Saluki Breed Magazine - Showsight

Saluki Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Saluki Head: Long and narrow, skull moderately wide between the ears, not domed, stop not pronounced, the whole showing 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. Neck: Long, supple and well muscled. Chest: Deep and 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 galloping 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 and well feathered between the toes. Tail : Long, set on low and carried naturally in a curve, well feathered on the underside with long silky hair, not bushy. Coat : Smooth and of a soft silky texture, slight feather on the legs, feather at the back of the thighs and sometimes with slight woolly feather on the thigh and shoulder. Colors: White, cream, fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, tricolor (white, black and tan) and black and tan. 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 expression should be dignified and gentle with deep, faithful, far-seeing eyes. Dogs should average in height from 23 to 28 inches and bitches may be considerably smaller, this being very typical of the breed. The Smooth Variety: In this variety the points should be the same with the exception of the coat, which has no feathering.

As submitted by the Saluki Club of America 1927.


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.



colors we see today—were not known and therefore not listed at that time. There are two things to keep firmly in mind: The stan- dard’s authors used specific language to encompass the spectrum of all Saluki colors known at the time; and no color or markings are disqualified. What does “ Grizzle & Tan ” mean and why weren’t variations like “silver grizzle” included? Well, in the early 20th century, dic- tionaries tell us that “grizzle” meant hair or fur that was gray—as in a grizzled beard. The phrase “Grizzle & Tan” was meant to describe the pattern colors we now call “grizzle” and this term didn’t start being used as the pattern’s description until the mid- 1930s, when descriptions like “rufus grizzle,” “deer grizzle,” and “silver grizzle” began to appear. Why is “parti-color” not there? This phrase describes colored spots or patches on white, but in the early 1920s, “parti-color” was only occasionally used in breed standards. Significantly, the Saluki standard’s authors chose “Tricolor (White, Black, & Tan)” as they believed that this embraced any pattern of the three colors, and included in this was parti, tri, and even “Black & Tan”—which may have bits of white. Interestingly enough, in the early days, any color or pattern outside the standard could be registered in both Britain and the States. Partis were simply registered as “golden and white” or “white, black, & tan,” and you can also find “red/gold,” “black and pale fawn,” and “white, silver, and fawn markings.” The Saluki standard was carefully crafted for flexibility so as to accommodate a range of correct types. We have only to under- stand both the intentions of the authors and how language has changed over time in order to see that our standard is really far more inclusive—rather than exclusive.

So, even though not described, there are concepts in the stan- dard for evaluating a Saluki’s gait—which should predict hunting ability from the grace and symmetry of their ring movement. Clear- ly, the kind of speed, endurance, and strength needed to catch a live hare or gazelle on varied terrain can’t be demonstrated in a show ring, but neither can prey drive, hunting savvy or the ability to spot game at a distance—the invisible qualities of a good Saluki. Disqualifications —It’s simple. There are none in the stan-

dard—not even for color or markings. WHAT DID THEY MEAN ABOUT…?

Some of the nearly 100-year-old British terms in our standard have slightly different meanings today, and this can be confusing. To grasp the standard’s intent, we look to other documents of the 1920s (dictionaries, other breed standards, and show reports) to see how the words were used. Teeth are described with only two adjectives: “strong” and “lev- el.” Clearly, strength is necessary in a breed whose standard calls for the ability “to kill gazelle or other quarry.” It’s pretty straight forward, but what about level? We find the answer in a contempo- rary British dictionary: “ Level = adjective – horizontal: even, smooth; even with anything else: in the same line or plane: equal in position or dignity. ” In standards of the 1920s, bites (under, over, scissors, and pincer) were described separately from the quality of being level (not crooked). The word “level” described the relationship of the indi- vidual teeth to each other. The scissors bite of the Saluki is not only perfectly fine, but precisely what you’d want in a hunting hound. Colors named in the standard are: White, Cream, Fawn, Golden, Red, Grizzle & Tan, Tricolor (White, Black, & Tan), and Black & Tan. In 1923, chocolates, red and white partis—and other



