Saluki against grass background
Saluki Dog Breed
Saluki Dog Breed
Saluki Dog Breed
Saluki Dog Breed
Saluki Dog Breed
The Saluki is an elegant hunter with strong instincts to chase anything moving. He is a medium-size sighthound and can live happily in any environment, as long as he gets daily walks, maybe an opportunity to run a few times a week, and access to the sofa. His coat requires weekly brushing and sheds little. The Saluki is the world’s oldest dog breed. Lots of breeds claim to have an ancient heritage, but the Saluki’s has been proven through DNA evidence. He is one of 14 breeds to show the fewest genetic differences from wolves. The Saluki is aloof and elegant, but he is a hunter at heart. He was bred to course hare and gazelle over desert terrain and his Bedouin companions considered him noble, above other dogs. Today, this medium-size sighthound, weighing 35 to 65 pounds, still has a strong instinct to run and chase.

Don’t purchase a Saluki if you want a dog who will constantly express his affection for you. That’s not the Saluki’s style. He may love you, but he will assume that you know it and don’t need reminders.

Not surprisingly, the Saluki needs daily exercise. A long walk on leash might do once in a while, but what he really wants is the opportunity to run flat out in a large, safely enclosed space. He’s a natural at lure coursing, so consider taking up that sport as a means of channeling his athletic ability and speed. The Saluki can also be found competing in agility, obedience and rally, and some are therapy dogs. As always, consult your veterinarian before beginning any exercise program with your dog.

When his exercise needs are met, the Saluki is a calm, quiet companion who likes to have access to soft bedding or furniture to cushion his bony body. The Saluki is likely to be gentle with children, but he’s not really a “playmate” kind of dog.

The Saluki is a typical sighthound in that he thinks for himself, steals food whenever and wherever it’s available, chases and kills cats, squirrels, goats, and other animals at every opportunity, and can jump anything less than a six-foot fence. And forget about an underground electronic fence that gives a shock when the dog crosses it. He may just blow right through it.

Don’t forget that the Saluki’s height of 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder, combined with the insatiable appetite of the hound, makes him the perfect counter surfer. Put food well out of reach if you don’t want him to help himself.

The Saluki is an independent thinker, but he can learn the rudiments of acceptable dog behavior if you use positive reinforcement techniques, particularly food rewards. Begin training when he is young and still somewhat malleable, keep training sessions short and fun, and avoid harsh corrections.

This is a house dog. It’s an unhappy Saluki who is relegated to the backyard with little attention from his family.

Other Quick Facts

  • A Saluki is built of lines and curves, the very picture of grace and strength. He has a long, narrow head; long hanging ears covered in long silky hair; bright eyes that range from dark to hazel, with a far-seeing gaze; a long, supple, well-muscled neck; a deep but moderately narrow chest; long, straight legs; a broad back; strong hindquarters to power his ability to gallop and jump; moderately long feet with long, well-arched toes adorned with feathering; and a long tail feathered with silky hair and carried curved.
  • Salukis have a smooth coat with a soft, silky texture and a slight amount of feathering on the legs, the back of the thighs and sometimes on the shoulder. Some Salukis have a smooth coat with no feathering. They come in the colors of the desert: white, cream, fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, tricolor (white, black and tan), and black and tan.

The History of the Saluki

Lots of breeds claim to be thousands of years old, but analysis of the canine genome confirms that the Saluki is an ancient hound, at home in the Middle East since antiquity. Images of them are found at many archaeological sites, and in Egypt they were mummified after death. Poets extolled their virtues in the chase. The graceful, quick and deadly hunting hounds ranked well above lowly dogs and shared their master’s tent and food. They were bred as carefully and valued as highly as fine horses and falcons by their nomadic owners.

Salukis first came to the West in 1895 and became successful show dogs with a glamourous reputation. A club for the breed was formed in England in 1923, and the Kennel Club recognized the Saluki that same year.

In the United States, the first Saluki arrived by clipper ship from Thebes in 1861, imported by Col. Horace N. Fisher of Boston, but the breed didn’t really become established until the mid-1920s, around the same time it was becoming established in England. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1927, the same year that the Saluki Club of America was founded. The Saluki ranks 115th among the breeds registered by the AKC.

