Considered by many to be the oldest breed in the world, Saluki have often been found mummified next to the remains of Egyptian Pharaohs. Pictures evidence from these tombs dates them back as far as 2100 BC. The physical characteristics of the Saluki are very recognizable and notably distinctive. They are very slim, much like the Greyhound, and have long hair that feather in several places. Among these places are the ears and tail. The head is narrow and tapers to a pointed nose.
Unlike many breeds that become a part of the family, the Saluki generally become attached to one person and merely tolerate the remaining family members. These dogs were originally bred as hunting dogs and have proven themselves excellent hunters throughout the centuries. They are not well suited for apartment dwelling despite the fact that they do make excellent companion dogs. They need to have room to run. Keep in mind that these dogs are hunters and avoid introducing them to households with guinea pigs, rabbits, and small pets such as these.
The coat of the Saluki is one of many things that sets this particular dog apart. It is long and silky and feathers on the legs and shoulders while hanging long and low on the ears. Their coats are fairly low maintenance being easy to maintain with regular brushing. They do not have a high tendency for shedding and can be found in shades of white, gold, red, tan, cream, and faun, black, or tricolor coats in addition to a combination of any of the colors mentioned above and white.
This particular dog breed has many stories that point to its origins and no one is really sure exactly what the origin is. There is evidence that it may be one of the oldest breeds of dogs as evidences in pictures dating back to 2100 BC and mummification alongside various Egyptian Pharaohs. Some of Arabic descent believe the Saluki to be gifts from Allah. As such those that consider most dogs to be unclean cherish these dogs. Today they are recognized around the world for their gifts and talents as well as their rather unique beauty among canines.
These dogs are considered to be highly intelligent, even-tempered, and somewhat sensitive. They make excellent companion dogs and have a tendency to attach themselves to one person though they tolerate other members of the family quite well there always seems to be one person for whom their devotion is more complete.
Perhaps as a result of their long history of adoration and nobility these dogs are viewed by many to have a somewhat regal or haughty attitude. The Saluki will generally stay quite calm indoors once it has been properly trained though they are amazingly agile and quick outdoors and a sight to see when truly in their element. It is essential that the Saluki is well socialized when it is young in order to insure that it becomes a well-balanced adult. The more affection and attention they are given the better behaved they tend to be. This attention includes exercise and training. A bored Saluki has the tendency to be a destructive Saluki and can become a defiant Saluki.
You should keep in mind that this is a dog that has centuries of breeding for hunting in its line. This means that you should either have a yard that is well fenced in, be prepared to hunt, or have a leash when it is outside. It will give chase when a small animal is in its line of sight and it is nearly impossible to regain their attention when they are focused on the hunt. Salukis are not recommended for homes that have small children because they do not tolerate roughhousing very well at all.
Though typically healthy there are a few conditions that while not common have been known to affect the Saluki. The first is Hemangiosarcoma, which is a blood-fed cancer. There is a tumor that is formed and filled with blood. When the tumor ruptures the Saluki bleeds out very quickly resulting in death. This is a condition that is rarely discovered until it is too late. Next are eye problems. These conditions are typically genetic. Finally the Saluki are somewhat susceptible to sunburns. For this reason they are recommended for living indoors and playing outdoors.
Brushing and/or combing the smooth coats of the Saluki about once or twice a week is often adequate for day to day grooming efforts. They also shed very little making them an excellent choice for households that are not interested in heavily shedding dogs. Bathing should be performed on an as needed basis but is not necessary on a regular basis. Their nails will need careful inspection and care and they should avoid extended exposure to the sun.
The Saluki are hunting dogs by nature with centuries of history to reinforce those ties. It is absolutely necessary that they get an adequate amount of exercise, especially when they are young. This helps keep them happy and healthy and helps you avoid problematic behavior that can occur when they have too much pent up energy. You should never unleash these fast (up to 40 MPH) runners in areas that are unsafe because they are well known to take off after some small prey and ignore everything else going on in the world around them.
Even fences offer a false sense of security, as they must be well over five feet high in order to prevent the Saluki from jumping over it easily. Two long walks each day and some degree of agility training in a controlled environment can help insure that your Saluki is happy and healthy. Riding a bicycle along with a leashed Saluki is a good choice for many owners who wish to give their Saluki the opportunity to run but are well aware of their own limitations.
It is often said that a Saluki can only be trained up to a certain point. These dogs are very intelligent and can be trained as far as they are willing to be trained. They also happen to have a very well defined mind of their own. Begin training young, socialize them often and as early as possible, and establish the pecking order early on for the best training results. They do seem to enjoy endurance training so this can be used as a tool and a system of rewards for your Saluki.