots of time with the dog when they are home.
One unique characteristic of the Pharaoh Hound is that they do blush when they are excited and happy. The ears and the nose turns almost a rosy red color from the natural flesh to brownish color of the nose and ears when the dog is calm. Very healthy normally, the Pharaoh Hound will have a normal lifespan of approximately 14 years and is not prone to any significant genetic health concerns.