Saluki: The Royal Dog of Egypt

The Saluki is an ancient dog breed. They are slim but rugged. As a hunting hound, they are swift and agile sprinters.

They are also known as the Royal Dog of Egypt, Gazelle Hound, Persian Greyhound, and Arabian hound.

Two Saluki dogs in a royal living room

However, these pets aren’t the best for everyone. They have some specialized needs. Keep reading below to find out if this is the right breed of dog for you. 

What is a Saluki dog?

The Saluki is one of the oldest breeds of dog. We don’t exactly know which breed of Arab dog is the oldest, as we don’t have the exact date when each breed was bred into existence.

In many cases, it is hard to pinpoint when a specific breed of dog came to be since breed creation is a gradual process. 

Purebred Saluki dog portrait
Image source

The Saluki is thought to go back as far as 7000 BC. Many kings and queens owned these sighthounds, including Alexander the Great.

It was particularly beloved by the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. They were considered to be one of the few “clean” dogs in Arab areas, where they can share Bedouin tents. 

Many Selukis were found in Egyptian tombs. 

This ancient breed has not changed much over the years. It is very similar in physical appearance and personality to its ancient ancestors.

It is likely that this breed was founded and well-known long before the pyramids were built. It may have even spread throughout the Middle East, Egypt, and Asia by the time Alexander the Great encountered these canines. 

The American Kennel Club does recognize the Saluki and has for a long time. They are a well-known dog that is also very old, so there was little argument about including them in the AKC.

They are likely related to the Afghan hound and similar dogs. 

What does Saluki look like?

Saluki dog walking in the snow
Image source

Salukis are built to be extremely graceful. They are very symmetrical and pair high speed with endurance. At the same time, they are also quite strong.

They can bring down gazelles and chase their prey over rocky mountains. 

Usually, people describe them as “dignified”. They have deep eyes that are known for being very far-sighted. They have better eyesight than most canines. 

Salukis look very similar to other sighthounds, including Greyhounds. However, they have longer fur on some parts of their body, like their ears. They also come in other coat colors and patterns. 

They have very long ears. 

Size: How big does a Saluki get?

Females are considerably smaller than males. You can usually tell an obvious difference between the two genders. Salukis can stand anywhere between 23-28 inches or 58-71 cm. 

They can weigh anywhere between 40-65 pounds or 18-29.5 kg. These dogs are considered to be medium-sized dogs, though they can be a bit into the large category at the upper end of their range.

Once again, females are considerably smaller than males. 

If provided with enough exercise, these canines can be considered good apartment dogs. However, they do require a bit of exercise to remain well-behaved indoors.

For this reason, they do best in active families who have plenty of time to keep them stimulated. 

Coat: What type of coat hair do Salukis have?

Beautiful Saluki dog close-up portrait
Image source

The majority of this dog’s hair is flat and somewhat soft. It is decently short throughout most of their body. However, there are a few expectations to this rule.

For instance, their ears are covered with long feathering. They also have feathered hair on the backs of their legs and on their stomach. 

They do come in many different colors. Generally speaking, you can find them in just about every color most dogs come in. Here is a shortlist of possible coat colors:

  • Black
  • Black & Silver
  • Black & Tan
  • Tricolor – Black Tan & White
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate & Tan
  • Cream
  • Fawn
  • Golden
  • Red
  • Silver
  • White

There are also quite a few coat markings they can come with. Generally, all dogs have at least one sort of marking. For example, they have grizzle markings very commonly.

They also have many different Irish Marked patterns, Parti-Color markings, and Sable. Many of these can be combined relatively easily. 

Temperament: Do Saluki dogs make good family pets?

Portrait of Saluki dog hugging the beautiful women
Image source

The Saluki was first bred as a hunting dog – not as a companion dog. However, they can be very gentle companions when raised correctly.

They are absolutely one-family dogs. They also tend to be aloof and shy with strangers. They are not the type of dog that will run up to greet every new people they see. 

They are very quiet dogs at home. They don’t bark much at all and tend to be adequate watchdogs for this reason.

They only bark when they really need to bark. They are very gentle with children as well, so they are great for families with smaller children. 

They are also very good with other dogs. They aren’t exactly packed animals, but they are friendly enough with most dogs.

They are particularly good with dogs of their same species, so many people have multiple canines of this breed – especially if they are hunters. 

These dogs are energetic. They enjoy running around and playing. Their owners should have time for plenty of playtime. They like to lounge as well. They are moderately obedient.

However, they can be a bit stubborn. They don’t have any problem listening to you if it is something they want to do, but they don’t always listen otherwise. 

