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The "Dog of the Rabbit" and its Importance for the Rural Culture of Malta
The following text is an extract from an article written by Jan Scotland, member of the breeding commission of the German Sighthound Breeding and Racing Organisation (DWZRV), that was published in edition Nr. XXXVIII (1998-1999) of the German Sighthound Stud Book (DWZB). Another chapter of this article, the fieldwork description of the Kelb tal-Fenek, can be read under the item “Hunting” on this website.
If the history of a breed of dogs can be dated further back than into the 19th century, it is very difficult to find scientifically evaluable facts about the roots of such a breed. Unfortunately, admirers of those breeds do often tend to compensate this lack of knowledge by various legends, stories and anecdotes, with shall prove a high age of the respective breed in an imaginative way.
This does also apply to the dog, which became known to us under the name “Pharaoh Hound” during the last two decades. The breed got this name only in the 1960’ties by English breeders, but if one asks Pharaoh Hound enthusiasts about the origins of their favourite breed today, many of them will immediately state that it was exactly this breed which already served as a hunting companion of the rulers of ancient Egypt and was brought to Malta in pre-Christian times by Phoenician traders, to survive unchanged in its new island home for more than two millennia. Apparently, the truth of this statement seems to be corroborated by the fact that even respectable canine governing organizations like the Kennel Club of England, the American Kennel Club and the FCI use the term "Pharaoh Hound" as the official breed name.
However, only one point in this whole story corresponds with the true facts: The Maltese origin of the breed. Exclusively Malta, including its neighbour island Gozo is the country of origin of the breed, which in Maltese is called “Kelb tal-Fenek”, i.e. “Dog of the Rabbit”, according to the main hunting prey of the breed. There is no proof for an actual connection of the dog existing today on the Maltese archipelago with the ancient culture of the Nile valley, and no reference to the existence of the Kelb tal-Fenek in Malta dates further back than to the 17th century.
However, the thesis of the Egyptian origin of the breed has meanwhile found entrance to the canine literature on a broad front, it appears in magazines, in show catalogues as well as in the internet, and many owners and breeders - whether with or without ulterior motives – do verbally spread it.
At latest on this critical point, when romancing ideas, wishful thinking and thoughtless assumption of unproven statements do not only replace serious historical research, but do also tend to wipe out any delivered historical knowledge, it is of utmost importance not to lose the view for the facts. Because the Pharaoh Hound or Kelb tal-Fenek is definitely not a relic of a lost age - just the opposite: It is a breed which still has a firm place in the culture of its homeland Malta. The following text draws a picture of the role of the Kelb tal-Fenek in the society of Malta and of its use for hunting purposes and tries also to integrate these facts into the historical development of Malta. I do refer both to literature as well as to my own experiences during several trips to Malta.
Let’s start with a historical review:
2. First References to the Kelb tal-Fenek
2.1. Commendatore Abela’s “Descrittione di Malta”
With the following words, the vice-chancellor of the Order of St. John and father of Maltese historiography, Commendatore Fra. G. Fran Abela, gave the first reference to the existence of a dog, which could have been identical to the modern Kelb tal-Fenek, or at least with some probability could have been its ancestor:
“Ma in vece di quella habbiamo i cani chiamati Cernechi molto ftimati per la caccia di conigli, che in fin dalla Francia fono richiefti ben fpeffo con molta inftanza maffimamente per i luoghi faffofi alpeftri, e fcofcesi"
In English: “Instead of it, there are dogs called 'Cernechi' esteemed for the hunting of rabbits, and as far as France are in demand primarily for stony, mountainous and steep locations” (Fra. Abela, ‘Della Descrittione di Malta isola nel Mare Siciliano con le sue antichita ed altre notitie’, Malta, 1647.)
Abela wrote his very comprehensive work (573 pages) in Italian, at that time the official language of the Order of St. John, which ruled over Malta from 1530 to 1798. This may be an explanation for the fact that he uses the term "Cernechi" to describe a dog from Malta. Today, this word is found in the name “Cirneco dell’ Etna”, another breed of Mediterranean hounds, living in Sicily.
The origin of the word "Cirneco" (Plural "Cirnechi") is disputed among cynologists as well as among linguists – perhaps it is connected with the Italian term "crecare", i.e. "to search". Cecil S. Camilleri, a Maltese agricultural scientist, does therefore interpret the meaning of the term "Cernechi" used by Abela as "seeker, sifter - a characterisation, which describes the use of the Kelb tal-Fenek quite truly (Camilleri, p. 71).
