Saluki

Table of Contents

saluki portrait
Meet the Saluki: a dog breed that's as elegant as it is mysterious. With their slender bodies, silky coats, and piercing gaze, these regal canines are truly a sight to behold. Often referred to as the "Royal Dog of Egypt," the Saluki has captivated hearts for centuries with their unparalleled grace and lightning-fast speed.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Saluki is an ideal companion for individuals or families who appreciate a sophisticated and independent dog. They thrive in spacious environments where they can stretch their legs and indulge in their natural instinct to chase.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMESaluki
OTHER NAMESGazelle Hound, Arabian Hound, Persian Greyhound
ORIGINMiddle East
BREED GROUPHound Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT22-28 inches
WEIGHT35-60 lbs
LIFESPAN10-17 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSLow
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYModerate
SHEDDING LEVELHigh
POPULARITY RANK135th
saluki standing on a grass
Photo: elisabettabellomi/Pixabay

Appearance

The Saluki is a strikingly elegant and refined dog breed, known for its distinctive appearance and regal bearing. With a tall, slender frame, these dogs exude an air of grace and nobility that’s hard to miss.

Males typically stand between 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder, while females are slightly shorter, ranging from 22 to 26 inches. The weight of a Saluki can range from 40 to 60 pounds for males and 35 to 45 pounds for females.

One of the most notable features of the Saluki is their long, narrow head, which tapers gracefully towards the muzzle. The large, oval-shaped eyes are dark to hazel in color, giving them an expressive, gentle gaze. Their ears are set high on the head and hang down close to the cheeks, covered with soft, silky hair. The Saluki’s overall expression is one of quiet intelligence and poise.

The body of a Saluki is characterized by its lean, muscular build, with a deep chest and a prominent tuck-up in the abdomen. This streamlined shape contributes to their exceptional speed and agility, making them one of the fastest dog breeds in the world. The long, straight legs are well-suited for swift, enduring pursuits, while the powerful hindquarters provide impressive propulsion.

The Saluki’s tail is another eye-catching feature – long and curved, it’s carried low when relaxed and may be raised slightly when the dog is excited or in motion. The tail is typically adorned with a plume of feathery hair, adding to the breed’s overall elegance.

Salukis boast two different coat types: smooth and feathered. The smooth variety has a short, silky coat, while the feathered variety has longer, silky hair on the ears, tail, back of the legs, and sometimes on the throat.

Both coat types come in a variety of colors, including white, cream, fawn, red, grizzle and tan, black and tan, and various shades of gold. Some Salukis may also have a small patch of white on their chest or feet.

Overall, the Saluki’s physical characteristics reflect their ancient heritage as swift, agile hunters, with a graceful and dignified appearance that has captivated dog enthusiasts for centuries. Their unique blend of elegance, athleticism, and poise make them truly stand out among other dog breeds.

saluki in a forest
Photo: elisabettabellomi/Pixabay

Temperament

The Saluki is a breed that is both intriguing and enchanting. With their graceful stature and expressive eyes, they possess a unique personality that’s as captivating as their appearance.

Salukis are the epitome of reserved elegance. They carry a certain dignified air about them, almost as if they’re aware of their ancient lineage. Aloof yet observant, these dogs are not the overly enthusiastic sort. They might not be the first ones to bound up to a guest at the door, but they’ll certainly be watching from a distance, assessing the newcomer with their keen gaze.

This breed is known for its deep loyalty to its family. A one-family dog, the Saluki forms strong bonds with those it considers its pack. However, their loyalty does not translate into overtly expressive affection.

Unlike some breeds, Salukis are not likely to smother you with wet kisses or demand constant petting. Instead, they express their devotion subtly, often through quiet companionship. They’re content to simply be in your presence, sharing the same space in harmonious co-existence.

Despite their independent nature, Salukis are quite sensitive. They respond best to gentle handling and a calm environment. Harsh words or actions can easily upset these delicate creatures. But when treated with kindness and respect, they reveal a sweet-natured temperament that’s truly heartwarming.

