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About the Saluki (Gazelle Hound)

The Saluki (Gazelle Hound) is a sight-hound that has been developed over thousands of years for hunting game. Having great speed (35+ mph) and staggering stamina, (said to be greater than any dog), the Saluki is considered one of the earliest domestic breeds and has been identified in ancient paintings and artefacts found in Egypt, Arabia, Persia and other Middle Eastern countries.

The Saluki is a hound of great beauty and elegance which carries itself regally. Some would call this aloofness. Originating in the Middle-East, many diverse colourations are known and two types have emerged, the feathered, with wonderful long hair about the ears and tail, and the smooth, which displays no 'feathering'. Both types were prized by the Bedouin who nurtured the breed throughout the centuries, considered the animal as gift from Allah and allowed the Saluki to share their tents. The Bedouin sought to breed Salukis for the quality of their hunting skills and not for cosmetic reasons.

Salukis have appeared in Europe since the Crusades. However two puppies were given to Colonel Jennings-Bramly in 1897 and were subsequently imported into the UK and presented to the Honourable Florence Amherst. From these hounds the famous Amherstia Kennels were established and it is this bloodline that now forms the foundation of most modern Saluki pedigrees.

Today the feathered is the most commonly found Saluki in Western dog show circles. The smooth is rarer. Salukis in the UK have been crossbred with greyhounds to create 'longdogs' adept at running down brown hare. It is said that a courser will seek to have between one half and one sixteenth Saluki in any longdog intended to hunt such animals. Sadly it is these crossbreeds, (gorgeous and sweet natured though they are), that often end up on the scrap heap in Rescue Centres, abandoned, overlooked and misunderstood.

Saluki size variation is pronounced. Dogs stand between 23 and 28 inches, with bitches proportionally smaller. In a group context, the alpha female tends to rule the roost. Some say that dogs are more affectionate than bitches.

The Saluki is known for a great independence of mind, having been traditionally bred to forge ahead of the huntsman's horse, a eye to the circling falcons that would have already targeted prey for a small Saluki pack to take out. Accordingly once off the lead, a Saluki is prone to make his own decisions - after all this is his job! The Saluki is well-known for refusing to come back to his owner, often playing around and exploring, until he feels ready to return. Saluki owners have to be very patient and see the amusing side of this. Fortunately, Salukis display a strong homing instinct and will try to keep their owner in sight (admittedly up to a mile away!), this means that they will not just run off never to be seen again and will soon come hurtling back if you appear to be moving on without them. If a Saluki is 'lost', be patient and expect it to return to the point of departure. This is nonetheless a worrying time as you wonder what mischief they may be up to or which roads they are running across! It is worth adding though that the older dog tends to be far more happy sticking close to its owner, even when off the lead.

Salukis are not like Collies, Labradors and other such 'normal' dogs. Despite exceptions, Salukis will not necessarily retrieve and they are not always interested in balls. Saluki games mainly consist of the chase. Throwing titbits can gain their interest, just don't expect the titbit to be returned! If you want entertainment from them, you must derive pleasure from the sheer grace and symmetry of seeing the Saluki galloping effortlessly through open country. Salukis may chase other dogs and cats and anything else on four legs, although some can be very selective in just going for 'game' i.e. rabbits, hare, deer, pheasant etc. Naturally is is important for the the Saluki owner to spend a good deal time and patience training their Saluki and to be sensible about where and when they let their dog off the lead.

To some, the Saluki has been considered unintelligent because they are difficult to train. In fact, this is a reflection of centuries of conditioning to become an independent hunter. In fact it is claimed in some circles that they are very intelligent animals and can understand very diverse situations. What they do and when they do it, is largely an expression of what suits them at the time! Once they respect an owner, (typically they choose one 'leader' per family), they are keen to toe the established line. Physical punishment is completely counter-productive. In training, bribery with food tends to produce good results. Whilst salukis can understand many commands, just don't expect them to act on them either promptly or consistently! Furthermore, in my experience, Salukis have very little traffic sense at any age, even after surviving being knocked down!

The Saluki is a dog for those understanding what they are taking on. Those desiring 'normal' dog habits should opt for a Labrador, Collie or German Shepherd. The Saluki can be a contrast of both ease and difficulty in ownership. Furthermore, you must be prepared to give them decent daily exercise and offer them a well secured garden with 5ft + high fencing. Around the house Salukis can be tremendously lazy, being cat-like in their desire to lounge about in comfort. A nice long sunbathe is most satisfactory, but a walk in the rain may be suffered under duress, (unless a good chase is on the agenda). Salukis are very clean. They do not really smell, nor shed hair to any great degree. Grooming is easy with brush or comb, but needs to be regular. Lightness on their feet means that nails need to be kept clipped, (do not be surprised at some dramatic reluctance from your saluki when conducting the latter although rewards for compliance works in the end!). None of my own rescue hounds have been real 'diggers'. That said some are known to dig and a tri-colour rescue I know can amply demonstrate the speed at which holes can be dug by an enthusiastic saluki. Her owner has lost many an ornamental plant since adoption and it just shows how Salukis personalities and traits can vary.

Diet should vary between medium to high protein level of good quality complete food, perhaps mixed with a small amount of meat to make it appeal. As the dogs age a reduced protein diet should be fed. Avoid obesity as this will shorten a Salukis lifespan.

Salukis are wonderful dogs, rewarding, regal companions and extremely bright. Just be aware of the history of these animals to understand their ways and needs.

Necessities

  • A strong lead (extending types are not recommended).
  • A leather greyhound collar, easily obtained plain. Ornate types are also available.
  • Identity disks, a statutory requirement.
  • A food bowl and water bowl.
  • A grooming mitten or brush.
  • Soft bed, Salukis are nest builders.
  • A coat for inclement weather, (Greyhounds in Need offer excellent quilted coats at good prices, contact www.greyhoundrescue.co.uk/gin)
  • Vet and accident insurance, you are liable for your dogs actions by law.
  • Nail clippers.

 

 
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