The 9 characteristics that make Saluki dogs special
Quiet and dignified, Saluki dogs are the pets of pharaohs, kings, and sheikhs! These gorgeous hounds are unlike any other dog breed and are akin to a cross between a cheetah and a dog – both in terms of their physicality and their temperament! Do these dogs work well as family pets, however? And, more importantly – are they the right pet for you?
What are the key characteristics that make Saluki dogs special?
Saluki dogs are famous for a lot of things. For one, they are viewed as one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds in the world – many modern scientists believe that the ancient Egyptians and Arabs had domesticated Saluki dogs over tens of thousands of years ago. And, indeed, images of Saluki dogs have been found in Egyptian tombs from 2100 B.C. and Sumerian temples from 7,000 – 6,000 B.C.
Since then, however, Saluki dogs have become famous as the hunting dogs of pharaohs and sheikhs. Salukis can run as fast as forty-five miles per hour (over 70 km/h) and are one of the best sighthound breeds in the world.
Does this make them good for a standard 21st-century family pet, however, or do they need to chase antelopes every day?
The 9 things you should know before getting a Saluki
1. Saluki dogs are intelligent, calm, and mellow
Most intelligent dog breeds are also very playful, curious, and inquisitive. That’s not the case with Salukis, however. These dogs are exceptionally smart and can understand lots of complicated commands, tasks, and concepts but they don’t have the same curiosity as other dog breeds.
This can be both a positive and a negative, depending on what you’re looking for in a dog. If you want a playful pooch that will be your or your kids’ partner in crime, the Saluki is not that type of dog.
However, if you want a dog that you can interact with when needed but that doesn’t need constant interaction or new puzzle toys every other week – a Saluki can be your best bet. What’s more, unlike other highly intelligent dog breeds, the Saluki can be much more easily left alone at home while you’re at work as this breed is less likely to develop separation anxiety or to get bored to the point of depression or developing destructive tendencies.
This doesn’t mean that you can just ignore your Saluki, of course – these dogs still love their humans and need a bit of affection every day. They are just not as needy as other breeds.
2. These are incredibly fast and athletic dogs!
If you want an athlete at home, getting a Saluki is the way to go. Capable of the whopping speed of 45 m/ph (70 km/h), these dogs are the cheetahs of the canine world!
Again, this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this is a very neat feature that few other dogs possess and it makes Saluki dogs one of the best land hunters on the planet.
On the other hand, as a family pet, this means that you’ll need to be able to satisfy the Saluki’s complicated exercise needs.
What are these needs, exactly?
A Saluki can’t just be walked twice per day and chill at home the rest of the time. These dogs need to run and they need to run a lot. This means daily trips to a preferably-fenced dog park as well as lots of playtime in your own well-fenced yard.
3. Salukis tend to be polite with strangers and don’t bark much
As Saluki dogs are neither watch nor guard dogs, they tend to be pretty chill around strangers. Salukis rarely bark and almost never show aggression toward other people. This is fantastic for people who like to have guests over from time to time but there’s one thing you should note – Saluki dogs do need proper socialization during their first year.
This is normal for all dog breeds – most of them tend to get aggressive toward strangers if they’re not properly socialized as pups. Salukis don’t get aggressive but they may get nervous, shy, and even fearful around strangers if they are not socialized well.
4. This breed has a soft, short, and gorgeous coat that doesn’t shed much and easy to take care of
If you want a dog that’s both pretty and doesn’t need to have its hair brushed twice a day, every day, the Saluki is a good choice. They are not hypoallergenic if that’s what you’re looking for, but they will shed very minimally.
And while we’re on the subject of care – Salukis are relatively healthy too! They are prone to some genetic eye conditions and cancer but aside from that, they are one of the healthier dog breeds out there.
5. Saluki dogs are great with kids and with other dogs – their passive and calm nature makes them non confrontational and gentle toward those they love and accept
As a mild-mannered and calm breed, Salukis are actually great with kids and other pets. They are neither territorial nor aggressive and they can get along beautifully with anyone who doesn’t bother them too much or doesn’t trigger their prey drive.
Of course, they need to be properly trained to be around babies, toddlers, and kids, but that’s the case with any dog breed.
1. Saluki dogs are very fragile and need to be taken a good care of
One of the first things to note about Salukis is that their slender and athletic bodies are easy to harm. Salukis have so little body fat that even a light knock on a hard surface can bruise their joints and bones. This means several things:
- Salukis need soft floors and lots of floor cushions and soft dog beds. This doesn’t mean that if you have tiles in your kitchen you can’t own a Saluki – there just need to be enough soft places for the dog to lie in.
- If you have kids and/or have others’ kids over for playdates, you need to make it clear to them they should be careful not to harm your Saluki.
- Your home needs to be spacious enough to minimize the risk of accidental knocks in furniture.
2. The incredible prey drive of this breed makes it unsuitable for life with cats and other small pets
Saluki dogs are hunters, first and foremost. And, while they can make for fantastic family pets, their hunting instincts remain.
What does this mean for you?
Well, Salukis aren’t “big game hunters” so they won’t stalk you or other people. However, their prey drive is almost guaranteed to get triggered by any small animal or other moving objects they see. This means a couple of things:
- Cats and other small non-dog pets are a No-No. Good training can make this possible but it’s still risky. Even small dog breeds can lead to problems if your Saluki isn’t properly socialized and trained.
- Your Saluki should always be on a leash when you’re away from home. As is the case with Greyhounds too, it’s very common for unleashed Salukis to just start chasing after a squirrel, a stray cat, or a car and to get lost or hurt. No matter how well-trained the Saluki is, he will not listen to your commands once he starts chasing something.
Fully-fenced dog parks are the only way to have a Saluki off-leash outside but some would say that even that is risky.
3. This breed needs lots of well-fenced yard space and should always be leashed outdoors
Your own yard should also be fully-fenced for your Saluki to safely spend time there. This means at least 6 feet (2 meters) of fencing as Salukis are pretty good jumpers too. This can sound annoying as well as expensive but it’s a must-have if you want to own a Saluki pet.
4. Saluki dogs are very emotional and are sensitive to any change in their schedule or surroundings
Salukis are calm dogs that need a calm environment. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have guests over or go on a vacation from time to time but it does mean that a Saluki can easily get distraught and depressed if you have to move to a new home or if a family member moves out.
Only get a Saluki if you know you can give him a stable and calm environment to grow and live in. And if you do have to go through a major change, take extra care of your dog’s mental well-being in the meantime.
Who are Saluki dogs “right” for?
Saluki dogs are the excellent pet for people who want a gorgeous, slender, and elegant pet they can both play with and just admire visually. The “right” owner of a Saluki should also know how to take care of such a pet, however. You’d need a large and very well-fenced yard where the Saluki can run and play with, as well as a large dog park nearby. And, if you want to walk your Saluki with no leash, that dog park has to be fully fenced – otherwise, you can forget about taking that leash off when you’re outdoors!
How to prepare for getting a Saluki?
Preparing for a Saluki is easy – all you need to do is fence your yard with at least a 6 feet (2 meters) fence and get plenty of dog beds and soft cushion for your gentle Saluki to rest in. Investing in a really good dog leash is also advisable.
The rest is just a matter of learning how to properly train and take care of a Saluki dog. This breed is fairly easy to train once you’ve gone through the basic obedience training and socialization steps in the pup’s first few months.