Saluki Temperament and Personality

"Come back, Little Sheba!" may have originated with a Saluki owner. Bred to run down game from hare to gazelle, Salukis run first and ask questions later. Like men, they never stop to ask directions, because awaiting a human command would enable the prey to escape. Saluki owners must be careful that off-lead runs are in an area that is fenced or away from wildlife. Salukis can live safely with cats, as long as they’re part of the family. Strange cats may be subject to the chase.

Salukis enjoy any game that involves high-speed running, although most games of fetch don’t involve bringing the ball back. That’s okay with most owners; there is probably no more beautiful dog to watch run.

Lounging is one of the Saluki’s best talents. They are not high energy dogs and they will not follow you from room to room. Salukis consider creature comforts an entitlement. If you can’t stand a dog on your furniture, you’ll probably lose that fight. Fortunately, they shed little, have almost no doggy odor, don’t drool excessively, and tend to be meticulously clean. Unless they find something to roll in. And that model-thin figure? That’s their own choice. They watch their own weight, and many must be enticed to eat.

If you dream of Lassie-like obedience and adoration, you’re dreaming of another breed. Salukis can be trained with positive methods, but they prefer to obey at their own speed — and whim. But then, they really don’t do much wrong (aside from running away when called). They don’t drag you down the street, bark excessivley, or jump up and down in hyperactive frenzies. They do dig.

Salukis are one-person, or one-family, dogs and tend to ignore — or be shy of — strangers. No kisses on the first date. Or fifth. They are likely to be gentle with children, but may not be playful enough to satisfy a child.

If you want an elegant dog, quiet and calm inside, devoted but not fawning, that may want a daily run but can otherwise live inside (on cushions), and if you’re prepared to make sure the neighbor’s cats (and goats) are safe, then a Saluki might look good sprawled on your divan — or strutting by your side. Just be prepared to explain that she’s not a Greyhound, you really do feed her — and she’s a bit of a snob.

Start training your puppy the day you bring her home. Even at 8 weeks old, she is capable of soaking up everything you can teach her. Never wait until she is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with.

If possible, get her into puppy kindergarten class by the time she is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed. These experiences as a young dog will help her grow into a sensible, calm adult dog.

Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Saluki, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.

What You Need To Know About Saluki Health

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Salukis are in general a healthy breed of dog, but they do have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren’t cautious about whom you buy from. They include eye problems (like progressive retinal atrophy, corneal dystrophy and glaucoma), vonWillebrands disease (a blood clotting disorder), and hypothyroidism.

Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible.  They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for these defects and deemed healthy for breeding.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both parents have eye and thyroid clearances from the appropriate agencies. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Don’t fall for a bad breeder’s lies. If the breeder tells you she doesn’t need to do those tests because she’s never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been "vet checked," or any of the other excuses bad breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately.

Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Saluki at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.

The Basics of Saluki Grooming

The Saluki comes in two coat types: smooth and feathered. Brush the smooth coat weekly, but if you have the feathered variety, comb the feathering on the ears, tail, legs and feet at least a couple of times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles, and bathe him as needed. At mealtime, you’ll probably want to put his ears up in a snood to keep them from dragging in his food dish. A water bowl with sides that slope inward at the top will help prevent the ears from getting wet when he drinks.

The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Keep the ears clean and dry. Check them weekly for redness or a bad odor that might indicate infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball moistened with a mild pH-balanced cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Introduce your Saluki puppy to grooming from an early age so that he learns to accept it with little fuss.

Finding a Saluki

Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.

Choosing a Saluki Breeder

Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.

Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.

Look for more information about the Saluki and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Saluki Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the SCOA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores and calls for a breeder to take back a dog at any time if the owner can’t keep him.

Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.

Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.

Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies. 

The cost of a Saluki puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life. 

Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Saluki might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.

Adopting a Dog from Saluki Rescue or a Shelter

There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.

1. Use the Web

Sites like and can have you searching for a Saluki in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Salukis available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.

Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.

2. Reach Out to Local Experts

Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Saluki. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.

3. Talk to Breed Rescue

Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Salukis love all Salukis. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Saluki Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Saluki rescues in your area.

The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Saluki home with you to see what the experience is like.

4. Key Questions to Ask

You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:

What is his energy level?

How is he around other animals?

How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?

What is his personality like?

What is his age?

Is he housetrained?

Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?

Are there any known health issues?

Wherever you acquire your Saluki, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Puppy or adult, take your Saluki to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.