60-Second Seminar: Saluki, Lord of the Desert

Got a minute?

If so, you can learn the essentials of any breed. Not enough to call yourself an expert, of course. But in the time it takes to watch a TV commercial, one of our “60-Second Seminars” can provide you just enough breed knowledge to bluff your way through a conversation at the dog park.

The average adult reading speed is 300 words a minute. So, here are exactly 300 words on the Saluki:

To understand Salukis, you have to appreciate their job description. Salukis are a type of dog called sighthounds, hunters who use keen eyesight and explosive speed to spot, chase, and capture prey animals. Sighthounds work alone, not with a handler—even an Olympic sprinter couldn’t keep up running alongside a Saluki—and this accounts for the breed’s independent nature.

The Saluki is perhaps the oldest domesticated dog breed, with a lineage that might go back as far as 7000 b.c. Salukis were special favorites of kings: Egyptian pharaohs, Alexander the Great, Bedouin sheikhs, and on through history. Desert chieftains often worked their Salukis in tandem with falcons (see note below).

The beauty of Salukis, often compared to that of the Arabian horse, has been a thing of wonder for thousands of years. They’re slim and leggy, but strong and perfectly balanced, like a great athlete or dancer. Males can stand between 23 and 28 inches at the shoulder; females can be much shorter. They come in a many colors and patterns. Their large, oval-shaped eyes are warm and intelligent. Salukis are highly adaptable, able to live and work in any climate. Their endurance is legendary.

Salukis are magnificent animals of gentleness and loyalty, but owning them comes with special challenges. These swift, agile runners love a good romp—fenced-in running room is a must. They live to chase small animals, like cats and squirrels, and training these sensitive, single-minded hounds can be quite a job. The smooth-coated type requires occasional brushing; “feathered” Salukis need a bit more grooming.

Today’s Saluki is remarkably similar in shape and personality to its ancient ancestors. We can 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.

… And stop the clock—your minute’s up!

Got another three minutes and twenty-eight seconds?

Great! That’s just enough time to watch this excerpt from the PBS “Nature” series—awesome live-action and animation footage of a Saluki doing his thing in the breed’s ancestral homeland.

ART: “The Falconer,” Donald Grant, collection AKC Museum of the Dog, gift of the estate of Cynthia S. Wood

(Bonus Point: Coursing with Salukis and falcons has been known for centuries as the favorite sport of the Bedouin sheikhs and princes of Middle Eastern countries. The hunter held his dogs on leash and carried his hawk on his wrist. When gazelle were sighted, the hawk was flown and the Salukis were slipped free to run forward. When the hawk struck its prey, the Saluki held it down until the hunters arrived on horseback.—William Secord, “A Breed Apart”)

Take the Weimaraner 60-Second Seminar here.