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Ancient Egyptian Dog Breed: Saluki

Updated on November 3, 2015

An old dog breed

The Saluki is one of the oldest dog breeds, if not the oldest. According to the Encyclopedia of Dogs by Claudia Long and Britt Stader, dogs similar to the Saluki are seen in carvings done 7,000 years ago. It was called the “Royal Dog of Egypt.” Saluki dogs have also been found mummified. It is a sight hound, which is a dog used for hunting and does so by vision rather than sound or smell. The Saluki is fast and one of the animals that they hunted was the gazelle, which is noted for its speed.

A graceful and fragile looking breed, it is in fact, an avid hunter which can pursue game with strength and endurance that belies its fragile appearance. It also works over long distances and demanding terrain, according to the AKC.

These dogs have been known as the “Royal Dog of Egypt” and as the “Persian Greyhound.” Quite a bit of evidence suggest that they are, indeed, an ancient breed and some feel they might be the oldest breed of dogs. Evidence of their history includes:

  • · Animals that look like Saluki have been seen on Egyptian tombs from 2134 BC
  • · They have connections to both the Bible and Imperial China, according to Wikipedia.
  • Carvings that look a lot like the Saluki dog of today can be seen on carvings in excavations of the Sumerian Empire sites of 7000-6000 BC. Nomadic tribes spread the breed from Egypt and Persia east to Afghanistan and India and north as far as Sudan. From the time of the Middle Kingdom which would be 2134 BC to 1785 BC the Saluki dog appears more often on Egyptian tombs. They have been found as mummies alongside the bodies of Pharaohs in Pyramids and became prominent during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt and replaced the Tesem, which is thought to be somewhat like the modern Pariah dog. Nomadic desert tribes traveled an area from the Sahara to the Caspian Sea with this hunter of such quarry as gazelles.

Striking looks of a Saluki
Striking looks of a Saluki | Source

Is this the breed of dog mentioned in the bible?

According to Wikipedia the Saluki is the type of dog mentioned in the Bible. They have been in paintings of the Middle Ages in pictures related to Christ’s birth. Veronese showed the breed in religious paintings such as The Marriage at Cana and The Finding of Moses.


Also, the breed is found in paintings by the fifth Ming Emperor Zhu Zhanji known more commonly as the Xuande Emperor, Wikimedia tells us. The painting was in the Imperial Chinese collection in the 18th Century. The dog is still highly regarded in the Middle East. The Bedouins consider them “clean” and they are permitted to be in places such as women’s quarters, which are forbidden to other dogs.

In the 1930’s the King of Bahrain had been known for a pack of Salukis that he took with him on hunting trips throughout the Arab world. After he died, his son tried to keep the dogs lines pure but they interbred with other breeds. Dana Al Khalia acquired two purebred Saluki’s from the king and saved the pure bred lines.

The West

Troops returning from the Crusades in the 12th Century brought the breed with them and introduced it to Europe. A painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder shows Henry IV, Duke of Saxony in 1514 with a dog identified as a Gazelle Hound. However, it was not until 1840 that England saw its first Salukis they called Slughis. They were thought to be the same breed as the modern Sloughi. However, genetic testing has found they are not the same.

Modern breeding of the Salukis began in 1895. Florence Amherst saw the breed on a tour of the Nile. She imported and worked with the breed about thirty years until the breed gained interest in the 1920’s. At that time officers returning from middle east wars and the Arab revolt brought home Salukis. General Frederick Lance of the 19th Lancers, along with his wife Gladys, came back to Britain with two Salukis they got in Sarona where he had been stationed. “The Lances were both keen hunters, and rode with a pack of dogs, including both Salukis and terriers,” according to Wikipedia. The Lances, along with Florence Amherst campaigned for recognition of the breed. It coincided with what was known as “Tutmania” which was caused by the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922.The next year the Saluki or Gazelle Hound Club was formed. The breed was officially recognized by the Kennel Club. It increased in popularity and the Saluki Club of America was formed. In 1929 recognition was given by the American Kennel Club.

There were Salukis in European countries but they were not imported to England.

