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The Kelb tal-Fenek
An Introduction to the Breed

Kelb tal-Fenek, hunting in typical Maltese landscape

The Kelb tal-Fenek is a breed of Mediterranean hounds, whose country of origin are the Maltese Islands.

Still  today, the Kelb tal-Fenek is kept and bred in the Maltese countryside. He is highly appreciated by the local farmers as an outstanding rabbit hunter, hence the breed name, which in Maltese means: 'The Dog of the Rabbit'. But the Kelb tal-Fenek is also a reliable guard dog, accompanies goat and sheep on their way to the meadows and retrieves any kind of feathered prey.

The breed is known world wide by the misleading name 'Pharaoh Hound'. The only reason for this name, which has been given to the breed by British fanciers in the 1960'ties, is the breed's superficial resemblance with some ancient Egyptian depictions and statues. However scientifically founded proof for a possible connection of our modern Kelb tal-Fenek with the hounds of ancient Egypt has never been delivered. Just the opposite: A study about the genetic origins of purebred dogs, which has been carried out by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (USA) with support of the American Kennel Club and which has been published in May 2004, indicates that the Kelb tal-Fenek has been developed in more recent times out of dogs of different origins.

With the following articles, we want to give you a first impression of this unique and loveable breed, and we would like to encourage you to regard it as what it really is: An important part of Malta's national heritage, with deep roots in the landscape and culture of the Maltese Islands - Il-Kelb tal-Fenek, the National Hound of Malta!