Pharaoh Hound: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

pharaoh hound under branches

 SergeyTikhomirov / Getty Images

The Pharaoh Hound is a medium-sized dog breed from Egypt with a long and thin build, large pointed ears, and a short, glossy coat. This breed has been used to hunt rabbits on the island of Malta for thousands of years. Some of these dogs are known to show all of their teeth in a special Pharaoh Hound smile, and they also have an especially unusual characteristic—they can blush when they're excited, earning the nickname "Blushing Dog of Malta."

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

Height: 22 to 25 inches (males); 21 to 24 inches (females)

Weight: 40 to 60 pounds

Coat: Short and glossy

Coat Color: Rich tan to chestnut, golden-red, or tan

Life Span: 11 to 14 years

Temperament: Intelligent, energetic, playful, affectionate, loyal

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Egypt

Characteristics of the Pharaoh Hound

The bouncy Pharaoh Hound is an energetic dog breed with a playful personality, always interested in what’s going on in the household. This sighthound (bred to hunt by sight) is used to working in packs, which means it's especially dog-friendly and gets along well with new people. Kids and the fun-loving Pharaoh Hound make great playmates, although these boisterous dogs might accidentally knock over a small child if not supervised by adults.

This breed has a high prey drive, so while Pharaoh Hounds can do well with cats when raised together, they're likely to chase other pets like birds and small mammals. They have a tendency to bark at suspicious sounds to alert their family. Since Pharaoh Hounds have such a friendly temperament with humans, they're more likely to engage a stranger in play than to guard the home front.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Pharaoh Hound

One of the oldest recorded dog breeds, the Pharaoh Hound originated in Egypt thousands of years ago. Evidence of the breed’s ancient history lives on today in beautiful works of art depicting Pharaoh Hounds. These sculptures and paintings found in Egyptian temples date as far back as 4400 B.C. 

At some point in history, the Pharaoh Hound was brought to the Mediterranean island of Malta, possibly by the Phoenicians, where the dogs were used to hunt rabbits. The Pharaoh Hound has been known in Malta for more than 2,000 years, where it has remained virtually unchanged from its ancestors that are seen decorating Egyptian tombs. Today, the Pharaoh Hound is the national hound of Malta. It was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1983 and is now a member of the Hound Group. 

Pharaoh Hound
The top photo is a painting from the tomb of Antefa II, dating from 2300 B.B. The bottom photo is Kilcroney Rekhmire Merymut, the top Pharaoh Hound in Great Britain in 1973 and 1974. Bettmann / Getty Images
Pharaoh Hounds
Agency Animal Picture / Getty Images
Pharaoh Hound up close
Agency Animal Picture / Getty Images

Pharaoh Hound Care

Caring for a Pharaoh Hound is similar to other hound breeds, as these dogs require plenty of exercise but minimal grooming to stay happy and healthy. When it comes to training, this intelligent breed can learn new things with positive-reinforcement methods, though it has a stubborn streak that may prove difficult at first.


The Pharaoh Hound was born to run, and it needs appropriate outlets for this abundant energy. Provide daily running opportunities in a safely enclosed area, and include one or two daily walks in your routine as well. Younger dogs will need to stretch their legs more frequently (three or four times a day), but older Pharaoh Hounds can usually be satisfied with about 30 minutes of exercise per day.

When getting enough activity, Pharaoh Hounds are generally content to spend the rest of their day relaxing at home, perhaps with an impromptu play session indoors. A great outlet for Pharaoh Hounds is the canine sport of lure coursing (chasing a fake rabbit across a field).


The Pharaoh Hound’s short, fine coat sheds very little. Truly "wash and wear," the Pharaoh Hound requires little brushing and infrequent bathing. A simple weekly wipe down over the body with a damp cloth is often all that is needed to keep the coat glossy. Pharaoh Hounds do not typically have doggie odor, so bathe only when dirty. Clean the ears weekly with a pet-safe ear cleaner and trim the nails regularly.

Because the Pharaoh Hound’s coat is very thin, they do not tolerate cold well. It's recommended to provide extra cold-weather care for this breed. They cannot be left outside in cold weather, and many Pharaoh Hound owners outfit their dogs in warm coats for winter walks. Even indoors, Pharaoh Hounds feel the chill of winter; fleece jackets or even flannel pajamas are recommended by the Pharaoh Hound Club of America, which is the national parent club for the breed in the United States. These dogs also love to snuggle under a blanket with their owners to keep warm. 


