The Breed History
This breed is thought to be one of the most ancient breeds of domesticated dogs. Excavations of ancient settlements (6500 BC, Sumerian empire), and Egyptian tomb carvings of 2100 BC reflect the presence of a distinctly "Saluki type" dog. They were highly esteemed and mummified remains of this type of dog have been found, attesting to their important status in Egyptian society. Muslim religion classed dogs as unclean, and termed them kelb but the Saluki on the other hand, was termed the "noble one" or El Hor, and accorded sacred status. Originating in the region that includes Egypt, Arabia, Syria and Persia, and accompanying the Bedouin tribes, the first specimens were brought to England in the year 1840. The smooth (non-feathered) variety of Saluki is very much like the Sloughi dog. The latter was thought to have originated from the town of Saloug in Yemen. The Saluki likely originated in the town of Saluk, Yemen. The AKC recognized this breed in 1927.
Breeding for Function
Because of the harsh climate in which these dogs were kept, they became hardy and tolerated temperature extremes. They were also particularly sure-footed in rough going. Their speed, agility and endurance allowed them to hunt all day over difficult terrain. Arabs used these dogs to hunt gazelle, though they were also capable hunters of foxes, wild boar, and hares. In Europe and England the sport of saluki racing (which required clearing hurdles) was undertaken. They are found nowadays mostly in companionship and lure coursing or open field coursing roles.
Height at Withers: female 22-26" (56-66 cm), male 23-28" (58.5-71 cm)
Weight: females 31-40 lb (14-18 kg), males 40-55 lb (18-25 kg).
Coat: Their coat is fine and silky, shorter over the body and well-developed feathers are present. Colors include white, cream, golden, red, fawn, grizzle and tan, black-and-tan, and tri-color. A smooth variety of this breed has the same body coat but without the feathers.
Longevity: 12 years
Points of Conformation: Long, with a very lean athletic build, exceptionally smooth and graceful bounding movements characterize Saluki dogs. Their ability to accelerate very quickly to speed allows them to be effective in gazelle hunts. The skull is long and narrow, the stop is not very pronounced, and the nose is either black or liver colored. The eyes are large, oval and colored dark brown to hazel. The ears are long, pendulous and fine-leathered with very long feathers. The neck is long and muscular, the thorax is somewhat narrow but very deep. The legs are straight and long. Tarsi are placed low on the hind limb. Feet are moderately arched, with good feathering between the toes. The inner digits can be longer than the outer digits. The tail is long, tapering, feathered on the underside, and carried in a curve. The back is broad with a slightly arched loin. They normally have prominent hip bones and the caudal rib cage is also clearly evident when they are in fit condition.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Reported breed characteristics include: Very athletic, and require lots of exercise and activity, friendly, clean, and they enjoy a soft bed inside the home. Saluki dogs are intelligent. Training should be started early, and socialization should be emphasized to counteract any nervous or shy/high strung tendencies. Introduce them to children, small dogs and household cats early. They thrive on close human companionship. They are sensitive, and obedience training is strongly recommended. Free exercise should only occur in a high fenced enclosure. They are somewhat independent minded. Though they do not like fetch type activities, they love to chase, so care should be taken to keep small animals such as cats out of their reach. Destructive behavior can occur if they become bored. Their coat has average care needs and they are average shedders. They will alarm bark, but are not considered defense dogs. Some recommend a snood, or ear hood to help prevent soiling of hair at mealtime.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Thyroid Hormone Levels: Sighthounds have lower normal ranges for T4 and T3 concentrations compared to other breeds. Median (reference limits) serum concentrations in Salukis are: Total T(4): 13.0 nmol/L (2.8 to 40.0 nmol/L) Free T(4): 12.0 pmol/L (2.0 to 30.3 pmol/L) Total T(3): 1.0 nmol/L (0.4 to 2.1 nmol/L) Free T(3): 4.0 pmol/L (1.6 to 7.7 pmol/L) TSH: 0.18 ng/mL (0 to 0.86 ng/mL)
Anesthesia: Sight hounds require particular attention during anesthesia. Their lean body conformation with high surface-area-tovolume ratio predisposes them to hypothermia during anesthesia. Impaired biotransformation of drugs by the liver results in prolonged recovery from barbiturate and thiobarbiturate intravenous anesthetics. Propofol, and ketamine/diazepam combination are recommended induction agents.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 1.6% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few Salukis have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Salukis have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): Salukis are reported with a high incidence of mitral regurgitation and thickening of the mitral valve. This condition can lead to congestive heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beats) and cardiac failure. Unknown mode of inheritance. Reported as a breed problem in the 2000 SHR Inc. Saluki Health Survey.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 12.8% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 6.41% of Salukis CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Nuclear intermediate and punctate cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 3.91% of Salukis CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Saluki with a cataract.
Vitreous Degeneration: A liquefaction of the vitreous gel which may predispose to retinal detachment resulting in blindness. Identified in 2.56% of Salukis CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cardiac Hemangiosarcoma/Sudden Death: In a necropsy study of Salukis with sudden death, 31% had cardiac hemangiosarcoma. The Saluki is found to have a 1% incidence of this type of cancer, with a 7.75x odds ratio of developing it versus other breeds. Almost one-third of all cases of cardiac hemangiosarcoma in dogs occur in Salukis. Unknown mode of inheritance. Reported as a breed problem in the 2000 SHR Inc. Saluki Health Survey.
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Autoimmune destruction of red blood cells. Treat with immunosuppressive drugs. Unknown mode of inheritance. Reported as a breed problem in the 2000 SHR Inc. Saluki Health Survey.
Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia: Reported in Salukis in the UK. Loss of black hairs beginning around 4 weeks of age. Total loss of all black hair by 6-9 months of age. Melatonin may be effective. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Ceroid Lipofuscinosis: Rare, fatal degenerative neurological disease. Onset 1-2 years. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Brachygnathism, Color Dilution Alopecia, and Prognathism, are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Motor Neuron Abiotrophy: A nine-week-old saluki puppy presented for progressive, generalized weakness and bilateral forelimb deformities. Histopathology revealed a diffuse, symmetrical, degenerative motor neuronopathy of the ventral horn of the spinal cord.
Multiple Cardiac Anomalies: A family of Salukis was identified where all affected dogs had patent ductus arteriosus or ductus diverticulum, and some members additionally had tricuspid valve insufficiency, pulmonic stenosis, or mitral valve insufficiency. Pedigree evaluation suggested a genetic cause.
Intersex: A litter of five salukis was presented in which all of the individuals were intersexes or hermaphrodites. The external genitalia resembled a combination of penile sheath and vulva, and scrotal sacs. Internal anatomy consisted of two gonads in a position expected for ovaries, oviducts, uterus and cord-like structures lateral to the uterus which extended from gonad to inside of the scrotal sacs. Histologically, the gonads appeared to be ovaries which contained many dysgenic follicles.
Tests of Genotype: Genetic tests for coat color and length are available from VetGen and HealthGene.
Tests of Phenotype: Recommended testing includes hip and elbow radiographs, CERF eye examination, cardiac evaluation, patella examination, and thyroid profile including autoantibodies.
- Breed name synonyms: Persian Greyhound (historical), Gazelle Hound, Arabian Hound, Saluqi, El Hor (Arabic for "the noble one").
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club).
- AKC rank (year 2008): 118 (280 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Saluki Club of America: www.salukiclub.org
Saluki Club of Canada: www.salukicanada.com
Saluki or Gazelle Hound Club of the U.K.: www.salukiclub.co.uk
Saluki Health Research: www.salukihealthresearch.com
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