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Saluki Breed Information: Personality Traits, Temperament & More

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Last Updated: February 28, 2023 | 9 min read | Leave a Comment

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The Saluki is a rare breed in America, and not many people know that they are one of the oldest breeds in the world, possibly the oldest. Salukis originate from the Middle East and are often called a gift from Allah. They are a favorite among Pharaohs, Kings, Conquerors, and more. So, what’s not to like about this breed? Well, there is nothing to dislike, but there are certainly a few things that don’t meet up to everyone’s canine wishlist.

Salukis are incredibly kind and gentle, but they aren’t overly affectionate. So, if you’re after a dog you can fuss over all day, this is not the breed for you. They don’t like being left alone, are independent, and can be tricky to train. Salukis also have a high prey drive, so you cannot let them off-leash in public.

But this could be a great match for you if you’re after an easy-going pup who is happy to be spoilt without being too demanding. Here in this article, we look at everything you need to know about the Saluki. So, let’s take a closer look at this antique breed.

Saluki
    • weight iconWeight40-65 pounds
    • height iconHeight23-28 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan10-17 years
    • color iconColorsBlack, chocolate, cream, fawn, golden, red, silver, white
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

History

White Saluki
Salukis have long been a favorite of royalty, like many other elegant-looking sighthounds.

The Saluki is one of the oldest dog breeds, possibly going back as far as 7000 B.C., according to carvings of similar-looking dogs from the Sumerian empire. Their origin is mysterious, but we know they originate somewhere in the Middle East. They are sometimes called the Persian Greyhound or “El Hor,” which translates to “The Noble.”

Egyptians mummified Salukis the same way they did Pharaohs, showing how much they treasured them. They are still known as the royal dog of Egypt today and still hunt in the Middle East. They are so athletic and quick that they are used for hunting Gazelles, the fastest antelopes in the world, reaching 97 km/h.

After World War I, soldiers returned to England and took Salukis back with them. This is the first time Salukis became popular outside the Middle East. Interest in the breed was slower in America, and the Saluki Club of America was not established until 1927. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized them in the same year. Salukis are relatively rare, but their popularity has steadily risen in recent years.

Temperament

Saluki sitting on a pillow and red sofa
The Saluki is a top canine choice if you’re looking for a sweet and gentle companion.

Salukis are gentle and devoted to their family. They are kind, caring, and affectionate, but not in an over-the-top way. Salukis usually form a closer bond with one family member, but they thrive on companionship and don’t like being left alone. This can lead to separation anxiety issues, which you should consider if you welcome a Saluki into your life.

Salukis are aloof with strangers. Not in a suspicious way, but they have no genuine interest in people outside of their family. This is one of the reasons why breed fanciers say they are cat-like. They come to you when they want something and generally don’t like to fuss unless it’s on their terms. Plus, like felines, they are fastidiously clean regarding self-grooming.

Salukis are sensitive dogs and prefer a quiet life. Although they are athletic and love the outdoors, they also love home comforts. Salukis like pampering and feeling part of the pack, so joining you on the sofa is a must. They also pick up on family emotions and become highly stressed by tensions in the home.

Salukis are sighthounds, meaning they hunt by sight and do not hunt by smell like Beagles or Bloodhounds do. This means that seeing a fast-moving object, like a car, bike, or small furry, sends their legs into explosive mode. This can make playtime and fetch really fun, but it can also make walking in public difficult. You need to be strong and always alert.

Size & Appearance

Saluki dog black standing outside in a meadow
Females are considerably smaller than males and look more feminine too.

Unlike other breeds, the Saluki has one of the least changed appearances over time, the carvings dating back to 7000 B.C. are strikingly similar to the breed today. Salukis measure between 23 and 28 inches tall, from paw to shoulder, and weigh between 40 and 65 pounds. Their elegant and soft appearance contradicts their speed, strength, and athletic abilities.

Salukis have long and narrow skulls with long muzzles and ears. They have large, dark eyes that give away their gentleness. Salukis have deep chests, long, slender legs, and a long, thin tail that curves at the end. If you want to show your Saluki in the show ring, they must conform to the standards in the Saluki breed standard. But if you welcome them as family pets, these conditions are not particularly important.

