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Gazelle Hound Breed Description

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Breed Organization

Saluki Club of America

Native Country
Middle East

Other Names
Saluki, Arabian Hound, Tanji, Persian Greyhound, Persian Sighthound, Royal Dog of Egypt

Life Expectancy
Approximately 12-14 Years

Litter Size
Average 5-7 Puppies

Breed Group
AKC Hound

General Description

Salukis are "sight" hounds, which means they hunt by sight, run the quarry down, catch it, and kill or retrieve it. It has the typical deep-chested, long legged body of the sighthounds. Their coats come in a variety of colors, including white, cream, fawn, red, grizzle and tan, black and tan, and tricolor (white, black and tan). The overall appearance of the Saluki is one of grace and symmetry. There are two coat types evident in the Saluki gene pool, smooth and feathered. The feathered variety has light feathering on the back of the legs and thighs. The fur on both varieties is silky to the touch, and is low shedding compared to other breeds.

The overall appearance of the Saluki is grace and symmetry. Two coat types – smooth and "feathered" – are evident in the breed's gene pool. The latter variety has light fluffing on the back of the legs, thighs, ears, and sometimes the throat. The fur on both types is silky and is low-shedding when compared to other breeds. Salukis bred in the Middle East most commonly have short hair.

Breed Standard

Head: Long, narrow, cleanly cut. Skull moderately wide, not domed. Stop not very pronounced. Black or liver nose.
Ears: Set on high, long, very mobile, carried flat against the cheeks. In the fringed variety, the ears are covered with silky hair of varying length.
Eyes: Large, dark to hazel.
Body: Long. Long, flexible, well-muscled neck. Long, high, fairly narrow chest. Slightly arched, sufficiently long loin. Pronounced tuck-up. Fairly broad back. Long, slightly sloping croup.
Tail: Set on low, long. Carried curved in a natural extension of the topline. Underside has fairly long, silky feathering.
Hair: Smooth, silky. More or less abundant feathering on the backs of the legs. Possible feathering on the throat. - Short, without feathering.
Coat: All colors and combinations of colors are the same for both varieties.
Size: Dog: 58 to 71 cm. (23-28 in).Bitch: slightly smaller.
Weight: 15 to 30 kg. (33-66 lb).


Salukis are considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. All along the Silk Road his presence was known for almost as long as the dog has been domesticated, a testimony to his function as a hunter and his beauty as a companion. His image is found in many cultures. There are petroglyphs and rock arts in Golpaygan and Khomein in central Iran that shows saluki-like hounds and falcons accompanying hunters chasing preys (ca. 8000-10,000 B.C)., recent excavations of the Sumerian empire, estimated at 7000-6000 B.C., have saluki like finds. Saluki-like images adorn pottery found in Susa, and are found appearing on the Egyptian tombs of 2100 B.C. The nomadic tribes spread the breed across the Middle East from Persia and Egypt, to as far east as Afghanistan and India, and as far south as Sudan.

They were considered to be the "Royal Dog of Egypt". Salukis appear on Egyptian tombs increasingly commonly from The Middle Kingdom (2134 BC – 1785 BC) onward, and have often been found mummified alongside the bodies of the Pharaohs in the Pyramids. It was during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt that Salukis rose to their place of prominence, replacing the Tesem (thought to be similar to modern Pariah dogs, or a generic term for a dog).

The breed is thought to be the type of dog mentioned in The Bible. Salukis have appeared in medieval paintings regarding the birth of Christ. In China examples of the breed were painted by the fifth Ming Emperor Zhū Zhānjī, known more commonly as the Xuande Emperor during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The inscription on the painting reads "playfully painted [by the] imperial brush" in 1427. Additional red seals were added in later years by owners of the painting, which also reveals that the painting was in the Imperial Chinese collection in the 18th century.

