The Saluki dog is a lean, but strong and adaptable dog with a unique feathered and smooth coat. Weighing between 40 and 60 lbs, they may grow up to 28 inches tall. This breed is known to be gentle, wise, and dignified in appearance. Unsurprisingly, many refer to the breed as being an “old soul.”
What’s In This Guide
Breed at a Glance
- Popularity: 120 of 193
- Purpose: Hunting; part of the hound group
- Weight: 40-60 lbs
- Temperament: Gentle, independent, and loyal
Saluki Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the Saluki
- Fun facts about the breed
- Saluki appearance
- Saluki temperament
- Training and exercising the breed
- Saluki health and care
- Do Saluki make good family pets
- Rescuing a Saluki
- Finding a Saluki puppy
- Raising a Saluki puppy
- Similar breeds
- Recommended products and accessories
History and Original Purpose of the Saluki
First off, we should answer a question some people might have: What is a Saluki? To hear archaeologists tell it, the Saluki dog may just be the oldest domestic dog breed in the world. Early Saluki breed date estimates are based on archeological evidence. And these mummified remains date all the way back to the 6th century B.C.
Saluki dogs originally arose in Arabia in the Middle East. However, the breed is fast disappearing from its birth country of Arabia. Its tribal way of life is being swallowed up by modern life in the big cities.
Luckily, the Saluki hound is becoming popular with Western breeders. Hopefully, this will likely ensure the breed’s survival. These dogs have long been members of the royal court — most famously with Alexander the Great.
Today, however, the only regular hunting many Saluki dogs do is pure sport hunting. A good example is that held annually in the Western United States by the National Open Field Coursing Association.
Still, the reduced demand for Saluki hunting dogs among nomadic peoples has not yet substantially changed this dog breed. So far as far archeologists can tell, the breed’s appearance and temperament are fairly similar to their ancestors’.
Fun Facts About the Saluki
There haven’t been many famous Salukis in history. Neither have they played a huge role in pop culture or television.
However, they have always been a cherished breed. Arab tribesmen highly valued Salukis; they were thought to be a gift from God. The tribesmen called them “el hor,” which means “the noble.”
Another interesting fact about these dogs is that they are sight hounds. Many hound dogs typically work using scent. But Salukis use their vision.
Interestingly, a recent research study proved that sight hounds and other non-scent hound breeds do not display the same keen sense of smell. In olfactory tests, that scent hounds tend to rank higher in the sense of smell.
Salukis, though use their eyes. They trust what their eyes tell them implicitly and follow that without question or hesitation. When you understand that your Saluki dog is absolutely driven by keen eyesight, the safety precautions breeders and owners recommend make so much more sense.
They cannot be completely trusted in an open area if you let them off the leash. If they start chasing prey, they may not respond when you call them. This also means they can quickly get lost or get into trouble.
The Saluki dog is quite unusual in appearance compared to many modern dog breeds. These dogs truly look like canine supermodels, all leggy and lean with a calm yet exotic gaze.
One unusual trait about the Saluki is that they grow what breeders call “feathers” on their ears and tails. Their coat can be smooth or wavy (called “feathered”). In all other places on the dog’s face, body and legs, however, the coat is quite short.
Another unusual trait that first-timers often can’t help but remark about is their expression. Salukis tend to have a wise, dignified and gentle expression. If you’ve ever heard the term “old soul,” you can see this manifesting in the Saluki dog’s expression.
And this dog is in fact an old soul in terms of its breed lineage.
How Much Should My Saluki Weigh?
These dogs can show quite a bit of variation in weight between male and female adult dogs. However, the normal weight range for adult Saluki dogs is 40 to 60 pounds.
At maturity, though, you can expect females to weigh at the low end. Males, in comparison, will be nearer the high end.
How Tall Will My Saluki Grow?
Male adult dogs often stand several inches taller than their female counterparts. The normal height range for the adult Saluki is 23 to 28 inches (paw to shoulder) for male dogs. However, female dogs will generally stand less than 23 inches tall (paw to shoulder).
The Saluki temperament is said to be both wonderful and challenging. Breeders and owners say this is one dog many people find to be more “cat-like” than “dog-like.” For one, Salukis are very independent, as we mentioned before.
But the main reason for the “cat-like” descriptor is that they have a small circle. This means they’ve evolved to bond very closely with only “their” people — you and your family members.
If you have one of these, you can probably speak to their reserved nature around strangers. Due to this Saluki temperament, these dogs may not do well if you have frequent visitors to your home.
