But Isn’t Something Missing from BY BRIAN PATRICK DUGGAN, M.A. THE SALUKI STANDARD?
I t is useful to keep in mind that the 1927 Saluki standard was cop- ied verbatim from the 1923 British standard (which has since been altered many times). Preserved unchanged since its adoption nine- ty-four years ago, I’ve heard it discussed and analyzed by breeders, exhibitors, judges, fanciers, and novices. From these conversations, there are several points about the standard that are worth a closer look. Underline —There is no description of the underline even though the standard has the chest as, “Deep and moderately narrow.” We know from observing Salukis that there is a swooping rise from the point of the chest to the belly, and so the general understanding is that the underline is a curve that defines a deep chest and a comparatively narrow waist. Extreme underlines would be a straight diagonal from chest to belly or a flat line somewhat parallel to the ground. Parallel Planes —This is the concept that the lines of the muzzle and skull should be horizontal and parallel to each other—and broken only by the “stop not pronounced.” The solitary phrase in the standard pertaining to this geometry has the skull as “moderately wide between the ears, not domed ” (emphasis mine). So, as long as the skull is not bulging upwards and brachycephalic, the planes of the foreface and skull don’t have to be parallel. The muzzle itself is not mentioned, but either a “dished” or “Roman nose” would be considered undesirable. Gait —While not mentioned, the breed standard’s authors (who had experience hunting with Salukis in the desert) did give us clues about movement. Look closely at what it says under General Appearance: “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.” The key words grace, symmetry, speed, endurance, strength, and activ- ity must be our guides. If these are essential, then the Saluki gait should reflect these characteristics—or at least the ability to use them as needed. We look at muscle condition and fitness as external indicators of poten- tial speed and strength. When Salukis are trotted around the ring, we expect to see an athlete’s movement—balanced, agile, easy, and efficient, giving the impression that the hound’s inner resources are ready to go to work. An efficient gait is gracefully symmetric with no wasted move- ment from paddling, hackneying, mincing, weaving, or crossing. It should propel the Saluki forward, effortlessly.
Brian Patrick Duggan is the author of Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West, and General Custer, Libbie Custer and their Dogs: A Passion for Hounds from the Civil War to Little Bighorn, as well as numerous articles about dogs in history. He is an AKC judge and the editor for McFarland Publishers’ Dogs in Our World series. www.brianpatrickduggan.net
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2021 | 213
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