Salukis are skinny dogs mainly because of these dogs' natural habitats and their past history as hunters requiring them to be swift and agile sprinters.
If you are not familiar with the Saluki dog breed, and have a deep love for ancient history or archeology, you may have stumbled in the past on these dogs' sleek, elegant silhouettes portrayed on ancient Egyptian tomb paintings and pottery.
If you ever see a Saluki for the very first time, you'll likely be impressed by their looks. Perhaps, you may even wonder whether their owners are feeding them enough!
Turns out, it's perfectly normal for these dogs to be slim. Indeed, even their breed standard mentions that they should give an impression of "grace and symmetry, and of great speed and endurance. "
Think of them as the canine equivalent of athletes, which burn almost all the calories that they consume.
Adaptations to Living in the Desert
The Saluki dog breeds is believed to have originated in the Middle East. As desert animals, they share some traits with "xerocoles."
Xerocoles are animals that have adapted to living in a harsh desert environment. Among the various adaptations of animals living in such arid environments, one distinctive trait is being slender with long legs.
Such skinny bodies and long legs were therefore helpful to these animals as they needed speed to travel long distances in search for food and water.
Other than slender bodies, Saluki have some other perks to help them survive in a desert environment.
For example, extra fur between the toes allowed traction and protected the bottom of their feet from getting in contact with the hot sand. Extra hairs on the ears instead prevented sand from penetrating them.
Did you know? Salukis are one of the most ancient breeds of domesticated dogs in the world. They were named either after the Bani Saluk tribe of Yemen or the ancient city of Saluk in Yemen.
A Hunter of Gazelle
As mentioned, in a desert environment, it is difficult to find food. This is where this dog breed came in handy.
History tells us that the ancestors of the modern Saluki breed were utilized for hunting purposes by nomadic tribes.
With their great speeds and aerodynamic bodies, Saluki were capable of hunting down fast-moving animals such as gazelles, hare, foxes and jackals.
Due to this ability, Saluki are often referred to as "gazelle hounds."
These dogs couldn't have been able to perform these duties if it wasn't for their slender bodies.
A History of Selective Breeding
Salukis are known for having remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. This has occurred courtesy of strict breeding practices.
Firstly, it was strongly forbidden to breed a Saluki with any other type of dog that wasn't a Saluki. Also, their owners aimed to breed the best with the best, selectively breeding specimens who were successful hunters.
Still as of today, even Salukis displayed in the show ring are expected to be adept at catching hares.
Are Saluki Supposed to be so Skinny?
Yes! Salukis, like other sighthounds, are known for being skinny.
Some dog owners who have grown so used to seeing the many plump dogs of modern society, may cringe when they notice how skinny Salukis appear. Some to the point of questioning Saluki owners whether their dogs are being well-fed.
Just because you may see these dogs' ribcages doesn't mean that they are malnourished!
Salukis were designed to be this way so they could chase prey at high speeds in the desert. If they were to be overweight, they wouldn't have survived in such an environment.
Salukis Can be Finicky Eaters
The fact that some Saluki tend to be finicky eaters, may further contribute to this breed's skinny looks.
However, even if sighthounds were to eat their normal portion of food, they tend to remain skinny due to their fast metabolisms, which causes them to gain very little or no weight.
If a Saluki though has always eaten, and suddenly, out of the blue, starts turning his nose up at his foods, then it would be important to schedule a vet visit to see whether something may be amiss in the health department.
Are The Ribs Supposed to Protrude in Saluki?
We are so used to seeing plump dogs where there is enough fat enough to hide the ribs, that the moment we see a dog with ribs protruding we assume they must be malnourished.
In the leaner dog breeds, such as Salukis and Greyhounds, it is normal for the ribs to be exposed.
In particular, a Salukis' hipbones will be prominent along with the last three ribs and a couple of vertebrae.
Ideal Saluki Weight
The ideal weight of the Saluki ranges between 35 pounds to 65 pounds with the higher range most often seen in males.