SALUKI STANDARD: WHY IS IT BRIEF, WHAT DOES IT TELL US, AND HOW DO WE SEE ITS LANGUAGE REFLECTED IN PHOTOGRAPHS? W hy is it brief? It is brief because, in the 1920s, there were multiple types of Salukis being imported from a wide region of the world, from North Africa to the Middle East and surround- BY DIANE DIVIN

ing countries—a huge geographic area. In order to ensure that the 1923 British breed standard encompassed the various regional types of Salukis without competing minutia, its description cov- ered all the types of Salukis at that time, and so it was brief. The American Saluki standard duplicated this in 1927. Does this mean every Saluki you see today is correct, just a different type? No, of course not, but it does mean that it is impor- tant to educate ourselves if we want to understand what is cor- rect and what is not. The Saluki standard is the oldest unchanged Sighthound standard in America and the oldest unchanged Saluki standard in the English language. The Saluki, feathered or smooth, needs to remain in its original forms, which means it needs to remain an athletic dog that is a successful hunter—especially known for its long-distance hunt- ing capabilities at high speeds. Their origins, in hot to temperate climates and from sand to rocky hills and mountains, meant they had to be quite versatile—and the dogs that were the most success- ful hunters in each of these types of regions were the ones selected for breeding. If a hound could not contribute to the cooking pot, it was not part of the breed’s future. This basic wisdom resulted in a variety of regional types, but there is some definite consistency among these in structure. Let’s look at the picture described in words below as well as the photographs included here. What does the Saluki standard tell us? The word you find the most in the standard is “moderate.” Being a judge myself, I have discovered that different breeds use the word moderate to mean slightly different things, so we have to get past that conun- drum and see what the word means in Salukis. Usually, flashy dogs—those that immediately grab your eye in the ring—are not the moderate ones. Extreme specimens may have sweeping rear ends or a majestic and unnatural periscope of an upright head car- riage or Tremendous Reach And Drive (TRAD) or some other exaggeration. The next time you are watching Salukis, try focus- ing on those dogs that are moderate, balanced, without exaggera- tions—and have easy, light movement at a trotting pace.





There are additional descriptions in the standard that can be dif- ficult to interpret if you have no references as to how these words are used in relation to Salukis. Photographs can assist by giving us an illustration of that language. This helps us to become familiar with the types of Salukis that were originally imported and bred—and their counterparts in more recent times. To demonstrate this, here are photos of Salukis from the first half of the 1900’s. There were different types in the original imports from the Middle East just as there are in the more recent photos, but let’s look for what they all have in common. For the more recent dogs (Salukis of the past 50 years) I’ve chosen Salukis that have either won frequently under well-respected Saluki breeder-judges or have been successful at open field coursing, or both. What do all their structures tell us? Square or just off-square, a tiny bit taller than long or a tiny bit longer than tall. Hip bones and scapulas are approximately the same dis- tance from the ground to reflect a balance front to rear. The “shoul- ders sloping and set well back, well muscled without being course” means the whole front assembly is set well back onto the body and the scapula lies onto the body. This, combined with a correct hip and rear structure, sets up a good topline. We do not want to see a

noticeably steep “ski slope” coming off the neck, which often means the scapula is not well laid back, the front assembly is too far for- ward, there’s a roached or flat back or, worse, a falling-off topline. Width to the first and second thighs showing good muscling is important, as are “…muscles slightly arched over loin.” What drives this hunting machine is power, and this takes muscles! A “long, supple and well-muscled” neck that is wider at the base is able to grab and carry prey on the run. Moderate angles in the front and rear legs reflect the words, “Hindquarters—Strong, hipbones set well apart and stifle moderately bent…” And then you look for the balance in front by the return of the upper arm. Feet are described as, “Of moderate length, toes long and well arched, not splayed out, but at the same time not cat-footed; the whole being strong and sup- ple…” This equates to a more hare-like foot with well arched toes that can take miles of punishment, which means the pads of the feet must be thick. Flat or splayed feet or thin pads cannot do this. An S-curve underline underneath a chest that is “deep and moderately narrow,” combined with a flexible spine, assists with the double sus- pension gallop for hunting prey. Although a group of twelve photos cannot show you every correct structure, it can give your eye a good



idea of how similar these types actually are (both in historical and in more recent times) and, thus, what to look for in the ring. For those of us who hunted live game for many years with our Salukis, watching great athletes perform from a hundred different bloodlines is an education. It gives one insight into why many Salu- kis perform exceptionally well at this type of hunting and some do not. Though this breed has been called “elegant,” this term can also be associated with the excessively thin or fragile—and these words absolutely do not describe a correct Saluki. No Saluki (or any Sight- hound) that hunts successfully for most of its life is fragile. Salukis need to be a lean and muscular, hunting at high speeds over difficult terrain for very long distances, type of dog. The standard specifical- ly calls this the “…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.” Combining a physique equipped to do its job for a lifetime, with a natural instinct and great desire, you have the Saluki breed—suc- cessful for well over 5,000 years! This is the Saluki to preserve.

Diane Divin is currently Vice President of the Saluki Club of America, an AKC judge, an international business consultant, and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Dallas in their global supply chain master’s program. Diane has authored articles in the American Saluki Association newsletter, The Classic Saluki, Saluki International, and other canine publications.