Is the Saluki the fastest dog?

Saluki dog running in the snow
Image source

The Saluki and Greyhound are considered to be similar speeds. They tend to switch back and forth when it comes to the record for the fastest dog.

The Saluki tends to be faster over longer distances, while the Greyhound is faster in sprints. So, it depends on the length you race the two breeds at. 

The fastest Saluki recorded could reach a speed of 42.8 mph

How to take care of your Saluki dog

Generally, these dogs are not considered super high maintenance. They do need quite a bit of exercise, so they do best in an active family. However, grooming-wise, they don’t require much. 

They do just fine in hot weather. They were bred to hunt in Egypt, so they tend to do just fine in hotter climates. They are not very good in colder climates, though. 

Do Salukis need a lot of exercise?

Saluki dog chasing the purple wheel toy

Yes. These dogs were made to hunt, so they do need quite a bit of exercise. They need at least 40 minutes of moderate to intense daily exercise.

This can include regular walks or playtime in a fenced-in area – because these dogs do like hunting and will chase just about anything they see. 

They will not listen to commands when in chase mode, so recalls will not help in these situations. 

These dogs do fairly well in many canine sports, especially those that involve chasing something.

You should plan on walking these dogs every day in the very least, though we highly recommend taking up some sort of canine sport as well. This helps this canine stay both physically and mentally satisfied.

For example, they love lure coursing. 

While they need a lot of exercise, their energy levels aren’t actually very high. They tend to be very calm indoors. 

Grooming: Do Salukis shed?

These dogs do shed. They are typically considered “moderate” shedders. They don’t shed a whole bunch, but they do shed a decent amount. They do require a small amount of grooming, though. 

Their long hair needs to be brushed to avoid matts. You should plan on brushing it at least once a week. Their hair is not particularly matt-proof, so it does require quite a bit of brushing.

Their whole coat needs to be brushed with a bristle brush to remove the extra hair. 

They do not need a particularly large amount of bathing. However, they should be bathed with a very high-quality shampoo.

They are prone to dandruff and similar skin problems. A shampoo for sensitive-skin is necessary. 

You will also need to take care of a dog’s nails, ears, and teeth. Their nails will need to be trimmed regularly, as they will not wear down faster than they grow.

Their ears need to be cleaned regularly. Their floppiness tends to lead to dirt and debris becoming stuck in their ear canal, which can cause infections. 

Their teeth also need to be cleaned daily. Denal disease can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. For this reason, keeping their teeth cleaned is extremely important. 

Feeding: How much should a Saluki eat in a day?

A high-quality food is essential for your Saluki’s health. Usually, they eat about 3 cups a day. They absolutely need food that is high in protein and fat to fuel their active muscles.

They are not prone to many health problems, but every little bit of extra nutrition is helpful to encourage a full and healthy life. 

You should choose a food that contains meat as the first ingredient. Dogs were designed to eat plenty of meat, so it is important that they get plenty of meat in their diet.

You should avoid foods with high amounts of soy and corn fillers. These are not digestible or nutritious. 

These dogs are known to be picky eaters. They prefer fresh foods, so you may want to invest in fresh dog food.

There are many affordable companies out there that will deliver these foods right to your door. They are something to consider with these dogs. 

According to the Saluki Club, you should also feed them meaty bones to help them keep their teeth clean and supply some nutrients that they may be missing otherwise.

Plus, the bones are a solid way to keep your dog distracted and entertained when you need to. 

Lifespan: How long do Saluki dogs live for?

Charming Saluki dog posing on the field

These dogs typically live to be about 10-17 years old. This is a very long lifespan for a dog of this size. This is largely because they are bred for function over bred standardization.

Dogs that are overly bred for conformity tend to be unhealthy, as breeders may choose unhealthy physical features over the dog’s overall health. That is not a problem with this breed. 

These dogs are generally pretty healthy. There are no major health problems that are super common in the breed.

However, just like all dogs, they are prone to some health problems. No dog breed is going to be 100% healthy. 

Hip dysplasia is somewhat common in this breed just because they are larger. All larger dogs tend to be more prone to hip dysplasia than smaller dogs. However, this breed does rank very low in hip dysplasia surveys.

The British Veterinary Association found that the average Saluki has a hip score of five, with the highest score being 106. The lower the score, the better the dog’s hips are. 

However, there were some major health problems that were reported by The Kennel Club. For example, 35.6% of all Salukis die from cancer.

The most common forms of cancer are liver cancer and lymphoma. An even high percentage of these dogs develop cancer and then survive. 

The secondary cause of death is heart failure. This can be caused by some unspecified heart defect or various other reasons.

