How To Breed Salukis

how to breed salukis (saluki breeding)

Would you like to learn how to breed Salukis? Then you are in the right place. This agile, athletic and strong hunter, yet gentle and docile, comes from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. It is the second-fastest dog in the world and its temperament makes it ideal for hunting (by sight) as well as for living with families and other dogs.

Breeding Salukis is a fascinating task because you will contribute to maintain and improve the oldest domesticated dog. It will bring you tons of love, joy, and company to you and your family. Let us learn more about it!

Background of Saluki Breeding

It is time to review everything about this fabulous breed. One of the fastest and strongest, yet most docile dogs you will meet. Let us learn more about the fantastic Saluki.

Origins

The origins of this breed come from the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East that covered several actual countries: Israel, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. It even reached the fringes of Turkey and Iran.

The ancestors of the Saluki were used for hunting, thanks to their exceptional speed (nowadays 42 miles per hour), incredible resistance and endurance and a burning drive for chasing prey. However, it excels when it comes to sight hunting because, by smell, the Bloodhound and the Basset Hound are more efficient.

It is the oldest domesticated dog, and we can find several records about this breed throughout history. For example, these images discovered in Iran that depicted dogs with long and narrow bodies running. They date back to 6,000 years ago.

According to evidence, they were also important in China, especially during the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644. Several paintings depict Salukis. They were one of the favorite pets by royalty, thanks to their athletic and elegant contexture and body build.

Furthermore, according to historical evidence, they arrived in Europe thanks to returning crusaders who brought them from the Middle East. This theory is supported by multiple paintings of important personalities such as Henry IV by Lucas Cranach the Elder, which dates back to 1514. It shows the Duque accompanied by a Saluki who wears the badge of The Way of Saint James.

Now that you have an idea of where they originated and how they arrived at the rest of the world, it is time to review its ancestry.

Ancestry

According to records, the ancestors of the Saluki date back to 7,000-6,000 B.C.E. Since old times, it was considered as a sacred dog in Egypt. Therefore, we can locate the ancestors of this breed in Egypt and Sumeria. For example, they were part of the art in Egyptian tombs.

Although we do not have precise evidence about the ancestors of the Saluki, we can say with confidence that they served the same purpose, which was hunting under rough conditions that characterized Egypt, Sumeria and the Middle East.

In Today's Culture

Nowadays, Salukis are part of several families across the world, but especially in the Middle East, where they are considered a tradition. Therefore, they are especially important and popular in that part of the world. Furthermore, they are valuable members of Bedouin families, thanks to their brilliant hunting skills.

They even celebrate an annual Saluki dog racing competition at Al Dhafra Camel Festival. One of the most popular and exciting competitions to watch.

Outside of the Middle East, they are still not as popular as other sighthounds such as the Greyhound. However, their popularity is growing amongst breeders, thanks to their excellent temperament and elegant and athletic appearance. Nonetheless, it still ranks at #120 from 193 breeds in the AKC Popularity Ranking.

Speed and Physical Abilities

As we have seen, this breed excels when it comes to speed, strength, and athleticism. It is a hunting dog for excellence thanks to its incredible drive, speed, and endurance.

They reach a top speed of 42 miles per hour, but being more precise, it clocks at nearly 43 mph. It translates to approximately 69 kilometers per hour, which in combination with its extremely high energy levels and superior endurance, make it an excellent dog for hunting and racing. They are fiery sprinters that can sustain top speed for more times than Greyhounds.

In addition, they can jump very high. They can jump over five-foot fences with ease, and in some circumstances with enough momentum, they can jump over six feet.

Thanks to these physical abilities – which include outstanding strength and agility – they are suitable for several activities and sports:

If it requires a fast, powerful and strong dog, then your Saluki will be a good fit for it.

Saluki's Standard Appearance

To recognize an authentic Saluki, it is important to know about its breed standard. Here you have a complete overview.

saluki breed standard
Visual guidelines for the Saluki’s breed standard.