T he AKC Standard for the Saluki is an excel- lent breed Standard for exhibitors, breeders and judges. Th is state- ment though is predi- cated on the person utilizing the Stan- dard has knowledge of the basic original purpose of the breed. Th e Saluki Club of America (SCOA) was formed in July 1927. Th e Saluki was o ffi cially recognized by AKC in Novem-

By Edward M. Gilbert Jr. & Patricia H. Gilbert

ber 1927. Th e Saluki Standard has not changed since the SCOA introduced the Standard. With a stable Standard the breed has resisted the changes of fads and fashions—the breed has stood the test of time. The essence of the breed is found in the General Appearance paragraph which states: “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 expression should be dignified and gentle with deep, faith- ful, far-seeing eyes. Dogs should aver- age in height from 23 to 28 inches and bitches may be considerably smaller, this being very typical of the breed.” There are many styles in the Saluki and they all have breed type. Type is defined by the Standard. Styles are determined on where the breeding

“With a stable Standard the breed has resisted

the changes of fads and fashions—


Saluki pastel by Dan Sayers. t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& . ": 

“The Saluki has two varieties, Feathered and Smooth—but in the conformation ring they are not separated by variety— AND ARE TO BE JUDGED ON AN EQUAL BASIS.”

stock came from and the individual breeder’s interpretation of the Stan- dard. As long as the style is within the confines of the Standard it has breed type. Th e Saluki has two varieties, Feath- ered and Smooth, but in the confor- mation ring they are not separated by variety and are to be judged on an equal basis. In the Smooth variety the points should be the same with the exception of the coat, which has no feathering. At the present time the writers consider that the Smooth Variety is more than com- petitive with the Feathered Variety— because they look di ff erent is no reason to overlook them. Th e height size variation, dogs 23 to 28 inches and bitches may be consider- ably smaller, this size variation is based on where the particular style of Saluki originated. We have seen mature bitch- es—never in the show ring—as small as 19 inches at the shoulder. Th e 5 inch size variation in males is the largest size variation of any Hound breed. Any dog over 28 inches is no longer a Saluki. Th e Saluki is a sighthound and chases and kills the game it pursues. Th e range of the Saluki was from the southern tip of Arabian Peninsula north to Syria, and east to Iraq, Iran, northern India, northern Pakistan, southern Afghani- stan, into China. Th ey were mainly kept by the nomadic tribes of Asia and the Bedouins in the Arabian Peninsula. In southern Arabia the gazelle is 20 inches at the shoulder. Th e environment is dry, hot and little water and food. As a result,

the tribesman, horses, game and dogs are small. In Northern Iraq much of the game is quite large as there is plenty of vegetation, water and large game and dogs. Th e environment in which the Saluki existed, and the game it hunted determined the conformation and size of the Saluki, or as previously stated its style. Some other style di ff erences are due to the feathering. Th e Standard states the ears are covered with long silky hair. In some styles the feathering is long and covers the entire ear yet the feathering is only on the top portion of ear and the bottom half of the ear which is covered by feathering has real short hair. Th is is acceptable, just as the ear that is fully coated with long feathering is accept- able. Di ff erent lengths of ear feathering exist, varying from just covering the ear to feathering extending four to five inches past the end of the ear leather. Th e amount of feathering is unimportant. The Standard is silent on ear set. Ear set can vary from level with to skull down to even with eye. What is important is that the ear is mobile— meaning the relatively low set ear can move up to skull level and the rela- tively high set ear can move toward the center of the skull. Prominent eyes detract from the expression, while deep, faithful, far-seeing eyes are large and oval provid- ing the proper Saluki expression. Eye color is from dark to hazel which means there can be a very dark eye, a self-col- ored eye (matching the coat color) or a

lighter bird of prey eye on a dark or light colored dog. All are correct. Th e Standard calls for a head long and narrow with the skull moderately wide between the ears. Th e skull definition places a limit of the term “narrow.” Th e Saluki needs to kill the game, too narrow a head and it will not be able to fulfill the basic original purpose of the breed to kill gazelle or other quarry. When the head is too wide the dog loses the impres- sion of grace and great quality, but more importantly it will aid in reducing its speed and endurance. Th e dog must be light on his feet and appear agile. Th ey must also be in good running condition- ing with supple muscles and not carry- ing too much weight. Yet, a too thin dog with every vertebrae and rib showing is not correct either. We like to see the last two or three ribs (11th thru 13th) and the rest covered. Th e Standard calls for teeth strong and level. In the 1800s and early 1900s, level bite meant that the incisors are aligned in a level plane, not dropped or misaligned; it was not meant to mean that the upper and lower incisors met edge to edge. As the Saluki Standard was drawn up in the early 1900s level means aligned in a level plane. Th e term strong teeth, based on the basic original func- tion of the breed to kill its quarry, indi- cates the entire mouth is full and com- plete and properly aligned with a strong lower jaw. Based on function a scissor or pinscher bite is acceptable. A long, supple and well-muscled neck and deep and moderately narrow

