This breed has a great many names including Gazelle Hound, Arabian Hound, Persian Greyhound Tanji ,Persian Sighthound as well as the Royal Dog of Egypt. It is one of the oldest known breeds of domesticated dog. From the period of the Middle Kingdom onwards, Saluki-like animals appear on the ancient Egyptian tombs of 2134 BC. They have connections both to the Bible and Imperial China.
The Saluki is a sighthound and historically travelled throughout the Middle East with nomadic desert tribes over an area stretching from the Sahara to the Caspian Sea. They have been used to hunt quarry such as gazelles in the Middle East.
Saluki are gentle, friendly, even-tempered and extremely devoted dogs. They can be somewhat aloof, even with their family. This loyal dog may become very attached to one person. They are good with children who do not try and roughhouse with them. They are sensitive, and do not take kindly to harsh discipline. They must be trained with calm, gentle, but firm, consistency. They are fairly submissive by nature to people and dogs and are easily distracted. Be sure you remain the dog’s pack leader so the dog feels secure with his surroundings.
The Saluki do well with other Salukis, keeping more than one is often a good idea. They are a pleasant and calm companion and make a good watchdog. Though not aggressive with people, the Saluki’s natural instinct is to chase and kill non-canine animals. Take great caution around pets such as birds, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits. They can get along with family cats if the cat is allowed to assert its dominance over the dog, but may chase strange cats.
The overall appearance of the Saluki is one of grace and symmetry.
The Saluki is a slim, greyhound-like dog. Salukis are “sight” hounds, which means they hunt by sight, run the quarry down, catch it, and kill or retrieve it. The normal size range for the breed is 23–28 inches (58–71 cm) high at the withers and 40–60 pounds (18–27 kg) in weight, with females being slightly smaller than males. The Saluki’s head is long and narrow with a slight stop. Eyes are large and they have drop ears. The tail is long, curved, and carried low. It has the typical deep-chested, long legged body of the sight hounds. They have an unusual gait when they are at top speed: all four of their legs are in the air at the same time.
There are two coat types evident in the Saluki gene pool, smooth and feathered. The feathered variety has light feathering on the back of the legs and thighs. The fur on both varieties is silky to the touch,and is low shedding compared to other breeds.
Hip dysplasia is uncommon in Salukis, with the breed ranking joint lowest in a survey by the British Veterinary Association in 2003. The breed scored an average of 5 points, with a score of 0 being low, while 106 is high. In a 2006 breed specific survey conducted by The Kennel Club and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee, responses highlighted several health issues. The primary cause of death identified was that of cancer, being responsible for 35.6% of deaths, with the most common forms being that of liver cancer or lymphoma. The secondary cause of death was cardiac related, with forms such as heart failure, or unspecified heart defects. Old age is listed as the third most frequent cause of death.
Cardiomyopathy, heart murmur and other cardiac issues were present in 17.2% of responses while skin conditions such as dermatitis or alopecia were reported by 10.8% of responses.Salukis have an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.
Salukis are considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, with excavations of Sumerian sites between 7000-6000 BC showing carvings and seals that look similar to the modern breed. Its name is thought to come from the ancient Arabian town of Suluk, Libya.From Sumer, the nomadic tribes spread the breed across the Middle East from Egypt and Persia, to as far east as Afghanistan and India, and as far south as Sudan.
Salukis appear on Egyptian tombs increasingly commonly from The Middle Kingdom (2134 BC – 1785 BC) onward,and have often been found mummified alongside the bodies of the Pharaohs in the Pyramids.It was during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt that Salukis rose to their place of prominence,replacing the Tesem (thought to be similar to modern Pariah dogs,or it may be generic term for a dog).
The breed is thought to be the type of dog mentioned in The Bible. Salukis have appeared in medieval paintings regarding the birth of Christ, including Paolo Veronese’s 1573 work the Adoration of the Magi (also known as the Adoration of the Kings), currently located at the National Gallery, London.
Salukis had entered China by the time of the Tang Dynasty (618–907), and examples of the breed were painted by the fifth Ming Emperor Zhū Zhānjī, known more commonly as the Xuande Emperor. The inscription on the painting reads “playfully painted [by the] imperial brush” in 1427. Additional red seals were added in later years by owners of the painting, which also reveals that the painting was in the Imperial Chinese collection in the 18th century.
Today, the breed is still held in high regard throughout the Middle East, and have been hunting dogs for nobles and rulers around the region. They are considered clean by the Bedouins, and are allowed to be in women’s quarters, while other dogs must be kept outside.Sheik Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain during the 1930s, was known for a pack of Salukis that accompanied him throughout the Arab world on hunting trips.
The breed was first brought to Europe in the 12th century, with troops returning from the Crusades in the Middle East, as living proof of the pilgrimage.A dog noted as being a Gazelle Hound is featured in a painting of Henry IV, Duke of Saxony, painted in 1514, by Lucas Cranach the Elder. The dog wears a collar decorated with a scallop shell, which was the badge of the pilgrim.
It was not until 1840, that the Salukis were first brought to England. Referred to as Slughis, they and the modern Sloughi were treated as the same breed,however in recent years genetic tests have shown that the two breeds are not interbred.The first successful modern breeding line of Salukis began in 1895, with Florence Amherst (daughter of the 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney). Having seen Salukis on a Nile tour in that year, she imported a breeding pair from the Al Salihah area of Lower Egypt. A champion of breed purity, she struggled alone for nearly three decades, and real Saluki popularity did not take hold until the early 1920s, when officers returning from the war in the Middle East and the Arab Revolt brought their pet Salukis home with them.
One of these was Brigadier General Frederick Lance of the 19th Lancers, and his wife, Gladys, returned to Britain with two Salukis from Sarona, where he was stationed during the post-war occupation. The Lances were both keen hunters, and rode with their pack of dogs, including both Salukis and terriers, to course jackal and Dorcas gazelle whilst stationed in the desert.
Together, the Lances and Florence Amherst mounted a campaign for recognition of the Middle Eastern breed, that coincided with the phenomenon of “Tutmania” caused by Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in late 1922. In 1923, the Saluki or Gazelle Hound Club was formed, and the Kennel Club granted official recognition to the breed.
Imports to England during the inter-war years were chiefly from areas of British military influence and commerce: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq. Both Florence Amherst and the Lances imported breeding stock from the latter two countries.
Like many other breeds of pure bred pets, cats as well as dogs, Saluki’s nearly died out in the UK during World War II. The number of litters was minimal – just enough to keep the breed alive. Food rationing reserved all edible meat for humans, and to prevent the Salukis from dying from starvation or being killed by bombs, some owners euthanized entire kennels.A small number of Saluki kennels survived the war, and along with fresh imports belonging to a second wave of soldiers returning from the Middle East, the slow process of re-establishing the breed began again.
Between 2000 and 2009, 1215 Salukis were registered with The Kennel Club in the UK,while this does not approach the numbers of the more popular breeds, it is in line with similar breeds in the Hound Group such as the Borzoi, which had 1399 puppies registered in the same period.