Size

They are medium-sized and statuesque. Here are the stats for height and weight:

  • Weight: 40 to 60 pounds
  • Height: 23 to 28 inches

However, if we have to precise it by sex:

  • Males: 45-65 pounds / 27 inches
  • Females: 35-45 pounds / 24 inches

This will allow you to recognize authentic Saluki parents, because if they differ too much from these stats, then you can tell there is a problem. However, you still need to factor in other variables such as the complexion of the body, the shape of the head, the coat and the ears.

Build

His body is muscular and sleek, which allows it to exercise tons of strength yet remain capable of reaching top speeds of 42 miles per hour. Furthermore, they have a very low percent of body fat. Therefore, the waist has to be small, the chest must be deep and the loin must look slightly arched.

A distinctive feature is the length of the body, measured from the shoulder to the point of the buttock, which should be the same to the height at the withers. This unique composition makes the Saluki look much longer than it really is.

Face and Skull

The head of the Saluki has to be slightly wide between the ears, yet notoriously long and narrow. Under no circumstances should it look domed. This composition is key for bringing it its athletic and sleek look. Also, look out for the color of the nose, which would be solid black or liver.

Coat

The coat of the Saluki is smooth, silky and short. Some feathering on the legs, under of the tail and the shoulders is acceptable. These are the valid colors:

  • Cream
  • White
  • Black and Tan
  • Fawn
  • Grizzle and Tan
  • Tricolor (Tan, white and black)

Ears

The ears must look floppy and long. Any variation on this aspect is a big red flag.

Tail

The tail must be long and must have long hair on it. Furthermore, it needs to look rested. Any variation on this is another red flag.

Saluki's Temperament

This pup is a fiery hunter, yet its temperament is surprisingly calm. It is affectionate but not very demonstrative, and it tends to be shy with strangers. Nonetheless, it gets well along with other dogs.

Ideal Family Dog

This breed also tends to be aloof, but it is ideal for families because they are exceptionally friendly and gentle towards children. Do not expect it to be a lap dog, because they will always prefer to sit by your side. It is part of their nature.

They are loyal, and therefore, they are the ideal one-family dog. Therefore, when you get a Saluki you are getting an aloof yet devoted and loyal dog. They will tend to build a special bond with a specific family member, and if that member is gone, then they might suffer from separation anxiety. Therefore, such a person needs to be at home regularly.

Sensitive and Peaceful

It is also worth noting that they are especially sensitive and they can interpret emotions very well. Therefore, if there are many discussions and fights at home, they will develop anxiety and stress. They prefer peace and calmness.

They are peaceful, as you have noticed. Nonetheless, they can be destructive when they are puppies and that is why training from an early age is necessary. Once this phase is over, you will come to see the peaceful and lovely personality of the Saluki.

Control Its Temperament

Even though it is a sweet, peaceful and obedient dog, it still has the hunter inside. Therefore, you should always keep it on a leash because it will go after the first prey it sees, for example, a squirrel, rabbit or a cat. In addition, this breed tends to think that dogs will stop for them, so that is another reason to keep them on a leash.

Finally, they are not suited for apartment living. They need to run every day, and therefore, they need an open space. Only make sure to build a tall fence, because they can jump high!

Salukis vs Greyhounds – The Differences

Salukis and Greyhounds have key differences that are summarized in the following table:

TraitsSalukiGreyhound
OriginFertile Crescent (Middle East)United Kingdom
Top Speed42 miles per hour45 miles per hour
EnergyVery high levels of energy and resistanceLower levels of energy
SleepMinimal need for sleepGreyhounds need plenty of sleep
Prone to obesityVery low chanceHigher chances
Avg. WeightMale: 55 pounds / Female: 40 poundsMale: 72.5 pounds / Female: 65 pounds
Avg. HeightMale: 27 inches / Female: 24 inchesMale: 29 inches / Female: 27.5 inches
Shedding MinimalModerate
IntelligenceAverageAverage
Temperament Aloof, loyal, reserved and quietAffectionate, demonstrative, tempered and gentle
Attitude Towards StrangersShyVery friendly towards strangers
Therapy DogNot a good choiceGreat choice
Health IssuesVery healthy breedA healthy breed, although it presents more health issues than Salukis
Life Expectancy 10-13 years12-14 years

Now that you know what the key differences are, it will help you to make a better decision.

different types of sighthounds
Overview of the different types of sighthounds.

