The Saluki is one of the world’s oldest breeds, a medium-sized dog that is known for its slim, yet muscular, rugged frame built for speed and endurance, and its long tail and ears that are typically feathered. For thousands of years, this breed served as the hunting hound of kings—and today these dogs remain fast, agile sprinters who love a good chase or romp outdoors, while at the same time making gentle and loyal pets with warm, faithful eyes, and undying devotion to their families.
GROUP: Hound Group
HEIGHT: 23 to 28 inches (male), females tend to be smaller
WEIGHT: 40 to 65 pounds
COAT: Feathered or smooth
COAT COLOR: White or cream, fawn, black and tan or grizzle and tan, golden
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 17 years
TEMPERAMENT: Aloof, intelligent, reserved, quiet
Characteristics of the Saluki
These beautiful dogs are known to be both reserved and affectionate and offer companionship to their families. While the Saluki isn't overly demonstrative, it will form deep bonds with its humans and it is susceptible to separation anxiety when left alone for long periods.
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History of the Saluki
As strong, balanced athletes, Salukis have long been revered throughout history for their grace and beauty. Historically referred to as the Persian greyhound, the gazelle hound, or even the "wind drinker," the breed's ancient history can be difficult to trace. However, experts believe the roots of the Saluki breed might extend as far back as 7000 BC.
Once considered the royal dog of Egypt (as it's sometimes still called), some historians have suggested that the Saluki is actually the oldest dog breed—and that their origins may trace back to 329 BC when Alexander the Great invaded China. There are depictions of dogs resembling Salukis that appear on Egyptian tombs dating 4,000 years ago, and carvings from the Sumerian empire that also feature dogs with a strong resemblance to the Saluki.
The Saluki and other sighthounds were the favorite pets among kings like Egyptian pharaohs as well as other notable historical figures like Alexander the Great, and are believed to have originated in the Middle East, Egypt, and Asia long before the Egyptian pyramids were built. Some historians believe the breed may take its name from the ancient city of Saluk in Yemen, or possibly from the city of Seleucia in Syria.
Particularly widespread throughout Egypt, these dogs were revered and cherished. In fact, their bodies were often mummified just like those of the ancient pharaohs. Nomadic Muslims, who generally considered dogs to be unclean animals, considered Salukis a gift from Allah.
The Saluki’s first known presence in England dates back to 1840. The breed wasn’t established until after World War I when many British officers returned from the Middle East with these dogs. Today’s Saluki remains true to its ancient ancestors, from its sleek physique and warm eyes to its sophisticated and dignified persona.
The Saluki breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1927.
The Saluki dog breed's high need for activity means it will not do well living in an apartment and without plenty of walks (or runs) and time spent outdoors. Thanks to its speed and natural inclination to chase and hunt deer, squirrels, or any other wildlife, a strong leash, attentive owner, and safe, enclosed places to roam outdoors are must-haves for this breed.
With a long history of running and tracking animals, this breed makes an ideal pet for runners or active families. The Saluki will require daily exercise and walks, totaling two hours a day, for both its physical and mental wellbeing.
Salukis should ideally live in a home with a large fenced-in yard for their safety. Without the proper exercise and stimulation (lots of playtime and plenty of safe toys and bones to chew), Salukis are known to be adept at either escaping or becoming destructive.
Salukis can have either a feathered or smooth coat—but either coat will require weekly brushing though they shed less than other breeds. The breed is known for being a clean dog that's free from most typical canine odors, requiring infrequent bathing. Saluki owners should be mindful about keeping this dog's long ears and tail clean—try to keep its ears outside of the dog's bowl while it's eating and watch for any stuck or lingering dirt on the tip of its tail after a romp.
Considered an independent (and sometimes aloof) breed, many Saluki dogs will prove somewhat difficult to train—they like to think for themselves and may need more persuasion than other breeds. However, like most dogs, most Salukis should respond well to positive reinforcements like treats and praise.
Common Health Problems
Salukis are known to be free from many common genetic diseases, and generally can be expected to enjoy a healthy, active life through old age. However, there are a few breed-specific conditions that may affect this dog.
- Heart Disease and Blood Conditions: Arrhythmia or enlarged hearts or other defects, as well as some autoimmune and blood conditions, have been associated with the breed.
- Cancers: Cancers, including hemangiosarcoma or osteosarcoma, mammary cancers (when not spayed early in life), and lymphoma have also been seen in the Saluki breed.
- Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: Because of the breed's high activity levels and tendency to run vigorously, Saluki owners should always take precautions to prevent gastric torsion, also known as bloat. Caused by running and playing too soon after eating, the condition is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary intervention.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Salukis are prone to this inherited disease. The dog's rods, cones, and/or the pigmented layer of its eyes will deteriorate, resulting in blindness. It is not painful, but your dog may become disoriented as it loses its sight.
Diet and Nutrition
The Saluki should perform well on any high-quality complete and balanced dog food. The appetite for this breed is known to vary greatly from dog to dog—some dogs in this breed are known to be picky eaters—so owners of Salukis with increased appetites should be mindful about overfeeding to prevent weight gain and related issues. Fresh water should be made available at all times to this large, active breed.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Saluki
Saluki dogs are rare in the U.S., however there may be more available puppies and rescues overseas in the Middle East. If you are lucky enough to find a breeder in the U.S., expect to pay between $1,000 to $3,000 for a purebred puppy. Before working with a breeder, do your research to make sure the mom and pups are well taken care of. To begin your search for a Saluki, try these organizations, which include breeder information and also rescue efforts for this breed:
- Saluki Club of America
- Dogs for Life Foundation (Saluki)
- Saluki Rescue International
- Pure Elegance Saluki Puppies (U.S. breeder)
- AKC Marketplace
Devoted and loving to family
Great running and hiking companion
Healthy breed that lives a long life
Not a good choice for apartment living
Needs a ton of daily exercise
Independent and may be tough to train
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
When determining if the Saluki is the right dog for you, be sure to research all aspects of the breed and consult other Saluki owners, breeders, and rescue groups to learn more. If you think it may be difficult to locate a dog from this breed, check out these other, similar dogs.
There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!
Are Saluki dogs aggressive?
The Saluki may be fearless while hunting but it is otherwise a gentle and unaggressive breed. These quiet, sensitive dogs can even become timid and shy without early socialization. This dog makes an excellent family pet and can be perfectly happy to cozy up to its humans on an oversized couch or bed (in fact, soft, plush surfaces are a favorite for this dog due to its lack of body fat).
Can a Saluki fit in with a multi-dog household?
A Saluki will prefer the companionship of other Salukis, but it can get along with most other breeds as long as the other dogs do not have particularly dominant personalities.
What was the Saluki bred for?
This dog was bred to have incredible speed, agility, and brute strength to hunt gazelle, the fastest of the antelopes, in harsh conditions, such as deep sand or mountainous terrain. As a sighthound, the Saluki is also known for its remarkably sharp vision.