Some of the oldest known dog breeds are Egyptian dog breeds. There aren’t many breeds that trace all the way back to ancient Egypt, but the ones that do have likely been around for longer than we can imagine. In fact, it’s even suggested that Egyptians were the ones to first domesticate dogs. This is because there are lots of Egyptian paintings depicting men walking dogs on leashes, including one on a tomb from 3500 BC. Plus, the Egyptians were known for keeping a wide range of domesticated animals. So, it’s no wonder that there’s lots of evidence of domesticated dogs in their history.
The following five dog breeds are all suggested to have originated from Egypt originally. However, some are more commonly seen around the world today while others are fairly uncommon. What’s certain about all of these Egyptian dog breeds is that each breed is especially unique.
#1 – Saluki
The Saluki is a hound dog with an exceptional sense of sight. They are an old breed that’s both elegant and athletic. Images of these dogs can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, but today, they are unique and loyal companions.
This breed is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back at least 5,000 years. Some experts suggest that the breed first appeared as early as 7000 b.c. Additionally, there are plenty of Egyptian tombstones and sculptures depicting a dog that looks a lot like a modern-day Saluki, which serves as evidence for this breed’s history.
Salukis were popular dogs for kings, much like similar sighthound breeds. They were kept by well-known rulers, including Egyptian pharaohs and Alexander the Great. These dogs were even suspected to exist in Egypt before the pyramids were built. Not much has changed for Salukis over the years because their appearance today is nearly identical to their appearance throughout history.
Salukis are often mistaken for Greyhounds with softer fur. This is because both breeds are sighthounds with a majestic appearance and long, skinny legs. The main difference is that Salukis have beautiful silky coats, often with short hair on their body, but longer flowing hair on their ears and tail.
While these dogs have moderately short fur, it still sheds a little. Weekly brushing is recommended for keeping a Saluki’s coat extra soft. These dogs can have a variety of coat colors, including cream, brown, black, white, and red. Salukis usually stand between 23 and 28 inches tall, and they can weigh anywhere from 35 to 65 pounds.
These dogs are incredibly fast, so they can chase down prey at ease. Even in a household environment, they love chasing small, furry animals, so they’re not a good dog to have around smaller pets. If they get plenty of exercise on a daily basis, they can be calm and docile companions. They love playing, but curling up on a comfortable couch is just as exciting for them. However, they’re not always the easiest dogs to care for due to their shy and solitary nature.
Unlike most dog breeds, the Saluki is fairly independent. They’re known to be stubborn and sensitive, so they don’t like it when things don’t go their way. Therefore, they need plenty of patience and positive reinforcements when it comes to training. Otherwise, they might think that they run the house. They can also be reserved and hesitant around new people, so it might take them a while to warm up to someone.
#2 – Basenji
The Basenji is another well-known Egyptian dog breed that’s also known as one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. These pups are most commonly known for the unique noises they make. Instead of barking like most dog breeds, they let out a distinct yodel or chortle sound.
Basenjis are commonly seen on Egyptian paintings, especially on the tombstones of Egyptian pharaohs. The first known domesticated dogs also closely resembled Basenjis. For many years, this breed was hidden away in African villages, where they were only used for selective breeding. However, breeding pairs were eventually brought to new locations, which is how the breed eventually entered the United States.
Basenjis are another hound dog breed that excels at both sight and sound. If needed, they can even run fast enough to hunt birds. Therefore, they were often sought after by tribesman in Africa. The present-day Basenji closely resembles its Egyptian ancestors, but it’s more commonly seem as a companion than a hunting dog.
Basenjis are medium-sized dogs, standing 15 to 17 inches tall and weighing 20 to 26 pounds. Their large, pointy ears and curly tails are some of their most notable traits. They are most commonly seen with brown and white coats, but it’s possible for there to be black, red, or brindle variants. While their coats are short, they can still shed a decent amount. So, weekly brushing is recommended, just like for most dogs with fur.
Basenjis are easygoing dogs. Because of this, they’re able to easily adjust to new surroundings. They even make great apartment dogs. But despite being small and calm, they aren’t recommended for inexperienced dog parents. Their personalities can be stubborn, independent, and reserved at times. They also have more advanced needs than meets the eye.
It might not look like it, but Basenjis require plenty of exercise and playtime to keep their minds busy. They were bred to have jobs that are both mentally and physically exhausting, so they need a family who can keep up with their adventurous spirit. Puzzle toys, agility courses, and outdoor adventures are great ways to stop Basenjis from developing unwanted behaviors. However, these pups can also be independent now and then, preferring time to themselves rather than with groups of people. So, they may be hesitant to warm up to strangers.
#3 – Ibizan Hound
Ibizan Hounds have the pointy ears of a Basenji and the skinny body of a Saluki. So, it makes sense that they would have a history in Egypt too. They are one of the least popular breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, but they can still make great companions for certain families.
