Dating back to 329 BCE, before the ancient pyramids, the Saluki is one of the oldest hunting dog breeds. The elegant and powerful bodies of this breed made them well-loved among royal figures, particularly in Egypt. Egyptian pharaohs adored their Salukis so much that the dogs were mummified so they, too, could enter the afterlife.
Salukis are tall, skinny dogs. They’re such fast sprinters that they were once used to take down gazelle, hares, and foxes to provide food for nomadic tribes. They can stand as tall as 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 40–65 pounds. They are known for their dignified appearance: long and narrow heads; long, silky fur on their ears; and curved and silky tails. Overall, these regal hounds look a little like Greyhounds with long hair.
Caring for a Saluki
Salukis are affectionate toward their loved ones and always want to be around them. They show little interest in strangers and tend to ignore new people at first. They do best in homes with older children or no children at all, as Salukis prefer to play on their own terms.
Salukis need at least two hours of activity every day to stay healthy, and they love using their powerful legs to sprint outside. But when indoors, Salukis are calm and laid-back.
There are two coat types:
The long-haired Saluki, also known as the feathered Saluki, which has longer fur around their ears and tail.
The smooth Saluki, which has short fur and doesn’t shed as much as feathered Salukis.
Saluki Health Issues
Salukis are more prone to developing dental disease earlier than most other dog breeds. Because of this, it’s important to provide at-home dental care by brushing your dog’s teeth. Salukis must also have their teeth professionally cleaned as recommended by your vet.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
This disease causes the heart to become enlarged and unable to function properly. Dogs with mild to moderate DCM might not show symptoms, but in severe cases signs include:
This heart condition may first be detected by a veterinarian hearing a heart murmur during a routine exam, or by a blood test called an NT-proBNP assay that measures heart function. If a Saluki has an elevated proBNP and/or a heart murmur, additional testing will be recommended to determine the cause.
Dogs with deep chests, such as the Saluki, are prone to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), a severe form of bloat. This occurs when a gas- or fluid-filled stomach twists and cuts off blood circulation to the stomach and other organs.
GDV is an extremely painful condition that is fatal if emergency surgery is not performed immediately. A veterinarian diagnoses GDV by conducting a physical exam and taking abdominal X-rays.
Saluki Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis
Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis causes accumulation of storage material in the brain and eye, which can lead to blindness, disorientation, and seizures. There is no cure, and Salukis with this condition can show symptoms early in life, often between 1–2 years of age. For a Saluki puppy to inherit this condition, both parents must have the genetic mutation.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia include:
Slowness to rise from a lying position
“Bunny-hopping” gait when running
Reluctance to run, jump, or go up or down stairs
Holding the affected leg out to the side when sitting up
Saluki dogs are prone to a few types of cancer:
Lymphoma/Lymphosarcoma: A type of cancer that originates in the lymph nodes and typically spreads to other organs. Enlarged lymph nodes are often felt in the neck, but sometimes also on the back of the hind legs and inside the thighs. Chemotherapy is the preferred treatment.
Hemangiosarcoma (HSA): An aggressive form of cancer that often originates in the spleen, liver, skin, or heart of a Saluki. This type of cancer forms a blood-filled tumor that can rupture at any time and cause a dog to bleed internally. A ruptured tumor can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Surgery is recommended if the tumor is in a location where it can be removed. However, even with surgery, this cancer often spreads to the lungs and other organs.
Osteosarcoma: This form of cancer originates in the bone and is very painful. It’s most commonly found in the forelimbs or hindlimbs, before spreading to other bones as well as the lungs. This cancer eats away at healthy bone, which causes the bone to have a moth-eaten appearance on X-rays. Common symptoms include lameness, swelling, decreased appetite, weight loss, and lack of energy, as it is too painful to move around. Limb amputation and chemotherapy are the recommended treatments. However, even with aggressive therapy, this cancer typically spreads to other areas of the body, and the amount of pain a dog is in often cannot be managed, even with multiple pain medications.
Mammary cancer: This aggressive cancer usually causes a firm, irregular-shaped mass to form in one mammary gland. It then quickly spreads to other mammary glands. A mastectomy and chemotherapy are the most common forms of treatment. Spaying a female Saluki before her first heat cycle will greatly reduce the risk of mammary cancer.