Camilleri does also point out that Abela’s use of the formulation "Ma in vece di quella" ("instead of it") might refer to the Maltese Terrier, a small dog, whose name seems also to point to a Maltese origin. But in fact, this breed originates from the Adriatic island of Mljet (Meleda, Melita) close to Dubrovnik (Croatia), which formerly was under the rule of Venice. Later, the word “Melita” obviously was mistaken for “Maltese”. (Räber, Bd. I / p. 644).
Consequently, the Kelb tal-Fenek must not necessarily have Sicilian roots. But in fact, there are a lot of arguments for a previous connection between the Mediterranean Hound populations in Malta and Sicily: Since times of antiquity, there have always been very active trade relations between Malta and Sicily, the latter only being situated 90 kilometres North of Malta. For example the Order of St. John used to purchase the majority of its grain imports from Sicily. Several times, settlers from Sicily came to Malta, especially after Gozo was nearly depopulated in 1551 by a pirate’s raid under the North African captain and governor of Tripolis Torghoud Raïs, who was on service of the Turkish Sultan (Bradford, P. 109).
On the other hand, it remains quite questionable whether the Kelb tal-Fenek was really exported “as far as France” in the 17th century, as Abela’s remark does suggest. It is a fact that particularly French aristocrats did always play an important role in the Order of St. John, and therefore the order had close relations to France, but it might also be possible that Abela had some knowledge about the existence of Podencos Ibicencos in Southern France. Up to the 19th century, they were particularly known in Provence, where they were named "Charnigue" in the local language – by the way, according to some linguists, this name could have the same roots as the word “Cirneco" (Daub, p. 93).
Finally, it is another possibility that “and as far as France are in demand” was only used as a metaphor by Abela to express the high value of this dogs, without meaning a real geographical spreading of the breed. With his vague description, Abela still leaves plenty of space for questions and assumptions, but however, it is very important to notice the following fact: Commendatore Abelas "Descrittione di Malta" is the oldest document, which points to the existence of a dog that is used for rabbit hunting in the Maltese Islands.
2.2. Modern References to the Kelb tal-Fenek
Definite references to the existence of the Kelb tal-Fenek, as we know it today, do only date from the 20th century: We find them in the photo albums of Maltese families, they are depicted in collections of old photographs from Malta and Gozo, and finally, we do also find them in canine literature: In the 1930’ties, a few specimens of the Kelb tal-Fenek were brought from Malta (at that time a British colony) to the United Kingdom. Apparantly, they were never used for breeding activities, but they were thoroughly described in "Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopaedia", which is regarded as a canine standard work of the 1930’ties (Hutchinson, P. 1060).
This lack of historical facts may be disappointing for all those who would like to prove a long history of the breed. It is very likely that this lack of historical knowledge is due to the fact that the Kelb tal-Fenek always was a dog of the simple people, owned by farmers and hunters, who had no time, no leisure and (even up to the early years of the 20th century) often also no knowledge of writing, which would have allowed them to leave us documents about their life by the means of literature and art.
Actually, the possibility that the roots of the Kelb tal-Fenek do reach far down in history, cannot simply be denied – artefacts and drawings, showing the existence of slim, sighthound like dogs with large prick ears can be found in the relics of many ancient cultures in the Mediterranean, from Sicily over Greece, Crete up to Egypt, where this type of dogs used to be know as “Tesem”. But we must recognise the fact that there is a gap of more than two millennia between these ancient relics and Abela’s first mentioning of a dog used for rabbit hunting in Malta. During these two millennia, thorough changes and migratory movements took place in the Mediterranean and particularly in Malta and Gozo. Therefore, the words written by the German cynologist Rüdiger Daub in an article about the history of the Cirneco dell’ Etna, might also apply for the Kelb tal-Fenek:
"The often mentioned Egyptian origin must not be overemphasized, because prick eared sighthounds could be found in the entire Middle East. The "Tesem" was only one of these breeds, or one of its regional forms. Anyway, there is no reason to believe that all those ancient cultures who were in possession of prick eared sighthounds should have altered them from screw-tailed “Tesems” to breeds with whip-like tails” (Daub, p. 92).
