EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SALUKIS BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK
by CAROLINE COILE
WHY DON’T THEY ALL LOOK MORE ALIKE? B tion as the top criterion. In some areas that function was bringing down hare, desert fox and tiny gazelle; in others, larger animals, including wild ass. In some areas it was rocky, in others, vast expanses of open desert. The two most influential Saluki advocates in England had dogs that were very different. The first strain, Amherstia, were from Egypt and were smaller, lighter boned, lon- ger legged with less feathering. Then came General Lance, whose Sarona Salukis were from colder areas of Syria, Iraq and Iran. They were stockier, hair- ier, and heavier boned. When it came time to draw up a standard, the com- promise was to make it vague enough so both Amherstia and Sarona dogs were included. Saluki breeders prize the variety of styles as being a trait of the breed. From a judging perspective, that means your winners don’t have to look alike. There can be good dogs from a variety of dis- parate styles. The challenge of judging Salukis is both allowing variety while still recognizing when something is too far afield. Always keep in mind the General Appearance part of the Stan- dard: “The whole appearance of this breed should give an impression of grace and symmetry and of great speed and endurance coupled with strength and activity to enable it to kill gazelle or other quarry over deep sand or rocky mountains...” WHY IS THE STANDARD SO VAGUE? See above. It’s true, several things could be clarified. But at this point the Saluki standard is one of the oldest unchanged AKC standards, still in its original 1929 form. Saluki exhibitors are not only proud of that fact, but also ecause Salukis are more of a land race breed, created over the entire region of the Middle East with func-
fear that once opened, the line between clarifying and modifying might get blurred. Besides, once you read it, what more do you need? Here’s what it says about the Saluki physique and running gear: “Neck: Long, supple, well-muscled. Chest: Deep, moderately narrow. Forequarters: Shoulders sloping and set well back, well muscled without being coarse. Forelegs: Straight and long from the elbow to the knee. Hindquarters: Strong, hipbones set well apart and stifle moderately bent, hocks low to the ground, showing gal- loping and jumping power. Loin and Back: Back fairly broad, muscles slightly arched over loin. Feet: Of moderate length, toes long and well arched, not splayed out, but at the same time not cat-footed; the whole being strong and supple... Tail: Long, set on low and carried naturally in a curve...” Add some head points: “The expres- sion should be dignified and gentle with deep, faithful, far-seeing eyes. Head: Long and narrow, skull moder- ately wide between the ears, not domed, stop not pronounced, the whole show- ing great quality. Nose: Black or liver. Ears: Long and covered with long silky hair hanging close to the skull and mobile. Eyes: Dark to hazel and bright; large and oval, but not prominent. Teeth: Strong and level.” Some questions NOT addressed in the standard: What is proper body propor- tion? As a sighthound, this should be a long-legged breed. Short-legged dogs don’t run fast. It can be long-legged and long-bodied, or long-legged and short- bodied—just not short-legged! This means there should be plenty of “air” beneath the dog. Head planes? Most breeders agree the planes should be nearly parallel—
no down-faces, extreme Roman noses or triangular shaped profiles. Ear set? Not in the standard, but 99% of breeders want it high. Tail carriage? Tail SET should be low. Lots of disagreement about car- riage—generally, if it’s carried high, it should not be in a tight curl and it should be because the dog is happy. Angulation? Moderate means nei- ther S-shaped nor straight. Bone? Strong enough to bring down a gazelle, light enough to be carried on the back of a horse, and not a Clydesdale. Movement? Coming and going as in other long-legged breeds: sound and converging. From the side, lots of dis- agreement over how much reach and drive is good, but all agree it should be light and slightly lifting in the front. What about size? The height for males is from 23" to 28", and “bitches may be considerably smaller.” Here is a quick cheat: You will never, ever see an undersized Saluki in the ring. Most male specials are around 27" or 28"; most bitches from 24" to 26". HOW IMPORTANT IS FEATHERING? From the AKC Standard, the Coat is: • “Smooth and of a soft silky texture. • Slight feather on the legs. • Feather at the back of the thighs. • Sometimes with slight woolly feather on the thigh and shoulder. • Ears: covered with long silky hair... • Feet: ...well feathered between toes. • Tail: ...well feathered on the under- side with long silky hair, not bushy. • The smooth Variety: In this variety the points should be the same with the exception of the coat, which has no feathering.” Smooth versus feathered is deter- mined by one gene; feathered is the recessive trait. Smooths have totally shorthaired coats, with at most a bit of a stiff brush to the tail. Feathereds have a silkier texture because their body hair is generally longer and softer.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2015 • 267
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