Health Issues when Breeding Saluki Dogs

Every breed is prone to certain health issues and Salukis are not the exception. Fortunately, in general, it is a healthy breed with very few health concerns. For example, they almost never suffer from orthopedic diseases such as arthritis. For instance, they have a hip dysplasia rate of less than 2%.

Nonetheless, they are still at risk, and therefore, it is important to know about potential health problems that they might experience.

Sensitivity to Anesthesia

They are sensitive to anesthesia due to their low level of body fat. All sighthounds suffer from this condition, and therefore, they have special needs when they need to be anesthetized. It is due to their genetics that makes them process drugs differently than other breeds, which in addition to the low body fat percent, puts them at higher risk.

This different way of processing drugs puts them at higher risk of suffering the following consequences:

  • Slower recovery, because they metabolize anesthesia at a lower rate than other breeds
  • Hypothermia, due to the low body fat percent
  • Cardiovascular complications, especially if they suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy
  • “White Coat Effect”, which elevates the blood pressure of the dog to dangerous levels.

Therefore, if your Saluki needs anesthesia at some point, the veterinarian will perform extensive blood work and exhaustive physical examination to measure the risk and limit it as much as possible.

Hemangiosarcomas

Cancer is a latent threat for all breeds, but Salukis are especially vulnerable to hemangiosarcomas, which are malignant tumors that form inside the blood vessels, and also referred to as heart cancer. They are highly dangerous and can be fatal. In the beginning, they might be detected as cysts filled with blood, and hence, be mistaken by other abnormalities such as internal abscesses.

Sadly, it is a common issue in the breed and breeders are trying to reduce its incidence rate. Currently, according to studies, it affects approximately 25% of Salukis.

Unfortunately, the panorama for this disease is critical, and that is why veterinarians refer to it as the “kiss of death”, because, many times, it is the start of other serious health issues. All hemangiosarcomas are malignant and they spread easily via the bloodstream.

Because it is considered a systemic disease, it requires a multimodal approach to therapy. It needs to treat the primary tumor, follow up the progress and supplement as necessary, and in some cases, require surgery and splenectomy. In most cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy will be advised as well.

The best way to deal with this issue is to examine your dog regularly with the help of your veterinarian. Watch out for symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, rapid breathing, nosebleeds, depression, and potbelly appearance. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a common problem in Salukis, and unfortunately, it is a genetic defect. It enlarges the heart and affects the ability of the ventricles for pumping blood. Consequently, it makes the heart to have decreased contractibility, which causes a wide myriad of effects: anorexia, lethargy, loss of appetite, panting, coughing and sudden collapses.

The best way to prevent and treat cardiomyopathy and other cardiovascular problems like hemangiosarcomas is to make your dog undergo regular heart check-ups because early detection and subsequent treatment will improve the quality of life of your pet and increase the chances of recovery.

Unfortunately, it is a recurrent scenario, but several breeders are doing their best efforts to eliminate it from the breed. Furthermore, scientists are organizing several studies to examine this issue better, and hopefully, bring actionable information.

Hypothyroidism

Salukis are at higher risk of suffering this issue, but according to evidence, we might be over-diagnosing it. Nonetheless, it does not take away that every owner needs to watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden weight gain
  • Weakness
  • Infertility
  • Hair Loss
  • Mental Dullness
  • Lethargy and tiredness

Nonetheless, it is worth remembering that new evidence suggests that autoimmune hypothyroidism might not be a widespread disease in the breed, which supports the claims of over-diagnosing.

Fortunately, if your dog is diagnosed with this issue, you can easily treat it with hormones in the form of pills. Your veterinarian will direct you properly, which will help you to improve the quality of life of your pet.

Cancer

As we have seen, they are prone to developing heart cancer, also known as hemangiosarcomas. However, they are also vulnerable to other types of cancer:

  • Lymphoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Hemangiosarcoma of the liver or the spleen

Therefore, regular health check-ups, a proper diet and plenty of exercising are necessary to reduce the chances of developing any type of cancer.

How To Breed Salukis

Now that you possess a solid background about this breed, it is time to learn about how to breed Salukis, by checking important topics such as litter sizes, typical birthing problems, and the pricing.

