Pharaoh Hounds

At first glance, you might imagine that the Pharaoh Hound is a sculpture chiseled in sandstone of some ancient Egyptian king’s favorite dog. Then you see him run. As beautiful in motion as he is at rest, he’s also a funny and fascinating character. Like every breed, he has certain quirks that can make him difficult to live with unless he’s placed with just the right people. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering acquiring one of these dogs.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

He may look exotic and regal, but the Pharaoh Hound has a sense of humor. You will need one too if you're going to live with him. Variously aloof, playful, intense and goofy, he thinks for himself, steals food whenever and wherever it's available, chases moving objects at every opportunity and can flat-foot jump a six-foot fence. Plan on increasing the height of your fence to eight feet if you want to keep him contained. And forget about an underground electronic fence that gives a shock when the dog crosses it. He'll blow right through that without a second thought -- and he won't come back.

The Pharaoh Hound's athleticism makes him a natural at agility and lure coursing, and he can also do well in obedience, rally and tracking. He'll enjoy regular exercise of 20 to 30 minutes daily, on leash, plus free play in his well-fenced yard. Once those needs are met, he's satisfied to be a couch potato, lounging on your furniture, preferably in a sunny spot, and rousing only to bark if someone comes to the door.

Pharaoh Hounds love kids and will play with them for hours. They may be too rambunctious for families with toddlers, however. The Pharaoh Hound is also good at entertaining himself. He'll check in on you once in a while to see if you're doing anything interesting, but he's not one to dog your footsteps.

His short, glossy coat is easy to groom. Give it a weekly brushing to remove dead hairs, and trim nails, brush teeth and clean the ears regularly.

Because it's attention, the Pharaoh Hound enjoys training. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, and keep training sessions short. He hates repetition, especially when he already knows the action being requested.

Pharaoh Hounds bark. Teach them early on when it's okay to bark and when it's not or you will end up with a nuisance barker. They also dig. So even if your Pharaoh Hound can't jump your fence, he may well be able to dig beneath it unless you have taken steps to make it dig-proof.

Sighthounds are attracted by movement, and the Pharaoh Hound will happily chase cats and other small furry animals. If he is brought up with them from an early age, he can live amicably with cats or small dogs. Even so, it's best to supervise them when they're together and to separate them when you're not home.

With his thin coat and bony body, it goes without saying that the Pharaoh Hound needs to live in the house, preferably with access to soft furniture or bedding, and never outdoors. He isn't built to withstand cold weather, and besides, he loves his people. It's an unhappy Pharaoh Hound who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Like most dogs, Pharaoh Hounds can become bored when left to their own devices. They can easily become noisy or destructive if they don't have other dogs to keep them company or don't receive much attention from their people.

When he's done something that makes you angry --and he will --don't count on a show of remorse. The Pharaoh Hound knows that all he has to do is flash a toothy grin or show you his patented Pharaoh Hound bounce, and you'll forgive him. Sooner or later.

Health Issues Common to Pharaoh Hounds

The Pharaoh Hound is an extremely healthy breed overall. In the hope of controlling the genetic diseases that already affect the breed and prevent any new ones from emerging, the Pharaoh Hound Club of America participates in a program operated by the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). It requires that breeders test all their breeding dogs for kidney, heart and hip diseases that occur in the breed.

Your puppy's breeder should have written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the University of Pennsylvania (PennHip) that your puppy's parents' hips are free of dysplasia, a genetic hip deformity that requires costly surgery to repair and can lead to arthritis later in life. OFA certification that the parents are free of knee and thyroid disease is also required, as is Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) documentation that their eyes and vision are normal.

The general good health of the Pharaoh Hound is a very strong motivation for good breeders to continue to do health clearances on their breeding stock, not an excuse to avoid genetic tests. Puppy buyers can do their part by supporting those breeders in their efforts by seeking out their dogs.

A good breeder will be able to discuss how prevalent all health problems, those with and those without genetic screening tests, are in her dogs' lines, and help puppy buyers make an informed decision about health risks to their dog.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Low $1,500-$6,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Pharaoh Hound Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. The best source for a good breeder is the website of the Pharaoh Hound Club of America; choose one who is committed to following the PHCA's Code of Ethics.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Pharaoh Hounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Pharaoh Hounds can live as long as 16 years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Pharaoh Hound to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Pharaoh Hounds

Pet insurance for Pharaoh Hounds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Pharaoh Hounds are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Pharaoh Hounds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Pharaoh Hound is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.