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A Breed a Week: Saluki

A Breed a Week:  SALUKI

From the Complete Dog Book, a publication of the American Kennel Club, copyright 1985

The Saluki, royal dog of Egypt, is perhaps the oldest known breed of domesticated dog, identified by some historians as "a distinct breed and type as long ago as 329 B.C. when Alexander the Great invaded India." He is said to be as old as the earliest known civilization, the claim being based on the fact that the hounds shown on the earliest carvings look more like Salukis than any other breed: they have a Greyhound body with feathered ears, tail, and legs. Exactly the same hound appears on the Egyptian tombs of 2100 B.C. and more recent excavation of the still older Sumerian empire, estimated at 7000-6000 B.C., have produced carvings of striking resemblance to the Saluki.

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Having tremendous speed, the Saluki was used by the Arabs principally in bringing down the gazelle. It is recorded that the Pharaohs rode to the chase with their hawks on their wrists and Salukis on the lead. We also believe the Saluki was used on jackals, foxes, and hares. A cut published in 1852 shows a wild boar hunt in Algeria with Salukis tackling the boar.

On his native heath the Saluki gets no pampering. He lives hard, and it is a case of survival of the fittest -  one reason for his strong constitution and sturdy frame, enabling him to stand any climate in unheated kennels. His feet are hard and firm, and the hair between the toes is a great protection. In all his running and dodging over the roughest kind of ground and rocky country, he never damages pads or toes.

His beauty is that of the thoroughbred horse; grace and symmetry of form; clean cut and graceful; short silky hair except on the ears, legs and tail; slender, well muscled neck, shoulders, and thighs; arched loins; long tail carried naturally in a curve with silky hair hanging from the underside; the arched toes; the rather long head with deep, far seeing eyes-an expression of dignity mixed with gentleness.

Salukis come in a wide variety of colors, including white, cream, fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, tri-color (white, black and tan), and black and tan. In disposition he shows great attachment to his master. He is affectionate without being demonstrative, a good watchdog, but not aggressive.