The Saluki has a general greyhound-like build and often combines the aspects of grace, great speed, and endurance coupled with strength.. Their expression often appears dignified and gentle with deep, faithful, far-seeing eyes. Their movement is light. Their coat is smooth and silky; the feathered variety has long hair on their ears, tail, between their toes, and sometimes on the backs of their legs; the smooth variety has no long feathering. This breed has a wide range of types, reflecting the wide area over which they developed.
The Saluki is one of the most ancient breeds of domestic dog. Evidence of the Saluki can be found on Egyptian tombs dating several thousand years b.c. The name Saluki may come from the ancient civilization of Seleucia. Arab nomads used Salukis to track gazelles, foxes, and hares in the desert, often with the aid of falcons. Although the Muslim religion considered the dog to be unclean, an exception was made for the Saluki, who was referred to as el hor, meaning ‘the noble one’.
The Saluki was allowed to sleep in the tents and enjoy the tender attention of their Bedouin family. Salukis were not allowed to breed with non-Salukis, accounting for their consistency throughout the centuries. Because they ranged with their nomadic families over a wide area of the Middle East, Salukis became widely distributed with great local variation, resulting in the breed’s variability today.
The Saluki came to the attention of the Western world around 1900 and was recognized by the AKC in 1928. Their numbers have decreased in the lands of their origin as the result of a variety of factors. The Arabian Saluki Center in Dubai is working to protect the Saluki in its native lands. The role of the Saluki today is as an companion animal.
The Saluki tends to be aloof and reserved with strangers. They are often extremely devoted to their own family, but are not particularly out-going. They are often very gentle with children, but may not be playful enough to satisfy most children. The Saluki can be extremely sensitive and does not take to rough and tumble play. They can also be shy. They tend to be very quiet and sedate inside, seeking out a soft warm spot. Outside, they are capable of running in great circles at tremendous speeds and may try to chase small animals or fast-moving objects. They may not come when called.
Daily exercise is essential, if possible in the form of free-running in a safe and enclosed area. Their needs can also be met with long leash walks or jogging. The Saluki often loves a soft bed. A Saluki in proper weight is naturally thin, but many tend to be picky eaters, which can result in a very thin-looking dog. Their smooth coat needs only occasional brushing to remove dead hair, but the longer feathering needs combing once or twice a week to prevent matting. Feathered Salukis often grow a long coat over their entire body.