Origin and Uses: The Saluki is one of the oldest known breeds of dogs. It has existed, virtually unchanged, for many thousands of years. It was originally bred by the Arab tribesmen for bringing down game and was considered a sacred gift of God by the tribesmen. In Arabic, an ordinary dog is called kelb while the Saluki is El Hor, The Noble One.
General Appearance: Salukis are running dogs, They hunt by sight and chase down their quarry. A Saluki should exude strength and speed but at the same time be graceful and agile. Salukis are able to run after game over deep sand, or rocky mountains. The Saluki expression is dignified and gentle with deep, faithful, far-seeing eyes.
Height and Weight: Saluki males can average 23-28 inches. It is unusual to see a male as small as 23 inches and in reality, they are about 26 inches. Females may be smaller, and typically a female will be around 24.5 inches. A typical, mature male may weigh around 60 pounds and a female around 50 pounds. Males are very masculine looking, like a stallion, while females look feminine.
Coat and Colour: Salukis come in two coat types, smooth and feathered. Both are equally desirable. The coat is soft and silky. In the feathered Saluki, there will be long silky hair on the ears and tail with some feathering on the backs of the legs. Salukis come in most colours, including an almost white/cream, gold, fawn, red, black and tan with or without silver, and chocolate. As well as colours, there are patterns which can produce a parti colour (above colours on a white background) or grizzle (where the hairs are multi coloured) and sable (black overlay on some parts of the body).
Feeding: Salukis are a thriving breed. While sometimes picky and thin as youngsters (think 10 year old, active, healthy children) they usually settle down at maturity and eat well. Saluki diets vary based on the breeder. Some feed a biologically appropriate raw diet; some feed kibble (NEVER grain-free); some cook for their dogs; and some feed a combination of the choices. Just like people, if they are fed good food they will do well. Although people often think Salukis are too thin, you have to remember that they are the marathon runners of the dog world and need bodies suitable for that job.
Temperament: Having a well exercised Saluki in the house is like having a well behaved house-guest. They come in, say hello and then stay out of your way. They like to be in the room with you, but if you are moving from room to room they will frequently stay where they are comfortable. They are an intensely loyal breed and much more affectionate with their owners than with strangers. They do not forget a friend. They are good with children since as long as they have a way out of an uncomfortable situation, they will try to take it. A Saluki WILL sleep on the couch or chair. While they can be trained only to sleep on certain furniture they must be provided with something soft to sleep on. A carpet will not generally suffice. Even homes with multiple dog beds have Salukis that prefer to sit on the sofa (or sleep in bed) with their people.
Training and Obedience: A Saluki needs exercise. Ideally they will have a large yard with a six foot fence. They enjoy regular walks on leash. They do not like dog parks. A Saluki that does not get enough exercise will make their own exercise and can become destructive. For an active owner that will go for regular walks (or runs) they are ideal. A Saluki should not become a running buddy until its growth plates have fused (around a year of age). Even the most trainable/well trained Saluki is unreliable off leash. They were designed to hunt by sight, and if they see something they will give chase, and they will not heed the call to come back. Off-leash running must be limited to safe, ideally fenced, areas.
Activity and Performance: It is easy to train a Saluki to have good manners. They are quiet, they are responsive and they are quick to figure out what is allowed and what is not acceptable. “Outside”, “come over here”, “get off the couch” are all easy for them to figure out. Traditionally Salukis are not top Performance (obedience, rally, agility) dogs. They do not take well to repetition and they do not like to be wrong or corrected. Salukis are very trainable as long as you are very positive and make it worthwhile for them to listen. There are Salukis that excel in all disciplines but they do require both a trainer and coach that is willing to think outside the box. The top performance discipline for Salukis is lure coursing and there are lure coursing clubs all around Canada. Chasing a plastic lure is a natural instinct and they love it.