By Ruthie Bently
The Saluki is one of the oldest known dog breeds in the world, named for the ancient southern Arabian city of Saluq, which no longer exists. The breed is known as the “Royal Dog of Egypt,” since the nobility were the only people allowed to own them. Their mummified remains have been found in the tombs of pharaohs as well as many tombs of the Upper Nile, and there are several carvings of King Tutankhamen with his favored Salukis. Some Saluki likenesses have been dated back to 2100 B.C. More recently excavated tombs dating between 7000 and 6000 B.C. Sumaria also contain Saluki carvings. The Saluki is known by other names as well: the Arabian Hound, Persian Sighthound, Gazelle Hound, Persian Greyhound, and the Tanji.
The Saluki is native to eastern Turkestan to Turkey, though due to the nomadic existence of their owners they ranged from the Caspian Sea to the Sahara desert. Historians believe they are related to the Afghan Hound and date back to Alexander the Great’s invasion of India in 329 B.C. Considered a sacred gift from Allah, they were only offered as gifts and never sold. Bedouin tribes regarded a Saluki with a white forehead patch as special, and it was believed that they wore “the kiss of Allah.”