Salukis have often been compared to cats, not just for their love of comfortable lounging spots, but also for their curious and independent spirit. They’re intelligent thinkers who enjoy exploring their surroundings at their own pace. This doesn’t mean they’re stubborn or uncooperative, but rather that they appreciate having their own autonomy.

These dogs are generally friendly and even-tempered. They get along well with other dogs and can comfortably coexist with other pets in the house. However, their inherent hunting instincts might get triggered by small animals, so supervision might be necessary in such scenarios.

In the presence of strangers, Salukis tend to be reserved. They’re not aggressive or overly protective, but they may take some time to warm up to unfamiliar faces. Once they feel comfortable, though, they can be quite sociable.

saluki standing on the snow
Photo: foaloce/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for a Saluki is one that caters to their unique physical and emotional needs, providing ample space to stretch their legs, engage in mental stimulation, and bond with their human family.

Physical Environment

These dogs thrive in spacious homes with securely fenced yards where they can safely indulge in their natural instinct to run and chase. Apartment living is possible if the dog receives sufficient daily exercise and mental stimulation, but it’s crucial to ensure they have access to a safe outdoor area for regular off-leash sprints.

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to climate adaptability, Salukis are generally better suited to warmer temperatures, given their origins in the Middle East. Their slender bodies and short coats provide limited insulation against cold weather, so extra precautions should be taken during the winter months.

Providing a warm, cozy place to sleep and offering protective clothing such as sweaters or coats during walks can help keep them comfortable in colder climates.

On the other hand, Salukis can tolerate heat relatively well, but it’s essential to ensure they have access to shade, fresh water, and proper ventilation during hot summer days. Avoid exercising your Saluki during the hottest parts of the day, and watch for signs of heat stress or dehydration.

Ideal Owner

In terms of pet parents, Salukis are best suited for individuals or families who lead an active lifestyle and appreciate the breed’s independent nature. They require consistent exercise, which may include long walks, hikes, or opportunities to engage in dog sports such as lure coursing or agility.

Pet parents should also be patient and committed to providing early socialization, positive reinforcement training, and ongoing mental stimulation to ensure a well-rounded and happy companion.

Other Pets

Salukis can adapt well to living with other pets, particularly other dogs of similar size and temperament. However, due to their strong prey drive, they may not be the best choice for households with small animals like cats, rabbits, or rodents. It’s essential to introduce new pets gradually and supervise interactions, especially during the initial stages of acquaintance.

saluki playing with other dog
Photo: popovicmjeljica/Pixabay

Grooming

Grooming is an essential aspect of caring for a Saluki, helping to keep their coat healthy and free of tangles while also promoting good overall hygiene. Although the breed’s grooming needs are relatively low-maintenance compared to some other breeds, there are still several aspects to consider when it comes to keeping your Saluki looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

First and foremost, let’s talk about the Saluki’s coat. As mentioned earlier, there are two coat varieties in this breed: smooth and feathered. Both types have a short, silky coat, with the feathered variety having additional longer hair on the ears, tail, back of the legs, and sometimes on the throat. Regardless of the coat type, regular brushing is necessary to remove loose hair and prevent matting.

For the smooth-coated Saluki, a weekly brushing session using a soft-bristle brush or a grooming mitt should suffice. This helps to distribute the natural oils throughout the coat, promoting a healthy shine and reducing shedding. During periods of heavier shedding, you may need to brush your Saluki more frequently to keep the loose hair under control.

For the feathered Saluki, grooming requirements are slightly more involved. While the short parts of the coat can be maintained similarly to the smooth variety, the feathered areas require additional attention.

Using a comb or slicker brush, gently work through the longer hair at least once or twice a week to prevent tangles and mats from forming. Pay special attention to the hair behind the ears, as this area is particularly prone to matting. Occasionally, you may need to trim the feathering to keep it tidy and prevent excessive dirt accumulation.

Bathing your Saluki should be done on an as-needed basis, usually every 6-8 weeks or when they become dirty or develop an odor. Use a gentle dog shampoo to avoid stripping the natural oils from their coat, and be sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent any residue buildup. Always dry your Saluki thoroughly after a bath, especially during colder months, as their slender bodies can become chilled easily.

