The Saluki is known as the "gazelle dog," and is a graceful and athletic sight hound traditionally used to hunt; unlike scent hounds, which hunt by smell and are endurance trackers, sight hounds like the Saluki pursue prey by keeping it in sight and chasing it down with speed and agility. Graceful and with a delicate appearance, the Saluki is actually very athletic and sturdy, possessing the endurance and strength to chase prey over very difficult terrain, and over long distances. The Saluki is the Royal Dog of Egypt and is perhaps the oldest of the domesticated dog breeds. Today, the Saluki is also an excellent family pet, with an independent, catlike nature, physicality and temperament. Loyal and loving, Salukis, like cats, can nonetheless be somewhat aloof even with owners.
There is perhaps no more regal a dog than the Saluki. It's no mistake that its title as the Royal Dog of Egypt has lasted for centuries – and as possibly the oldest breed of domesticated dog, the Saluki deserves this place in history. Some historians have noted that the Saluki has been around as a distinct breed all its own perhaps since 329 BC, around the time of Alexander the Great's invasion of India. Early carvings show Saluki-like dogs, with bodies like Greyhounds and feathers on the legs, tail and ears. Egyptian tombs from around 2100 BC and Sumerian Empire excavations placed at around 7000 to 6000 BC have similar representations of the Saluki. In fact, these dogs were even mummified after death as pharaohs were, and many bodies have been found in ancient tombs of the upper Nile.
In these early times, Salukis' owners were nomads, living in the vast region between the Caspian Sea and the Sahara Desert. Although Salukis varied somewhat in appearance (coat texture and size) simply because of the differing climates they had to live in, they retained their exquisite, streamlined proportions and athleticism.
In 1840, Salukis were introduced to England, and were called "Persian Greyhounds," although interest in the breed remained low there until 1895, when Florence Amherst imported one of Transjordania Prince Abdullah's Arabian Salukis. Arabs used the dog to capture the gazelle. In England, its duties changed and it was largely used to pursue the hare. Established in England for years, the Saluki did not become well-established in the United States until November 1927, when the American Kennel Club recognized it as a breed.
Fragile-looking, delicate, elegant, slim and athletic, the Saluki looks much like a Greyhound, with a long, narrow head that tapers toward the nose, a long, slim neck and a deep, narrow chest. Long, straight front legs and graceful back legs built for speed are complemented with a long, elegant tail carried low and curved, and long ears. Ears, tail, legs, and underbelly usually have feathering, which sets Salukis apart from the Greyhound. The fur is soft and silky, usually, although some Salukis have coarser fur with no feathering. Coat colors can be tan, grizzle, black and tan tricolor with white, or fawn, gold, red, white or cream.
Although delicate-looking, the Saluki is anything but. Your sturdy pet's ancestors were charged with living in very harsh conditions indeed, since their earliest masters were nomads; the Saluki retains its hardy constitution. Because of the varied climates and conditions in which its ancestors lived, the Saluki varies in size; it can stand from 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh from 29 to 66 pounds. Whatever its size, though, what matters about the Saluki is its exquisite proportionality. With its lean, athletic and muscular yet fine boned build, your pet is truly a work of art.
Your pet is a gentle and alert dog that has an almost ethereal quality. Large expressive eyes are usually fixed on you, the owner, as your pet will become very devoted and attached to you. Catlike both in physicality and in temperament, your pet can be somewhat aloof even to those he or she knows and loves, but his or her friendly, calm, and even disposition means that he or she will fit in well with a devoted single owner or a large family equally well.
This is a dog breed that is naturally somewhat submissive by nature, and harsh discipline does not work well. The Saluki will be very obedient as long as you remain a firm pack leader and make him or her feel very secure. These gentle creatures aren't even particularly comfortable with good-natured roughhousing, so gentle play is always advised. The Saluki loves to run, and will make a good watchdog. He or she will get along well with other dogs, but is a prey hunter by instinct, and these instincts cannot be completely trained out. Therefore, although the family cat can get along well with your pet provided the cat is allowed to be the dominant animal in the pair, you should not keep small "prey" animals in the house, like rabbits, hamsters, birds, gerbils, guinea pigs, and the like.
The Saluki was bred to be an active, outdoor animal. Your pet MUST have a lot of exercise, especially focused on running. He or she will not do well in an apartment, given the level of activity needed, and must have regular access to a place where he or she can be set free to simply run, run, run, run, run. Both physical and mental challenges are welcome for this breed, and these dogs make great jogging and biking companions; they also love games of fetch or Frisbee. They make great competition dogs, due to their energy and need to focus on something. Exhibition jumping, flyball, tracking, lure coursing, obedience, agility, and open field coursing are activities that which they excel on the show circuit.
You should never leave your lovely pet alone except for very short periods of time – and then only if he or she's extremely tired after a long day of plenty of activity. Because your pet is so intelligent, he or she can become bored and lonely very quickly, and when that happens, watch out. Left alone, an unhappy Saluki can be very destructive, with propensities to chew on anything and everything. Although providing proper chew toys can satisfy this need to some extent, it's not foolproof and your Saluki can be destructive simply because he or she is unhappy. You should also NEVER trust your Saluki off leash in any unsafe areas, especially in traffic. Again, because Salukis are hunting dogs by nature, their propensity is to take off after whatever prey they see.
Despite their very delicate appearance, Salukis are sturdy, hardy dogs that live 10 to 12 years on average with few health problems. Some propensity for cancer and eye disease has been noted, as have some cardiac conditions such as cardiomyopathy or congestive heart failure, but overall, this is a very healthy breed. Regular veterinary care, including dental care, is of course necessary.
Your pet is very easy to groom, with only light shedding propensities (a bit heavier in the spring). Brush weekly; Salukis like to be brushed, and this will also prevent shedding. Your pet has no doggie odor to speak of, and shouldn't need to be bathed unless he or she gets into something outside.
AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Saluki. http://www.akc.org/breeds/saluki/index.cfm. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
Saluki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saluki. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
Saluki (Gazelle Hound) (Arabian Hound) (Persian Greyhound) (Tanji) (Persian Sighthound). http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/saluki.htm. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
Sighthound. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sighthound. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
PetWave: Saluki Dog Breed. http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Dog-Breed-Center/Hound-Group/Saluki.aspx. Retrieved February 3, 2013.