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chest aids the double suspension gallop enabling the great speed of the Saluki when engaged in pursuing its quarry. Th e deep chest provides for plenty of heart and lung room, providing endurance. Th e moderately narrow chest permits the shoulder and upper arm to glide along the sides without interference from the chest. Th is aids both the trot and the double suspension gallop. Th e Saluki is a moderately angulated dog, shoulders sloping and stifle moder- ately bent, as its functioning gait is the double suspension gallop. In the field it goes from a walk to a reconnaissance gait, into the double suspension gallop. Th e Saluki requires supple, well-mus- cled forequarters and hindquarters cou- pled with a broad back, deep chest and extremely strong loin. Th e topline is level with a slight arch over the loin that pro- vides the power pack during the double suspension gallop. Th e well-developed supple first and second thigh provides the galloping and jumping power during the double suspension gallop. Th e Saluki requires a good tuck-up which is implied in the General Appear- ance paragraph—grace and symmetry and of great speed. Basically no tuck- up—no speed. Looking from the front and the side the forelegs are straight and long from elbow to knee. Th e Standard does not mention the front pastern. Due to the many styles of Salukis and the terrain they hunted over the front pasterns vary from upright to a maximum slope of 10 degrees. Th e feet of all styles are covered by the Standard: 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 and well feath- ered between the toes. Saluki lore states that well feathered between the toes protected the feet from the hot burning sand. Okay, then explain the Smooth Saluki’s feet with no feather- ing between the toes. Th e tail is well covered for all styles in the Standard: Long, set on low and car- ried naturally in a curve, well feathered on the underside with long silky hair, not

bushy. Some Smooths have a slight brush on the underside of the tail. Th e coat also is well covered in the Standard for all styles: Smooth and of a soft silky texture, slight feather on the legs, feather at the back of the thighs and sometimes with slight woolly feather on the thigh and shoulder. When a Saluki is shown if it has the slight woolly feather on the thigh and shoulder in most cases it might be removed prior to the dog entering the show ring. A shine or bloom to the coat is also desired and indicates good health and care. Th e Saluki is not a breed of fad or fashion; they have lived for centuries—as shown in ancient art, and still are inde- pendent hunters with speed and endur- ance coupled with strength and activity to enable it to kill gazelle or other quarry over deep sand or rocky mountains. Judging Salukis consists of a combi- nation of art and science that takes into account the basic original purpose of the breed and is based on the total impres- sion of grace and symmetry of the entire specimen. Stand back and decide if the dog(s) in front of you give all the neces- sary description to catch your eye both standing and on the move. As the old German saying goes, “Can’t see the for- est for the trees.” Please find the forest— the graceful Saluki of ages old. BIO Patricia H. Gilbert t "NFSJDBO,FOOFM$MVC ",$  $BOBEJBO,FOOFM$MVC $,$  1SPGFTTJPOBM)BOEMFS t 1SPGFTTJPOBM%PH(SPPNFS  .BTUFS(SPPNFS5JUMF ZFBST  t $,$-JGF.FNCFS$,$+VEHF t ",$+VEHF t ",$$BOJOF)FBMUI'PVOEBUJPO 1SFTJEFOUT$PVODJM t ",$)VNBOF'VOE 'PVOEJOH .FNCFS %PH8SJUFST"TTPDJBUJPOPG "NFSJDB %8"" "XBSE8JOOJOH 8SJUFS%PH4FNJOBS1SFTFOUFS t $P"VUIPSi,&ODZMPQFEJBPG 5FSNJOPMHZw t +VEHFEBOE1SFTFOUFE4FNJOBST




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C an you select the fastest Olympic athlete in the 3,000-Meter Steeplechase without seeing them run? Of course not, but you might be able to pre- dict the winner using certain physical criteria. When we evaluate Salukis in the ring, we try to deter- mine which dogs meet the Breed Standard most closely for the best ones that day. By logical extension, in meet- ing the Standard, that Saluki should be able to run and hunt successfully. From the AKC Saluki Breed Standard (with empha- sis added): “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.” As the Saluki is intrinsically a hunter, we believe the Stan- dard helps us choose the best without them actually chasing a hare or gazelle. To fully comprehend the concept of move- ment in the AKC Saluki Standard, it’s important to know something about the creation of its British predecessor—the BY BRIAN PATRICK DUGGAN, M.A.