With regards to their instincts, they are hunting dogs. They’ve been bred to work hard and run fast as hunting partners to humans. As a result, even while in homes, they still need their exercise.
A bored Saluki can quickly become an unhealthy dog. This is because their muscles won’t be able to strengthen and remain toned or strong.
Do Saluki Dogs Bark Much?
Saluki dogs are hounds — specifically, they are sight hounds (more on this later).
But like all hunting dogs and hounds in particular, the Saluki is quite noisy. It can readily emit a loud round of howling or baying. This may be cute to your ears but not so much to the neighbors.
For this reason, it is vital to consider in advance whether you live in an area where a Saluki dog will be welcome. This breed will not be a well-suited part of just any neighborhood.
Overall, though, these dogs are calm and quiet. They adapt well to apartment living, but chafe at activities such as retrieving items. They also do not tolerate rough play or activities well. Additionally, they do have a tendency to chase moving objects. So anything from birds, squirrels, and even moving cats is a chase waiting to happen.
Training and Exercising Your Saluki
The Saluki dog is a gentle yet independent spirit. Imagine what it’s like to train a cat. You now have a good idea of the approach and patience it takes to train a Saluki.
This breed has always had one particular job to do. Their task has been to run down the swiftest prey animals on the planet and deliver them to their human hunting partner.
So, running is in your dog’s blood — literally. For this reason, you can absolutely expect to find a willing and eager hunting student in your Saluki.
But, certain other activities may be difficult. For instance, if you want an attentive canine sidekick, you may be disappointed. If your dream is a dog that follows every command and will come when you call no matter how alluring the landscape may look, you may find the Saluki is a frustrating companion.
Saluki dogs, like cats and many dog breeds, are only trainable students when you use positive training and reinforcement methods.
So, if you try to use any negative or punishment-based reinforcement, you will likely fail. The same applies for hiring a trainer who uses this type of protocol — you can expect your Saluki to become distrustful. They may even become harder to handle.
Ultimately, starting young is key. You can teach your Saluki puppy everything from holding still for teeth brushing and nail trimming if you start early. If you’ll need them to use their crate while you’re away, you’ll also need to train them young.
Saluki Speed: Giving Your Dog Proper Exercise
The Saluki speed is actually legendary. At a flat-out run, this dog can quickly reach speeds of nearly 40 mph. In fact, Salukis are so fast they can actually outrun gazelle and hare. Not even a greyhound dog can beat the Saluki speed in hunting mode.
In hunting contests, Saluki contestants sometimes run for two or three miles. Then, they often reach their maximum speed of around 40 mph by about the half-mile mark.
So this gives you a really good idea of how much daily exercise and activity your Saluki dog will require to stay happy and healthy.
Specifically, breeders and trainers advise that this dog will need long, extended runs at least twice per week. They’ll also need daily exercise opportunities (such as accompanying you on your daily bike rides, runs or jogs). That’s one way to keep that Saluki speed!
Socializing Your Saluki
Socialization is especially important for reserved dogs. A Saluki puppy will benefit from puppy kindergarten and regular exposure to strangers or extended family. Be sure to take them to parks and have them interact with other dogs.
What about swimming? Can Salukis swim? Indeed, they can be taught to swim, but Saluki dogs aren’t a particularly water-loving breed. Still, every dog is different. For all you know, your dog may just love swimming.
Saluki Health and Care
The Saluki is notoriously intolerant to anesthetic. Most primitive dog breeds share this intolerance.
For this reason, it will be vital to find a veterinarian that is knowledgeable about treating primitive dogs. Your dog won’t be able to tolerate anaesthetic during a procedure.
Additionally, a 1997 Saluki genetic health study identified a number of concerning health issues. Three of these are significant: cancers, blood/immune issues and heart conditions. Some common cancers affecting Salukis include:
- Mammary and reproductive cancer
- Liver/spleen tumors
- Squamous cell carcinoma
The breed also suffers several heart conditions. Some of the most cited ones are:
- Cardiomyopathy (hardening of the heart muscle)
- Heart murmurs
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Congestive heart failure
- Congenital heart defects
Other medical issues include hypothyroidism, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and skin disorders. Saluki dogs also tend to have skin allergies and autoimmune thrombocytopenia (low platelet count).
Always choose a breeder that willingly volunteers the results of breeding pair health testing. They should provide an initial health guarantee and offers a take-back guarantee if the puppy doesn’t work out.
Expected Life Span of Saluki Dogs
The Saluki dog can live anywhere from 10 to 17 years.
A balanced and complete daily diet, plenty of daily exercise and enrichment, access to preventative veterinary care, and overall lifestyle can significantly impact length and quality of life.
