While it’s not known exactly when dogs became such a big part of human society, one thing we do know is that the ancient Egyptians valued them almost as much as we do now.
They were utilized by the police and military, trained as guard dogs, used for hunting, and of course, kept as pets. In fact, they were so beloved that they were often mummified and buried with their owners so they could keep them company in the afterlife. Some pups even received their own burials, and certain cemeteries had sections reserved exclusively for dogs.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Egypt has given us several wonderful dog breeds over the years. While the list of Egyptian dogs may not be as long as ones from other countries, that may be due to the fact that Egyptian dogs served as the base on which other breeds were built.
Here are a few of our favorite Egyptian breeds:
1. Pharaoh Hound
You’d expect a breed named the “Pharaoh Hound” to come from Egypt, and these dogs don’t disappoint — or do they? As it turns out, many experts suspect that while these dogs are commonly associated with Egypt, they didn’t originate there. Instead, it’s thought they were brought to the country from Europe by Phoenician traders.
They’re one of the most ancient breeds on Earth, and they were largely used for hunting rabbits. This breed is extremely energetic and equally friendly, making it a great pet for anyone with enough energy to keep up with them.
2. Baladi Street Dog
Also known as the Thebes Land Dog, the Baladi Street Dog is the most common dog in Egypt. These are strays that populate city streets across the country, and as such, they’re not a proper breed, even though they’re often referred to as one.
They have long, lean bodies and pricked ears, causing them to resemble Dingoes or other semi-feral breeds. They can make wonderful pets, but unfortunately, they’re prone to being abused by members of the public who don’t appreciate encountering packs of strays every time they venture out into the street.
Known for their curled tails that pile up on their backs, Basenjis are often seen depicted on the tombstones of ancient Pharaohs. They’re also quite common in Africa, where they’re sometimes referred to as “the Congo Dog.”
These dogs are fantastic hunters, and they were often entrusted to use their own instincts while on a hunt. As a result, they’re extremely independent, even while being friendly and outgoing. They’re calm and somewhat aloof, making them a poor choice for anyone who wants their pup permanently attached to their lap.
The Saluki may be the oldest dog breed on the planet. Resembling a long-haired Greyhound, these dogs have been depicted on all types of ancient artifacts. Their regal demeanor and ability to run down nearly every possible prey made them extremely valuable to Egyptian royalty, and military leaders from other countries often traded for them as well.
They’re incredibly fast and need a great deal of exercise, and they shouldn’t be kept in a house with smaller animals, as they’re quite incapable of turning off their prey drive. Once they’re tuckered out, though, they’re likely to spend the rest of their day sleeping rather than bothering you.
5. Ibizan Hound
There’s a certain amount of controversy as to where the Ibizan Hound originated, as some believe that they came from the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. Others, however, point to the fact that mentions of the breed have been found on ancient Egyptian artifacts as proof of their true heritage.
Regardless of their place of origin, the Ibizan Hound is an extremely athletic dog that can easily handle virtually any terrain. They’re energetic and require a ton of exercise, making them a poor choice of pet for apartment dwellers or sedentary owners. For everyone else, though, these dogs are affectionate companions that can truly make your house into a home.
6. Egyptian Armant Herding Dog
A medium-sized sheepdog, the Egyptian Armant Herding Dog is one of the lesser-known and rare breeds on the planet. It’s thought that they originated when Napoleon brought his Briards with him on a march through Egypt; those dogs then bred with local street dogs, creating the Armant.
Despite not being popular outside of Egypt, these mutts are commonly used for everything from herding livestock to guarding valuables, making them an excellent working dog.
While Egypt’s native dogs might not be as popular around the world as those from some other countries, they’ve managed to produce truly spectacular breeds. Most of their animals are designed for hunting, making them energetic and intelligent, but they make excellent pets as well.
Every one of the dogs on this list would make a wonderful companion, so we can certainly understand why ancient Egyptians often wanted to be buried with them.
Featured Image Credit: WoodmonkeyPhoto, Wikimedia Commons