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The national hound of Malta and one of the oldest known breeds of domesticated dogs, the Pharaoh Hound – Kelb tal-Fenek in the native tongue, which means “rabbit dog” – is a sleek, athletic, and intelligent canine highly valued by Maltese farmers, hunters, and sportsmen alike. Though highly energetic, it is also very adaptable and can get along quite well with young children, and – to a certain extent – other household pets as well.
Beyond its unique, svelte looks and form, however, there’s more to the Pharaoh Hound than meets the eye. Here’re four quick and interesting facts about them:
The Pharaoh Hound gets its name due to its resemblance to the images found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Despite the name, though, it has no actual link to Egypt whatsoever. According to information from 2004’s Genetic Structure of the Purebred Dog from Princeton’s Kruglyak Lab, DNA analysis reveals that the Pharaoh Hound has no roots in Egypt at all. It may look the part, but that’s as far as it goes.
Being quite athletic, Pharaoh Hounds are well-suited to the sport of dog agility and lure coursing. They can jump very high, and can at times escape from enclosures meant to keep them in if they are five feet in height or lower.
When excited or happy, Pharaoh Hounds let you know it. Here’s what the Pharaoh Hound Club of America says:
“…when excited, the Pharaoh Hound smiles and blushes. It is common to see a Pharaoh Hound showing you every tooth in its mouth while wiggling its entire body. Not every Pharaoh Hound “smiles”, however, every Pharaoh Hound blushes. When excited, the inside of their ears and the nose turn a rosy pink. This is because the Pharaoh Hound has no black pigment in their skin.”
During the 1960’s, some dogs were brought to the United Kingdom over from Malta, and a litter was subsequently born. In 1974, The Kennel Club – the oldest recognized kennel club in the world – recognized the breed. The twist in this story is that during that time, there was a breed already going by the name of the Pharaoh Hound, and it wasn’t the Kelb tal-Fenek from Malta – it was Ibizan Hound.
This changed in 1977, when the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (World Canine Organization) – the Belgium-based international federation of kennel clubs – decided to simply call the Ibizan hound by its original Spanish name Podenco Ibicenco and to recognize the Kelb tal-Fenek as the Pharaoh Hound that we know it is today.
There we have it – the Pharaoh Hound: friendly, athletic, intelligent, and indeed, quite interesting.
References: Wikipedia, Pharaoh Hound Club of America, Princeton.edu, the Kelb tal-Fenek website by Peter Gatt and Jan Scotland.
About the Author: Andre Salvatierra is a freelance writer who loves culture, technology, well-designed things, and great experiences.