As we’ve seen, the Saluki dog breed has a very unique appearance and a unique coat. They are sometimes called the long-haired Saluki. However, the only true long hair on this dog is found on the ears and tail areas.
The rest of the coat is short, sheds little, emits no odor, and is easy to groom and maintain.
You can brush your dog once per week. But, the long-haired areas will likely need brushing at least twice per week to keep them clean and tangle-free.
Do They Make Good Family Pets?
The Saluki is an ancient, honorable sighthound. But this isn’t the dog for everyone. Breeders and owners say that they are not great around children. But, not because the Saluki dog breed will harm your kids.
Instead, children may be too much for this dog. A child can, without meaning to or even realizing it, easily play too rough for your Saluki.
Rescuing a Saluki
Adopting a puppy is an enriching and fulfilling experience! It always feels great to give a home to a fur child in need. We have some information on dog rescue here.And you can find some rescue societies here.
Finding a Saluki puppy
When selecting your puppy, there are a few things to look out for. First, be sure to pick a bright-eyed dog with clear eyes, nose, tail, and skin. Also choose one that is alert, willing to be held and handled, and happy to play with you and littermates.
Next, always try to meet the parent dogs.
You’ll find all our tips to help you with your puppy search in our guide here. It is also wise to avoid puppy mills on your search for a puppy. You can learn more about puppy mills here and why they’re frowned upon.
How Much Will a Saluki Breed Cost Me?
The price of this breed can put a noticeable dent in your wallet — just the cost of the dog itself! Now, plus the supplies, the initial “well puppy” veterinary exam or the annual care costs, it can be a lot.
Breeders and club officials state that the current going rate for a Saluki dog puppy is anywhere from $400 to $1,000.
The price fluctuation can relate to supply/demand or lineage (show line, hunting awards, etc.). Things like gender, birth order, size, and coloration may also affect the price. Don’t forget the factor show versus pet quality, breeder expenses and other factors.
Raising a Saluki Puppy
At home, your pup will be a calm, even-natured and relatively quiet companion (at least while inside the house).
Still, caring for a vulnerable Saluki puppy is a big responsibility. There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training. You’ll find them listed on our puppy page.
There is one special requirement these dogs have that is worth noting. When your dog is done running and exercising for the day, she will require a plush, comfortable and well-padded place to rest.
This is because they’re very lean and spare dogs without much (if any) natural “padding.” Saluki dog breeds definitely have much less padding than most other dogs.
So your Saluki dog will depend on you to provide a soft, cushioned bed. They’ll also need blankets and pillows where they can rest comfortably. Without access to padded resting spots, the Saluki can easily injure skin, coat, joints, and muscles just by lying down for an extended period of time, such as at bedtime.
These beauties are also notoriously excellent at escape.
They are smart and ambitious and likely do not even mean to escape, per se. Instead, they are just following their sight and their hunting instincts. Unfortunately, these instincts can lead them outside your yard if the area is not escape-proof.
If there is any little vulnerable area in your backyard area or the field where you are exercising your dog, they will likely find and use it.
The general guidance is to ensure your fence is five to six feet high.
Saluki club officials say the number one cause of death in this dog breed — other than sheer old age — is getting hit by a vehicle. The dog will run after a squirrel or something else equally captivating and won’t understand to stay off the roadways.
If you really like the Saluki’s athleticism but aren’t sure about it, you may want to try another option. Other dog breeds you might want to consider include:
Pros and Cons of Getting a Saluki
- Tendency to run off due to sight hound instincts.
- Very reserved: May not be open to very playful children or strangers.
- Needs lots of exercise and activity.
- Fairly expensive to buy and raise.
- Quite noisy and needs space: May not be apartment friendly
- Perfect for runners and other active owners.
- Great personality: loyal and affectionate.
- Even-tempered: Rarely aggressive or biting.
- Good watch dogs.
- Very gentle with kids.
Recommended Products and Accessories
Saluki Breed Rescues
We’ve sourced a few rescue centers for this breed if you’re looking to adopt.
- Saluki Club of America
- Dogs for Life Foundation
- Gentle Giant Saluki Rescue
- Dog’s Trust, UK
- Dogz Online, AU
- Afghan Hound and Saluki Rescue, AU
Please leave any other breed rescue center recommendations below!
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Schalamon et al. 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics
- Duffy D et al. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behavior Science 2008
- Strain G. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal 2004
- Packer et al. 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- AKC. Gibeault, S. MSc. CPDT. 10 Facts About the Saluki.
This article has been updated for 2019.