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Pharaoh Hounds: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Pharaoh Hound temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Pharaoh Hound dog breed

The AKC Standard says, "Of noble bearing with hard clean-cut lines... very fast with a marked keenness for hunting."

The Pharaoh Hound belongs to a family of dogs called sighthounds, which were originally developed to hunt other animals. The slender, long-legged sighthound hunts by spotting movement across a vast distance, then running the animal down with lightning speed.

The Pharaoh Hound is athletic and playful, light on his feet and a jumper par excellence. Pharaoh Hounds move gracefully through your house, though some sprinting and leaping should also be expected. This breed can be most entertaining if you have a sense of humor.

Pharaoh Hounds are fond of being comfortable and can curl themselves into a surprisingly compact ball to fit whichever nook or cranny has the softest blankets.

The Pharaoh Hound needs a good deal of exercise, but is so swift and agile and has such powerful chasing instincts that he must be allowed to run only in a safe, enclosed area. Otherwise he'll be out of sight in a jiffy, pursuing anything that runs.

Usually sociable with other dogs, Pharaoh Hounds will pursue any smaller animal that runs.

Though extremely alert and quick to announce strangers, the Pharaoh Hound is not a guard dog. Indeed, he is both curious and cautious, hesitantly investigating new people, places, sights, and sounds. Early and ongoing socialization is required to avoid suspiciousness and build confidence.

Unlike most breeds in the sighthound family, the Pharaoh Hound can be quite a barker!

This sensitive breed prefers peace and quiet and soft-spoken people. He does not do well in an environment with chronic tension or loud voices.

Pharaoh Hounds can be touch-sensitive (startling when touched unexpectedly), so they should be trained with a very light hand on the leash and much more praise than correction.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium-sized, with a slender, elegant build
  • Has a sleek, easy care coat
  • Is extremely athletic and graceful – runs swiftly and jumps great heights
  • Is the most curious and playful of the sighthounds
  • Is more observant and cautious with strangers than other sighthounds, and thus makes a more alert watchdog

A Pharaoh Hound may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Providing a safe, enclosed area where he can gallop
  • Fearfulness and timidity when not socialized enough
  • Strong instincts to chase other living creatures that run
  • High fencing to prevent escapes
  • An independent "what's in it for me?" attitude toward training
  • Emotional sensitivity to stress and abrupt changes in schedule
  • Barking (the noisiest of the sighthounds)

A Pharaoh Hound may not be right for you.


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More traits and characteristics of the Pharaoh Hound

If I was considering a Pharaoh Hound, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough running exercise. Pharaoh Hounds don't need miles of running, but they also can't get by with a small yard and leashed walks around the block. They need regular access to a large fenced area – fenced because these dogs are chasing addicts with sharp eyesight for movement. If something catches their attention on the horizon, they will take off and not come back. The fence should be high – Pharaoh Hounds can clear six feet with little effort.

    See if there is a dog club in your area that offers an activity called lure coursing, which is chasing a mechanical lure in a controlled setting. This is an appropriate outlet for the full-speed galloping behaviors that are "hardwired" into your Pharaoh Hound's genes.

  2. Chasing other animals that run. Pharaoh Hounds are usually fine with the pets in their own family. But they are lightning-fast, and individuals with a strong prey instinct could seriously injure or kill any small running animal.
  3. The independent temperament. Sighthounds are very different from other kinds of dogs. They are independent thinkers who don't particularly care about pleasing you. They may display passive resistance by bracing their legs and refusing to move. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. Read my free online training programs.
  4. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Pharaoh Hounds need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become extreme shyness, which is difficult to live with.
  5. Emotional sensitivity. Be honest... is there tension in your home? Are people loud or emotional? Pharaoh Hounds are extremely sensitive to stress and can end up literally sick to their stomachs, with severe digestive upsets and neurotic behaviors, if the people in their home are having family problems. Sighthounds are peaceful dogs who need a peaceful, harmonious home.

    If you have toddlers, I do not recommend a Pharaoh Hound. These sensitive dogs often feel overwhelmed by the loud voices and quick movements that children can't help making – and stress and shyness may be the result.

  6. Barking. Most sighthound breeds seldom bark, but Pharaoh Hounds are different. Indeed, they often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

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