The sleek and graceful Saluki has hunted with mankind for thousands of years. Because the history of this ancient sighthound reaches back long before the invention of breed clubs and written breeding records, its origin is veiled in mystery. Here are nine interesting facts about the exotic Saluki.
1. The Saluki is one of the oldest known breeds of dog. There is robust archaeological evidence of the Saluki that dates back at least 5,000 years. Images of slender dogs with feathered ears, tails, and legs have been found on various artifacts in the Middle East, such as tomb paintings and mosaic sculptures.
2. The Saluki is sometimes referred to as the royal dog of Egypt. Egyptian nobility considered the breed to be a valuable and honored companion, and they were known to mummify the dogs in the fashion of the Egyptian Pharaohs. The remains of dogs have been found in the tombs of the upper Nile.
3. Salukis were highly valued by Arab tribesmen, who thought of them as a gift from God and called them “el hor,” which means the noble. They paid equal attention to the breeding of their Salukis as they did to their Arabian horses, prizing speed, endurance, and a keen hunting instinct. There are still Salukis used for hunting today in the Middle East.
4. The Saluki is a member of the Hound Group and is known as a sighthound. Sighthounds rely on their eyesight, rather than their noses, to find prey and then use their tremendous speed for the chase and capture. Because they are too fast for humans to keep up with, they work alone. This has given them an independent personality.
5. The grace and delicate appearance of the Saluki contradict its stamina and strength. These dogs were bred to chase prey over long and difficult ground, so they are not as fragile as they look. Salukis can run 30-35 miles per hour, which explains why Arab tribesmen used them for hunting gazelle.
6. Salukis need to run at least once or twice a week. Simple walks around the block are not enough to satisfy their needs. So a Saluki owner benefits from a very large fenced yard or regular access to a similar area for exercising his dog. However, the fence needs to be at least five feet high, because Salukis are phenomenal jumpers and can easily clear anything shorter.
7. The coat of the Saluki is short, soft, and silky and can be either feathered or smooth. The feathered variety has feathering, or longer hair, on the ears, tail, and on the thighs and backs of the legs, whereas the smooth does not. The coat sheds very little and only requires weekly brushing, twice weekly for the feathering. Salukis come in many colors and patterns, including white, cream, fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, tricolor, and black and tan.
8. According to the breed standard, the Saluki’s expression should be dignified and gentle, and their dark-to-hazel-colored eyes should appear deep, faithful, and far-seeing. They are curious dogs, and their loyalty helps them become lovingly attached to their human family. Although they are devoted to their owners, they are also independent souls who can be aloof and cat-like. It’s important to stay patient and positive with your Saluki to maintain his interest and ensure training success. Proper socialization will help this sensitive hound develop confidence.
9. Despite their desert history, Salukis enjoy living a life of luxury. Due to their lack of natural padding, they appreciate soft surfaces to lie on, such as the couch, an easy chair, or your bed. But don’t forget that they are high-functioning athletes that benefit from a variety of mentally- and physically-challenging activities. They excel at lure coursing, agility, exhibition jumping, and flyball, for example.