Learning about the various breeds gives one a better understanding of the nature of dogs and how they came about. This article focuses on the oldest recognized breed, the Saluki, which dates back to 3500-5000 BC. The Saluki is a Sight Hound that originated in the Middle East. At that time there were no national boundaries but the region was known as Mesopotamia. Today the area would be considered Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sinai, Gulf State and Persia. In looking at their history one must remember that the Bedouins who bred this elegant looking breed were continually moving around. Salukis were the dogs the Pharaohs allowed to sleep in their tents because they were very clean.
Today there are two types of Salukis, the feathered and the smooth. Feathering on the ears, tail and hindquarters distinguish the feathered variety from the smooths. Some call the Saluki a wash and dry Afghan. The Saluki comes in a large variety of colors. One will see reds, tri-colors (black, tan and white), creams, grizzles, apricots and partis. Males can range from 45 – 55 lbs and the females 35 -45 lbs.
The Saluki is a long distant runner with a very deep chest, strong hindquarters, tight waist, good eyesight, long muzzle, and strong jaw to catch prey. They were breed to hunt gazelle and hares.
Prior to 1895 the Saluki existed here and there throughout the world. In 1895 Florence Amherst, a Baron’s daughter, who was a scholar and traveler brought them to England and really introduced the Saluki to the western world. At the time, she was very interested in Egyptology and discovered the Saluki while in Egypt and became enchanted with them.
Today the Saluki is a companion dog. The Bedouin still use them for hunting. Salukis are active dogs and participate in lure coursing, field coursing, confirmation showing, obedience, rally and agility.
Salukis are couch potatoes except when they are out doing what they were bred to do. They are not a one man’s dog. They are smart and can out think their owners. They do better with another dog that can play and run with them. Don’t expect them to retrieve or play fetch.
To learn more about the history of the Saluki check out Saluki The Desert Hound and English Travelers Who Brought it To The West by Brian Duggan. Not only is this a book about the Saluki but also it depicts history in the 20th century. For those interested in purchasing the book click here.
For additional information on the Saluki:
Saluki Club of America