Lots of breeds claim to have an ancient heritage, but the Saluki’s has been proven through DNA evidence. He is one of 14 breeds to show the fewest genetic differences from wolves. The Saluki is aloof and elegant, but he is a hunter at heart. He was bred to course hare and gazelle over desert terrain and his Bedouin companions considered him noble, above other dogs. Today, this medium-size sighthound, weighing 35 to 65 pounds, still has a strong instinct to run and chase. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering acquiring a Saluki.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

Don't purchase a Saluki if you want a dog who will constantly express his affection for you. That's not the Saluki's style. He may love you, but he will assume that you know it and don't need reminders.

Not surprisingly, the Saluki needs daily exercise. A long walk on leash might do once in a while, but what he really needs is the opportunity to run flat out in a large, safely enclosed space. He's a natural at lure coursing, so consider taking up that sport as a means of channeling his athletic ability and speed. The Saluki can also be found competing in agility, obedience and rally, and some are therapy dogs.

When his exercise needs are met, the Saluki is a calm, quiet companion who likes to have access to soft bedding or furniture to cushion his bony body. The Saluki is gentle with children, but he's not really a "playmate" kind of dog.

The Saluki is a typical sighthound in that he thinks for himself, steals food whenever and wherever it's available, chases and kills cats, squirrels, goats and other animals at every opportunity and can jump anything less than a six-foot fence. And forget about an underground electronic fence that gives a shock when the dog crosses it. He'll blow right through that without a second thought.

Don't forget that the Saluki's height of 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder, combined with the insatiable appetite of the hound, makes him the perfect counter surfer. Put food well out of reach if you don't want him to help himself.

The Saluki is an independent thinker, but he can learn the rudiments of acceptable dog behavior if you use positive reinforcement techniques, particularly food rewards. Begin training when he is young and still somewhat malleable, keep training sessions short and fun, and avoid harsh corrections.

The Saluki comes in two coat types: smooth and feathered. Brush the smooth coat weekly, but if you have the feathered variety, comb the feathering on the ears, tail, legs and feet at least a couple of times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles, and bathe him as needed. Trim his nails as needed, and keep his ears clean and dry to prevent infections. Good dental hygiene is also important. At mealtime, you'll probably want to put his ears up in a snood to keep them from dragging in his food dish.

This is a house dog. It's an unhappy Saluki who is relegated to the backyard with little attention from his family.

Health Issues Common to Salukis

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

While Salukis are in general a very healthy breed of dog, they do have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hemangiosarcoma, cardiomyopathy and autoimmune thyroiditis.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both parents have cardiac and thyroid clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Cardiomyopathy Low $500-$1,500
Follicular Dysplasia High $200-$500

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Saluki Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. A breeder referral service can be found on the website of the Saluki Club of America.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Salukis aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Saluki can live to be 12 to 14 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Saluki to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Salukis

Pet insurance for Salukis costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Salukis are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance offers full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Salukis are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Saluki is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.