"Singing" Hound is World's Oldest Dog Breed

Salukis — also known as gazelle hounds, are unusual in many ways. You may know them by sight but not by their breed name as they are not as in demand as some other well-known dog breeds.

Lean and graceful, the Saluki has an often described regal appearance, with a long, narrow face, a thoughtful gaze and distinctive ears feathered with fur that sometimes grows quite long.

Bred by ancient Egyptians to be hunting companions, the Saluki has been identified through DNA analysis as one of the earliest dog breeds descended from wolves.

Through very careful breeding and nurturing, the Saluki has survived the test of time.

Saluki dog

Historians have discovered images of Salukis etched into Egyptian tombs dating back to 2100 B.C.E.

The Saluki clearly played a significant role in ancient Egypt, not only as a Pharaoh’s faithful pet but also as an eternal companion. Many Salukis have been found mummified in the Egyptian tombs along with the Pharaohs themselves.

The Saluki, over time, traveled throughout the Middle East with nomadic tribes. They proved to be skillful hunters, as most hounds tend to be, running in packs and following signals from falcons who would lead them to prey.

By 1895, the Saluki had made its way to England, where they were bred by the daughter of an English baron who had spotted a Saluki while on a tour through the Nile. The Honorable Florence Amhert spent nearly 30 years breeding Salukis by herself, until soldiers returning from war in the Middle East brought their pet Salukis home with them.

One of those soldiers, Brigadier General Frederick Lance, bred his two Salukis with Amhert's dogs, creating a strong breed that would extend throughout Europe and America.

One distinct personality trait of the Saluki is its tendency to "sing" when sensing danger, feeling anxiety, or — on the flip side — bonding with a family member. The singing sounds similar to a high-pitched howl that varies in volume.

Salukis are also known to be sometimes indifferent by nature, easily bored with repetitious training or lack of activities. They are sensitive dogs who don't respond well to harsh discipline. Intelligent and affectionate with family and other pet companions, they are also very gentle with children and can sometimes become very bonded to one family member in particular.

The Salukis have been compared to greyhounds, although they do not run as fast; their skills are geared toward endurance — running greater distances than other dog breeds. Interesting fact: When a Saluki runs in full gait, all four legs are off the ground simultaneously.

Saluki dog

Ancient images of Salukis drawn in the Egyptian tombs mirror today's modern day Saluki. They have not changed too much over time, with the exception of their coat. Due to their migration throughout the Middle East, the breed evolved with a variety of coat colors and textures.

A Saluki will have either a silky, smooth coat or a feathered one. Coat colors include white, cream, fawn, golden, red, grizzle and tan, black and tan tricolor of white, black and tan.

Salukis are slender dogs with a form similar to that of a greyhound. The breed has a long head with oval eyes and those trademark long hanging ears.

Saluki dog

While these may be common medical conditions, your Saluki will not necessarily develop any of those listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.

  • Cardiomyopathy is a disease of weakened heart muscles.
  • Detached retina occurs when the retina is pulled away from its normal position at the rear of the eye.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an adult-onset condition which typically occurs between ages 4 and 10. It is a gradual degeneration of the retina which leads to blindness.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.