Egypt is home to six ancient dog breeds.

Basenji standing in front of a blurred forest background

Dog breeds dating back to ancient Egypt are among the oldest. It is often assumed that dogs were tamed by the ancient Egyptians. A artwork of a man walking a dog on a leash may be found in a tomb going back to 3500 BC. These dogs resemble the hieroglyphs and tomb artwork of Egypt's renowned dogs from ancient civilizations.

Some of these ancient canines went on to become the native Egyptian dog breeds we know today. Other nations in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Africa have adopted these indigenous breeds.

Breed Characteristics

Egyptian dogs are predominantly from hot, dusty deserts or the North African Mediterranean region. Their bodies are well suited to such regions, but not to Arctic or wet tropics. As hunters, shepherds, or security dogs, these bright, high-energy canines were developed for an active, working existence. These breeds require plenty of activity, mental stimulation, and a feeling of purpose today, just as their ancient forebears did.

Where you reside and the temperature can have an influence on a dog's happiness when picking a dog to join your family. Big dogs with thick double coats have trouble adjusting to hot or tropical conditions, whereas dogs with short, fine hair find severe or snowy winters too much for their unprotected bodies.

Here are 6 breeds to consider if you're interested in having one of the world's ancient breeds.

  • 01 of 06

    saluki dog

    The graceful and agile saluki is one of the oldest dog breeds, meaning "noble" in Arabic. Their origins may be traced back at least 5,000 years. Dogs that resemble the modern-day saluki may be seen on ancient Egyptian tombstones and artworks. Pharaohs admired these canines for their majestic appearance and athletic hunting skill, as did other historical figures like as Alexander the Great. Over time, nomadic tribes expanded the breed throughout the Middle East, Egypt, and Asia.

    The saluki, like many sighthounds, is extremely quick and has a high hunting drive, making it unsuitable for living with other tiny hairy pets. Salukis are known for being placid and prefer cuddling up in the house if they receive enough exercise. They have an independent, obstinate nature, are sensitive, and training outcomes require gentle, positive reinforcement. Despite their reputation as a loving breed, salukis build strong relationships with their families and are prone to if left alone for an extended period of time.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 28 inches

    Weight: 40 to 60 pounds

    Coat and Color: Feathered or smooth coat; softly feathered ears; white or cream, fawn, black and tan or grizzle and tan, and golden coat colors

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 17 years

  • 02 of 06

    Another historic breed is the basenji, whose name means "dog of the bush, village, or wild" in African languages. It also looks a lot like the dogs pictured on Egyptian pharoah tombstones. Tribes in Central Africa have long admired the breed's outstanding hunting abilities. Selective breeding has left the breed virtually unaffected. The modern basenji bears a striking resemblance to its forebears from thousands of years ago.

    Basenjis are loyal, kind, and alert dogs, but they may be obstinate at times, necessitating additional patience during training. They are reticent and even distant towards strangers, yet build deep ties with their loved ones. But don't expect a basenji to be a lapdog. When compared to cats, they will seek attention on their own terms. Because this breed does not bark, it is an appealing option for apartment dwellers. Even yet, modest exercise is required to prevent harmful behaviors from emerging as a result of boredom.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 17 inches

    Weight: 20 to 25 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth, short coat in chestnut red, black, brindle, or tricolor (black and red); all have white feet, chest and tail tip; may have white legs, blaze, and collar

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 14 years

  • 03 of 06

    The Ibizan hound is strictly speaking a native of the Balearic Islands, off the coast of Spain. These exquisite sighthounds have a genealogy that may readily be traced back to Egypt, where they were brought to Spain by ancient Phoenician sea traders. The appearance of this breed, which resembles dogs found on tombstones and ancient relics in Egypt, tells the narrative.

    These nimble, jumping, high-speed canines were tenacious hunters that crossed the tough terrain to bring back bunnies for their masters when food was limited on the Mediterranean islands. Ibizan hounds are ideally suited to busy families with no small animals because of their high activity, strong prey drive, and exceptional stamina. They are peaceful, polite, and reasonably quiet about the house after getting lots of exercise.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 28 inches

    Weight: 45 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Coarse hair that can be smooth or wiry; comes in solid red, solid white, or white and red patterns

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 04 of 06

    The pharaoh hound, like the Ibizan hound, is an old breed that can be traced back to the Nile Valley; its name is a homage to its ancient Egyptian ancestry. Phoenician traders brought it to Europe, where it flourished on the Mediterranean island of Malta.

    In terms of appearance and disposition, the breed is identical to the Ibizan hound. It was also largely employed for rabbit hunting; in Maltese, this active breed is known as "kelb tal-fenek," which translates to "rabbit dog." They have a friendlier, more lively personality than the Ibizan hound, making them suitable friends for respectable youngsters. This dog is best suited for an active family without tiny, fluffy creatures, since it was born to run and hunt.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: 21 to 25 inches

    Weight: 45 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth glossy coat that only comes in shades of tan; noble and athletic in appearance with large, pricked ears

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Baladi Street Dog

    Although the Baladi dog is not a pure breed, it is the most popular in Egypt. Salukis, pharaoh hounds, and Israeli Canaan dogs were used to create it. These native stray canines are common on the streets and in the country's rural regions. They have huge pricked ears and a thin frame, which they share with some of their purebred cousins. They have a rougher appearance but are lots of personality and make excellent companion dogs.

    These canines have become a nuisance as their numbers have increased over time. Many locals began to despise and even mistreat them, despite a worldwide outcry bringing attention to the problem. Several effective spay and neuter efforts have helped to reduce overpopulation, and Baladi dogs are being saved both internationally and domestically via local adoption programs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not a recognized group; mixed breed

    Height: No particular size, described as "medium-sized"

    Weight: Medium-sized generally means between 20 and 60 pounds

    Coat and Color: Brown, beige, black, and white

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 06 of 06

    Armant (Egyptian Sheepdog)

    The Armant is a and herding dog that is said to have derived from the French Briard. Napoleon's forces are said to have carried it to Egypt. This breed was created by crossing native dogs. The dog's name comes from the Egyptian town of Armant, where it was said to have originated in the early 1900s. Outside of Egypt, the breed is little recognized, yet it is widely employed as a herding dog and a livestock guard dog in Egypt. This breed is extremely devoted, forms strong ties with its owners, and adapts well to life with children.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not in a recognized group

    Height: 21 to 23 inches

    Weight: 50 to 65 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length, coarse, rough, shaggy coat; comes in black, tan, gray, and yellow

    Life Expectancy: 14 to 15 years

Breeds to Avoid

Egyptian breeds spread across more than 1,000 kilometers due to their intense drive and ability to hunt, herd, and guard. Dogs noted for their lazing, lapdog inclinations may disappoint you if you appreciate these breeds' great energy, intellect, and desire to get the job done. Mastiffs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and Chihuahuas are all Egyptian breeds with lower energy levels.