5 Egyptian Dog Breeds

Learn about the ancient breeds with Egyptian origins

Basenji standing in front of a blurred forest background

Photographs by Maria itina / Getty Images

Some of the oldest dog breeds can be traced back to ancient Egypt. It's often suggested that it was the ancient Egyptians that domesticated dogs. There was even a tomb dating back to 3500 BC that had a painting of a man walking a dog on a leash.

Some of these ancient dogs have developed into the native Egyptian dog breeds that we know of today. There are also a few breeds that may not be classed as native to Egypt, but they have come from the country originally, and still closely resemble those ancient iconic dogs. Have you heard of them all?

  • 01 of 05

    Saluki

    saluki dog

    SerKucher / Getty Images

    The elegant and athletic Saluki is often argued as being one of the oldest of all dog breeds. Their history can be traced back over at least 5,000 years. With dogs resembling the modern-day Saluki featuring on Egyptian tombstones and sculptures. With their regal looks and athletic hunting prowess, they became much prized by Egyptian Pharaohs and other prominent leaders through history, like Alexander the Great. Their popularity grew across the Middle East, Egypt and Asia over the years.

    Like many Sighthounds, the Saluki is incredibly fast and usually has a high prey drive. They don't tend to be a good choice to live in a house full of small furry pets. Providing they get enough exercise, Salukis are known for being docile and calm around the home. They tend to enjoy nothing more than curling up on a comfy sofa.

    They can be rather independent and even stubborn, though, and they can sometimes be rather sensitive too. This means you will likely need more patience when it comes to training, although using lots of gentle, positive reinforcement can see great results.

    Although they aren't known for being a cuddly breed, Salukis do form strong bonds with their family and can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for too long.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 23 to 28 inches

    Weight: 40 to 60 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Feathered or smooth coat and they have distinctive long, softly feathered ears; come in white or cream, fawn, black and tan or grizzle and tan, and golden color varieties

  • 02 of 05

    Basenji

    Basenji standing in grass with dried leaves

    Ryhor Bruyeu / Getty Images

    The Basenji is another breed that is often quoted as being one of the oldest in the world. They also bear a striking resemblance to dogs that were painted on the tombstones of Egyptian Pharaohs. Over the years, the breeds excellent hunting skills became sought after by tribesman in Central Africa. During this time they became known as the Congo Dog. The word Basenji means 'village dog' in the Congolese language.

    Because they were hidden away in remote African villages, it meant that the breed has remained relatively untouched by selective breeding. The Basenji you see today, still very closely resembles its ancestors from thousands of years ago.

    Although Basenjis tend to be loyal, gentle and alert, they can have a very independent streak, and this can mean extra patience is needed when it comes to training. They tend to be reserved, and even aloof with new people, but do form strong bonds with their families. Don't expect a velcro, lapdog with a Basenji, though. They will seek attention on their terms.

    Because of their size, calm nature and the fact that they don't bark, they can make an appealing choice for apartment living. Although they aren't as high energy as some breeds, they do still need a decent amount of exercise to prevent problem behaviors surfacing as a result of boredom. Basenjis can be destructive, and they're agile climbers too.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 16 to 17 inches

    Weight: 20 to 25 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Smooth, short coat in chestnut red, black, brindle, or tri-color (black and red); all have white feet, chest and tail tip; may have white legs, blaze, and collar; tail is curled over onto the back

  • 03 of 05

    Ibizan Hound

    Ibizan Hound jumping through a meadow

    Kristiinatammik / Getty Images

    Okay, so, strictly speaking, the Ibizan Hound is considered as native to the Balearic Islands, off the coast of Spain. These elegant sighthounds, however, are another breed that can easily trace their original lineage back to ancient Egypt. Dogs bearing a striking resemblance to the breed have been found on various tombstones and historical artifacts.

    They became an integral part of Island life. Food could be scarce and these agile, leaping, high-speed and determined hunters were able to negotiate over the rugged terrain and bring rabbits back for their owners.

    Because of their high energy and great stamina, Ibizan Hounds are best suited to living in an active home that can offer them an outlet for their energies. Providing they get this, however, they're known for being calm, gentle and relatively quiet around the home.

    They're a sensitive breed that can be easily stressed, so, a tranquil household would be best for them. And, of course, ideally, they would live in a home without small furries as they have retained their hard-wired hunting instincts.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 23 to 28 inches (males); 22 to 26 inches (females)

    Weight: 50 pounds (male); 45 pounds (female)

    Physical Characteristics: Coarse hair that can be smooth or wiry; come in solid red, solid white, or white and red patterns; graceful, athletic-looking dog with distinctive large, pricked ears

  • 04 of 05

    Pharaoh Hound

    Pharaoh Hound standing in snow in a forest

     Eudyptula / Getty Images

    Like the Ibizan Hound, the Pharaoh Hound is another ancient breed that has traceable Egyptian heritage, even if they aren't classed as native to the country. It's another one thought to have come over to Europe with the Phoenician traders, before being developed on the Island of Malta.

    The breed shares a lot of similar traits with the Ibizan Hound in terms of looks and temperament. They were also primarily used for hunting rabbit on the Island. In Maltese, the breed is actually called 'Kelb tal-Fenek', and this means 'dog of the rabbit'. They're less reserved than the Ibizan Hound and known for being energetic, amiable and friendly. Their playful nature also means they often make good companions for respectful children.

    Pharaoh Hounds, given their background, may not be able to live alongside small furries, and you will have to work on a rock-solid recall and be mindful of where they're let off the leash as they can be prone to chasing wildlife.

    This breed is another one that was born to run, so they need plenty of exercise and would be suited to an active home. Pharaoh Hounds are known for being very robust and healthy dogs, with no major inheritable health conditions.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 21 to 25 inches

    Weight: 45 to 55 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short, smooth glossy coat that only comes in shades of tan; noble and athletic in appearance with large, pricked ears

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Baladi Street Dog

    Baladi Street Dog

    Ewelina Kol / EyeEm / Getty Images

    While Baladi dogs aren't classed as a breed, this type of dog is the most common in Egypt. These native stray dogs are prolific across the streets and rural countryside of the country.

    They share similar characteristics with some of their purebred relatives, including large pricked ears and a slim physique, but they look less refined and, arguably, more characterful.

    Over the years, these dogs have grown in numbers, and they have had a hard time with many locals reviling and even abusing them.

    In recent years, their plight has gained international recognition, and there's been a shift in the perceptions at a local level too about the Baladi Street Dogs.

    There are several successful spay and neuter campaigns on the go, and the dogs, which can make great companions in the right home, are being adopted overseas and even in their home country now too.

Many dog breeds can be traced back to having ancient Egyptian roots. There are several breeds native to Egypt, or with clear close links to the country that are still around today. Many of these breeds are prized for their athleticism, hunting skills and calm natures.

If any of the breeds described appeal to you, make sure you do your research before making a decision.

You need to consider if you can offer the right kind of lifestyle and if you have the right kind of experience. You should also make sure you find a reputable breeder or rescue organization.