Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More


Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

saluki dog_Pixabay

The Saluki is a medium to large purebred from the Middle East and is known by various other names such as the Persian Greyhound, the Arabian Hound, Tanji and the Gazelle Hound, or El Hor meaning the noble one. It is believed to be one of the oldest domestic breeds of dog still around today and some suggest it dates back even to before the times of Ancient Egypt. The name Saluki likely comes from an ancient Arab town no longer around called Saluq. It was bred by nomadic tribes in the desert to hunt fast prey such as rabbit, deer, gazelle and fox. It is a sighthound and is highly prized for its eye sight, as well as its speed and agility. It would chase after its prey, kill it and then bring it back..

The Saluki at A Glance
Name Saluki
Other names Gazelle Hound, Persian Greyhound, Arabian Hound, Tanji
Nicknames The Royal Dog of Egypt
Origin Middle East
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 35 to 65 pounds
Average height 23 to 28 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Silky, long
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black and tan, cream, brown, grey, white, tricolor, red, golden
Popularity Not that popular – ranked 125th by the AKC
Intelligence Average – understands new commands in 25 to 40 repetitions
Tolerance to heat Good – can handle warm climates but nothing too hot or extreme
Tolerance to cold Moderate – needs help when the weather turns cold
Shedding Low – not a lot of hair will be left around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Low – not prone to weight gain
Grooming/brushing Low to moderate maintenance – regular grooming needed
Barking Occasional – does not bark all the time but it does happen fairly regularly
Exercise needs Fairly active – will need plenty of physical and mental activity
Trainability Moderately easy for those with experience
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Moderate – needs an experienced owner
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good but socialization is needed
Good with strangers Low – even with socialization that is needed this dog still needs supervision and training too
Good apartment dog Low – not a good dog for living in an apartment
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but can face cancer, heart problems, hypothyroidism and anesthesia sensitivity
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and for pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and pet treats
Miscellaneous expenses $655 a year for grooming, license, training, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1410 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $2,500
Rescue organizations Several including the Saluki Club of Canada Rescue and STOLA
Biting Statistics None reported

The Saluki’s Beginnings

The Saluki’s history is not as easy to trace back as some dogs, in fact there is a fair amount of mystery that surrounds it. It is an ancient dog and it is thought it even pre-dates written history. They have existed in the Middle East for thousands of years where they have been valued by nomads, and the nobility for their hunting skill, beauty and companionship. From carvings dating back to the Sumerian empire, from tombs from Ancient Egypt, sculptures, pottery, mosaics and seals have all been found with an image of a dog much like the Saluki. </p >

Over the years the look, coat and size have sometimes changed depending on what region is being looked and what the terrain game and weather is like there. Interestingly followers of Islam who believe dogs to be unclean actually view this dog as having a special status, and can own them, stroke them, live with them, even allowing them in the female sections of the dwellings. </p >

In 1840 then known as Persian Greyhounds some came to England. However it remained fairly unknown there until the 1920s when officers returned from fighting in the Middle East and brought back dogs with them and when the breed club was started. In the late 1800s it also was imported to the US. In 1923 the Kennel Club in England officially recognized them and in 1929 it was recognized by the AKC. However as with most dog breeding, interest and numbers waned with the arrival of World War II. Breeders were busy elsewhere and there was not enough food. In Britain many dogs were euthanized, many more died from starvation and some were also lost to the bombings.</p >

New Lease on Life

Thankfully just enough litters kept going to keep the numbers high enough for the breed to survive. Breeders devoted time and resources as well to save them from extinction and were successful. In 1927 the Saluki Club of America was formed and it was fully recognized two years later. It is the Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s mascot but is an uncommon bred in the US still though it has its fans. It is ranked 125th most popular registered dog by the AKC.</p >

The Dog You See Today

This dog is medium to large in size weighing 35 to 65 pounds and standing 23 to 28 inches tall. It is an elongated, graceful, balanced and slim dog with a silhouette much like a Greyhounds. It is not dainty or fragile though, far from it, it has strength and its development for speed is evident. Its tail is set low and long and is held in a curve. It has some long feathering on the underside but is not full. Its neck is long and its chest is deep and its legs are long too. It also has feathering in its legs and ears, and on the back if its thighs it is especially obvious. As well as the feathered type coat there is also a less common smooth version. It is the same short length and silky to touch but without the feathering. Common colors include red, gold, black, tan, cream, fawn and gold. </p >

The Saluki has a narrow and long head that is a little broader between its ears and then narrows down to a slender and long muzzle. It nose is liver or black in color and its eyes are set deep and are large and oval shaped. Their color ranges between dark brown up to a lighter hazel color. Its ears hang down and fall close to its head and are long.

