The Saluki is among the oldest dog breeds. Experts tell us Salukis might go as far back as 7000 b.c. Like other sighthounds, Salukis were special favorites of kings, Egyptian pharaohs, Alexander the Great, and on through history. The breed today is remarkably similar in shape and personality to its ancient ancestors. We still marvel at the same sleek lines and natural dignity that thrilled royal families of the Middle East, Egypt, and Asia since before the Pyramids were built. Salukis are swift and agile sprinters who love a good chase. They make gentle, dignified, and independent but loyal pets.
The beauty of Salukis has been a thing of wonder for thousands of years. They’re slim and leggy, but very strong and perfectly balanced, like a great athlete or dancer. Males can stand between 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder; females can be much shorter and they weigh 40 to 65 pounds. They come in many colors and patterns. Their large, oval-shaped eyes are warm and intelligent.
Salukis have two types of coats: feathered and smooth. Both are easily groomed with weekly brushing, although if they have long ear or tail feathering, that may take a bit more attention. Many Saluki owners use a snood to keep ear feathering out of the food bowl (smooth Salukis do not have that problem). Salukis are very clean dogs and known for not having a “doggy” odor. Bathing need only be done if they get dirty or before a dog show.
Salukis’ life expectancy is 10 to 17 years. They love to run and need regular daily exercise.
They must be kept on leash whenever they’re not in a securely fenced area. They have a strong prey drive and will pursue anything furry and in motion
Salukis are a reserved breed although they’re devoted to their people. Early and ongoing socialization is important for this breed to prevent shyness and skittishness.
They are not recommended for apartments. They require a large fenced yard where they can run safely. Underground electronic fencing is not recommended; their prey drive is so strong they’ll push past it. It is important to provide comfortable bedding for a Saluki since he doesn’t have enough body fat to provide padding.
Salukis should not live outdoors. They thrive on human companionship and will become depressed if left alone for long periods. Although these dogs can make gentle and calm companions for older children, they are not recommended for homes with small children.
Salukis should not reside in homes that have small pets. Even with the best training, a Saluki will view small pets as prey and will try to hunt them. They prefer the companionship of other Salukis, but they can get along with other dogs that do not have dominant natures. When training a Saluki, be consistent, and use only positive reinforcement techniques such as food rewards and praise, since the breed is so sensitive.
Salukis are generally quiet dogs. They are fastidious and like to be clean. Salukis can be picky eaters.
Caring for a Sulaki
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Sulaki.
The Saluki should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Saluki appetites can range from the skimpy to the gluttonous. Dogs with the latter will often eat other dogs’ food as well as their own, so they may have to be separated at mealtimes to prevent becoming overweight.
Daily walks will help the Saluki stay in shape, physically and mentally. Salukis love to run and should have a well-fenced yard with 300 to 400 lateral feet of fenced area where he can run safely full out. If your yard isn’t that large, you should have access to a fenced park, an enclosed sports field at a school, or a beach with no nearby road. On leash, the Saluki makes an excellent jogging companion. Salukis can be escape artists or destructive chewers when bored or unhappy at home, so good fencing and safe toys and chew-bones are a must.
Salukis benefit from three types of training. Crate training for those times when the dog needs to be safely confined. Basic obedience training helps the dog learn manners in the home and community; well-behaved dogs are welcome almost everywhere. For mental stimulation and exercise, canine sports such as lure coursing, flyball, and agility are all fun options.
Salukis are intelligent and learn quickly, but they’re also independent and can be stubborn. To hold your Saluki’s attention, keep training sessions short, fun, and interesting. If a Saluki becomes bored, he will choose not to learn. Use positive reinforcement, never harsh verbal or physical corrections.
As a breed, Salukis are free from serious genetic diseases. Some may develop heart conditions such as dilated and hypertrophic. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is the progressive enlargement of the ventricles, the heart’s main pumping chambers. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes a drastic increase in heart muscle mass. DCM is the most common form of cardiomyopathy and tends to affect young to middle-aged males in larger breeds. Certain cancers such as hemangiosarcoma or osteosarcoma, lymphoma, or mammary cancers can occur, and some autoimmune and blood conditions have been reported. Vigorous running and playing after eating can cause bloat, or gastric torsion (which is a life-threatening emergency and needs immediate intervention). They may also suffer from anesthesia sensitivity because of their low level of body fat. Hypothyroidism is another condition a Saluki may experience. Hypothyroidism is when there is an abnormally low level of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Signs include obesity, mental dullness, drooping of the eyelids, low energy levels, and irregular heat cycles, coarse, brittle hair that falls out, and tough and dark skin. Hypothyroidism can be treated with daily medication, which must continue throughout the dog’s life. A dog receiving daily thyroid treatment can live a full and happy life.