©Evergreen Films, Inc.

first Saluki Standard in Western countries. THE 1923 & 1927 SALUKI STANDARDS


In the 1920s, other sighthound Standards in Britain didn’t mention movement at all—only giving a physical description of the dog standing. It’s likely this seeming “omission” was because the athleticism of a galloping hunter was self-evident from the breeds’ names: Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound); the well-known Greyhound; Irish Wolfhound; Scottish Deerhound; and Saluki or Gazelle Hound (perhaps also a factor was that indoor show rings of the day weren’t large enough to properly gait a sight- hound). The Saluki Standards of 1923 and 1927 both say in their ultimate paragraphs: “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.” So, we are looking for bone and muscle structure capable of hunting. Fluidity, efficient speed, and nimbleness (“nimble” being one of the British meanings for “active”). Even without text specifically describing gait, there is the clear implication in that last para- graph that we are to be evaluating athletic (hunting) potential.

Salukis were a rare breed in England until officers returned home from WWI service in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Sinai, and Syria. Owners of Salukis were just building up momentum to start a club when the discovery of Tut- ankhamun’s unopened tomb in late 1922 sparked the frenzy known as “Egyptomania.” This hastened the Kennel Club’s recognition of the Saluki or Gazelle Hound (as they were then called) in July 1923. The breed’s Standard was authored by people who’d hunted with Salukis in the Middle East, and coursed hares in England, as well as the most prominent Saluki scholar. The Standard was deliberately written broadly enough to include the range of body types from their regions of origin—an area of approximately four million square miles and larger than the continental United States. That 1923 Standard was adopted verbatim by the fledgling Saluki Club of America in 1927. * Our AKC Saluki Standard remains the oldest unchanged Standard in the Hound Group. *There was an entirely insignificant transposition of one word.



And Salukis didn’t just hunt gazelle (which have different sizes). The “other quarry” includ- ed hare, wild ass or onager, Arabian fox and wolf, golden jackal, and even the houbara (a low- flying bustard). Saluki hunting style depends entirely on the quarry; long, straight runs to exhaust gazelle and onager; rapid turns and navigation through brush for hare; and nasty, running fights with jackals and wolves. A Saluki (or indeed, any sighthound) is bred to have the trifecta of speed, strength, and agility for suc- cessfully pursuing and catching running game. To do this, its movement must be efficient with no wasted effort. GAIT MAY PREDICT GALLOP Without being able to actually take Salukis out to the open field to see which one excels, the grace and symmetry seen in a ring stack and gait may be our only predictors of that ability to course and catch game on difficult ground.

A stacked Saluki displays the dog’s symmetry, balance, proportion, topline, front and rear angulation, feet, hocks, and depth and breadth of chest. All of these are indi- cators of the ability to move soundly at speed. Conditions such as cow or sickle hocks, bowlegs, toe-in or “East-West” feet, sloping or dipping topline, extreme angulation, etc., may play a part in un-sound movement (although we must allow for a good dog misbehaving or the handler’s poor stacking). The ring trot further assesses the Saluki’s “… grace and symmetry… speed and endurance… strength and activity… to kill gazelle or other quarry over deep sand or rocky mountains.” All the dog’s motion should be directed forward in single-tracking, with no deviations of crabbing, prancing, flipping, paddling, or moving too close in the rear. Saluki movement is not pounding or the Tremendous Reach And Drive (TRAD) desired in other breeds. If we see ideal movement in the ring, this is a sign of breed type and a potential predictor of the ability to efficiently pursue game. But Saluki hunting is not just running fast. It is turns, leaps, and reaching their necks over to bite quarry—and all this over uneven terrain. The ring trot, no matter how excellent indoors or on grass, cannot predict the mental and physical ability needed to navigate obstacles at speed. As an aside, the hunting Saluki only spends a comparatively small percentage of his/her day at a full gallop. In their centuries-old, desert lifestyle, when outside of camp, they trot alongside camels and horses for hours at a time. This is not the ring gait, but rather, a head-down, energy-saving trot along the easiest part of the track. THE FINISH LINE Whether we look at Olympic runners or Salukis, it is impossible to select the best without the test of speed. But since we can’t lure course or hunt in the ring, the conformation and movement we observe is an important indicator of a good Saluki. Grace, symmetry, speed, endurance, strength, and nimbleness. left: As illustrated here and in the headline photo, the double-suspension gallop is hunting speed for the Saluki. © Evergreen Films, Inc ; right : Athletic Salukis should be able to expeditiously navigate obstacles at speed. Efficient movement is grace and symmetry. photo by Brian Patrick Duggan

The Saluki side gait is effortless, lilting, and sound— ready to move into ‘high gear’ if needed. photo courtesy of Diane Divin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Brian Patrick Duggan is an AKC judge, canine historian, and the award-winning author of Saluki: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West . He and his wife, Wendy, have owned, bred, shown, and coursed Salukis for over forty years. Brian is also the editor for McFarland Publishers’ Dogs in Our World series. His new book, Horror Dogs: Man’s Best Friend as Movie Monster , is due out in 2023.