What to Feed a Saluki
Salukis should be fed a high-quality, medium-breed dog food. As with all dogs, their daily diet should consist of 90% dog food and 10% treats.
How To Feed a Saluki
Salukis should be fed twice daily, morning and evening. But their appetite may vary—some may eat eagerly when given a meal, while others may eat when they choose. Feed them separately from other dogs in the household, as they might eat the other dogs’ food or vice versa.
Salukis should be fed a diet based on their life stage: puppy, adult, or senior.
How Much Should You Feed a Saluki?
Follow the feeding guidelines on the dog food packaging, and consult with your veterinarian to determine the proper portion to feed your Saluki based on ideal body weight and life stage. Salukis are prone to obesity, so it’s important to measure out their food portions and limit their treats.
Nutritional Tips for Salukis
Salukis are very athletic dogs. To keep their joints healthy, start them on a joint supplement during their early adult years to minimize inflammation in their joints. Talk to your vet before giving your dog supplements.
Behavior and Training Tips for Salukis
Saluki Personality and Temperament
These sprinters have a lot of energy and need daily exercise to stay fit and happy. Along with physical activity, Salukis are happiest when their minds are engaged, too, with activities like dog sports, jogging with their favorite human, or running freely in a fenced yard.
The Saluki dog breed loves to interact with people they know—and ignores strangers. But they love their family so much that they can develop separation anxiety if they’re away from their pet parents for long periods of time.
Salukis need at least two hours of activity every day to stay healthy, and they love using their powerful legs to sprint outside.
While Salukis are great companions for adults, they’re not the most kid-friendly breed, as they prefer their environment calm and quiet. Salukis can do well around other dogs when socialized at an early age, but they might see smaller animals—such as cats, guinea pigs, and other pocket pets—as something to chase, thanks to their history as hunters.
Salukis can be very challenging to train; they would rather be independent and free to do as they please. For the most effective training, the Saluki Club of America recommends starting obedience classes when your dog is a puppy and always using positive reinforcement training methods.
Fun Activities for Salukis
Saluki Grooming Guide
Whether you have a short- or long-haired Saluki, this breed doesn’t shed very much and is overall low-maintenance when it comes to grooming.
Salukis do not require special skin care and only need baths when they are dirty.
A quick brushing once or twice a week is recommended for all Salukis, but especially for long-haired ones that can develop mats on their ears, legs, and tail.
Pet parents should consider pulling their feathered Saluki’s ears back during mealtimes to prevent food from getting stuck in their long ear fur. This can be done with a snood or other ear wrap.
Salukis can have clear or brown eye discharge. This is normal, as their eyes water to keep the surface of their eyes clean from air particles. If you notice clear or brown ocular discharge, use a warm, moistened washcloth to gently remove it.
This dog breed can have tear staining if eye discharge is not cleaned regularly. The fur around a Saluki's eyes stays short and does not require trimming.
Salukis are not as prone to frequent ear infections as some other dog breeds. That said, they can develop ear infections occasionally, especially if they have allergies or get water in their ears during a bath.
Cleaning their ears with a routine ear cleaner that contains a drying agent can help minimize ear infections. It’s best to clean their ears after a bath or other water activity. However, if your Saluki has allergies, talk with your veterinarian about how often you should be cleaning their ears to reduce the risk of infection.
Considerations for Pet Parents
While loyal and loving, the Saluki dog breed might not be a good fit for first-time pet parents. These dogs can be strong-willed and independent, which can make them difficult to train.
An ideal home for a Saluki has a large, fenced backyard to run around in. They don’t do well around small animals (thanks to their prey drive) or young, rambunctious children. Salukis also don’t want to be left alone all day, so if you work long hours away from home, consider a different breed; these tall, skinny dogs want to be by your side as much as possible.
Salukis need at least two hours of exercise every day, but they don’t require much attention when it comes to grooming.
Is a Saluki a good family dog?
Salukis are not an ideal family dog, as they prefer calm and quiet environments. They do best in an adult-only household or one with older children.
How fast are Saluki dogs?
Salukis can run up to 43 miles per hour, and they are one of the fastest dog breeds in the world.
What’s the difference between a Saluki vs. a Greyhound?
Although Salukis and Greyhounds are both hound breeds, the Saluki is shorter and thinner compared to the Greyhound.
How much does a Saluki cost?
The price for a Saluki varies greatly, from $400 up to $5,000.
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