Dating to roughly 3000 B.C., the Pharaoh Hound’s history is fairly well-documented in paintings and carvings of ancient Egypt. This breed has long been treasured for its rabbit-hunting skills and fondness for family. King Tutankhamen had a Pharaoh Hound named Abuwitiyuw; when his beloved pet died, the King buried him in a coffin with fine linen, perfume and incense befitting a burial of a nobleman of the time. A striking statue of a dog virtually identical to a Pharaoh Hound was found at the entrance to King Tutankhamen’s tomb when it was excavated.
Most experts agree that the Pharaoh Hound originated in ancient Egypt and came to the island of Malta with Phoenician traders before the time of Christ. The Maltan breeders kept the breed pure for at least 2000 years, and as a result the modern Pharaoh Hound closely resembles its very oldest ancestors. The breed was used in remote regions of Malta to hunt the elusive island rabbit. Only the best specimens were incorporated into selective breeding programs. Similar breeds were developed on the nearby islands of Sicily and Ibiza, as well as on the Portuguese and Spanish mainland. The existence of the Sicilian Hound, the Ibizan Hound, the Portuguese Podengo and the Spanish Greyhound supports the theory that the Phoenicians actively traded Egyptian-type dogs in ancient times.
Pharaoh Hounds reportedly were first imported to England in the 1930s, but they did not gain significant popularity until the 1960s. In 1963, author Pauline Block brought Bahri of Twinley from Egypt to England. This Pharaoh Hound was the first to be shown in that country. The first Pharaoh Hound was brought to the United States four years later in 1967 by Ruth Taft Harper, with the help of Mrs. Block and her husband, General Adam Block. The first American Pharaoh Hound litter was whelped in 1970. Another breed enthusiast, Rita Laventhall Sacks, also brought Pharaohs from England and Malta to enrich the American gene pool and helped found the Pharaoh Hound Club of America in 1970.
The Pharaoh Hound was admitted into the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous Class in 1979. The breed was recognized for full registration in the AKC Stud Book in 1983, and became eligible to compete in the Hound Group in 1984. Today, this bred excels in conformation, lure coursing, hunting, field trials, obedience, agility and many other disciplines. He is an extremely affectionate and even-tempered dog that if well socialized will easily overcome his tendency towards shyness.
Both the Pharaoh Hound Club of England and the Pharaoh Hound Club of America use as their emblem the dog depicted on the tomb of Antefa II from the Eleventh Dynasty, dating to about 3000 B.C. A letter translated from the Nineteenth Dynasty describes the breed as follows: “The red, long-tailed dog goes at night into the stalls of the hills, he is better than the long-faced dog. He makes no delay in hunting, his face glows like a god and he delights to do his work.” Today’s Pharaoh Hounds still glow when they are happy, turning a deep rose color about their face.
The average life span of the Pharaoh Hound is 11 to 13 years. This is a remarkably healthy breed, with no particular breed predispositions to health problems.