What Are Pharaoh Hounds Really Like?

Looking out from the page of a magazine, the beautiful, elegant Pharaoh Hound seems to be gazing back into his mysterious past. Many people have this impression when they see a picture of a Pharaoh Hound for the first time.

Is the Pharaoh Hound really so serene and elegant? What is he really like to live with?

The AKC standard for the breed reads:

“Temperament—Intelligent, friendly, affectionate, and playful. Alert and active. Very fast, with a marked keenness for hunting, both by sight and scent.”

Indeed, the Pharaoh Hound is highly intelligent and most observant, traits that enable him to learn quickly and easily. He may not exhibit signs of learning at the time, but he will apply his knowledge when he needs it. For example, many Pharaoh Hounds actually know how to turn doorknobs and use handles. To these dogs, closed doors do not present a problem.

(Case in point: One pup I had sold watched his owner shower every day. One day, the owner came home to find his dog splashing happily in the shower. It became a routine, which changed only when the owner realized he had to put a latch on the bathroom door that was out of the dog’s reach.)

Every door in our house has a special latch. We have accepted that doorknobs are as easy for Pharaohs as for us.

Although the Pharaoh Hound is friendly and affectionate, he can be quite diffident with strangers, taking his time to decide whether to accept a new person or place. He should never be forced in a new situation but rather allowed to take his time to adjust to new people or places. Most Pharaoh Hounds adapt quickly, but there are some who will require patience on the owner’s part.

Pharaohs are extremely alert. I have often said that they can hear the grass growing. Indeed, if my dogs bark, I know that something or someone is on the property. I may not see what or who is there, but I have come to trust my Pharaohs implicitly, and when I investigate I always find the reason for the alarm. It might not be an important reason to bark, but Pharaohs will bark all the same. They are not quiet dogs.

The activity level of Pharaoh Hounds is high. There are times when they are couch potatoes—but that is only after they have run as much as you will allow them to. A Pharaoh Hound by himself will run as strenuously as when he is in a group, and if he has something to hunt or chase after, that is a plus, and he is in his glory. (This is the major reason for having a fenced-in area in which he can safely exercise.)

Quite the opposite is the Pharaoh talent for being therapy dogs. The busy, barky Pharaoh Hound can be quiet, gentle and patient, and many have qualified as certified therapy dogs. I must also mention those Pharaohs who are search-and-rescue dogs.

With all of the facets of the Pharaoh Hound temperament and personality, it is not surprising that the breed excels in obedience, lure coursing, agility, rally, and other performance events. They also excel in counter surfing, garbage removal, and general theft of articles small and large.

I close with this:

I was leaving for a visit to the dentist to have my partial plate repaired. I slipped it into my purse and was about to leave when the phone rang. I stopped to answer, and when I came back into the room, my purse was open and on the floor, and the partial was gone.

I looked at Calypso, who always smiles when caught being naughty, and said, “If you smile at me with my own teeth, I will kill you!”

She flashed me a $1,000 smile, less a few teeth.

I did not kill her. I was too busy laughing. Really, the Pharaoh had the last laugh.

Rita Laventhall Sacks, Pharaoh Hound Club of America (November 2012 AKC Gazette)

Pharaoh Hounds in the ring at the 2011 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show.