Pharaoh Hound - Information and NZ Breed Standards

Membership ID

Pharaoh Hound

General Information - Pharaoh Hound



11-14 years


Very low


Watchdog Ability:

Protection Ability:
Very low

Area of Origin:

Date of Origin:
Ancient times

Other Names:
Kelb Tal Fenek

Original Function:
Hunting rabbits


The Pharaoh Hound is one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds in the world (estimated to have originated around 4000 to 3000 B.C.) The breed's exact origin has been lost, but one belief is it began in Ancient Egypt, where a lithe, red, prick-eared sight Hound, undeniably the close and direct ancestor of today's Pharaoh Hound, was used to hunt and chase down small game using its keen eyesight, sense of smell, and acute hearing. Through numerous Egyptian artifacts and writings, it has been learned that this unique dog was treasured not only as an adept and able hunter, but also as a loyal and intelligent companion to the royal pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. For the past 2000 years, however, the Mediterranean island of Malta has been exclusively responsible for preserving and developing the breed into the Pharaoh Hound seen today. Since it has been living exclusively in the islands of Malta, the breed's origin is internationally recognised as Malta. The Maltese Islands are situated in the centre of the Mediterranean about 50 miles south of Sicily. In Malta the Hound is known as the Kelb Tal Fenek which literally translated means "Dog of the rabbit." The main task of the Kelb Tal Fenek is to hunt wild rabbits. Ancient Maltese farmers and hunters highly appreciated the Pharaoh Hound as an outstanding rabbit hunter, and still today, many farmers and hunters in Malta take immense pride in owning them. The Pharaoh Hound is both a sight Hound as well as a scent Hound. Its way of hunting its prey is unique, together with its Mediterranean cousins - the Ibizan Hound, the Cirneco Dell Etna, the Portuguese Podengo, and the Podenco Canario. The Pharaoh Hound uses its sense of smell to a marked degree (scent hound) when searching for its prey. When the prey bolts, its sight Hound instincts come into play and the Pharaoh is in full flight in strong pursuit of its prey. In honour of its importance and heritage, the dog was officially declared Malta's National Hound in 1974. Maltese Lira coins were minted in 1977 depicting the Pharaoh Hound on the reverse. During the 1960s Pharaoh Hounds were introduced to the western world.


Pharaoh Hounds are well behaved and very peaceful indoors. They are independent, loyal, and love children. They may be somewhat reserved with strangers. Pharaoh Hounds 'blush' when they get excited, their nose and ears turn a deep rose color. Pharaoh Hounds love to chase things and should not be trusted with rabbits, cats or other small non-canine creatures.


The Pharaoh Hound relishes the opportunity to stretch its legs in a safe area, although it can manage with long daily walks on leash and occasional sprints. It needs soft bedding and warmth and generally should not be expected to sleep outside except in warm climates — but it would still prefer to sleep with its family. Its coat is low maintenance, requiring only occasional brushing to remove dead hair.

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