Salukis from England were exported to many countries but in the 1930’s there was not as much interest in the breed and activities such as breeding and showing almost ended with World War II. Many dogs were euthanized in fear that they would die from starvation or be killed by bombs. Some kennels did survive the war and combined with more imports the breed started to be reestablished after the war. In the United States the popularity of the breed has ranked 112th in 2008, according to Wikipedia.


The breed can be difficult to train. They are independent, gentle and affectionate but are bored easily. They should not be trained by force, which I don’t think appropriate for any breed. They do not enjoy dog games. Should be socialized early and they are given to chasing anything that moves.

Standards and characteristics:

· Sight hound

· Legs may be smooth of feathered

· Colors vary and they may be white, cream ,fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, tricolor of black and tan

· Independent and cat like

· Mascot of Southern Illinois University

· Size: 23-28 in high and 40-60 lbs.

· Head is long and narrow

· Large eyes and drop ears

· Tail long and curved.

· They are fast runners and have reached speeds of 42.8 mph

Health issues

· Cancer

· Cardiac problems


Salukis are one of the oldest domestic breeds of dogs, if not the oldest. They are hunters of the kind known as sight hounds that hunt game by sight rather than smell or hearing. They come from the areas of Egypt and the Persian countries and have been found in Egyptian burials, as well as early art works. They may have been referred to in the Bible and show up in the Middle Ages.


Encyclopedia of Dogs by Claudia Long and Britt Stader

The Love of Dogs by Vida Adanoli

Copyright 2012 by Don Hoglund

© 2012 Don A. Hoglund


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi midget. Health problems have interferred with activities lately. I hope to get back into things again. Thanks for reading.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Coming in to share again, Don.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Mary, I appreciate your reading my article about the saluki dog. Gklad it was helpful to you.

    • profile image

      mary 4 years ago

      this helped me a lot with my project. just reading about them makes me want to get a saluki

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Suhail, A Siberian might fit in for you. They need a lot of exercise which should fit in with your hiking. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      One of my favorite dog breeds, but I can't have due my lifestyle (love to hike and trek in late fall, winter, and early spring). However, I do keep in touch with Saluki breeders just in case.

      They say that many Alaskan huskies have salukis in them. Perhaps that is the route to go for me then lol.

      The video you uploaded has been a family favorite since ages. It has been shared by my siblings, nephew, children and myself on our facebook pages a number of time.

      Thank you for sharing a beautiful hub on a beautiful dog breed.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      jessefutch, thanks for reading and commenting.

    • jessefutch profile image

      jessefutch 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I love salukis! These are such sleek and majestic animals. Wonderful hub.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you very much for your comment. Glad you like the hub.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      These wonderful critters have been misunderstood in the past, with people claiming an unstable temperament. I could not disagree more! They are sleek and charming and very cool companions! Great stuff here dahoglund!


    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy, they are impressive. I have become intrigued by the idea that these breeds that have been around forever are so little known. We are always inventing new breeds. Thanks for reading and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a majestic looking dog is the Saluki. I had never previously heard of them. It does resemble a greyhound in its appearance. That video was very interesting to watch. Thanks for this informative hub! Up votes and sharing.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      midget38, Thank you for reading about the Saluki and leaving your comment. Thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      A very interesting breed! Thanks for the introduction to its qualities as well. I guess all dogs take a lot of patience to train! Thanks for sharing this, and I share here as well.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Drjb, Thanks for commenting. Yes we do have a dog. It is a Siberian Husky which we got from a rescue organization who found it tied outside and nearly starved. We have had her for about 2 years. Prior to that we had a Husky-German Shepherd mix which we got from a Humane Society shelter. We had that one for 12 years. We don't have a cat though.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      The Saluki has a very interesting, very old history. Thanks for the introduction, Don. Just wonderin' - do you have a dog and if so, what breed? They say curiosity killed the cat but since I'm inquiring about a dog, I should be on safe ground. Right?

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi suziecat. Thanks for reading this hub and leaving your comment. Much more is being discovered about ancient dogs due to new science such as DNA testing.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      What a beautiful dog. I've never thought about what types of dogs might have been around in Biblical times. Interesting Hub - voted up!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks Frog. glad you liked it.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Great write dahoglund. The Saluki is a magnificent breed.

      The Frog