This smooth Saluki has moved from walk to trot, and her legs are now converging into single-tracking—the efficient gait that leads to galloping. photo by Brian Patrick Duggan

photo courtesy Cathy Chapman


Saluki 101

“ I could never own a dog I had to starve all the time.” So said the lady with a Lab ringside. But I was ready. I whipped out my bait—not just your ho-hum liver, but a doggie-heaven vending machine assortment of meats and sweets—and offered them to my Saluki, who of course, whipped her head away in dis- dain as I barely saved my fingers from her lunging Lab. I explained most Salu- ki owners exchange recipes for Saluki- enticing entrees to which their dogs retch and threaten to be on slow-motion commercials for the HSUS. Most Salu- kis are thin because that's how they naturally are.

By Caroline Coile

Running Runners are lean—and Salukis are runners. Not as fast as a Greyhound, nor as quick as a Whippet, the Saluki will leave the others behind after a quarter mile and—if in good running condition—will still be running hard at a mile. Even more important, at the end of the course they'll return in good shape: no broken toes, torn ligaments or blown pads. Th ey specialize in rough terrain, their oversize feet acting like o ff -road tires. Traditionally, Salukis coursed gazelle, rabbits and other swift quarry both for sport and for the pot. Muslim reli- gion considers dogs unclean, but makes an exception for the Saluki. Bedouin nomads invite the Saluki into their tent and treat them as prized possessions.

Middle Eastern Salukis are still used for coursing, but now they're usually pre- vented from killing the gazelle. (Type in “Saluki” and “gazelle” on to see plenty of courses). Salukis in the western United States course jackrabbits. Hunters walk vast fields until a jackrabbit bolts, then three Salukis are slipped once the jack has a head start. More often than not, the jack loses the dogs under a fence or in the dust after a long run. Salukis and non- AKC greyhounds dominate the sport. With little separation of show and field Saluki lines, BIS Salukis have earned the open field coursing titles. Elsewhere, Salukis chase a lure to test their running ability, with both the orig- inal clure coursing body, the American

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Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) and the AKC awarding titles (ASFA FCh titles are listed as a su ffi x; AKC FC titles as a prefix). Salukis are one of the more successful lure coursing breeds. Salukis also compete in straight and oval racing. At Home Don’t fantasize that you can train your Saluki to ignore fleeing wildlife. Mine have caught deer, feral goat and raccoon. But yes, they can live safely with a cat or small dog (just don’t let it out with a pack of Salukis and encourage it to run!). Th ey do not confuse small dogs at shows with prey; they are hunters, not fighters. Th ey get along well with other dogs, and usually all live loose together in multi- Saluki households. Can you let a Saluki o ff lead? Yes, if he’s used to being o ff lead and if there’s no wildlife to chase or roads nearby, and you’re in no big hurry to get him back.

Some people compare them to cats, but my cats actually came when called. Salukis are calm and quiet housedogs, sleeping much of the day. Groups enjoy a couple of howl-alongs a day. Don’t even try to keep them o ff the softest and high- est surfaces. “ Th e Princess and the Pea” story was surely modeled after a Saluki. Salukis attach deeply to one person or family. Most avoid public displays of a ff ection, but are funny, loving and snuggly in private. Th eir gentle nature makes then outstanding therapy dogs. Health As with other large dogs, heman- giosarcoma and dilated cardiomyopa- thy sometimes occur. Salukis should be prone to bloat, but it's almost unheard of. Eye problems are even rarer (some sources list PRA as present, but that’s based on an erroneous report of a single dog in the 70s).

