Pharaoh Hound

Pharaoh Hound

(Kelb tal-Fenek)

Group: Hound Group

Origin: Malta

– Males: 23 to 25 inches
– Females: 21 to 24 inches

Pharoah Hound
Ch. Siphra’s Flying Colours — Chase
Photo courtesy of Huntermoon Kennels

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Breed Profile

Pharaoh Hounds originated in ancient Egypt and were believed to have been brought from Egypt by the Phoenicians when they settled in Malta and Gozo. They are the national dog of Malta and are known as the Kelb tal-Fenek, Maltese Rabbit Hound, in their native country. They were bred for rabbit hunting, and have existed there for over 2,000 years. The breed is one of the oldest domesticated dogs in recorded history and was treasured for his hunting ability and his fondness of family. Today’s Pharaoh Hound still closely resembles his Egyptian ancestors. The breed was first brought to the United States in 1967 and the first litter born in the U.S. was in 1970.

The Pharaoh Hound is a medium sized, powerful, graceful, elegant and noble looking breed. He is clean-cut, well balanced with graceful lines and has an alert expression. His movement is very fast and easy. He is intelligent, friendly, affectionate and playful. He is also very active, alert and easily trained making him ideal for many dog sports and activities, including hunting, coursing, obedience competition, agility, and others.

The Pharaoh Hound’s coat is short and glossy and ranges from rich tan to chestnut tan with white markings as follows: A white tip tail; white on the chest (the “Star”); white on the toes; and a slim white snip on the centre line of the face. His eyes are deep set and amber in colour thereby blending with the coat and giving him an expression of intelligence.

Note: The “Pharaoh Hound” and “Kelb tal-Fenek” are names used for the same breed. In Malta, the breed has been named the Kelb tal-Fenek for several generations. The name “Pharaoh Hound” was given to the breed in the 1960s upon arrival in the United Kingdom. For additional information about the breed’s name, see Where does the Name “Pharaoh Hound” come from?

Health Issues

The Pharaoh Hound is a healthy breed and not prone to many of the problems commonly seen in other breeds. However, if you are considering the adoption of a Pharaoh Hound puppy, or any breed, it is still very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the main General Information page.)

Two health concerns seen in many Sighthounds and large breeds should be noted:

1. Anesthetics — Most members of the Sighthound family can be sensitive to a number of anesthetics. It is very important to discuss this with your Veterinarian in advance of any required surgery. For additional information, see: Anesthesia And Your Saluki from the Saluki Club of America.

2. Bloat — As with any deep-chested dog, the occurrence of Bloat or Gastric Torsion is a real possibility in the Pharaoh Hound. If you are not familiar with this condition, it is absolutely necessary to learn about it and know the symptoms — This is a real emergency and a life threatening condition that requires immediate Veterinary attention. See Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) – Bloat in the Health and Nutrition section of Canada’s Guide to Dogs for more information and First Aid for Bloat for an article describing some of the things you can do if you are faced with this situation.

Additional Health Resources:

Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

  • Kelb tal-Fenek
  • Lure Coursing
  • Whippets and Other Sighthounds — A very informative website dedicated to Sighthounds explaining why a Sighthound thinks and acts differently from other breeds of dogs.
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.

Breed Listing

*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

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