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Dog Files Fact: Saluki


The Saluki is a Sighthound that originates from the Middle East. It is one of the oldest breed of dogs and is depicted in carvings of early civilizations such as that of “Sumerian Empire” of Mesopotamia dating back to 7000 BC. It’s names originates from Saluq, an ancient city in Arabia.

It is a dog of considerable size with a lean body built for speed and endurance and is believed to share a common ancestor with the Pharaoh hound. The Saluki Hound is also known by the other names of the Gazelle Hound and the Persian Greyhound.

It was originally bred to hunt hawks, hare, foxes, wolves and gazelle. They often hunted in tandem with falcons which locate the prey and for the dogs to run down.

This dog was declared “sacred ” by the Muslim religion whilst all other dogs were “unclean”. Salukis were not allowed to breed with non-Salukis, which explains their purity throughout the centuries.

The nomadic existence of the Bedouin owners of the Saluki’s ensured the spread of the breed throughout North Africa, the Middle East and Egypt. The terrain of the Saluki varies from the desert of the Sahara to colder, mountainous areas.

The Egyptian pharaohs were known to keep the ancestors of this dog. References to the Saluki’s’s ancestors appear as hieroglyphics and are also found engraved in cuneiform ( written in wedge-shaped characters) on ancient pillars and tablets.

The breed had been occasionally imported to England before 1840, however there was no serious interest until the Hon. Florence Amherst imported a breeding pair of Salukis from Lower Egypt in 1895 and began working to popularize the breed. The Saluki was recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1928.

English Salukis were exported to many countries, but by the mid-1930s, interest slackened, and with the outbreak of World War II, breeding and show activities almost entirely stopped. The number of litters was minimal – just enough to keep the breed alive. Food rationing reserved all edible meat for humans and rather than see their beloved Salukis starve or perhaps killed by bombs, some owners euthanized entire kennels. A small number of Saluki kennels survived the war, and along with fresh imports belonging to a second wave of soldiers returning from the Middle East, the slow process of re-establishing the breed began again.

Rita from Oliver and Company is a Saluki.

In 101 Dalmatians, a neighbor walks a Saluki.

Salukis occasionally have cameos in feature films, including Blondie in Society, Working Girl, Cocktail, and Orlando. The only major part played by a Saluki in a film is that of Ivy (voiced by Susan Sarandon) in Cats & Dogs.

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