We should also not forget that the word “breed”, as it is used by modern canine organisations, has only been developed in the 19th century. Therefore, one must always be very careful when trying to regard modern breeds as being similar to types of dogs that existed many thousands of years ago.
3. Civilian Resistance – the Importance of Rabbit Hunting in the Maltese Culture
In order to be able to understand the importance of rabbit hunting (thus being the main use of the Kelb tal-Fenek) in the Maltese culture, it is essential to take a short review on the eventful history of this small archipelago in the centre of the Mediterranean.
3.1. At the Mercy of the Regional Powers
The Maltese Islands, situated on the strategic hub between Orient and Occident, eastern and western Mediterranean, have been at the mercy of the regional powers in the Mediterranean since times of antiquity: Carthageans, Romans, Arabs, Normans and Staufer ruled over the islands, before they came under the nominal rule of the Spanish princes of Aragón in 1283. In the 14th century, a government by the local Maltese aristocracy, the so-called “università” was established, which enjoyed a de-facto autonomy under the formal sovereignty of Spain. This phase of Malta’s relative independence ended in 1530, when the Islands were handed to the Order of St. John by Karl V., after the Order had lost its former basis in Rhodes to the Turks seven years before.
A main point of attraction for foreign powers since ancient times were the large natural harbours of Malta, fjord-like cuts on both sides the Sciberras peninsula, where today Malta’s capital Valletta is situated. They already served as a base for the Cartagean fleet, and as a result, the population of Malta became concentrated around the harbour area, whilst the forests, which in former times did exist in Malta, were destroyed for getting wood for shipbuilding and ship repairing.
As a result, large, rocky areas were left in the Maltese countryside, which were useless for agricultural purposes. Dr. Carmel Cassar, a scientist working at the Museum for Ethnography in Vittoriosa (Malta) and lecturer at the University of Malta in Msida points out that many of these areas used to be common property up to the beginning of the rule of the Order of St. John (Cassar, P. 6). Different from the situation in other regions of Europe, land ownership and hunting privileges were not reserved to the aristocracy.
3.2. The Order of St. John
This situation changed with the landing of the Order of St. John in 1530. The order, with full name "Order of St. John of Jerusalem", had originally been founded after the conquest of Jerusalem by the crusaders in the year 1099. In that time, it used to be a nurse order, which was dedicated to care for hurt and ill crusaders and Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. After the re-conquest of Jerusalem by the Arabs in 1291, the Knights of the Order first escaped to Cyprus and later to Rhodes, where they remained until 1523, until they were finally expelled by the Turks. During the period in Rhodes, the main aim of the order had been changed from the care for ill people to military activities, and the galleys of the order operated in the entire Mediterranean, leading a continuous sea war against Islamic ships, which caused the Turkish naval and trade fleet serious damages.
Only aristocrats could become full members of the order (this has remained unchanged until today). The members organised themselves in so-called "Langues" (tongues).
According to the feudalistic tradition of their homelands, the knights of the order, which had got Malta as a new basis for their activities by Emperor Charles V., did immediately introduce hunting restrictions, which did heavily hit the Maltese people, since the wild rabbits were one of only very few sources for fresh meat that were available to the inhabitants of the Maltese countryside. On the other hand, a rising wild rabbit population could cause serious damages to the harvest (Cassar, p. 12).
The first law against rabbit hunting on the islands was already issued during the rule of Grandmaster Pierino de Ponte (1534 - 1535), and under the rule of Grandmaster Manoel Pinto de Fonseca (1741 - 1773), illegal rabbit hunting could be punished with galley slavery up to three years. The severity of the hunting restrictions varied in connection with the density of the game population. Basically, they were meant to protect the hunting privileges of the knights. It was already the famous Grandmaster Jean Parisot de la Valette (1557 - 1568) who built a hunting seat and stables in the Boschetto, a forest area close to the city of Rabat, to be able to follow his favourite passion, the falconry (Cassar, S. 9 ff.).
In the year 1773, at the end of the rule of Grandmaster Manoel Pinto de Fonseca, the Maltese economy was in a deep crisis, caused by the long lasting mismanagement and prodigality of the order. Since there were no financial resources left for the import of food from neighbouring Sicily, the new Grandmaster Francisco Ximenes de Texada issued a temporally limited total ban on hunting in February 1773. His idea was that a growing rabbit stock should become a cheap food resource.