Although highly intelligent, Pharaoh Hounds aren’t particularly obedient in the sense that they are independent-minded and won’t just do something because you ask. Training must be entertaining and fun. Make it a game and use positive methods with plenty of treats, toys, or playtime as rewards for your Pharaoh Hound to thrive. Basic obedience training can begin when puppies are eight weeks old.

Pharaoh Hounds have a high prey drive and will chase after anything they see or smell. Because of this, Pharaoh Hounds can never be off-leash or they may run away, possibly into dangerous situations like oncoming traffic. While consistent training can help improve your dog's recall skills, it's best to keep your Pharaoh Hound on a leash or in a safely enclosed fence for exercise, play, and training sessions. 

Pharaoh Hound lurecoursing
olgagorovenko / Getty Images
Pharaoh Hound
 Eudyptula / Getty Images
Pharaoh Hound
SergeyTikhomirov / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

The Pharaoh Hound is exceptionally healthy for a purebred dog, though some common problems may arise in this breed. Responsible breeders will complete all relevant medical tests for their dogs to prevent parents from passing problems down to puppies. The following are some conditions to be aware of with this breed:

  • Cataracts: Like humans, dogs can develop this eye disease that causes a cloudy appearance, and in severe cases, loss of vision.
  • Epilepsy: This neurological condition causes seizures in dogs and may be treated with medication in mild to moderate cases.
  • Hypothyroidism: Affecting the thyroid, this condition prevents the dog's body from producing healthy levels of hormones.
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV or Bloat): Common in large-chested dog breeds, Bloat is a condition in which gases expand in the stomach and cause it to twist. Your veterinarian may recommend preventative surgery to tack the stomach down.
  • Allergies: Many types of dogs are prone to allergies, but the Pharaoh Hound's short coat can make it more susceptible to itchy skin conditions or environmental allergies.

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your Pharaoh Hound high-quality dog food with plenty of protein. Since this breed is prone to Bloat, it's best to feed several smaller meals throughout the day rather than free-feeding. This can also help prevent weight gain, which could contribute to other health issues in the future if not dealt with early on.

Consult your veterinarian to determine a healthy diet and portion schedule for your Pharaoh Hound based on your specific dog's age, weight, and activity level.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Pharaoh Hound

While it's an especially rare dog breed, some adult Pharaoh Hounds or Pharaoh mixes end up in rescues occasionally. Check your local shelters or breed-specific rescues in your region to give a Pharaoh Hound or similar breed a forever home.

If you'd like to adopt a puppy, research reputable breeders who readily provide the medical history of the litter's family and allow you to meet the parent dogs. Since these puppies are hard to find, they can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 depending on their pedigree and availability. Prospective adopters should be prepared to join a waiting list or travel for breeder puppies.

To start your search, check out these resources for Pharaoh Hound rescues, the national breed club, and the AKC:

Pharaoh Hound Overview

  • Family-friendly, playful with kids

  • Low-maintenance grooming

  • Calm in the house when properly exercised

  • High prey drive

  • Not reliable off-leash

  • Needs considerable exercise to stay healthy

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you like the Pharaoh Hound, you might also like these breeds:

There are plenty of different dog breeds that can become your next best friend. With a little research, you can find the perfect one to join your family!

  • Are Pharaoh Hounds Aggressive?

    Pharaoh Hounds are known for being great family dogs that get along well with kids, adults, and strangers. They also do well with other dogs (and cats, when raised together), but this breed's high prey drive means it may chase smaller pets like birds or other mammals.

  • Can Pharaoh Hounds Be Left Alone?

    Like many hound breeds, Pharaoh Hounds bond closely with their owners and can develop separation anxiety if left alone too often. This breed is ideal for families that want to exercise with their dogs and bring them along for activities.

  • Do Pharaoh Hounds Shed?

    Pharaoh Hounds are not hypoallergenic dogs, and they are still prone to shedding. However, their short coats only shed a low amount that is very manageable with regular brushings.