Breed Group: Hound
These elegant canine athletes are one of the fastest, most graceful of all breeds. They are so fast they can capture a gazelle which requires speeds of 45 miles per hour and so quick to react they startled most people not used to them. A Saluki must never be let off leash unless they are securely confined; but excellent jumpers, fences must be at least six feet high to contain them. An independent thinker who needs an opportunity to run, lure coursing, frisbee, and flyball are all activities they enjoy. As puppies, Salukis tend to be more destructive than other dogs. But provided their above average exercise needs are met, they mellow into calm, comfort-seeking adults when inside. Reserved with their family most of the time, they exhibit a cat-like independence and a slight preference for children over other family members. Similar to cats, however, if they decide to be, they can be endlessly attentive. With strangers, they are quite cautious. Although they are generally quiet, they still make good watchdogs but cannot be relied on as a guardian. The breed is generally social with other dogs but will chase down any small animal that runs.
Tall and lean, the Saluki is above average in size and similar in appearance to the Afghan Hound. Individuals stand 23 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 40 and 65 pounds with a larger “mountain” variety and smaller “desert” variety. A Saluki has a very soft coat that comes in a myriad of colors including white, fawn, red, black and tan, and many others. They come in two coat types, short and feathered. The short coat is smooth all over the dog’s body. The feathered type has long hair on the ears, legs, and tail. Grooming is minimal and consists of brushing the feathers once or twice a week. Smooth coats simply need to be wiped down. They shed less than an average dog and do better in warmer temperatures than in the cold.
To avoid excess shyness, especially with strangers, spend the additional effort to socialize them well. Their combination of independence and sensitivity requires calm, positive training to be successful. As a result of being touch sensitive, verbal correction is more effective than a physical correction. At the same time, these dogs need firm boundaries or they will exploit what they perceive as a leadership vacuum. Salukis are best left for experienced owners.
A healthy breed, the Saluki is most susceptible to Thyroiditis which is evident in 1 of 11 dogs with many more animals affected at a sub-clinical level. Cardiomyopathy is also seen in the breed. But, according to the parent breed club, the most frequent cause of death is being hit by a car. A Saluki has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.
According to the AKC, the Saluki ranks 119th in popularity and has fewer than 300 dogs registered per year. A rare breed, be prepared to search for a breeder and wait for a puppy.
Most dog breeds have a documented man-made origin; but, the Saluki does not. The breed’s entire origin, including location, time, and predecessors are all shrouded in mists of time. What is accepted as fact is that the Saluki has been used in hunting in the Middle East since antiquity. Images of similar dogs appear on seals, in tomb paintings, mosaics, sculptures, and on household objects found on archaeological sites some dating back 5,000 years. The Saluki was a valued and honored companion to Egyptian nobility that is sometimes called “the royal dog of Egypt”. They were known to be mummified much like the Egyptian Pharaohs. Arabs held the breed in great esteem and bred them as carefully as the famous Arabian horses. Salukis occupied a unique position in the lives of its early Muslim owners. Normally dogs were considered “unclean” and could not be touched. But the Saluki has always been permitted into the homes of nomads and settled breeders alike. The Saluki came to the attention of the western world about 1900 and was recognized by the AKC in 1928.
Muhammad, the prophet of Islam is the most notable Saluki owner. The National (U.S.) Breed Club is the Saluki Club of America.
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