3.3. Rising of the Priests
The decree of the Grandmaster immediately caused protests among the local people. These protests were soon supported by a majority of Maltese priests. On September 8th, 1775 the current unrest escalated into open riots, and on the following day, a group of revolting Maltese priests occupied the order’s fort St. Elmo in Valletta. The so-called "rising of the priests" was immediately crushed, and its leaders were either sent to prison for a long time or executed, but on 19 May 1776 Ximenes' successor in the office of the Grandmaster, the Frenchman Emmanuel de Rohan Polduc allowed “hunting for rabbits with any sort of arms and equipment, provided it was not carried out in private reserves” (Cassar, P. 14 ff.).
3.4. Hunting as a Symbol of Resistance against Foreign Rule
Even the restrictions by the Order of St. John, which lasted for two and a half century, had finally not been able to suppress the hunting tradition of the Maltese country folk. This explains why rabbit meat traditionally has a high value on the Maltese Islands – it used to be a symbol for the civilian resistance against the foreign rule of the Order of St. John, which lasted for 268 years. Even today, the "Fenkata", a trip together with family members or colleagues connected with a traditional rabbit meal, is national tradition.
3.5. The British Rule over Malta
The British, whose colonial rule over Malta began in the year 1800 with the surrender of Napoleon’s troops, that had occupied the islands two years before, left the liberal hunting practices of the Maltese people untouched. The British, who remained in Malta until 1964, tolerated the Maltese tradition, but at the same time, they met it with despise, because in the British Islands the rabbit traditionally is considered as the typical prey of poachers and poor people.
This cultural difference may have been one reason why the Kennel Club of England refused to recognise the name “Kelb tal-Fenek”, when the dog was brought over to the United Kingdom by families of British Army officers, who left Malta at the end of the British colonial rule.
In an article published by the 1995 edition of the annual newsletter of the British “Pharaoh Hound Club”, Monica Still, an English breeder and member of the board of the Pharaoh Hound Club for many years, points out that Kennel Club initially refused to recognise the breed, because “a foreign name translating to ‘rabbit dog’ was unacceptable” (M. Still in: "Pharaoh 1995", p. 14).
Following the example of the FCI that had summarized all Mediterranen Hounds under the name "Pharaonenhund" since 1963, now the British fanciers asked the Kennel Club to put the Kelb tal-Fenek under the name "Pharaoh Hound" on its breed list. This application was accepted, although this name neither corresponds with the origin nor with the original use of the dog.
When the FCI finally deleted its joint breed standard for all Mediterranean Hounds (which had been worked out at the end of the 1950’ties by Professor Eugen Seiferle, at that time lecturer for anatomy at the University of Zurich) the organisation maintained the name “Pharaoh Hound” but now exclusively attached this term to the Maltese Kelb tal-Fenek, and on the same time the organisation also recognised the breed standard that had been worked out in the United Kingdom.
4. The Role of the Kelb tal-Fenek in Rural Malta today
When asking "Pharaoh Hound" owners outside of Malta about the present situation of the breed in its country of origin, then one does easily come across romantic conceptions like this: "Even today, the breed serves as a valuable companion who helps the local farmers to solve their hard circumstances of life."
On the other side, some people seem to think that the Kelb tal-Fenek became nearly extinct in its homeland. This idea is even enforced by reports of tourists who have returned from Malta without having seen one single red-coated, prick-eared hound. Therefore, worried breed lovers tend to think that the Kelb tal-Fenek has only been saved by exporting the breed to England. A few might even think that the "Pharaoh Hound" as a pure breed was only developed after its export to the British Islands.
However, none of these ideas does correspond with the real facts, as a closer view on the present economic and social situation of Malta will show us:
4.1. The Economical Development of Malta after WW II
With the dissolution of the British Empire after WW II, Malta soon lost its importance as a British naval basis in the central Mediterranean and as a guardian of the sea route through the Suez Channel to India and East Asia. When the British government announced in 1959 that it was up to close down the Navy Shipyard (the largest employer of the islands) due to a radical shortening of the national defence budget, this immediately lead to political unrests in Malta. This incidents caused the colonial administration to announce a plan, whose aim was to achieve political and economical independence of Malta as a sovereign state within five years (Aquilina Ross, p. 93 ff.).
