Saluki Dog Breed – What You Should Know About These Amazing Dogs

Saluki Dog

The Saluki is an ancient breed from the Middle East.

The Saluki dog breed (or Persian Hound) is a sight hound, which means it hunts mainly by sight rather than scent. This breed shares several characteristics with other sight hounds, such as the Afghan Hound and the North African Sloughi. They can appear to be independent, and may be reserved around strangers at first.

A Saluki Dog standing in a grass field

Saluki Dog Breed – Temperament

This independent streak can make them hard to train, and they cannot be trusted to return to their owner on command when off-leash. Training seems to work best when it is carried out in a calm and gentle manner, with consistency most important.

Saluki dogs are intelligent, and can become bored easily if they are left alone, or given simple tasks to do like fetch a ball or stick. As a result of its hunting background, it would much rather chase something, and it will tend to go after anything else that is running.

Early socialization when the dog is young will help to prevent it becoming timid and easily frightened as an adult. In the home, they are usually calm, and can even be kept in an apartment, as long as they can get out daily for exercise. They like soft toys to play with, and soft bedding.

Saluki Dog Breed – History

Dogs that look like a Saluki have been seen engraved in ancient Egyptian tombs dating back to before 2000BC. Their images can also be seen in writings and drawings after that date. According to Guinness World Records, this is the oldest dog breed.

It is thought that the English crusaders brought dogs that looked similar to Saluki dogs back with them to Europe from the Middle East after the Crusades, and these dogs were bred from around 1500 as hunting dogs.

But the modern-day Saluki was first introduced into the U.K. in 1840. At first they were treated as being the same breed as the Sloughi, but the two breeds are distinct and separate.

However the breed struggled at first, and it wasn’t until 1920, when army officers returning from the First World War in the Middle East brought their modern Salukis with them, that the breed became more popular.

More Salukis were imported to the U.K. from various countries in the Middle East in the years between the World Wars, and used for breeding. At the same time, there were quite a few Salukis in other European countries such as Germany and Sweden, but these were not imported to the U.K. for breeding purposes.

The population of Saluki dogs in Europe declined during World War 2 due to severe food restrictions, but a significant number survived the conflict years. After the War, there was a fresh influx of Saluki dogs from the Middle East as soldiers returned home, bringing dogs with them.

The breed became re-established as numbers increased, and the popularity of the breed increased dramatically in Europe and the U.S.A..  Since the year 2000 the popularity has remained stable.

Two adult Saluki Dogs in a dry riverbed
Two adult Saluki dogs

Saluki Dog Breed – ease of training

The Saluki is not an easy dog to train. But it all depends on what you want to train your Saluki to do! Basic training such as house training is relatively straightforward. But the more complicated the training becomes, the less the Saluki is likely to pay attention.

The Saluki is a very intelligent breed, and questions why you want it to do something. It can become bored quite quickly, and it’s attention will tend to wander to more exciting things. In addition, it has a very strong inbred desire to run and chase things. This innate desire can over-ride the dog’s attention to training lessons.

Training the Saluki must be done in short sessions of 5 to 10 minutes at a time, to engage the short attention span. This should be repeated 3 to 4 times a day, always keeping the session short. You must be totally consistent with your commands, always repeating the exact same actions and commands. Consistency is king!

Finally, the training sessions must be calm and controlled. The Saluki is a sensitive breed, and rough treatment will not work, for example pushing down on its rump to make it sit. The dog will just push back and resist you, resulting in you both becoming frustrated and confused. It’s much better to work with small rewards for a few minutes at a time.

We have a great page on the best dog training books, and I recommend that you take a look at that page for the best advice on how to train your dog. Click HERE!

Vital Statistics

Height; 23 to 28 inches at the withers.

Weight; 35lbs to 65lbs

Females are smaller and lighter then males.

The Saluki is extremely fast, and can just about keep up with a greyhound over short distances – however, over longer distances (more than about 1/2 a mile) the Saluki will outrun the greyhound.

In 1996, The Guinness Book of Records listed the Saluki as the fastest dog, having been clocked at 68.8 km/h (42.8 mph).

The Saluki needs a good fast run every day to burn energy and stay healthy.


There are 2 coat types, smooth or feathered. Both are low-shedding. They are low-maintenance dogs, and only require minimal grooming, such as brushing with a short bristled brush once a week.


The Saluki dog breed is distrustful of strangers at first, and will bark if an unknown person approaches the home. Even when the owner lets the visitor enter the house, the Saluki will remain aloof, and watch the interaction between it’s master and the new visitor. Once it is clear that there is no threat, the dog will relax, and wander off to snooze in a corner.

Two Saluki Dogs standing on a grass clifftop with blue sea in the background
Two adult Saluki dogs

Health Considerations

The Saluki dog breed will live for around 12 to 14 years, which is average for a dog of this size. Unlike many dog breeds, they only rarely have a problem with hip dysplasia.

They can suffer from various types of cancer, most commonly lymphoma or liver cancer. Less commonly, they can have heart problems such as a heart murmur or cardiomyopathy.

Story of the African Dog

We have found this amazing book, The Story of the African Dog, telling the history of the African Dog from its earliest presence at the fire of Stone Age humans, through the evolution from wolf to protodog to domestic dog and subsequent migration into the African continent with nomadic Neolithic herders.  You can read more about this really interesting book and buy online at Amazon here.

African Dog Breeds

Famous Saluki Dogs

Rita Rita in the Disney film Oliver and Company.

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