The Saluki: A Slim-Framed, Sleek, Gazelle-Hunter

Reputed to be one of the few breeds that were mummified with the pharaohs of the Sumerian Empire, the Saluki is esteemed in the Middle East for swiftness


Reputed to be one of the few breeds that were mummified with the pharaohs of the Sumerian Empire, the Saluki (named after an ancient city) is esteemed in the Middle East for its swiftness over sand and is used for hunting with falcons. It is not an especially demonstrative or tactile pet and may seem somewhat aloof.

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Sight hounds

Canine speed-merchants, the sight hounds—or gazehounds as they are sometimes called—are hunting dogs that locate and follow their prey primarily by using their keen eyesight. Streamlined, lightly framed, but powerful, a sight hound in pursuit of quarry moves fast and turns with great flexibility. Many dogs in this group were bred to hunt specific prey.

Breed History

This breed is thought to be one of the most ancient breeds of domesticated dogs. Excavations of ancient settlements (6500 BC, Sumerian empire), and Egyptian tomb carvings of 2100 BC reflect the presence of a distinctly “Saluki type” dog.

They were highly esteemed and mummified remains of this type of dog have been found, attesting to their important status in Egyptian society. Muslim religion classed dogs as unclean, and termed them kelb but the Saluki on the other hand, was termed the “noble one” or El Hor, and accorded sacred status.

Originating in the region that includes Egypt, Arabia, Syria and Persia, and accompanying the Bedouin tribes, the first specimens were brought to England in the year 1840. The smooth (non-feathered) variety of Saluki is very much like the Sloughi dog.

The latter was thought to have originated from the town of Saloug in Yemen. The Saluki likely originated in the town of Saluk, Yemen.

The AKC recognized this breed in 1927.

Physical Characteristics

Height at Withers

Female 22-26” (56-66 cm), male 23-28” (58.5-71 cm).


Females 31-40 lb (14-18 kg), males 40-55 lb (18-25 kg).


Their coat is fine and silky, shorter over the body and well-developed feathers are present. Colors include white, cream, golden, red, fawn, grizzle and tan, black-and-tan, and tri-color. A smooth variety of this breed has the same body coat but without the feathers.


12 years

Points of Conformation

Long, with a very lean athletic build, exceptionally smooth and graceful bounding movements characterize Saluki dogs. Their ability to accelerate very quickly to speed allows them to be effective in gazelle hunts.

The skull is long and narrow, the stop is not very pronounced, and the nose is either black or liver colored.

The eyes are large, oval and colored dark brown to hazel. The ears are long, pendulous and fine-leathered with very long feathers. The neck is long and muscular, the thorax is somewhat narrow but very deep.

The legs are straight and long. Tarsi are placed low on the hind limb. Feet are moderately arched, with good feathering between the toes. The inner digits can be longer than the outer digits.

The tail is long, tapering, feathered on the underside, and carried in a curve. The back is broad with a slightly arched loin. They normally have prominent hip bones and the caudal rib cage is also clearly evident when they are in fit condition.

Breed Behaviour and Traits