One of the oldest dog breeds, Salukis are known for their thin appearance and quick speed. They are so special, in fact, that they were once considered a gift from Allah. This rare breed will capture your attention with their loyalty and affection.
Origin and History
The Saluki is an ancient dog breed who is thought to be one of the first owned by nomads. Saluki-like dogs have been discovered in Egyptian tombs reaching back 4,000 years. Even ancient carvings of dogs that resemble the Saluki were discovered in the Sumerian empire in 7,000 B.C. Prior to becoming recognized as the Saluki, they were known as the Persian Greyhound or Gazelle Hound.
Salukis weren't introduced to Europe until the mid-1800s, when they gained popularity among the wealthy English elite. At that point, they would frequently be noticed leaving on hunting expeditions with their owners. After World War II, British officers began returning home with Salukis from the Middle East, but there weren't many members of the breed left after the war took its toll.
Salukis arrived in the United States later on in the 1920s. In 1927, the Saluki Club of America was created. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Saluki later that year. Jinniyat of Grevel was the first Saluki to be registered.
The Saluki is a rare find and is considered to be a treasure in the United States. If this is a breed you're interested in, it may take some time to bring one home, but it's well worth the wait.
A Saluki's coat is short, smooth, and soft. The legs, backs of the thighs, and the shoulders, as well as the underside of the tail, might be completely smooth or may have some feathering dependent upon the parents' genetics. The ears are long and often covered with silky fur.
Salukis come in a variety of colors and patterns, including white, cream, fawn, golden, grizzle and tan, black and tan, and tricolor (white, black, and tan). The nose is black or liver.
Saluki males stand 23 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder, but females are much shorter. Weight varies between 35 and 70 pounds.
The Saluki is known to be aloof, but bonds quickly to their family. They do have a tendency to bond the most with one individual person they select. This is usually the person they spend the most time with. They're gentle dogs who enjoy a lot of companionship. Without the right amount of time spent with their closest family members, they're quick to develop separation anxiety. Before bringing one home, be sure you have the time available to spend with your Saluki.
Although they tend to be shy around strangers, they can become more engaging if socialized from a young age. Socialization involves bringing them to different places with different people, sights, noises, and smells. The sooner you're able to begin socialization, the better.
Although the Saluki adores children, their high energy level and weak bone structure make them unsuitable for homes with young children. A small child can easily injure them by accident. For older children, they can make a great addition to the family.
Salukis are very intelligent, but do have a stubborn streak and enjoy being independent. That doesn't mean they can't be trained, but they do require firm, consistent training using positive reinforcement. Keep training sessions short and fun to maintain their attention.
Salukis have a strong need to run, so they aren't recommended for those with apartments or those without access to a large, fenced-in area. They're also jumpers, so fences should be at least 6 feet high to keep them in. Underground fences are insufficient and the Saluki is known to run straight through them. This breed requires some special additions prior to being brought home so they don't get lost with their wild running spirit.
Although the Saluki is generally healthy, there are several health conditions to be aware of:
- Hypothyroidism: A condition affecting the thyroid gland that can be managed with medication in most cases.
- Sensitivity to anesthesia: Due to their low body fat percentage, this breed is prone to an adverse reaction to medications, especially anesthesia.
- Hemangiosarcoma: A type of cancer affecting the blood vessels.
- Cardiomyopathy: A heart condition that most often affects young to middle-aged dogs.
Salukis have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.
With their short fur, Salukis are easy to keep clean, and they don't shed much. Brushing the coat once a week is still recommended to eliminate any dead hair and keep the coat healthy. If your Saluki has feathering, check for matting or tangling on a weekly basis and brush their coat thoroughly. To avoid stripping the natural oils from their fur, only bathe this breed when they are dirty.
Fun Facts About the Breed
The Saluki is an interesting breed due to their rarity, but additional interesting tidbits include:
- They were mummified as royalty in Egypt.
- They're still used in the Middle East for hunting.
- The Saluki can run up to 43 miles per hour.
- Arab tribesman called them "El Hor," which translates to "the noble one."
- They're named in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest domesticated dog breed.
Purchasing or Adopting a Saluki
If you're looking for a Saluki puppy, a good place to start is the Saluki Club of America. The club has a breeder directory available as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC PuppyFinder page also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,500, although higher-end dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $3,000 or more.
If you're searching for a rescue dog, begin with on PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue. You can also contact the following breed-specific rescue organizations:
- Saluki Tree of Life Alliance: This nonprofit organization searches shelters around the nation to rescue Salukis and place them in their forever homes.
- Saluki Rescue: The Saluki Club of America maintains a network of contacts for those searching for the breed.
- Dogs for Life: This organization rescues Salukis, among other breeds, and conducts public outreach to expand knowledge of the breed.
Is this the Right Breed for You?
Although Salukis are relatively low maintenance in the grooming category, they are high maintenance as far as their exercise requirements go. If you aren't prepared for a dog with a strong need to run, this may not be the ideal choice for you. If you do have an area where they can run and don't mind exercising, keep doing your research on this breed. They will be loyal, loving, and happy as long as their mental and physical needs are fulfilled.