Coat & Colors

2 Saluki puppies outside in field
Their coat is entirely smooth and sleek all over.

There are two types of Saluki coats, which are feathered and smooth. The smooth coat has no feathering, not even on their ears, and they look very similar to Greyhounds. Feathered coat types have slightly longer hair with feathering around their shoulders, legs, and tail. Their ears have long wavy hair, which is what most people visualize when thinking about Salukis.

Regardless of coat type, Salukis have a wide choice of coat colors, including white, cream, fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, black and tan, and tricolor (white, black, and tan). Cream, tan, and fawn are the most common colors, making darker or tricolors rarer and sometimes more expensive.

Exercise & Living Conditions

2 Saluki dogs walking in grassy yard
Many Saluki owners regularly hire a secure field that their Saluki can run to their heart’s content.

The Saluki is a highly athletic dog, and to fulfill their original purpose and stay happy, they must be allowed to run. However, you can’t do this in an open space because they likely won’t return to you. Sure, you might not be able to do this every day but aim to do this several times a week.

On a day-to-day basis, they need regular walking. Alternatively, they make a great jogging partner and won’t stop until you do. And playing with them in the yard throughout the day is essential to keep them mentally stimulated. A bored Saluki becomes destructive with chewing and digging. Please provide them with tough and challenging toys to keep them entertained.

Salukis are medium-sized dogs who can live in large apartments as long as their exercise needs are met. They would love a yard to romp around in. If they do, it must be adequately secured to prevent them from fleeing. Salukis are escape artists. Electronic fencing is ineffective because their prey drive is so strong they ignore it.

Salukis can live with dog-savvy children thanks to their gentle nature. But only adults should handle their leash outdoors because they can sprint into action without any warning. As long as they are socialized well as pups, they enjoy the company of other dogs, but their prey drive means other pets are not recommended. Lastly, they need a comfortable bed with plenty of padding because of their skinny frame.

Training

Saluki on leash with trainer and people in the background
Training a Saluki is a challenge and one of the main reasons the Saluki breed is not for everyone.

Don’t expect the trainability of a German Shepherd. Again, like cats, they are independent and often do as they please if they are not appropriately trained. It is essential to start training as soon as you bring them home and set the boundaries you want them to keep into adulthood.

Positive reinforcement is the only way to train the Saluki because overly harsh corrections only scare them. Tasty treats and gentle praise are great ways to get the best out of your pup. Socializing your Saluki from an early age is important too. Expose them to new situations, sounds, people, and other dogs as early as possible. Otherwise, they can become painfully shy, causing problems later on.

Salukis have an extremely high prey drive, so you should not let them off-leash in an uncontained area. If you have a large secure yard, that’s great. But if not, hiring a secure compound for them to run around is an excellent way to do what they love most, run and chase. If you want a canine to play fetch in the local park, forget the Saluki breed, recall training is almost pointless!

Health

Saluki with health conditions outside looking to the left
The breed is predisposed to several health conditions, so soon-to-be Saluki owners must know them.

The Saluki is a relatively healthy dog breed, and they typically live between 10 and 17 years. It’s important to keep your Saluki active and up to date with regular health checks with your vet.

Anesthesia Sensitivity

Salukis have very low body fat, making them more sensitive to anesthesia and other drugs. Although most vets know this, it’s always worth mentioning it to them if your pooch requires any medical attention.

Bloat

Bloat is a genuine concern for Salukis, considering how much they like to run and how active they can be. It is a severe medical episode that needs immediate veterinarian attention. Otherwise, it can be fatal. It occurs when the stomach bloats and twists, putting strain on arteries and organs and leading to shock. Vigorous playing and running after eating must be avoided, as should eating quickly.

Cancer

Although cancer is rare, Salukis are prone to certain cancers, particularly hemangiosarcoma or osteosarcoma, lymphoma, and mammary cancers. Although little can be done to avoid cancer, early spaying can prevent the latter. Breeders should not breed dogs who have had cancer, so be sure to speak to them about cancer in their Saluki bloodline.

