22 May, 2016
- 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.
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