Dental Care

Dental care is another essential aspect of grooming for the Saluki breed. Regular teeth brushing with dog-safe toothpaste can help prevent plaque buildup, gum disease, and bad breath. Aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least two or three times a week, though daily brushing is ideal. In addition to brushing, providing dental chews or toys can also help maintain good oral health.

Nail Trimming

Nail trimming is an important part of your Saluki’s grooming routine. Their nails should be trimmed every 3-4 weeks or when you hear them clicking on the floor as they walk.

Using a guillotine-style or scissor-style nail clipper designed for dogs, carefully trim the nails, avoiding the quick (the blood vessel inside the nail). If you’re unsure how to trim your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

saluki face
Photo: popovicmjeljica/Pixabay

Exercise

As an athletic and energetic breed, the Saluki requires regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. These dogs were originally bred for hunting and chasing prey, which means they have a natural inclination for running and engaging in high-energy activities. Meeting their exercise needs is crucial for keeping them happy, healthy, and preventing boredom-related behavioral issues.

Exercise Amount & Types

A typical adult Saluki should receive at least 1-2 hours of daily exercise, which can be split into multiple sessions. This may include brisk walks, jogging, or off-leash runs in a securely fenced area where they can safely stretch their legs and indulge in their instinct to sprint.

Keep in mind that Salukis are incredibly fast runners, with the ability to reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure they have ample space and a safe environment to run without encountering hazards or potential escape routes.

In addition to physical exercise, Salukis also benefit from mental stimulation and engagement in activities that challenge their minds. Training sessions, puzzle toys, and scent games can help keep their brains sharp and prevent boredom. Agility and lure coursing are popular dog sports that cater to the Saluki’s natural instincts and athleticism, providing both physical and mental challenges.

Dog Sports

When participating in dog competitions, such as agility or lure coursing events, Salukis can showcase their speed, grace, and intelligence. These activities not only provide an opportunity for exercise but also strengthen the bond between you and your dog, as they work together towards a common goal.

Exercise Precautions

It’s important to remember that young Salukis, particularly puppies, should not be over-exercised, as their growing bones and joints need time to develop properly. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise as your puppy matures, and always consult your veterinarian for guidance on appropriate exercise levels for your dog’s age and health.

brown saluki walking in the forest
Photo: foaloce/Getty Images

Training

Training a Saluki can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to understand their unique temperament and approach training with patience and consistency. Salukis are intelligent dogs, but they also possess an independent streak that can make them appear somewhat aloof or stubborn during training sessions.

As a result, they may not exhibit the same eagerness to please as other breeds, and pet parents should be prepared for this aspect of their personality.

To ensure successful training with a Saluki, it’s essential to use positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, or toys, to motivate and reward desired behaviors. These dogs are sensitive by nature and do not respond well to harsh corrections or punishment-based methods, which can lead to fear or anxiety and hinder the training process.

Begin training your Saluki early, ideally during puppyhood, to establish good habits and lay a strong foundation for future learning. Socialization is a crucial aspect of training, as it helps your dog develop confidence and adaptability in various situations.

Expose your Saluki to different people, environments, and experiences from a young age, always ensuring that these encounters are positive and well-controlled.

Consistency is key when training a Saluki. Be clear and concise with your commands and expectations, and maintain a regular training schedule to reinforce learning. Keep sessions short and engaging to hold their interest, and vary the activities to prevent boredom. Incorporating play and fun challenges into training can make the process more enjoyable for both you and your dog.

While Salukis may not be the easiest breed to train, their intelligence and unique qualities make them capable of learning a wide range of commands and skills. With patience, understanding, and a commitment to positive reinforcement techniques, you can successfully train your Saluki and deepen the bond between you.

saluki standing on grass
Photo: elisabettabellomi/Pixabay

Diet & Nutrition 

A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of your Saluki. As with any dog breed, it’s important to choose high-quality food that meets their specific nutritional needs.

What to Feed & How Much

Look for dry, wet, or raw dog food options that follow the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), as these products are formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for your pet.

