A hunting account of the XIX Egyptian dynasty provides an appropriate depiction of the Kelb tal Fenek of today:
“The red, long-tailed dog goes at night into the stalls of the hills. He makes no delay in hunting, his face glows like a God, and he delights to do his work.”
Still today, the Kelb tal Fenek is well-known for “blushing,” which is the inclination of its nose and ears to flush with blood and “glow” whenever the dog is excited. This breed is amongst a variety with a legitimate claim of the most ancient and appears to have changed little in the last three thousand years.
The Kelb tal Fenek resembles the jackal god Anubis and dogs portrayed on the tombs of the Pharaohs of Egypt, and later, dogs showcased in ancient Greek art. The dogs may have been introduced from Greece and North Africa, the Islands of Malta and Gozo by Phoenician traders, where they became primarily isolated from the rest of the world.
The Kelb tal Feneks flourished as rabbit dogs. Often at night, several hounds would be released to locate a rabbit’s scent: they would bark when the rabbit went to ground, which was usually in a rocky crevice or stone wall. A ferret with a bell attached would be sent after the rabbit, and a single hound would follow its progress by sound until the rabbit was flushed and apprehended by the dog.
The Kelb tal Fenek is currently the National Dog of Malta. The breed was rediscovered and imported to England and later to America in the 1960s.
Although this breed is considered a sighthound in the United States, it hunts by scent, sight, and hearing. Its build is like an unexaggerated Greyhound, with a combination of grace, power, and speed, enabling it to run along rocky ground and walls nimbly. It possesses a good nose. Its large mobile ears allow it to follow animals underground. Kelb tal Feneks are slightly longer than tall; the gait is flowing and accessible, with the head positioned high.
|Energy level||Watchdog ability|
|Exercise requirements||Protection ability|
|Affection level||Cold tolerance|
|Friendliness toward dogs||Heat tolerance|
|Friendliness toward other pets||Friendliness toward strangers|
|Ease of training|
Activity level: moderate. The Kelb tal Fenek embellishes any opportunity to stretch its legs within a safe open area; however, it does very well with long daily walks on a leash and an occasional sprint. The dog does better with soft bedding.
Grooming: The Kelb tal Fenek is low maintenance and only requires occasional brushing to get rid of dead hair.
Coat: Short and glossy.
Color: Chestnut or tan, with a white tail-tip desired.
Year recognized by the AKC: 1983
- Popularity: Very rare
- Family group: Sighthound
- Country of Origin: Malta
- Date developed: Ancient times
- Original purpose: Hunting rabbits
- Today’s purpose: Lure coursing
- Other names: Pharaoh Hound
Kelb tal Fenek Temperament
The Kelb tal Fenek is a gracious and graceful addition to any home. The dog is an exuberant chaser and a keen hunter. Although these hounds are calm indoors, they do love to run. It is loving, gentle, sensitive, and excellent with children and other dogs; however, it will chase smaller animals. Kelb tal Feneks are reserved with strangers, and some are even timid. They’re independent and are highly willing to please. The breed possesses a unique characteristic of “blushing” whenever excited, with the ears and nose turning a rosy color.
- Main concerns: none
- Minor problems: none
- Rarely seen: patellar luxation, CHD, hypothyroidism
- Recommended tests: (hip, (knee), (thyroid)
- Life span: 11 to 14 years
- Note: Sensitive to barbiturate anesthesia
- Weight: 45 to 55 pounds
- Height: male – 23 to 25 inches; female – 21 to 24 inches
Breeder and Buyer’s Advice
The Kelb tal Fenek is a scarce breed; therefore, the breeder pool in North America is not that large. The best way to find Kelb tal Fenek puppies for sale is to go to the parent club’s website (Pharaoh Hound Club of America), where you will find a list of approved breeders in your area. The average Kelb tal Fenek puppy price is about $2000 to $3000. However, prices vary depending on the breeder and the puppy’s pedigree.
Parent club: Pharaoh Hound Club of America (https://ph-club.org/); founded in 1970
Rescue: You can find information on the parent club’s website about Pharaoh Hound rescues (https://ph-club.org/phca-rescue/)