The Breed History
This breed is among the most ancient and mimics the depictions of the Egyptian god, Anubis, the guide for the souls of the departed. First records date back to around 3000 BC. Skeletal remains that match Pharaoh hound body structure date back to about 5000 BC. Paintings and many Egyptian hieroglyphs depict this dog. So highly prized were these dogs that some were mummified along with the nobility. Some of these dogs were exported to the Isle of Malta, where they were carefully bred for over 2000 years. This rare breed is the National Dog of Malta. It was not until 1983 that the AKC registered the breed.
Breeding for Function
The historical record shows that this dog was used for hunting and as a companion. In Malta, they were used specifically for hunting rabbit. Their need for low food intake, agility, power, speed and grace are traits that were valued and selected for. They can hunt using scent and sight, plus sound. They have been successful in obedience and coursing competitions.
Height at Withers: female 21-24" (53-61 cm), male 23-25" (58.5-63.5 cm)
Weight: 45-55 lb (20-25 kg)
Coat: Short glossy hairs lie flat and the hairs are hard in texture. The coat is a rich red rust, tan or chestnut with limited white markings. A white star on the chest (The Star) and a white tail tip are especially acceptable.
Longevity: 12-14 years
Points of Conformation: These dogs are medium-sized with a high head carriage. All of the body structures are lithe and finely chiseled. There is an unusual breed trait called blushing. When very excited, because the blood vessels are so superficial, their dilation results in an increased rosy red flush affecting the ears and nose. Another breed characteristic is the strong amber pigment of the eyes. Palpebral margins, lip margins, and nose are all flesh colored. Eyes are moderately deep and close set, and ears are medium-large in size, set high and carried pricked high; leather is fine, and the pinnae are very broad at the base. The skull is long and the stop is minimal. The neck is long and muscular, with a small degree of arching and no throatiness. The topline is level, except for a slight slope down the croup. The tail is tapering and whip-like at the terminus, reaching below the tarsus while at rest. The thorax is deep, ribs are well sprung, and there is moderate tucking up of the abdomen. Limbs are straight boned, and the feet are medium in size with well knuckled up toes and strong large pads. Dewclaws fore and hind may be removed. The gait is long striding and smooth, and appears both powerful and effortless. When compared with the Ibizan hound, the Pharaoh hounds are smaller, have less extreme conformation and less white marking.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Intelligent, easily trained, friendly, and love children. They remain playful even as adults. They need close human contact. Pharaoh hounds have low grooming needs and don't get doggy odor even after becoming wet. They are active dogs and without adequate exercise they become obese easily. Not considered an apartment dog. They should be off leash in a fenced enclosure only. They are not considered watch or guard dogs, though they are aloof with strangers generally.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Sight hounds have lower normal ranges for T4 and T3 concentrations compared to other breeds.
Anesthesia: Sight hounds require particular attention during anesthesia. Their lean body conformation with high surface-area-tovolume ratio predisposes them to hypothermia during anesthesia. Impaired biotransformation of drugs by the liver results in prolonged recovery from barbiturate and thiobarbiturate intravenous anesthetics. Propofol, and ketamine/diazepam combination are recommended induction agents.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 2.4% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 1.5% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Reported in the breed, but too few Pharaoh Hounds have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. Reported as a problem in the breed, but too few Pharaoh Hounds have been screened for thyroid autoantibodies by Michigan State University to determine an accurate frequency. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Cataracts: Anterior or posterior intermediate and punctate cataracts occur in the breed. Reported in the breed, but too few Pharaoh Hounds have been CERF eye examined to determine an accurate frequency. CERF does not recommend breeding any Pharaoh Hound with a cataract.
Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal folds are recognized in the breed, but too few Pharaoh Hounds have been CERF eye examined to determine an accurate frequency.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Reported in the breed, but too few Pharaoh Hounds have been CERF eye examined to determine an accurate frequency.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Reported in the breed, but too few Pharaoh Hounds have been CERF eye examined to determine an accurate frequency.
The Pharaoh Hound is a rare breed, and there is little documented in the literature on health issues. Allergies, Demodicosis, Epilepsy, and Gastric Dilitation-Volvulus are reported to occur in the breed. Shoulder Luxation is reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Severe Zinc Responsive Dermatosis: Three of five puppies in a litter of 3-month-old Pharaoh Hounds presented with severe generalized erythematous-crusted papules, pruritus, footpad exfoliation, inappetence, lethargy, and retarded growth. Histologically, there was marked epidermal hyperplasia with a disorganized appearance of the epidermis and massive parakeratotic hyperkeratosis. Low serum zinc levels were documented, and the pups responded to intravenous, but not oral zinc supplementation. The affected dogs received IV zinc supplementation every three weeks to control their symptoms, but all expired over a course of 3 years.
Tests of Genotype: None
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Hip radiographs, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, CERF eye examination, and patella evaluation. (See CHIC website; www.caninehealthinfo.org). Recommend elbow radiographs and cardiac examination.
- Breed name synonyms: Kelb-tal Fenek (means rabbit dog), Pharoah Hound, Pharaoh.
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain)-P, ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 148 (72 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Pharaoh Hound Club of America: www.ph-club.org
The Pharaoh Hound Club (UK): www.pharaohhoundclub.co.uk
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