Independence was finally declared on September 21st, 1964. The first, conservative government of Malta initially focused the nation's economical efforts on the development of mass tourism, mainly from the British Islands. When the Malta Labour Party won the elections in 1971, the new government under Prime Minister Dom Mintoff started to develop new industries in Malta, in order to achieve more independence from the British economy. With support of the People's Republic of China, the capacities of the shipbuilding industry were expanded, and in the same time, Malta got a well developed system of social basic safety for all its citizens.
During this time, the Labour Government actually succeeded in creating jobs and in raising the standard of living of the citizens, so that the emigration of working powers, in particular to Australia and Canada, could successfully be decreased (Aquilina Ross, p. 100 ff.).
The conservative Nationalist Party, which replaced the Labour Party in the year 1987 in government, did not touch the social system, but however it intensified the political and economical relations of Malta to Europe. The tourist authorities started to advertise Malta as a destination for tourists from the continent, and a Freeport was built in the Southeast of Malta, to make Malta an economical hub in the centre of the Mediterranean. A membership application was sent to the European Union, which is now up to admitting Malta as a new member within the next few years.
It can be concluded that, at latest after the 1970'ties, the standard of living of the people in the Maltese countryside has risen to a degree which makes it no longer necessary to earn the daily living costs by using a Kelb tal-Fenek for hunting rabbits. Moreover, the majority of Maltese farms are meanwhile led as supplementary income enterprises, i.e. the owners have an additional occupation in the industry, in the administration or in the tourism business. The reason is the relatively small surfaces of the smallholdings, which do usually not permit to gain a full income by farming.
Actually, the author has never come across any case where rabbit hunting with the Kelb tal-Fenek had the character of a professional occupation.
There are also reports about a dramatic decrease of rabbit population in the Maltese Islands in the 1980’ties after Myxomatosis was imported to Malta. Only since the middle of the 1990’ties, the rabbit stock has slowly started to recover from this epidemic. But even now, any attempt to earn one’s living by rabbit hunting would almost definitely be condemned to become a failure.
4.2. Is the Kelb tal-Fenek in Malta in Danger of Extinction?
Tourists who have been looking out for the Kelb tal-Fenek during their stay in Malta do usually agree in the statement that one does hardly see any Kelb tal-Fenek, if even one. Concerned breed lovers do therefore easily tend to think that the breed stock in the country of origin must have decreased dramatically or even might have come close to danger of extinction.
But in fact, the lack of presence of the Kelb tal-Fenek in the public has other reasons: Basically, it is the hunting method, which usually takes place in remote areas during the summer nights, which withholds the Kelb tal-Fenek from the views of a large public.
An additional reason is the high density of population in the islands (in 1996: 1180 people per km²) and the large number of motor vehicles, which limits hunting activities to areas which are far away from main roads. During the day, the dogs are usually kept inside of yards, dog houses and stables, which makes it impossible for strangers to get a view of the Kelb tal-Fenek.
This, however, does not only have its reason in the risk of traffic accidents, which might cost the life of dogs running freely: Additionally, most hunters show a marked restraint in showing their dogs to persons that do not belong to their family or to their closest circle of friends. The author had to experience this several times, when his Maltese friends tried to arrange visits at Kelb tal-Fenek owners in rural regions of Malta for him without success.
Baldacchino and Sultana explain this pronounced need of protection of the own privatesphaere with the special conditions of a spatially limited island society, whose members are bond together by a various network of different relations (Baldacchino/Sultana, p. 16 ff.).
Since dogs are not subject of an official registration system in Malta and since the vast majority of the local Kelb tal-Fenek population is also not shown at dog shows and not registered by the Malta Kennel Club for the reasons mentioned, it is not possible to evaluate exact dates about the number of specimens existing in Malta today. But however, the author was able to see more than 100 specimens in all parts of the Maltese Islands between 1994 and 1999, notwithstanding the difficulties that have been mentioned above. It was interesting to note that there is a large variety of types, which seems to be an indication for the existence of a broad genetic basis. Another remarkable fact was the large number of dogs owned by the hunters: It was unusual to meet an owner who had less than five dogs.
So the question about a possible risk of extinction can be answered with a simple “No”. Malta does still shelter the largest number of specimens as well as the largest genetic pool of the Kelb tal-Fenek.
However, we remain with the question why the breed could survive in Malta up to our days, notwithstanding the dramatically changes in the circumstances of life.
