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Saluki

Salukis come in a variety of coat colours.
Other names Gazelle Hound
Royal Dog of Egypt
Persian Greyhound
Country of origin Middle Eastern Region
Traits

The Saluki (Arabic: سلوقي) is perhaps the oldest known breed of domesticated dog. A study published in the May 21, 2004, issue of Science confirms the Saluki's antiquity through DNA analysis identifying it as one of the earliest breeds to diverge from wolves.[1] Like elsewhere in the Fertile Crescent region, Saluki-like animals appear on the ancient ceramics from Susa and Sialk of 3500 BC in Iran, as well as on Egyptian tombs of 2100 BC.[2] 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 Kennel Club recognized Salukis in 1923.

Widely admired for its beauty, speed and endurance, the Saluki is a sighthound and historically traveled throughout the Middle East with nomadic desert tribes over an area stretching from the Sahara to the Caspian Sea. As a result, different Saluki subtypes, varying mostly in colour and coat, can be found across this widely scattered area.

Although the greyhound is the fastest dog breed with a top speed of around 45 mph (72 km/h), the Saluki's strength lies in its great endurance and stamina. They may not be the fastest sighthounds, but they can run for much longer than the sprinting breeds.

Contents

Description

A pair of Saluki puppies
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Appearance

They are 58–71 cm and 13–30 kg in weight. The overall appearance of the Saluki is one of grace and symmetry. Salukis are "sight" hounds which means they sight the quarry, run it down, catch and retrieve/dispatch it. There are two coat types evident in the Saluki gene pool: smooth and feathered. In both varieties males may range from 23 to 28 inches at the top of the shoulder with females measuring somewhat smaller.

Temperament

Saluki with light coat

A true Saluki retains the qualities of hunting hounds and may seem reserved and aloof. They learn quickly but can get bored with repetition, so training sessions should be short and varied. Sensitive and intelligent, the Saluki should never be trained using force or hard-handed methods.

They will "sing" (a high pitched howl, with oscillating volume) when they feel that something is wrong or when a member of the family is away for a long period of time. This "singing" can also be for bonding in the family (pack) group. Salukis have a fairly long life span, living an average of 13–16 years.

History

Dogs of King Antef

The Saluki has historically served as a courser, a speedy hunting dog that operated in packs. They often hunted in tandem with falcons which locate the prey for the dogs to run down.

Salukis appear on Egyptian tombs from 2100 B.C. The dogs were so esteemed that they were often mummified like the bodies of the Pharaohs themselves. Numerous Saluki remains have been found in the ancient tombs of the Upper Nile region.

In Muslim cultures, dogs are often seen as unclean. A saluki, however, is given a different status by the Arab culture. The Bedouin value them, breeding them for both beauty and hunting qualities. A saluki, instead of being viewed as unclean, often sleeps in tents with their owners, to be protected from the heat of the day and the cold of the night.

The Breed Established in the West

In England, a few specimens of the breed had been sporadically imported as curiosities since the mid-1700s. The first successful breeding line of Salukis begins in 1895 with the Honourable Florence Amherst (daughter of the 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney). Having seen Salukis on a Nile tour in that year, she imported a breeding pair from the Al Salihah area of Lower Egypt.[3] A champion of breed purity, she struggled alone for nearly three decades and real Saluki popularity did not take hold until the early 1920s when officers returning from the war in the Middle East and the Arab Revolt brought their pet Salukis home with them.

One of these was Brigadier General Frederick Lance of the 19th Lancers, who, with his adventurous wife, Gladys, returned home with two Syrian Salukis from Sarona where he was stationed during the post-war occupation.[4] The Lances were avid hunters and rode out with their Saluki pack and terrier to course jackal and Dorcas gazelle in the desert. Their imported male, Sarona Kelb, became a significant influence on the breed in the West.

Together, the Lances and Florence Amherst mounted a campaign for recognition of the Middle Eastern breed that luckily coincided with the phenomenon of “Tutmania” caused by Howard Carter’s spectacular discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in late 1922. In 1923, the Saluki or Gazelle Hound Club was formed and the Kennel Club granted official recognition to the breed.[5] Popularity of Salukis dramatically increased and The American Kennel Club would recognize the breed and the Saluki Club of America was founded in 1927.

Imports to England during the inter-war years were chiefly from areas of British military influence and commerce: Bahrain, Egypt, Transjordan, and Iraq. Both Florence Amherst and the Lances imported breeding stock from the latter two countries. Despite substantial populations of Salukis in Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, none of these were imported to England.[6]

English Salukis (chiefly descendents of Sarona Kelb) were exported to many countries,[7] 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.[8] 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.

Florence Amherst's famous pre-war, show dog, Sultan, circa 1915

Genetics

As is the case with some other pedigree breeds in the United States, including the Basenji and Portuguese Podengo, the current domestic population of Salukis is descended from a small number of founders introduced into the country within the last 100 years, and must be carefully mated to avoid inbreeding. However, the original dogs imported into the US came from throughout the Middle East, a vast geographical area, unlike most other breeds that come from very small areas, so, worldwide, Salukis have the largest genetic base among purebreds. Recently, the AKC (American Kennel Club) has allowed the third generation of COO (Country of Origin) salukis to be registered after inspections by recognised judges so the DNA base will broaden.

References

  1. ^ Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog - Parker et al. 304 (5674): 1160 - Science
  2. ^ Xavier Przezdziecki, Le Destin des Lévrier, Translated by Jonathon Brown, ISBN 2-904304-17-7.
  3. ^ Duggan, Brian Patrick, ‘’Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought it to the West’’, p. 36. McFarland, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7864-3407-7.
  4. ^ Duggan, p. 127-128.
  5. ^ Duggan, p. 150
  6. ^ Duggan, p. 154
  7. ^ Duggan, p. 181
  8. ^ Duggan, p. 242

External links

Reference Books


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Saluki

Etymology

Likely derived from Ancient Greek Σελεύκεια (Seléfkia), the name of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire.

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /səˈɫuki/

Noun

Singular
Saluki

Plural
Salukis

Saluki (plural Salukis)

  1. An ancient sighthound breed of dog with a silky coat originating in the Middle East, once sacred to the Egyptians

Synonyms

  • Gazelle Hound
  • Persian Greyhound
  • Royal Dog of Egypt

Translations


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