About pharaoh hounds
A pharaoh hound touches in some way everyone who´s met it: you either love the breed
passionately or then you just don´t “get it”. Some fall in love with its primitive and life
exuberating looks and character; some just can´t stand the active and curious red nose
sticking everywhere, always in the crowd and preferrably in the front.
There is just something primitively and simply elegant in pharaoh hounds or PHs, as the
breed nick-name goes, appearance – it just is a classicly unexaggerated beautiful dog.
The smooth coat and the red colour that glows in the sun just adds the dogs stylishness.
The pharaoh hound is a bit bigger than the average dog and a bit longer in body than in
height and above all it should be overall balanced. Nothing in PHs appearance should be
exaggerated and the wholesome should be harmonic and eye pleasing. The breed standard
describes the pharaoh hound like this: “Medium sized, of noble bearing with clean-cut lines.
Graceful yet powerful. Very fast with free easy movement and alert expression.” This sums
up well the appearance of the pharaoh hound and it should give the impression of a noble,
great postured clean-lined hunting dog that moved effortless.
The head and expression are a vital part of PHs look. Big mobile erect ears strongly indicate
the pharaoh hounds mood and they´re always in the move. It is said that the pharaoh hounds
gaze is timeless and wise – this is absolutely true and the amber coloured eyes are one of
the most beautiful features of the pharaoh hound.
Pharaoh hounds have two very human-like features: they smile and they blush. Smiling is a
breed feature for the dog and they smile often to their owners and close ones when they´re
excited and extremely happy. When blushing, the pharaoh hounds nose, eye rims and ears
turn bright red. The PH blushes often when it´s excited.
The pharaoh hound is not one of the easiest breeds and the owner of one has to be always
one step ahead of the dog, otherwise soon the pharaoh hound will decide what to do and when.
As a primitive and enterprising dog with strong hunting instincts one should always consider
long before getting one. A working dog-like obedient individual it will surely never be because
motivating the PH is difficult.
It is hard to estimate the age of the breed but we can say that there have been dogs of similar
type living in the Mediterranian for thousands of years. Relative breeds include among other the
The breed comes from the island of Malta where it goes by the name of Kel tal-Fenek which
means “the dog of the rabbit”. Actually the name pharaoh hound is incorrect because the PH
is not the dog of the ancient Egyptians. Most likely it does descend from the similar dogs that
Phoenicians brought to Malta in the ancient times. The pharaoh hound is still in its original use
in Malta as a rabbit dog and an alerting gueard dog. Sometimes it is also used for escorting sheep
and goats to pastures and for retrieving birds. It became the national breed of malta in 1977.
The first pharaoh hounds were brought to the Great Britain in the 1960s and into Finland in the 1970s.
REGISTRATIONS IN FINLAND 1994-2006:
The PH is a dog with a persona and all sort of different characters can be found. Some are
more modest and calm sofa charmers; some boisterous happy clowns with a good sense of humour
– many all of this.
Happy, playful, active and always alert are good words to describe the breed – it is always
ready to jump in action or play with its doggy friends. Specially when young the active and
energetic PH can drive its owners nerves to the extreme but it will settle down with age and
start thinking before acting at some stage...
The pharaoh hound loves its family from the bottom of its heart and its an excellent dog with
the children as well, although it is a quite of a “goofball” when young. PH trusts its owner completely
and its owner should be worthy of that trust and show it the respect it deserves. What has to be
noted is that even though the pharaoh hound is a special dog it should never be given a status
of a human in the family.
Maintenance is easy: the main words are ”when needed”. The smooth short single coat is washed
maybe two to four times a year and brushed occasionally. Ears and eyes are cleaned when needed
and the only regular thing is clipping the constantly growing nails once in a week or two.
Most pharaoh hounds live over ten years and visit the vet only for vaccinations. The results of examined
dogs are mainly excellent though there have been findings of patellae luxation, hip dysplasia and
hereditary cataract. There have been cases of allergy, karies, cancer and structural eye anomalies.
There are also missing teeth, chryptorchism and skin problems.
As an active and energetic hunting dog the best excercise for the pharaoh hound is definately running
free with another dog. Walking in a lead in the city is much less inspiring than sniffing after mice and moles
in the fields and forests. The owner of a pharaoh hound doesn´t have to be an athlete but inthusiasm
for roaming in the nature and for an active way of life is a great asset.
The main hobbies for pharaoh hounds are dog shows and track and lure coursing. Also there are agility,
obedience, tracking and therapy pharaoh hounds.
FCI-Standard N°248/ 09. 08. 1999 / GB
ORIGIN : Malta
PATRONAGE : Great Britain.
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD : 24.06.1987
UTILIZATION : An alert keen hunter, hunting by scent and sight, using his ears to a marked degree when working close.
CLASSIFICATION F.C.I. :
Group 5 Spitz and primitive types.
Section 6 Primitive type. Without working trial.
GENERAL APPEARANCE : Medium sized, of noble bearing with clean-cut lines. Graceful yet powerful. Very fast with free easy movement and alert expression.
BEHAVIOUR /TEMPERAMENT : Alert, intelligent, friendly, affectionate and playful.
HEAD : Foreface slightly longer than skull. Top of skull parallel with foreface, whole head representing a blunt wedge when viewed in profile and from above.
CRANIAL REGION :
Skull : Long, lean and well-chiselled.
Stop : Only slight.
FACIAL REGION :
Nose : Flesh coloured only, blending with coat.
Jaws/Teeth : Powerful jaws with strong teeth. Scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Eyes : Amber coloured, blending with coat ; oval, moderately deep- set, with keen, intelligent expression.
Ears : Medium high set ; carried erect when alert, but very mobile ; broad at base, fine and large.
NECK : Long, lean, muscular and slightly arched. Clean throat line.
BODY : Lithe with almost straight topline. Length of body from breast to haunch bone slightly longer than height at withers.
Croup : Slight slope down from croup to root of tail.
Chest : Deep, extending down to point of elbow. Ribs well sprung.
Belly : Moderate cut up.
TAIL : Medium set, fairly thick at base and tapering (whip-like), reaching just below point of hock in repose. Carried high and curved when dog is in action. Tail should not be tucked between legs. A screw tail undesirable.
FOREQUARTERS : Forelegs straight and parallel.
Shoulder : Strong, long and well laid back.
Elbow : Well tucked in.
Pastern : Strong
HINDQUARTERS : Strong and muscular. Limbs parallel when viewed from behind.
Stifle : Moderate bend of stifle.
Second thigh : Well developed.
FEET : Strong, well knuckled and firm, turning neither in nor out. Paws well padded. Dewclaws may be removed.
GAIT/MOVEMENT : Free and flowing ; head held fairly high and dog should cover ground well without any apparent effort. Legs and feet should move in line with body ; any tendency to throw feet sideways, or high stepping « hackney » action highly undesirable.
HAIR : Short and glossy, ranging from fine and close to slightly harsh ; no feathering.
COLOUR : Tan or rich tan with white markings allowed as follows : White tip on tail strongly desired. White on chest (called « the star »). White on toes. Slim white blaze on center line of face permissible. Flecking or white other than above undesirable.
Dogs: ideally 56 cm (22-25 ins = 56-63,5 cm),bitches: ideally 53 cm (21-24 ins = 53-61 cm).
FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.