Once known as the Persian Greyhound or the gazelle hound, the Saluki has long been considered one of the most ancient of breeds. Recent genetic evidence confirms this to be the case.
Scientists speculate that Salukis and other ancient breeds descend from the first dogs and made their way through the world with their nomadic owners. Depictions of dogs resembling Salukis–with a Greyhoundlike body and feathering on the ears, tail, and legs–appear on Egyptian tombs dating to 2100 B.C.E., some 4,000 years ago. Even older are carvings from the Sumerian empire (7,000-6,000 B.C.E.) that show dogs with a striking resemblance to the Saluki.
Pharaohs hunted gazelles and hares with Salukis, which often worked in partnership with falcons. The dogs were frequently honored with mummification after death. Nomadic Muslims, who generally despised dogs as unclean animals, considered Salukis a gift from Allah and referred to the dogs by the honorific El Hor, meaning The Noble.
Salukis were the only dogs permitted to sleep inside the tents. The breed may take its name from the ancient city of Saluk, in Yemen, or perhaps from the city of Seleukia in Syria. Another theory suggests that the name is a transliteration of the Arabic word for hound.
Salukis were widespread in the Middle East and could be found in Persia (modern-day Iran), Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Arabia. The first documented case of Salukis arriving in Britain was in 1840, but it wasn’t until after World War I, when many British officers returned with them from the Middle East, that the breed became established in Great Britain. Interest in the Saluki was slower to take hold in the United States. The Saluki Club of America was founded in 1927, the same year the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club. The first Saluki registered by the AKC was Jinniyat of Grevel in 1929. Today the Saluki is a rare treasure, ranking 116th among the 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the AKC.
Saluki males stand 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder; females are significantly smaller. Weight ranges from 35 to 70 pounds.
The Saluki is an aloof dog, but one who’s devoted to his family. He’s gentle and thrives on quiet companionship. He has a tendency to bond with a single person, which can lead to separation anxiety.
With strangers, Salukis are reserved, and they can be shy if they’re not socialized at an early age. Socialization should continue throughout their life. They generally get along with other dogs, but prefer other Salukis, or at least other sighthounds. They’re sensitive dogs and will pick up on and become stressed by tensions in the home.
Salukis love comfort and enjoy being pampered with soft bedding and access to furniture. Like cats, they’re fastidious about personal cleanliness.
Like every dog, Salukis need early socialization–exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences–when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Saluki puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
The Saluki is a hardy breed that does not suffer from many genetically inherited diseases. The following problems may be seen in Salukis:
- Anesthesia Sensitivity: Because of their low level of body fat, sighthounds such as the Saluki have a reputation for being sensitive to anesthesia and certain other drugs. Fortunately, the new drugs available these days have properties that make sighthound reactions to drugs much less likely. In addition, most veterinarians are aware of the special anesthesia and drug needs of sighthounds, but it never hurts to confirm this awareness if you’re taking your Saluki to a new veterinarian.
- Hemangiosarcoma: This malignant cancer is found in the lining of blood vessels and the spleen.
- Cardiomyopathy: This disease of the heart muscle takes two forms: dilated and hypertrophic. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is the progressive enlargement of the ventricles, the heart’s main pumping chambers. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes a drastic increase in heart muscle mass. DCM is the most common form of cardiomyopathy and tends to affect young to middle-aged males in larger breeds.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is an abnormally low level of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A mild sign of the disease may be infertility. More obvious signs include obesity, mental dullness, drooping of the eyelids, low energy levels, and irregular heat cycles. The dog’s fur becomes coarse and brittle and begins to fall out, while the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medication, which must continue throughout the dog’s life. A dog receiving daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog’s been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.In Salukis, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for cardiac (heart) and thyroid disease.Because some health problems don’t appear until a dog reaches full maturity, health clearances aren’t issued to dogs younger than 2 years old. Look for a breeder who doesn’t breed her dogs until they’re two or three years old.
Salukis are not suited for apartment life. They need a home with a large, securely fenced yard where they can run flat out. The ideal running area for a Saluki is 300 to 400 feet in length or width. Fences should be at least five to six feet high or a Saluki will easily jump them. Underground electronic fencing will not contain a Saluki, nor will it protect him from other animals that might enter your yard.Keep your Saluki on leash whenever he’s not in an enclosed area. A Saluki was bred for hunting and has a strong prey drive. If he sees anything fast and furry, he’ll pursuit it for as long as he can, disregarding any commands to come or stop.
Salukis are indoor dogs and require soft, cushioned bedding to prevent calluses from forming. Place food well out of reach of the Saluki’s inquiring nose. That means behind closed doors or up about seven feet.
Salukis are intelligent and learn quickly, but they’re also independent and can be stubborn, which makes training a challenge. To hold your Saluki’s attention, keep training sessions short, fun, and interesting. If a Saluki becomes bored, he will choose not to learn. Use positive reinforcement, never harsh verbal or physical corrections.
Recommended daily amount: 1.75 to 2.75 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.
The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference–the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.
Salukis are the supermodels of the dog world and can be picky eaters. Remember that they are supposed to look sleek, and you may just barely see the outline of their ribs beneath their skin.
For more on feeding your Saluki, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
The Saluki has a short, smooth, silky body coat. The entire body can be smooth, or the Saluki can have slight feathering on the legs, the backs of the thighs and sometimes the shoulders, and the underside of the tail. The long ears are covered with silky hair.Salukis come in white, cream, fawn, golden, grizzle and tan, black and tan, and tricolor (white, black, and tan). The pigmentation of the nose is black or liver. Salukis are a clean, low-shedding breed with no doggy odor. Brush the coat weekly to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. Comb feathering once or twice a week to remove tangles. A wipedown with a damp cloth is generally enough to keep your Saluki clean, so bathe him only if he’s dirty.
Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Brush your Saluki’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the accompanying bacteria. Daily is better.
Trim his nails once or twice a month, as needed. If you can hear the nail clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short nails keep the feet in good condition and won’t scratch your legs when your Saluki jumps up to greet you.
Begin getting your Saluki used to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently–dogs are touchy about their feet–and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.
Children and other pets
Salukis can make excellent companions for older children, but they aren’t recommended for homes with young children. They’re tolerant, but young Salukis can be too active for children younger than 8 years of age, and their thin skin and knobby bones make them vulnerable to injury if children aren’t careful.They generally get along with other dogs, but prefer other Salukis, or at least other sighthounds. They won’t chase small dogs or cats in their own household, but other animals, such as pet birds, mice, rabbits, or hamsters could prove too much of a temptation.
23 Apr, 2016
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