Pardon me, but these dogs really look weird! I can see how they get the name “Pharaoh Hound,” because they look for all the world like an ancient Sphinx. That shouldn’t be surprising, since the Pharaoh Hound originated in Egypt nearly 5,000 years ago.
As far back as 4,000 BC, Pharaoh Hound dogs were found in artwork. Apparently, they were the companions of nobles and kings. Ultimately, the Pharaoh Hound was taken to Malta by traders out of Phoenicia and even became the “official dog” of Malta.
The breed was still pretty much obscure in the West, though, until fairly recently when Pharaoh Hounds were imported into England in the 1930s. They weren’t really known in America until around 1967 and the first breed club was founded in 1984. The breed is still pretty uncommon but popular among people who admire his unique personality and his distinctive appearance.
The Pharaoh Hound is a powerfully-built dog, a bit taller than he is long with males typically standing 23-25 inches at the shoulder, and females a bit smaller at 21-24 inches. Regardless of gender, Pharaohs usually weigh between 45 and 55 pounds.
Pharaohs are clowns, plain and simple, at least with their own people. With strangers, they can be a bit aloof. They’re very willing to please, though, and very intelligent, which makes them very easy to train.
A Pharaoh Hound won’t do well in a disruptive household, though. He’s very sensitive, and very alert to the feelings of others in the household. So, if your household is in constant flux (maybe you have a blended family and the exes are causing trouble), think twice before getting a Pharaoh.
Also, make sure to socialize early on. This is true of any dog but even more important with the sensitive Pharaoh. Take him out on walks. Expose him to all sorts of people and conditions. The Pharaoh isn’t a big dog, but if he’s not properly socialized, he can be a force to be reckoned with.
Pharaoh Hounds are pretty healthy but can be prone to certain conditions. This is the case with any dog, so keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that your Pharaoh will ever develop any of these conditions. They’re possible but not necessarily likely.
Some dogs are more sensitive to anesthesia than others. If your dog needs surgery, you can usually count on your veterinarian to know how much anesthesia is going to be necessary. The thing with the Pharaohs, though, is that they have very low body fat, so what might be a good dose for another dog of similar weight could actually kill a Pharaoh. If you think that your vet doesn’t know about this (although most do), don’t be afraid to bring it up.
Allergies can be very common in dogs. Usually, they’re food allergies, which are easily treated by simply eliminating the food that is causing the problem. Other allergies can be caused by shampoos, flea powders, or different types of airborne allergens like mildew, pollen and dust.
Allergies aren’t uncommon in Pharaoh Hounds, and it wouldn’t be fair to a breeder to expect him or her to guarantee that your Pharaoh will never develop allergies. However, you can ask if any other dogs in the line have experienced allergies.
Pharaoh Hounds are calm but can be a bit barky. For this reason, they’re not always the best apartment dogs. Actually, they do best in a fenced yard, and if you go this route, don’t waste your time with electric fencing. A Pharaoh will happily take the punishment of the shock in exchange for the pleasure of getting out. You want a fence that can’t be busted through, or climbed over. Wood or chain link is best.
In cold weather, you should actually keep your Pharaoh inside regardless of his inclination to escape. Pharaohs don’t like the cold. You still need to exercise him, though, so take him outside on leash for at least half an hour every day. And keep in mind that if he sees a squirrel or another small prey animal, he’ll probably pull on the leash to the point of yanking your shoulder out of its socket. It’s just the nature of the Pharaoh Hound.
Pharaoh Hounds can be free fed. You can feed on a schedule if you like – about a cup-and-a-half to two cups of good dry food daily, served over two meals. Or, just buy a bag of dog food, dump it into a container, and let him have at it. Pharaoh Hounds are not “gorgers.”
If it looks like your Pharaoh is getting fat, though, you can start to feed on a schedule. Look at him first. With his butt between your knees, look down. Then touch. Can you see ribs? Can you feel them? If you can’t, he’s porking up a bit more than he should. You might want to think about not leaving the food out all the time. Feeding an approved amount a couple of times a day could fix the problem.
Coat and Grooming
Pharaoh Hounds have short coats with colors ranging from chestnut to rich tan, and possibly with a bit of white on his toes, chest, tail or the middle of his face. The Pharaoh will shed but not a lot, and you can usually keep the shedding to a minimum with brushing a couple of times a week.
Another great thing about Pharaohs is that they don’t shed much. When it comes to the rest of the grooming, it’s pretty basic. Brush his teeth a few times a week and clip his nails when they get overly long.
You should also check the ears periodically to make sure that they’re not red or smelly, which could indicate an infection. When cleaning, though, don’t ever insert anything into the ear canal – you don’t want to rupture the eardrum.
Also, check for sores and rashes or other signs of infections in the mouth, nose, eyes and on the skin. You want to be sure to identify any health problems early on, before they have a chance to take hold.
Kids and Other Pets
You’ll probably find that your Pharaoh Hound is very good with kids. I’m saying this, though, in the context that I always offer – that you should never, ever, leave any dog of any breed, or any temperament, alone with a child. It’s just not a good idea on any level.
If you’re going to have a kid in a household with a dog, you need to train the kid more than you do the dog. Teach your kids never to try to take food away from the dog, not to pull on tails or ears, and in general, just not to disrespect the dog. If you do, you’ll probably have no problems.
The Final Word
Pharaoh Hounds are like most dogs – very good with people, and even with children. They’re very sensitive, though, and have to be handled accordingly. If you’re ready to welcome one into your family, be sure that you’re okay with that. A Pharaoh can be a wonderful companion in the right environment. So give him that environment, and you’ll have a wonderful companion that you can love forever.