Ibizan Hound History
This breed can easily be traced back to ancient Egypt, but they’re more commonly considered native dogs of the Balearic Islands, which are off the coast of Spain. Like the other breeds, they closely resemble some drawings found on tombstones and ancient artifacts.
Like the Saluki, this breed is a sighthound, making them determined hunters. They’re able to run and jump at high speeds, which is why they were used as rabbit hunters in their early years. Rabbit hunting wasn’t a sport, but it was more a matter of survival for the dogs and their humans. Therefore, these dogs are rarely used for this purpose today.
Ibizan Hound Appearance
Ibizan Hounds are known for their long, skinny legs and their large pointed ears. They are also quiet and graceful, so some people often compare them to deer. They typically stand about 24 to 28 inches tall, and they weigh around 45 to 65 pounds.
These dogs have a coat of fur that’s incredibly short, which makes them look even skinnier. They’re most commonly brown and white, but their coat colors can vary, including red, cream, and fawn variants. Additionally, they can have different eye colors too, including brown, hazel, and amber. While their coats are very short, they can still shed like any other dog with fur. Thus, occasional brushing is a good idea.
Ibizan Hound Personality
Since they’re hunting dogs, they need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. So, they prefer to have a family that loves to exercise and go on adventures. However, after a long day of running around and exploring, these dogs love to curl up next to you for a well-deserved nap. They tend to chase anything that moves though, so they might not be a good fit for a home with smaller animals.
Despite their strong history, these dogs are actually extremely sensitive. They get stressed easily, so they don’t do well in unfamiliar situations. Therefore, they’d prefer a home that’s laidback and not too chaotic. They thrive best with routine, and they may act reserved around new people. These dogs are often good watchdogs too, alerting you every time they see something that looks threatening.
#4 – Pharaoh Hound
Pharaoh Hounds closely resemble Ibizan Hounds, only even thinner if that’s possible. However, these dogs are less popular than Ibizan Hounds, but they can be just as high maintenance. Like similar breeds, these dogs have more than enough energy to spare.
Pharaoh Hound History
As the name implies, the Pharaoh Hound is one of the most recognized Egyptian dog breeds. They aren’t classified as native to Egypt, but they can easily be traced to Egyptian heritage. Not a lot is known about this breed’s past, but like the Ibizan Hound, these dogs were also thought to be used for hunting rabbits on the Island of Malta, which would explain their high energy levels. They were even named the national hound of Malta in 1979.
Pharaoh Hound Appearance
Pharaoh Hounds are tall and skinny, so they usually weigh 45 to 55 pounds and stand 21 to 25 inches tall. They really only come in solid colors, which are always shades of brown or red. They have pointy ears, a long snout, and a long tail. Their coats of fur are short and thin, but they still shed lightly. Only weekly brushing is needed for this breed at most.
Pharaoh Hound Personality
The main difference between the Ibizan Hound and the Pharaoh Hound is that the Pharaoh Hound is friendlier and more outgoing. They love to run around and play, and they quickly bond with their family members. Their friendly personality also makes them great around children. However, they love to chase wildlife, so they probably won’t do well with small animals in the household.
These energetic dogs need a family that’s just as active as them. They need plenty of time and space to run around daily, otherwise they could easily get bored and destructive. With enough exercise, these dogs should live a long, healthy life because they don’t have many common health concerns.
#5 – Baladi Street Dog
The Baladi Street Dog is not an official breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, but it’s the most common dog breed in Egypt. Many people just call them strays, but they can learn to be good family dogs with proper care.
Baladi Street Dog History
These dogs are strays that are native to Egypt and are often found along the streets and in the rural countryside. They share some common characteristics with other Egyptian dog breeds, but they’re not commonly kept as pets. In fact, many locals are not fond of them.
Since these dogs are increasing in population without being adopted enough, people are trying to find ways to fix the overpopulation problem. There are multiple successful spay and neuter campaigns in place for these dogs to help prevent too many dogs from breeding.
Baladi Street Dog Appearance
Since these dogs aren’t labeled as a specific breed, they also don’t have a specific description. In general, they look a lot like the other Egyptian dog breeds due to their short coats of fur and pointy ears. They likely have minimal shedding that would require weekly brushing. These dogs always seem to be a solid color, usually a light shade of brown. Since they frequently roam the streets though, many of them are possibly mixed breeds.
Baladi Street Dog Personality
Not a lot is known about these dogs’ personalities. Some seem to be hesitant or skittish around humans while others seem friendlier and more open to the idea of a family. Through spay and neuter campaigns, people quickly learned that these dogs can make good companions in the right home, so organizations are trying to adopt them out to good families. Like all breeds, their personalities can vary, and sometimes all they need is love to help their true selves shine through.
Which Egyptian Dog Breed is Best for You?
There are several dog breeds that trace back to ancient Egypt, and these five dogs all played significant roles in Egyptian culture. They all seem unique and different from most of the popular dog breeds today, but that doesn’t stop them from being great companions. All dogs can make great family members if given the chance, so take some time to consider the unique and lesser known dog breeds when choosing a new dog for your family.