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According to one source, Salukis have the highest incidence of extreme overbite (“parrot mouth”) of any breed, but it’s still rare. Black hair follicular dysplasia is seen, but rarely. Average lifespan is 12 or 13 years; many live to their mid-teens. In Competition Salukis aren’t hop-to-it obedience dogs, but they’ll be the first in the class to learn the stay. Th e key to success in the obedience ring is to keep it challeng- ing, keep it fast, keep it fun—and don’t practice! Six Salukis have earned the UD title; none has come close to an OTCH! Nor has any Saluki earned a MACH, although several presently compete in Excellent. Th ey’re graceful jumpers, rarely knocking a bar, but tend to get the zoomies. Th eir stride makes tight courses di ffi cult at speed and the contact zones hard to hit as they’re much shorter than a single stride. Th ey enjoy perching atop the A-frame—forever... Most Salukis, including the four Westminster group-winning Salukis (Marjan, Cancer, Fantasia and Treasure) are owner-handled. It’s an easy breed to for beginners to show. You have to run, but you need not bait or heavily groom. Neaten the underline, remove any fuzzy coat, bathe, brush the feathering (keep it untrimmed, even on the feet) and you’re done. Some years ago, the top Junior in the country showed a Saluki. She said she chose the breed because it could be shown

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“So that’s the Saluki: exotic and exasperating, snuggly and snobbish, KNOWN FOR ITS BEAUTY BUT A HUNTER AT HEART.”

di ff erence in body coat often gives the smooth, with its tighter coat, the illusion of being more defined and muscular. But get a feathered Saluki wet, and the di ff er- ence disappears. Feathered Saluki puppies often grow long fuzzy hair all over their body. Th e fuzz gradually disappears with maturity, with the last to go on the chest, thighs, elbows and top of head. Th is is normal and should not be faulted. Spayed and neutered feath- ered Salukis usually re-grow the longer body coat, often leaving only a short saddle. Keep this in mind when judging veteran classes at specialties! Again, it’s normal. Judging When judging the Saluki, you’re usu- ally better o ff not talking. Many Salukis aren’t comfortable with strangers, and few have any desire to be your friend. Talking just makes it worse. And unless you come up with a truly original noise, the same old clucking sound is more likely to piss them o ff than to evoke a curious expres- sion. Don’t demand a Saluki to bait. Sure, baiting makes showing fun but it should never be an essential for Salukis. Don’t expect cookie-cutters! Our stan- dard is broad to include dogs that hunted di ff erent quarry (from rabbits to wild ass) over di ff erent terrain from a wide region of the Middle East. Th e height standard for males is 23 to 28 inches and “bitches may be considerably smaller.” Most males in the ring hover around 27" to 28"; most bitches are around 25". You will never see a Saluki that’s too small. Th ey were supposed to ride to the hunt on the backs of Arabian horses—not Clydesdales! Th e standard mentions a wide range of colors: solids, sable (black-fringed), black & tan and grizzle. Although neither parti-colors nor chocolates are men- tioned, they’re equally accepted. More controversial are the recent brindles, some of which come from Iranian imports, and

others from a purportedly gypsy-bred dog by way of Australia. Some breeder-judg- es will excuse a brindle whereas others will embrace it; in fact, an Australian- bred brindle won the National Specialty two years ago. With one of the oldest unchanged standards in the AKC, there’s little chance the SCOA membership will vote to open it to clarify colors. Clubs & Rescue Th e breed has two national clubs: Th e AKC parent club, the Saluki Club of America (SCOA), which holds the nation- al specialty every year in Kentucky in June; and the open-to-all American Saluki Asso- ciation (ASA), which holds its annual event every year at Lompoc in July. Th e ASA was formed in the 1960s when the SCOA was largely inactive and unreceptive to new members. Th e ASA is still the largest source of Saluki information and activities, but the SCOA’s National has surpassed the ASA’s and it has also become more open to new members (applying is now only slight- ly more intrusive than adopting a child). Th e two clubs once had a slightly adver- sarial relationship, but now work together to create big Saluki weekends. Rescue Salukis are uncommon, but may be located through STOLA (www. Other groups are importing rescues from the Middle East. So that’s the Saluki: exotic and exas- perating, snuggly and snobbish, known for its beauty but a hunter at heart. After 38 years with them I still find something new to ponder every day. I’ve watched in breathless awe as they skimmed over fields, and cursed in unprintable words as they kept on running into the distance. I’ve been filled with excitement watching them run the lure, and filled with dread watch- ing them run a deer. And I’ve considered myself the luckiest masochist around as they steal my bed, snub my meals and ransack my heart.

so many di ff erent ways (handler standing or kneeling, beside or in front, dog free stacked or hand stacked) and had just enough coat to flu ff without constantly brushing. Smooth & Feathered Salukis come in smooth and feathered coats. Th e smooth coat (which results from one dominant gene) is close and short. Some may have a brush (not feathering) on the tail. A sparsely feathered Saluki is not a smooth. Feathereds are longhaired dogs in which the non-feathered areas fail to grow long. Th e body coat is silky soft, with an undercoat. Guard hairs may be several inches long, but lay close to the body. Th is

