The Saluki Who Came Through Time


The Saluki is a dog of moderation. This is the dog that those devoted to the preservation of this breed hope everyone breeds and sees rewarded in the show ring. The same look that we saw coming out of the Middle East and the surrounding trade routes is the same Saluki that should be in the breeder’s box and in the show ring. It may be a bit bigger due to better nutrition, but conformation-wise, it should be the same dog or very close.

In the 1986 Saluki Club of America Yearbook, Sandra Cody did a series of drawings that made fun of some of the trends at that time which were changing the Saluki. We call these caricatures! We all know breeds that don’t resemble their original conformation, and we strive very hard to not have that happen to Salukis. Sandra talked about people making the Saluki have a longer muzzle, a longer neck, a longer body, and have the topline go from an arch over the loin to no arch to falling off in the rear, and with some people adding more rear angulation and trotting their dogs at tremendous speeds. Some judges still reward these problems regardless of our Breed Standard. Sandra described the Saluki going from realistic “A” to caricature “B” as seen below.

2 side-by-side illustration of a Saluki

So, what did the earlier Salukis look like? What should we as breeders and judges be preserving? Here are photos of a few in this grouping.


Now let’s look at some very successful Open Field Coursing (OFC) Salukis that have also won in the show ring under Saluki breeder-judges—achieving dual championship status. That these dogs are champions in the ring and in the field is a testament to Saluki breeders who focus on preservation, not “re-invention.” (Note: a championship in OFC takes 100 points and is a challenging endeavor for any sighthound.)


Don’t be blinded by “spit and polish” and “perfect training,” because the best dog in the ring may be the more understated one or the one that doesn’t grab your eye immediately. Look for the dog whose body could have come through time!

And let’s look at a few Salukis that have won many Saluki Specialties, top honors at the SCOA National Specialty and other large-entry Saluki shows under multiple Saluki breeder-judges. Two of the Salukis below were SBIS at a Saluki Club of America National.


Now go back and relook at all of the photos and see what they all have in common. Although these do not represent all of the types of Salukis, they do represent the basics of our breed’s conformation.

  • There are no extremes here; they are moderate.
  • They are all square or just a bit taller than long or just a bit longer than tall.
  • They all have a well laid-back scapula.
  • They all have the top of the scapula and the top of the hipbones about the same distance from the ground.
  • They all have a rise over the loin.
  • They all have upper arm return.
  • They all have the necessary S-curve underline.
  • They all have moderate angulation in the rear, and are balanced and well-muscled.

Don’t be blinded by “spit and polish” and “perfect training,” because the best dog in the ring may be the more understated one or the one that doesn’t grab your eye immediately. Look for the Saluki whose body could have come through time!

  • Diane Divin is currently the President of 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 AKC Gazette, SHOWSIGHT, Saluki International, The Classic Saluki, the American Saluki Association, and other Saluki publications and newsletters.

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