Iran has a long and rich visual history with the Saluki, from early representations on pottery found in Susa, miniatures painted by Master Kamal Uddin Behzad, book illustrations By Abd al-Wahhab ibn 'Abd al-Fattah ibn 'Ali (1516). It is an illustration from manuscript of Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami, metalsmithing from the reign of the Injuid prince, Jamal al Dine Abu Is'haq, created between 1342 and 1353. Today, the breed is still held in high regard throughout the Middle East, and have been hunting dogs for nobles and rulers around the region. They are considered clean by the Bedouins, and are allowed to be in women's quarters, while other dogs must be kept outside. Sheik Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain during the 1930s, was known for a pack of Salukis that accompanied him throughout the Arab world on hunting trips. Following his death, his son Salman ibn Hamad Al Khalifa attempted to keep the lines pure-bred but they became interbred with other breeds. However, the pure-bred lines of the royal kennel were saved by the efforts of Dana Al Khalifa who was given two pure-bred puppies by the King, and about a decade later had around pure-bred Salukis registered with the Kennel Club of Bahrain.

English Salukis were exported to many countries, but by the mid-1930s, interest slackened, and with the outbreak of World War II, breeding and show activities almost entirely stopped. The number of litters was minimal – just enough to keep the breed alive. Food rationing reserved all edible meat for humans, and to prevent the Salukis from dying from starvation or being killed by bombs, some owners euthanized entire kennels. A small number of Saluki kennels survived the war, and along with fresh imports belonging to a second wave of soldiers returning from the Middle East, the slow process of re-establishing the breed began again.

The popularity of the Saluki in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club, has remained relatively stable over the past decade, with the breed ranked 107th in 1999, had decreased to 118th in 2008, but by 2008 had increased once again to 112th. Between 2000 and 2009, 1215 Salukis were registered with The Kennel Club in the UK, while this does not approach the numbers of the more popular breeds, it is in line with similar breeds in the Hound Group such as the Borzoi, which had 1399 puppies registered in the same period. In September 2007, The Kennel Club Art Gallery's 12th exhibition celebrated the Saluki, The Saluki in Art showed a range of exhibits including terracotta and bronze works, along with contemporary artists and a range of trophies from Saluki breed clubs.


The tough, hardy Saluki is a skilled hunter on sandy or rocky terrain. With his lightning acceleration, he can outrun gazelles. Calm, intelligent, and affectionate, he is a delightful pet who adores children. Very reserved toward strangers, he makes an effective watchdog. He is a quick learner and must be trained gently.

The modern Saluki has retained qualities of hunting hounds and may seem reserved to strangers. The often independent and aloof breed may be difficult to train, and they generally cannot be trusted to return to their owner when off-leash. Training methods have been recommended to be always gentle and patient. Salukis may bore easily and are not an ideal breed to leave unattended for long periods; however, they are well-suited to life in apartments, since they are generally quiet and calm as adults. The saluki does not typically enjoy rough games or activities such as retrieving balls, but does enjoy soft toys. Early socialisation will help prevent timidity and shyness in later life. Given its hunting instincts, the dog is prone to chasing moving objects, such as cats, birds, squirrels, and bugs.

These dogs are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with acreage. This breed should sleep indoors. They prefer warm temperatures over cold ones. The Saluki is a natural athlete that needs a lot of exercise, including a daily, long, brisk walk or run. They are happiest when running, however many are lost or killed when they are allowed to get free and they spot a small animal to chase. This very independent dog can never be off its lead except in an isolated, scouted area. These dogs hunt on sight. They will pay no attention to their handler's calls if they are chasing something. In some countries they are not permitted to be left off of their lead at all. Salukis run at top speeds of 40 mph or more with their feet barely touching the ground. These top speeds are reached in short spurts, but they also have exceptional endurance. An excellent way to exercise your Salukis is to let it trot alongside your bike.


Incredibly fast even over rough terrain, this desert sight hunter was used by the Arabs to hunt gazelle, the fastest of the antelopes, along with fox, jackal and hare. They have also been successful as racing dogs.


Hip dysplasia is uncommon in Salukis, with the breed ranking lowest in a survey by the British Veterinary Association in 2003. The breed scored an average of 5 points, with a score of 0 being low, while 106 is high. In a 2006 breed specific survey conducted by The Kennel Club and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee, responses highlighted several health issues. The primary cause of death identified was that of cancer, being responsible for 35.6% of deaths, with the most common forms being that of liver cancer or lymphoma. The secondary cause of death was cardiac related, with forms such as heart failure, or unspecified heart defects. Old age is listed as the third most frequent cause of death.

Cardiomyopathy, heart murmur, and other cardiac issues were present in 17.2% of responses while dermatolic conditions such as dermatitis or alopecia were reported by 10.8% of responses.

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