The Inner Saluki

</p >


Saluki are very alert dogs and make excellent watchdogs. It will bark to let you know if there is an intruder trying to get in but it is not thought to be especially protective so may not act to defend you. Given its size too it is unlikely to actually scare intruders away. While the breed tends towards being affectionate, gentle, sweet and loyal it is still best owned by owners with previous canine experience. It is a very sensitive animal and would not be happy in a home where there is a lot of tension and raised voices. </p >

The Saluki is an occasional barker and it is intelligent and even tempered. It can be independent though meaning it can have stubborn moments. It also has a sense of humor, is curious and can be mischievous. Around strangers it can be reserved until it gets to know you but it tends to bond very closely to one member of the family over the others. It enjoys a snuggle and wants to be a part of family activities. It does need a fair amount of exercise and stimulation too or it can become difficult to control. It does not like being left alone for long periods of time and needs soft bedding to lie on to prevent calluses. As a puppy it is playful and rambunctious but as it matures it is more dignified and docile. </p >

Living with a Saluki

What will training look like?

This is a breed that is moderately easy to train for those with experience, but harder for new owners. Gradual results should be expected and it is important to establish yourself as a clear leader, be firm and consistent, stick to the rules you set. It is an intelligent dog but it is sensitive so will not respond well to harshness or physical punishments, and its independent side can mean it is reluctant about the whole process. Be gentle and positive in your approach and be patient. Offer encouragement and praise, use treats to motivate and reward success, avoid punishing or scolding. Also be aware even with good training is is not a dog that blindly obeys and its powerful prey drive will mean even when well trained, if it sees prey to chase it will take off if it can, regardless of your command. Saluki do get easily distracted so at first do the training somewhere where there are no other distractions. Also keep the sessions interesting and fun, and short. Several short sessions a day are going to be more effective than one or two long ones if your dog is not listening and obeying! Keep in mind too that it is touch sensitive and startles easily. </p >

Just as important as at least basic level obedience is ensuring it gets early socialization. This dog is reserved with strangers and without good socialization that can become suspicious and defensive. Have it introduced to various places, sounds, situations, places, animals, children, other dogs and so on. The better socialized it is, the more confident and trustworthy it becomes. Housebreaking can take 4 to 6 months using crate training.</p >

How active is the Saluki

This is a fairly active breed so needs the same from its owners, and it does well in the heat and not so well in the cold. It can adapt to apartment living if it has to and along as it gets a couple of outings a day, but ideally it is in a larger home and it has access to come kind of yard or outside land. The Saluki needs to run, just a couple of walks a day is not enough for it. Each day it needs a chance to stretch its legs and run free. This means it needs a safe space where it can go off leash, if you do not have land somewhere like a dog park would work. It can reach speeds of up to 40 miles an hour. Make sure when walking along roads it stays on a leash as if it sees something that triggers it chasing prey instinct it will go, and it has not understanding of cars and will not stop even if you command it to. Yards or land needs to be well fenced, over 5 – 6 feet for sure. It can join you for your hikes, jogs, alongside you on a bicycle. A Saluki not getting enough exercise can be bored, depressed, destructive, anxious and hard to live with. It also needs mental stimulation and a good rotation of toys to play with. It is not however especially like to retrieve balls or play rough housing.

Caring for the Saluki

</p >

Grooming needs

Saluki are easy to care for, very low maintenance in terms of grooming and cleaning in fact. It sheds a low amount so there is not a lot of loose hair to deal with around the home, making it a good option for people that do not want to live with a lot of dog hair. It does shed a little more in the Spring though so in this period there may be a little more clean up needed and brush a couple of times a week. The feathered coats especially need that regular brushing otherwise it becomes tangled and matted. </p >

Those with show dogs do have them trimmed to enhance their shape. This is a dog that is almost odor free so definitely does not need a lot of bath time, keep that to only when it has gotten itself really dirty. Always just use a proper dog shampoo too so that you do not dry out out the natural oils in its skin. If the dirt is not too bad a simple wipe down with a damp cloth could be effective.</p >

Other grooming needs will include nail clipping, ear cleaning and teeth brushing. Oral hygiene is as important with your dog as it is with yourself. Brush at least two to three times a week using a dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Its ears should be checked once a week for infection signs like redness, irritation, wax build up or discharge. Once a week they also need to be cleaned, not by inserting anything into the ear, but by wiping it down with a cotton ball and ear cleanser or warm damp cloth. Its nails may need trimming of they get too long. Some dogs wear down their nails naturally with their activity but some may not. There are proper dog nail clippers you will need if you are doing it yourself or you can have a groomer or vet do it. Be careful not to clip the quick of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. Going too far down will hurt the dog and cause bleeding. If you are inexperienced do some research or have your vet show you how.</p >