4.3. The Role of the Kelb tal-Fenek in Malta today
To answer the question about the role of rabbit hunting with the Kelb tal-Fenek in Malta today, it is necessary to focus attention on the social environment, which forms the basis for the keeping of the breed in our days: Even today, the Kelb tal-Fenek is still a part of the common rural culture in Malta. Hunting, keeping and breeding with the Kelb tal-Fenek are almost exclusively carried out by people who are involved with agriculture and who live in rural regions.
Obviously, there are some practical reasons for this: The densely populated urban region around the harbours of Valletta does hardly offer any possibilities to give dogs a chance for free exercise. On the other hand, since the hunting grounds in the rural regions are divided by traditional agreements, only local persons are able to hunt with their dogs without getting involved in conflicts with other hunters.
Moreover, the Kelb tal-Fenek possesses an image which is strongly shaped by its use as a hunting dog: He is only rarely found as a pet, and, as been said, only very few specimens are shown at local dog shows. But a remarkable number of specimens can be seen at the annual agricultural fairs in the Boschetto on Malta (29th June) and in Rabat on Gozo (15th August), where the Kelb tal-Fenek is shown among many other products of the local agriculture such as cows, horses, poultry, goats, fruits and vegetables.
4.4. The hunt between hobby and tradition
If hunters in Malta are asked about their motivation, most of them will state that they regard hunting as a hobby and as a favourite leisure activity. But anyway, there must be some different reasons why a hunter takes upon the task of raising and training a dog for hunting rabbits, instead of choosing other, easier ways of hunting, such has hunting quails or trapping migratory birds.
Apart from an individual preference for the breed and its hunting method, also family traditions seem to be an important reason for choosing a Kelb tal-Fenek as a hunting companion: If a foreigner succeeds in getting closer contacts with persons who exercise hunting with the Kelb tal-Fenek, then it does often turn out that even father, grandfather and great-grandfather etc. have been involved with this hunting method. Now and then, this is proven by old family photos.
Puppies are usually only given to close relatives or friends, if the hunter does not use them to add his own pack of dogs. Therefore personal relations or a recommendation by close friends of the family are almost a “must”, if a stranger wants to get in possession of a Kelb tal-Fenek puppy.
4.5. A Part of National Identity
Even beyond the circle of its actual owners, the Kelb tal-Fenek is seen as a symbol for the rural roots of the Maltese culture. Camilleri describes this as a "living evidence of heritage, a link in a chain of historical and unrecorded events that unites people with a common background" (Camilleri, p. 67).
In order to underline the importance of the breed for the Maltese culture, the Maltese Government declared the Kelb tal-Fenek the National Hound of Malta in 1974. The Central Bank of Malta issued a silver proof coin by the nominal value of one Maltese Lira in 1977, showing a standing Kelb tal-Fenek on the reverse. Finally, a stamp with the image of a Kelb tal-Fenek was issued by Malta Post in 2001.
Today, the National Hound of Malta stands in the focus of a conflict between two different views, which hardly could be more different:
In the country of origin, the breed has maintained its image as a pure working dog, notwithstanding a changed meaning of hunting. As in olden days, the only aim of breeding activities is the efficiency of the breed as a rabbit hunter.
Outside Malta, the view on the breed is strongly affected by the artificial legend of the Egyptian origin, which has created a very romancing perception of the breed. Breeding activities outside Malta are very strongly influenced by the criteria of dog shows and – to a smaller degree – also by the requirements of lure coursing and track racing.
Compared with other breeds, the Kelb tal-Fenek (or “Pharaoh Hound”) has the great advantage of still being used for its original purpose in the country of origin. This means that the roots, which have formed and preserved the breed, have not yet been lost, as in many other breeds.
For the owners and breeders of the Kelb tal-Fenek, who live outside Malta, this means a great chance to learn from the experiences, which have been delivered since countless generations in the country of origin. They should learn about the roots of the breed, to be able to preserve the Kelb tal-Fenek’s characteristics true to the origin. On the other hand, this means also an obligation: The Kelb tal-Fenek is a symbol of the Maltese past as well as of the living present culture of a nation, which has to be preserved, and not to be changed through thoughtlessness or self-interest.
The many generations of Maltese hunters and farmers, who have bred and preserved this wonderful breed since many generations, deserve our respect and our acknowledgment. The Kelb tal-Fenek, Malta’s National Hound, deserves to be loved as he is.
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