The Saluki is a unique dog within the animal kingdom. He is the world’s fastest long distance predatory land animal, built for speed combined with unparalleled powers of endurance. Cheetahs, whippets and track greyhounds excel over Salukis as sprinters, however, at distances much beyond 1000m the Saluki is in a class of its own. Salukis are also quick sprinters, catching rabbit, hare and fox but their forte is as an endurance galloper able to exhaust, run down and capture gazelle. A well-constructed Saluki can gallop for long distances of 10 to 15 miles at constant speeds of 35 to 38mph for 20 minutes or more and then move up a gear to about 40mph when advancing on their prey – a feat which no other predatory land animal, be it wolf, lion, hyaena or otherwise, is capable of. It is not a large Whippet or a small Greyhound with feathers. They are unique in the entire canine and animal world in this respect and therefore are as distinct as a zebra is from a horse. Our aim is to maintain their original form and correct conformation that gives them their unique ability. It is imperative not to lose it or change it for the sake of the show ring or any other purpose. It is not too extreme to say that to change its conformation is tantamount to making it go extinct. As a breeder or judge it is your duty of care to select for functional attributes and not for fashion.
Understanding the Saluki
DNA evidence shows the Saluki to be a direct descendent of the Asian Grey Wolf which evolved over 15,000 years ago. They are a product of natural selection for survival of the fittest; a supreme running and hunting athlete that evolved for speed, stamina and prolific hunting skills combined with several thousands of years of human selection for these attributes. He is the canine world’s long distance marathon runner. Just as in human athletes, he requires a certain physique in order to fulfil this function. The mechanics of body movement (kinesiology) underlies the dynamic running ability of this hound. When all parts are strong, well-made and fit together smoothly, the body works as an harmonious, well-oiled machine and allows the hound to move with maximum efficiency costing him the least amount of energy. When some parts are out of alignment, are weak or exaggerated, while the dog can still run, it costs him more energy for every step he takes and therefore he is less efficient and has less endurance. Every last detail of his structure and how it all fits together is of importance for the transmission and economic distribution of power which creates speed and endurance at the gallop. In an endurance galloper meant to bring home your dinner, conformation and his desire to hunt takes precedence over every other consideration otherwise you don’t eat.
With the Saluki you MUST accept a very simple fact, for well over 10,000 years the Saluki existed as a hunting dog, they are slow to mature, for only the last 100 years have they been seen in the West, and for around 60 of those years, they have been in the ” pet trade ” they are unique, very special animals, they aren’t ” normal dogs ” they’re Saluki, they grow like Saluki, act like Saluki, we humans lucky enough to be their companion have to accept them for what they are… Saluki…
Author George Stupple