Hemangiosarcoma is a bleeding tumor typically found in the spleen and the most common cancer form in the breed. Tumors can grow to the size of a volleyball and burst without owners knowing until it is too late. Bloodwork can identify signs of hemangiosarcoma, so regular health check-ups are crucial for early detection.

Heart Conditions

A heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is present more in the Saluki bloodline than in other breeds. DCM occurs when the heart becomes thin, large, and weak and does not work effectively. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, fainting, labored breathing, and coughing. Regular health checks can pick up heart abnormalities before symptoms appear. If detected early, you can manage it with medication.

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland plays an integral part in the body’s metabolic regulation. Hypothyroidism is caused by an underactive thyroid which essentially attacks itself and can lead to weight gain, lethargy, high cholesterol, and skin and coat problems. Although it is incurable, hypothyroidism can treat with daily hormone medication.

Nutrition

Skinny Saluki outside in forrest
Salukis don’t eat much food considering their size and energy levels.

How much they eat depends on their age, size, sex, activity levels, and the diet you feed them. Always choose a high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs and keeps them fueled for their day. Salukis are naturally slim dogs, so you must take them to the vet if you notice unnecessary weight gain. There might be an underlying health condition causing the weight gain.

On a nutritional side note, many owners invest in an ear stocking or snood for their feathered Salukis because their ears are so long they fall into the bowl. Although this might seem like a lot of effort, it is much easier than cleaning and drying your Saluki’s ears after every meal.

Grooming

Brown Saluki drinking out of muddy water with wet ear
Their coat needs brushing two to three times a week to prevent their long hair from matting.

Salukis generally have relatively simple grooming requirements, especially if they have smooth coats. Brush them quickly once a week to remove dirt and hair and stimulate their skin, and that’s all they need to look healthy. Feathered varieties need slightly more attention.

Salukis are clean dogs that take pride in their appearance and regularly groom themselves. They only need bathing once every three months or when they roll in something dirty. Trim their nails regularly to prevent sore pads, and clean their teeth regularly to avoid periodontal diseases. Overall, Saluki grooming is relatively simple.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

2 Saluki puppies laying in a basket and brown blanket
If you are looking for a puppy from an award-winning lineage or a famous breeder, expect to pay more.

Salukis are a relatively rare breed in America. This means that you might need to travel to find a reputable breeder. A great place to start your search is with the AKC’s list of Saluki breeders. Look for websites with detailed information on their dogs, experience, and independent reviews. Be sure to meet them and their puppies in person so that you know the puppies are healthy before handing over a deposit.

Saluki puppies cost, on average, anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000. Remember that on top of the initial puppy costs. There are setting up costs to think about, too, such as buying a bed, crate, toys, and puppy training and immunizations. As well as ongoing costs such as medical care, food, and pet insurance.

Rescues & Shelters

Saluki breeders are rare in the USA as there is not as much demand for them as Labrador breeders. This means that Saluki dogs in rescues are even rarer. Speak to your local rescues who might know of a Saluki pup in the local area. However, your best bet is to look online at Saluki-dedicated rescue organizations such as the Saluki Tree Of Life Association (STOLA) and other Saluki rescues. The cost of rescuing a dog is usually several hundred dollars rather than thousands.

As Family Pets

  • Salukis are sweet and sensitive creatures who like human company.
  • They are cat-like in affection – they only want it on their terms.
  • The Saluki breed is one of the oldest but rare in America.
  • Salukis are independent and challenging to train.
  • Socialization is crucial. Otherwise, they can become overly shy.
  • They are aloof to strangers but close to their families.
  • Salukis enjoy a quiet and pampered life.
  • Running off leash in a secure area is the key to happiness.
  • Their prey drive is very high.
  • Their grooming schedule is relatively simple.

Final Thoughts

The Saluki is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, and they are pretty rare outside of the Middle East. They are exceptionally graceful and elegant canines with an explosive need for speed. If you don’t have a large, secure yard, it’s crucial to find a way to let them run off-leash in a contained area. Salukis are easy-going dogs as long as you can meet their needs in this guide. Plus, they are as sweet and beautiful as canines come.

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