Feeding Time

A Saluki will need to eat about 1 3/4 to 2 3/4 cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into two meals to avoid problems with bloat. It likes its food and it is agile and able to reach counters and such so take care where you out its food and what you leave out! How much exactly your Saluki will need depends on its size, health, age, rate of metabolism and level of activity. Some owners find their Saluki is a fussy eater so you may have to try several foods before you find one it is happy with. Remember this is not meant to be a chubby or fat dog, it is sleek and slender, a Saluki should have just slightly visible ribs. </p >

How is the Saluki with children and other animals?

With good socialization and when raised with them this is a friendly breed with children. However while it is somewhat tolerant it is best with children who are older than 8 years. It has think skin which means rough handling from young and enthusiastic children can cause injuries easily. It also does not like rough play, being startled or being excessively hugged and squeezed, and it is touch sensitive, all things younger children are likely to do. Make sure children are taught how to touch and approach it in the right way.</p >

With other pets in the home it can learn to accept them with socialization and if raised with there. However this is a dog with a high prey drive and it sees small animals as something to chase and seize. With its quick reflexes it is not easy to react and prevent something happening. More often than not this dog does not chase small critters, when it catches them it will likely kill them. Keep it on a leash when out around traffic. It can get along fairly fine with other dogs especially ones that are sighthounds too, and other Salukis. </p >

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The life span of the Saluki is 12 to 14 years. It is a fairly healthy dog but there are some issues that can occur such as cancer, heart problems, Cushings, hypothyroidism, dermatitis, seizures, deafness, drug sensitivity, sunburn, eye problems and hip dysplasia (uncommon).</p >

Biting Statistics

In reports dating back 35 years on dog attacks against people that led to bodily harm in the US and Canada, there is no mention of the Saluki. This is not a breed that is likely to hurt people, it does not have a lot of aggression. However no dog is completely ‘safe’, there are things can cause even the most gentle breeds to become aggressive, sometimes there are obvious triggers, sometimes there are not. A good owner can mitigate some of the risk though with socialization, training, giving it the level of exercise and stimulation it needs, and giving it the attention and love it needs. </p >

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Saluki is not a common breed and prices of puppies are high, starting around $2000 to $2500 for a decent breeder but then going even higher for a show quality dog from a top breeder. There will likely be a waiting list but as tempting is it might be to turn to other options to speed up the process like pet stores, backyard breeders or other puppy mills sourced places, avoid doing so. These are not places you want to encourage to keep going. Another option if you do not have to have a puppy or a purebred is to check out shelters and rescues. You may find a dog you feel is perfect for you that may not be a purebred, but is loving and loyal and all the things you want from a companion. Plus you are giving it a new chance at a forever home. Adoption rates can range from $50 to $400 plus you get medical concerns taken care of too.</p >

When you have a dog or puppy you will need some initial items for it like a crate, bowls, collar and leash for example. These things will come to around $200. As soon as you have it home you should take it to a vet for an exam, some tests and some other procedures. For example it will need blood tests done, deworming, a physical, shots, spaying or neutering and micro chipping. Initial health costs should be around $290.</p >

There are also ongoing costs week to week, year to year to consider. A Saluki’s basic health care, including shots, check ups, flea and tick prevention and then pet insurance will cost about $485 a year. Feeding it a good quality dry dog food will cost about $270 a year and that also includes dog treats. Then other miscellaneous costs such as training, toys, grooming, miscellaneous items and license will be about $655 a year. This gives a yearly starting figure of about $1410.</p >


Looking for a Saluki Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

The Saluki is a sleek, elegant, athletic and loyal dog. It needs plenty of off leash time, its is best around older children and needs a calm home with owners who are not always shouting at each other or it! It does well in doggy sports and was once named the fastest dog in the world. It has a very strong prey drive so needs to be kept on a leash when out walking and care should be taken if bringing it to a home with other small pets. Its coat is easy to care for, it is a clean breed and does not have a strong doggy odor. Early socialization is important so that it does not become suspicious or fearful. Training can be tricky as it tends towards being independent. With the right owners it is devoted and needs lots of companionship. </p >

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

Did you know: an average of 18 dog foods are recalled every year?

Get FREE Dog Food Recall Alerts by email whenever there's a recall.