How much do you know Saluki? These speedy, graceful hunting dogs have a long and unique history. They are an ancient hunting breed with plenty of endurance for adventures and a calm, sweet disposition at home. If you’re interested in adding a Saluki to your family, here’s what you need to know.
Where Does the Saluki Come From?
People in the Fertile Crescent bred the Saluki’s ancestors 6,000 years ago. Historians consider the Fertile Crescent the birthplace of agriculture, where nomadic groups of humans first began to put down roots – both figuratively and literally – to create permanent communities. The Fertile Crescent lies among the Tigris, Nile, and Euphrates Rivers in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, and Iran.
The origin of the name “Saluki” is not clear, but there are a few theories. One theory involves the ancient Sumerian word salu-ki, which translates to plunge-earth. This word may refer to the hunting method where hunters on camelback threw their dogs to the ground as they approached their quarry, giving the dogs a running head start. Another possibility is the Arabic word, saluqi, which means “person or thing from a place named Saluq.” In this case, the name Saluki may indicate the dog breed’s origin. Possible places named Saluq include Saluq, a town in Yemen, Saluq in Armenia, and three other towns called Saluqiyah (two in Turkey and one in Iraq.)
No matter where they originate from, evidence of this dog breed painted on pottery, carved on walls, and in skeletal remains dates back as far as 7,000 BC.
Initially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1929, today, the Saluki is ranked number 120 in popularity of the 200 recognized breeds and categorized in the Hound Group.
What Does a Saluki Look Like?
We can characterize this breed by their slim, elongated build, similar in structure to a greyhound. They are hunting hounds who hunt by sight, so they are long-legged and deep-chested, graceful, well-balanced, and strong. The head is long, narrow, with drop ears and large eyes. Their tails are long and curved. Their coat comes in various colors, including white, cream, fawn, red, tan, black, and tri-colored. Salukis can have silky coats that are either smooth or “feathered.” Feathered coats have light fluffing on the ears, back of the legs, and sometimes throat.
The Desert Saluki
There is a type of Saluki called the Desert Saluki, whose bloodlines are kept relatively separate from the more-recognized Saluki. The Desert Saluki exists in the Middle Eastern Region and has a broader skull, shorter muzzle, more compact body, broader chest, and shorter tail.
These dogs weigh between 35 and 70 lbs and are approximately 23-28 inches high at the withers (top of the shoulder).
What Is Their Personality Like?
This breed’s personality is a study in contradictions. Despite their history as hunting dogs, Salukis are sensitive and soft animals. They do not like rough play or very much play at all. Though they are gentle with children, they prefer to avoid their rough and tumble nature. These dogs are quiet and calm enough even for apartment living, but they need plenty of exercise, which we will touch on later. They love running – fast – and are dedicated to their people but aren’t very reliable off-leash. Even though they are high-energy animals, you will often find a Saluki lying in a soft spot in the sunshine. These dogs are usually reserved with strangers.
How Hard Is It To Train Salukis?
Due to their gentle nature, your training methods should be soft too. This breed is very sensitive to a harsh tone of voice or body language; they do not respond well to harsh training methods or hard corrections. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement techniques.
Puppy classes are a great way to start training and socializing your new puppy early on. At a minimum, you should teach your dog basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come. Crate training is also a good idea for when you will leave them alone.
These dogs share traits typical to many sighthounds; they are intelligent and bonded to their people but also independent thinkers. You must earn your Saluki’s respect and trust for them to follow your lead.
If you have to leave your dog alone for long periods, they can become bored and resort to undesirable behaviors. You can mitigate these behaviors by providing access to things like puzzles and interactive toys to keep them entertained.
How Much Exercise Does They Need?
Salukis are swift dogs bred for running – literally. They need at least 30 minutes of fast-paced activity each day in addition to a long walk. Regular exercise will keep your dog both physically and mentally fit. Though we mentioned this breed could enjoy apartment life, it’s essential to have access to a safe, fenced-in area where your dog can do what they were made for: run fast. Salukis can be escape artists, too, so make sure your yard is dog-proofed and try not to leave them unattended outside. Salukis can benefit from canine sports such as agility, lure coursing, and flyball.
Do Salukis Have Health Problems?
Like many pure breeds, Salukis are more prone to a couple of health issues. Here are a few common health concerns owners should be aware of:
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid does not produce sufficient hormone levels.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that leads to an enlarged heart. This disease may result in heart failure. Treatments include oxygen, fluid therapy, and medication to improve heart function.
Hemangiosarcoma is aggressive cancer in blood vessel cells. This disease is incurable and is relatively common in dogs.
Salukis have a higher life expectancy than many other large dog breeds of 12-15 years.
How Do You Groom a Saluki?
This breed’s long, silky coat sheds much less than other dogs. Comb their fur at least once a week, especially those with a feathered coat, with a brush to minimize shedding and prevent matting. These dogs are generally clean and only require bathing if they get dirty.
Own A Piece of History
A Saluki may not be the ideal pet for every family, but those that take the plunge will enjoy their gentle nature, piercing gaze, and ancient spirit. These dogs are fantastic for an active family with access to a fenced-in area or who want to participate in dog sports. This beautiful animal will bring constant companionship and loyalty into your life.