Average Litter Size of a Saluki Dog

The average litter size of a Saluki is 4 to 8 puppies and it is due to being a rather large breed and having a low inbreeding coefficient of 9.7%, which brings it excellent fertility and bigger litter sizes.

Nonetheless, you must consider that it tends to vary greatly. To maximize the chances of getting a numerous and healthy litter, you need to hit the sweet spot of the age of the bitch and the stud. According to stats, these are the ideal numbers:

  • Female: Around 20-24 months of age (when they have reached maturity and are optimal for breeding)
  • Male: 12-15 months of age (when they have just reached sexual maturity)

Of course, on top of this tip, you also need to screen the stud and the bitch prior to breeding, to avoid genetic defects and health issues. A healthy pregnancy is also required in order to avoid premature deaths and abnormal labor and birthing complications.

Birthing Problems

As you have seen, they have some serious health issues, although it does not mean that your dog will develop them. However, to avoid birthing problems, you should screen the parents properly and demand all the health certificates that certify that the parents are free from cancer (check medical history) and other genetic defects such as cardiomyopathy.

Pricing

The Saluki is one of the most expensive dog breeds, with a usual price of $2,000-$2,500 USD per puppy. The price tends to vary depending on key factors such as the reputation of the breeder, documentation, and bloodline, and the gender (males vs females).

As usual, let us check a few real-world examples:

  • A female Saluki puppy with all the proper documentation (health certificates, inspections, and Pedigree), Full Registration with breeding rights and vaccinations will cost you $2,400 USD (Puppyfind.com)
  • A 3-month old Saluki pup with a microchip, KC registration (UK), inoculations and vet checks will cost you $1,200 USD. However, we are talking about the UK and they do not give a Pedigree Certificate nor proper health documentation.

As you can see, the certificates and health checks have a huge influence on the price.

Saluki Breed – FAQ

During our research phase, we always find questions with a high incidence rate. Here you have them answered in a concise and straightforward manner, to let you know more about this fantastic breed.

Is Saluki the fastest dog breed?

The Saluki is the second fastest dog breed, only next to Greyhound. It can reach a top speed of 42 miles per hour. However, even though the Greyhound is faster at 45 miles per hour, the Saluki has more endurance and can sustain top speeds for longer distances. Many breeders prefer it, especially hunters who like the persistence hunting principle. Just keep following until you get it.

Furthermore, their speed prevails even in tricky environments such as deep sand, irregular terrains, and mountains. Therefore, they can be used to hunt all type of prey, ranging from slippery rabbits to fast gazelles.

saluki speed (at racing)
An adult Saluki can reach a maximum speed of 69km/h.

Are Saluki Dogs prone to Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a common health issue amongst Salukis. It makes the hip joints to form improperly, and hence, it causes pain that can become chronic and require surgery. Furthermore, it causes arthritis. It can limit the natural range of movement and levels of physical activity of your pet.

It is due to the hip structure and disposition of this breed. Although it is a common health issue, it does not mean that your Saluki will suffer it. The best way to avoid it is to keep your dog within its ideal weight (male: 30-55 pounds, female: 28-48 pounds) because overweight is a risk factor that can trigger this problem or worsen it in case it is already present.

What is the main duty of Salukis during their early times?

According to history, nomadic tribes used them for hunting thanks to their exceptional speed, endurance, and drive. They were exceptional hunters of gazelle, foxes, jackals, and hares. Furthermore, thanks to their superior strength, they were used to hunt quarry on different types of terrains including rocky mountains and deep sand.

They have been resilient since their early times, and therefore, they have been and still are one of the top hunting dog breeds in the world.

Are they good family pet?

They are ideal family pets because they are silent, they get along well with other dogs, they are obedient and they are exceptionally gentle with children. Therefore, you can integrate a Saluki pup into your family without issues. Also, take note that they tend to be aloof and shy with strangers. No aggressive at all, even though they are fiery hunters.

However, they require plenty of exercising especially the chance to run very hard every day. Otherwise, they can develop behavioral changes. If you want to maintain their good temper and excellent personality, then take care of this.

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