“Old age” is the third cause of death, though this can actually be caused by any number of things, including heart problems. 

Generally, dogs are labeled to have died of old age when they are older, die suddenly, and do not have an autopsy to figure out exactly what killed them. 

It seems like heart problems are common throughout the whole breed. Cardiomyopathy, heart murmurs, and other problems are reported in 17.2% of dogs according to this same report.

Dermatitis, alopecia, and similar skin conditions were reported in 10.8% of Salukis. 

This is a high percentage, so these dogs are generally considered to be prone to these conditions. 

Below is a complete list of all the problems this breed prone to:

  • Detached retina
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Valve disease or Arrhythmias
  • Enlarged heart
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Mammary Cancer
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Bloat or Gastric Torsion
  • Anesthesia sensitivity
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sunburn

Typically, these dogs are not put through many health tests before breeding. This is largely because they are not prone to many problems that you can easily test for before breeding.

Some breeders follow guidelines set by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Cardiac exams and thyroid evaluations are sometimes done as well. 

How much do Saluki puppies cost?

Saluki puppy dog lying on the floor
Image source

Saluki puppies are actually quite rare. While they are an older breed, they have never been excessively popular in the western world. Usually, these puppies cost about $2,500. That is high – even for a purebred dog. 

They are one of the most expensive dogs in the world. This excludes crazy expensive dogs, like the golden-haired Tibetan mastiff that sells for nearly $2 million in China. 

These dogs are not super large, so they do not typically eat much food. For this reason, they typically aren’t very expensive to upkeep after you purchase them. 

We do not recommend purchasing these canines from a pet store or a puppy farm. Often, puppy farms are more concerned with their profit and not necessarily the health of the dogs.

This is not only unethical, but it also produces unhealthy puppies. Pet stores typically source their puppies from puppy mills. 

This is mostly because qualified breeders are not going to adopt out there puppies without reviewing each potential buyer. In other words, they are not going to send their puppies to pet stores. 

Saluki Breeders

There are a few Saluki breeders in the United States. These dogs are a bit harder to find than other breeds, though. You do have to do a bit of digging. 

Breeders put a lot of time and care into their puppies. When you pay for a puppy, you’re paying for all of this.

Puppies are typically separated from their parents from eight to twelve weeks. The mother should be at least 2 years old. 

You should visit the potential breeder you’re planning on purchasing from. This will let you see the conditions the puppies are kept in and give you an idea of the parent’s personalities. 

Shahanshah Salukis sells puppies occasionally. Nefer Ka Salukis is another breeder that is a member of the American Saluki Association as well. Aeolus Salukis breeds this breed and others. 

Saluki Rescues

There are a few Saluki rescues as well. These usually do not have puppies. Instead, they typically have older dogs.

The majority of dogs are anywhere from one to two years old, as this is usually when their owners realize just how much work they are. Plus, most dogs go through a teenager phase. 

Saluki Tree of Life Alliance rescues Saluki dogs from kill-shelter, abusive situations, and individuals who do not care properly for their dogs. Saluki Rescue International is also a solid option for people around the world. 

There is also a Tennesee Saluki Rescue Group, as well as other state-specific groups you may be able to find near you. 

Curious about a Saluki mix?

Saluki Greyhound Mix

Saluki Greyhound mix dog lying with the toys
Meet the Saluki Greyhound mix dog – Image source

These dogs aren’t going to be much different from a Saluki or a Greyhound. These dogs are very similar to each other, so their offspring are likely going to pass for one dog or the other.

They are rarer, mostly because Salukis are quite rare themselves. 

These dogs are likely to be “30-mph couch potatoes”. They are fast but don’t have much endurance. 

Saluki Lab Mix

Saluki Lab mix dog wearing coat on a hike
A Saluki Lab mix dog wearing his new coat – Image source

Labrador Retrievers are some of the most popular dogs. Therefore, the Saluki Lab mix is probably going to be the most common option.

These dogs are going to be friendlier than a purebred Saluki. They are also going to be more excited than other options by new people, so that is also something to keep in mind. 

Who should get a Saluki?

Perfect portrait of Saluki dog posing in the nature

These dogs are best for active families. They are very similar to greyhounds. However, they are rarer and there are some differences.

They don’t require much grooming, but you do need to have enough time to exercise them every day. 

They are not as friendly as other dogs, but they are not aggressive or territorial. Instead, they are shy. They tend to hang out in their “space” when visitors come over.

However, they are very gentle with children and are great in families for this reason. 

Further Reading: Similar Breeds to the Saluki

  • Sloughi
  • Azawakh
  • Pharaoh Hound

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