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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.


grizzles; even if brindle is an ancestral pattern, it is more likely at this point descended from crosses with Grey- hounds exported to the Middle East in the case of the Iranian dogs, and of Greyhound or Afghan Hounds used by “the gypsies” in the UK. The standard says: “Colors: White, cream, fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, tricolor (white, black, and tan) and black and tan.” So, no brindle. But also no parti-color and no chocolate, both of which nobody questions. As a judge, you need to be consistent in how you view this. ARE THEY MIXES? Possibly. Is it too late to do anything now? Definitely. When the parent club overwhelmingly voted to allow Coun- try of Origin (COO) Salukis to enter the AKC gene pool after three generations, with the criteria that somebody said they were Salukis, then it opened the door for new blood, whether pure or not. You can’t just point to the ones of a funny color and say those aren’t pure, but their cream or grizzle littermates are. You can’t try to close the barn door after the fact by getting rid of the only ones to bear a distinguishing pattern. WHAT DO SALUKI BREEDER JUDGES DO WHEN A BRIN- DLE IS IN THEIR RING? I asked this question in a survey sev- eral years ago, and found most who just judged Saluki and maybe a few others considered brindle a non-issue. How- ever, those who judged several groups were more likely to consider it a big issue, and possibly excuse the dog or leave it out of the ribbons. ARE SALUKIS SHY? HOW SHOULD I EXAMINE THEM? They shouldn’t be. But they are allowed to be aloof. You are best off nei- ther trying to baby nor befriend them; just examine them and get it over with. There’s no need for a full body massage or all sorts of measuring; most of what you need to know you can see. Keep a light hand, be aware than many don’t like the initial touching of the head, and allow the dog some room and time to stack if it’s having trouble. Most of all, enjoy yourself. Because Salukis are like a box of chocolates— you never know what you’re going to get!

Feathered Salukis should have feath- ering on ears, tail and between the toes. The length is not critical; only in connection with ears does it specify “long” and then that could just mean longer than the rest of the coat. Some have long feathering on the backs of their legs, some don’t. It makes no dif- ference. Some dogs grow neck ruffs. Some people like them and leave them, some don’t. They really don’t matter, but a short fuzzy one can make the neck look ewed. Some colors are associated with dif- ferent feathering lengths. Creams are known for abundant tail feathers (that can sometimes border on bushy) while black & tans tend to have scraggly tails. While some allowances can be made, if they are too scraggly or too bushy that’s not correct. Black & tans have the most abundant ears as a rule. Creams tend to have a more cottony fluffy texture com- pared to other colors. It’s important to remember that feathered Salukis are genetically long- haired dogs whose hair failed to grow long on most of the body. This means they have a (slight) undercoat and that their outer coat on their body can have guard hairs that are 4 or 5 inches long! They usually lay close so you don’t notice them, but these two factors tend to smooth the body lines and make a feathered Saluki look less ripped than a smooth one, which has genuinely short close hair. Conversely, a skinny smooth can look much rougher. Feathers can cover up bad feet better, but not really anything else. It also means that the feathered coat is under hormonal control, and that immature and spayed/neutered dogs very often have long body hair.

Even intact adults will often have some woolly fuzz on their chest, outer thighs and shoulders. Some people will shave it off, or stone it off, but sometimes they look worse, so especially in puppy and veteran classes (especially ones that allow neutered dogs) just ignore long body coat. In adults, inexperienced exhibitors will often not know to remove the fuzz and it can make fronts look nar- row when it’s between the elbows, or rears bowlegged when on the thighs. WHY ARE THOSE PEOPLE STABBING EACH OTHER? Listen carefully and you’ll probably hear the word “brindle” being shouted- er, discussed. No issue has divided the Saluki word in recent years like those stripes have. Some background: Over the past decade two general lines of imports have introduced brindle to the Ameri- can gene pool. The first line is from Iranian imports by way of Turkey. They have proven to be strong coursing/ lure-coursing competitors but generally don’t fit the image of show ring competi- tors. The second line comes from a litter “bred by gypsies” in the UK, which was then incorporated into one the world’s most successful lines in Australia, and from there to the US, where one even won BOB at the National under a French judge. Several non-brindle descendents of that brindle are now extremely suc- cessful show dogs here. The pro-brindle side says this: Brin- dle has always been in the Saluki; there have even been rare reports of western- bred brindles through the years. The anti-brindle side says this: The few reports of Salukis registered as brindles have all turned out to be mis-named


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