Pharaoh Hound Dog: Look out for the beautiful National Dog of Malta, the Kelb tal-Fenek!
Malta’s national dog is the Pharaoh Hound Dog or Kelb tal-Fenek as it’s locally known.
Growing to an average of about 50lbs, the Kelb tal-Fenek is very friendly, graceful and incredibly fast.
It's also a very good rabbit hunter. In fact, the Maltese name of this breed, i.e. Kelb tal-Fenek literally means "rabbit dog".
The Pharaoh Hound Dog also makes for a great companion. The coat of the Kelb tal-Fenek is sleek, short and quite smooth and is always a rich tan or chestnut colour.
When you see a Pharaoh Hound dog you will probably feel that you were immediately transported back in time to ancient Egypt, when King Tutankhamen ruled the country.
This is because the Kelb tal-Fenek looks very similar to the many hounds that can be found and seen in many Egyptian drawings, statues, etc.
This Egyptian “connection” however, has always been a source of controversy because many claim that the name Pharaoh Hound is very misleading, since scientific evidence shows that the Kelb tal-Fenek has no connection whatsoever to the ancient Egyptian hounds.
Nowadays, it’s not very common to see Pharoah hounds on the Maltese islands (especially in urban areas) although they do exist.
“Trendier” dog breeds such as pugs, golden retrievers, chihuahuas, etc are becoming more popular on the islands.
Nevertheless, the Kelb tal-Fenek is still one of the local farmers’ favourite dog breeds since it is a very loyal guard dog and also very good at accompanying goats and sheep. The Kelb tal-Fenek is also used as a gundog to retrieve quail and woodcock.
So your best bet to see a Pharoah Hound would be to go to the Maltese countryside.
The Pharaoh Hound is said to be one of the most ancient dog breeds in the world and it is believed that the ancient Phoenicians introduced the breed to the Maltese islands in 3000 B.C.
In the early 1960s, the breed started getting exported to the UK and the USA. Thanks to enthusiastic and dedicated Pharaoh Hound breeders, the breed is still virtually identical to how it was in ancient times.
Although its appearance makes it look like it’s a bit aloof, this cannot be further from the truth. The Pharaoh is in fact incredibly affectionate and loves bonding with people.
In 1977, a silver Maltese coin was made with a Kelb tal-Fenek on it. This coin marked the declaration that the Pharaoh Hound was to become the National Dog of Malta.
So if you’re visiting the Maltese islands anytime soon, don’t forget to look out for the beautiful and elegant Kelb tal-Fenek – Malta’s National Dog!