When selecting a dog food for your Saluki, consider their age, weight, activity level, and any special dietary requirements they may have. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional needs, so it’s crucial to choose a food that’s appropriate for your dog’s life stage.

Consult with your veterinarian for guidance on the best food options and any necessary supplements to ensure your Saluki receives the proper nutrients.

The amount of food you should feed your Saluki depends on various factors, including their size, age, and activity level. In general, adult Salukis should be fed approximately 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day, divided into two meals.

However, this is just a guideline, and individual needs may vary. Puppies may require smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, while senior dogs may need adjustments to their diet based on weight, mobility, and overall health. Always consult your veterinarian for personalized feeding recommendations.

Treats & Water

Treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding good behavior, but it’s essential to use them in moderation to prevent overfeeding and weight gain. Choose healthy, low-calorie treats and account for them in your Saluki’s daily calorie intake. Avoid feeding table scraps, as these can lead to obesity and contribute to an unbalanced diet.

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Saluki, ensuring they stay well-hydrated throughout the day. Provide clean water in a suitable bowl and check it regularly to ensure the water remains fresh and free from debris. Encourage your dog to drink by placing the water bowl in an easily accessible location.

Health

Salukis are generally a healthy and robust breed with a life expectancy of 10-17 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Responsible breeding practices, a healthy diet, regular veterinary care, and vaccinations can help mitigate these risks and ensure your Saluki stays healthy throughout their life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Saluki:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and discomfort. Regular check-ups, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing joint supplements can help manage this condition.

Cardiomyopathy: Salukis may be prone to heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood effectively. Regular veterinary check-ups, including heart screenings, can help detect any issues early and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

Hypothyroidism: This is an endocrine disorder where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to weight gain, lethargy, and other symptoms. A proper diet and medication can help manage this condition.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): Deep-chested breeds like the Saluki are at higher risk for bloat, a potentially life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding exercise immediately after eating can help reduce this risk.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disease that causes gradual vision loss due to the degeneration of the retina. Regular eye exams and responsible breeding practices can help identify and manage this condition.

To maintain your Saluki’s health, provide a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs and supports their age, weight, and activity level. Consult with your veterinarian for personalized feeding recommendations and any necessary supplements.

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection and prevention of health issues. Ensure your Saluki receives routine vaccinations to protect against common canine diseases, and discuss any breed-specific screening tests with your veterinarian.

saluki's face
Photo: Alexandra Sullivan/Pexels

History

The Saluki is an ancient dog breed with a rich and storied history, dating back thousands of years. Believed to have originated in the Middle East, the Saluki is considered one of the oldest known dog breeds, with evidence of their existence dating as far back as 7000 BC.

Their name is thought to be derived from the ancient city of Saluq in present-day Yemen, although other theories suggest it may come from the Arabic word “saluqi,” meaning “noble” or “elite.”

Throughout history, the Saluki has been highly regarded for its speed, grace, and hunting prowess. They were bred to hunt gazelles, hares, and other swift prey across the harsh desert terrain, using their incredible sight, agility, and endurance to pursue and catch their quarry.

The breed was held in such high esteem that they were often referred to as “the royal dog of Egypt,” with Egyptian pharaohs and other nobility keeping them as both hunting companions and cherished pets.

Salukis were also revered in Islamic culture, being the only breed of dog permitted to sleep inside the home and even share the same eating utensils as their owners. This special status is attributed to the Prophet Mohammed, who is said to have admired the breed’s speed and beauty, declaring them “a gift from Allah.”

The breed’s introduction to the Western world is believed to have occurred during the Crusades, when returning European knights brought Salukis back with them from their travels. However, it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the breed began to gain popularity outside the Middle East.

British officers stationed in the region during this time took an interest in the Saluki, and several dogs were imported to England, where they quickly gained admiration for their elegance and hunting abilities.

The first Saluki was registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1927, and the breed’s popularity has continued to grow ever since. Today, the Saluki is recognized by most major kennel clubs worldwide and participates in various dog sports, including lure coursing, agility, and obedience.

