The dogs of Ancient Egypt were mostly working animals. They accompanied their owners on hunting trips and were frequently used as guard dogs. Dogs were considered to be much less important and it was a common Ancient Egyptian insult to refer to someone as a dog.
Cats were used on hunting trips to fetch birds and fish from marshes around the Nile River. They took on a spiritual importance and were considered to be a sacred animal with magical powers. Several gods and goddesses were associated with cats, the most famous was the goddess called Bastet.
Egyptian street dogs are the most common type of dog in Egypt. Like all dogs, they are descendants of domesticated wolves. But unlike purebred dogs, street dogs don’t belong to a particular breed.
In Arabic, ‘Baladi’ means “of town’ “local” and “rural”, comparable to English “folk” with a lower-class connotation.
At times domestic dogs were buried as sacred animals in the Anubieion catacombs at Saqqara. Some texts include references to prisoners as “the king’s dogs”.
Ancient Egyptian tombstones and sculptures feature dogs resembling the modern-day Saluki. The pharaohs prized these dogs for their regal looks and athletic hunting prowess. The breed spread across the Middle East, Egypt, and Asia over the years.
The basenji, or in African languages its name translates to “dog of the bush, village, or wild”. It also bears a striking resemblance to dogs depicted on Egyptian Pharoah tombstones. The breed has remained relatively untouched by selective breeding.
The Ibizan hound is considered native to the Balearic Islands, off Spain’s coast. These elegant sighthounds can easily trace their original lineage back to Egypt that made their way to Spain by ancient Phoenician sea traders.
The pharaoh hound is another ancient breed that can trace its origins back to the Nile. The breed shares similar traits with the Ibizan hound in terms of looks and temperament. In Maltese, this energetic breed is called “kelb tal-fenek”.
These native stray dogs are prolific on the streets and across the rural countryside of Egypt. They share similar characteristics with some of their purebred relatives, including large pricked ears and a slim physique. They look less refined but are full of character and make good companion dogs.
The dog’s name originates from the town of Armant in Egypt, its supposed place of origin in the early 1900s. The breed is not known much outside of Egypt but is used extensively within Egypt as a herding dog and a livestock guard dog.