Pharaoh Hound – Rabbit Hunter with a Royal Air

Ever looked into the real face of Anubis? Pharaoh Hounds are not to be confused with greyhounds and look very similar to their Egyptian counterparts. But how closely related are the hounds of Malta really to the Tesem hounds of the pharaohs? We get to the bottom of the matter and check the breed for suitability as a pet.

What Makes Kelb tal-Fenek so Special? The Breed Standard at a Glance

Externally, the pharaoh hound resembles other hunting dogs from the Canary Islands and Spanish Podencos. In fact, all dogs of the type used to be referred to as pharaoh hounds until that term was assigned exclusively to the Kelb tal-Fenek. With an ideal height at the withers of 56 cm for males (sizes up to 63.5 cm are not considered a breeding fault) and 53 cm for females (up to 61 cm at the withers are accepted), they are significantly larger than their close relatives.

External characteristics from head to tail

  • Pharaoh Hounds are easily identified by their wedge-shaped head, with the forehead and bridge of the nose running parallel. The muzzle is slightly longer than the skull, with a slightly pronounced stop.
  • In relation to the head, the amber eyes are quite small. They are set deep and appear extremely intelligent and serious due to their oval shape.
  • The nose is always liver-colored.
  • The triangular erect ears are very mobile and large.
  • The muscular neck does not develop a dewlap, it is quite long and dry. It turns into a straight profile line. The ribs are well arched and also slightly tucked up.
  • Forequarters are straight and parallel, hind legs are moderately angulated with well-padded pads.
  • The whip-like tail is wide at the base and tapers towards the tip. When excited, it is worn bent upwards.

Fur and colors

Dogs of the breed only come in one coloration: all purebred Kelb tal-Feneks are rusty brown in color and have liver-colored skin. The coat is evenly short (a few millimeters), and the hair structure is smooth and shiny. It can feel harsh or soft. Deviating from this uniform standard, only small white markings on the chest or on the tip of the tail are allowed.

The True Origin of the Kelb tal-Fenek: Unfortunately no Living Anubis

It has long been assumed that the Maltese curb tal-Fenek descended directly from the Egyptian them. The dogs depicted in ancient Egyptian works of art are referred to as Team, which also served as models for the god of the dead Anubis or Seth. However, modern genetic studies indicate a relatively recent evolution of the breed over the past 200 years. So Pharaoh Hounds are not real pharaoh hounds, they could rather be described as typical Canarian dogs. The breed has only been known in this country since the 1980s. The Pharaoh Hound has been listed as an independent breed by the FCI since 1991.

Close relatives of the breed

  • The Cirneco dell’Etna from Italy (possibly a direct ancestor)
  • The Podenco Canario from Gran Canaria
  • The Podenco Ibicenco from Ibiza
  • The Segugio Italiano

Traditional rabbit hunters

Kelb tal-Fenek means something like “hound of the rabbit” – on Malta, the attentive dogs are used for rabbit hunting and work in teams on night hunts. Loud barking is used for communication, which is also used to guard houses and yards. The Pharaoh Hound has been the official national dog of Malta since 1979.

The Nature of the Kelb tal-Fenek – Funny Playmate with a Serious Look

The Pharaoh Hound’s playful and friendly nature surprises many strangers, who tend to read the seriousness and sharpness in his eyes. In fact, the breed is very family-friendly and can be kept with other dogs as well. Only with cats and small animals can they not live well together because of their pronounced hunting instinct.

Which holder fits the pharaoh hound?

  • Owners should maintain an active everyday life and enjoy being outdoors.
  • A Pharaoh Hound needs a lot of attention. You can’t just leave your dog at home on a 9-to-5 job, but he’s not exactly an office dog either. The breed is therefore not suitable for single owners.
  • The breed is known to bark. When playing and at strange noises, the guard dogs bark a lot and loudly. So they don’t just need a lot of space because of their height, preferably in a family home.

Characteristics of the breed at a glance

  • vigilant
  • Friendly
  • Playful
  • Compatible with conspecifics
  • Should not live in a household with small animals or cats
  • Intelligent
  • Barks a lot (when happy, excited, strange noises, etc.)
  • Loves a quiet environment
  • Instinctively guards home and family
  • Pronounced hunting instinct (especially in rabbits and hares)

Training a Pharaoh Hound – no Problem for Sensitive Owners

Dogs of the breed are considered to be easy to train: they respect their boundaries and are extremely willing to learn. However, beginners are easily tricked by intelligent hunting dogs. Before getting a puppy, do some research on the proper handling of active breeds, and get help from a dog school or dog trainer if you’re new to dogs.

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