In popular culture, the Saluki has made appearances in literature, film, and television. The breed has been featured in several novels, such as “The Blue Sword” by Robin McKinley and “The Sight” by David Clement-Davies, as well as making cameo appearances in movies like “The English Patient” and “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.”

Salukis have also appeared in television series such as “Downton Abbey,” where the character Lady Edith Crawley adopts a Saluki named Millie.

Despite their growing presence in popular culture, the Saluki remains a relatively rare breed outside the Middle East, with many people still unfamiliar with their unique beauty and history. However, those who have had the privilege of sharing their lives with a Saluki know just how special these dogs truly are, cherishing them for their elegance, intelligence, and enduring connection to the ancient world.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Saluki dog breed in the United States is the Saluki Club of America (SCOA), founded in 1927. The SCOA is dedicated to the preservation, protection, and advancement of the Saluki breed.

It serves as a valuable resource for Saluki owners and enthusiasts, providing information on the breed’s history, health, and standards, as well as promoting responsible breeding practices and participation in various dog sports. You can check out the club’s website here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities.

Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Saluki’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

saluki's face close up
Photo: foaloce/Getty Images

Acquiring

When considering acquiring a Saluki, it’s important to prepare for their unique needs and research reputable sources. Start by learning about the breed’s temperament, exercise requirements, and grooming needs to ensure they’re a good fit for your lifestyle.

Instead of buying from a breeder, consider rescuing a Saluki in need of a loving home. Rescue organizations often have dogs of various ages and backgrounds, providing the opportunity to find the perfect match for your family.

Both the American Kennel Club and the Saluki Club of America (SCOA) can assist in finding rescue organizations or available Salukis. They provide resources and information on responsible adoption and can connect you with rescue groups dedicated to the breed.

By choosing to rescue a Saluki, you not only provide a deserving dog with a loving home but also help support the ongoing efforts to protect and preserve this remarkable breed.

FAQs

Are Salukis good pets?

Yes, Salukis can make wonderful pets for the right family. They are intelligent, affectionate, and loyal companions. However, they do have unique exercise and grooming needs, and their independent nature requires patience and understanding during training.

How intelligent are Salukis?

Salukis are highly intelligent dogs, known for their problem-solving abilities and quick learning. However, their independent nature can sometimes make them appear aloof or stubborn during training.

Are Salukis the fastest dog breed?

While Salukis are incredibly fast, they are not considered the fastest dog breed. The Greyhound holds that title, with top speeds of around 45 miles per hour. Salukis can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest breeds.

Are Salukis hypoallergenic?

No, Salukis are not considered hypoallergenic. While they have a short coat with minimal shedding, they still produce allergens like dander and saliva that can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.

How much exercise do Salukis need?

Salukis are an active breed that requires 1-2 hours of daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. They need daily walks and opportunities to run off-leash in a securely fenced area. Lure coursing and other dog sports can also provide excellent physical and mental stimulation for this breed.

How do Salukis get along with children and other pets?

Salukis generally get along well with children, especially when raised together. However, their high prey drive may make them less suitable for families with small pets such as cats or rabbits. Proper socialization and supervision are essential to ensure harmonious relationships between Salukis and other household members.

What is the ideal living situation for a Saluki?

Salukis can adapt to various living situations, including apartments, as long as they receive adequate exercise and mental stimulation. They prefer a calm environment and may not be well-suited to households with high levels of noise or activity. A securely fenced yard is ideal for providing safe off-leash playtime.

Fun Facts

  • Known for their incredible speed and agility, Salukis are exceptional sprinters. They can reach speeds up to 35-40 miles per hour. This makes them one of the fastest dog breeds, rivaling even the famous Greyhound.
  • While they’re fast sprinters, Salukis also have remarkable endurance. They were bred to chase game over long distances in the harsh desert climate. This stamina is still part of the breed’s makeup today, so regular exercise is key for a happy, healthy Saluki.
  • Salukis are known to form a very close bond with one person in particular. While they’ll be friendly and gentle with the entire family, don’t be surprised if your Saluki picks a favorite and becomes their devoted shadow.

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