The new digital and social media to discover Arabia and the Middle East. Offbeat. Innovative.

World Dog Day: Meet the Saluki of Syria!

Thursday 26 August is World Dog Day. On this occasion, meet one of the oldest and fastest breeds in history: the Syrian Saluki.

A name with many origins 

While no one really knows where the name Saluki comes from, there are many theories. Some say the name originated in the ancient city of Saluq in Yemen. For others, the breed is linked to a city of the same name near the Caspian Sea

But what is certain is that the Saluki is a breed closely associated with the Middle East and has for decades been regarded as a symbol of the Bedouin way of life.

Hunter in the blood … 

The Saluki has a strong propensity for hunting, which, combined with its fierce loyalty and speed, makes it an ideal hunting companion for the Bedouin. There are even accounts attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, in which he allows game to be eaten only if it is killed by this dog

It should be noted that while some Islamic theologians place restrictions on the keeping of dogs as pets, there is a consensus that they should be used for hunting and protection. 

To find out more about this dog and its history, you should turn to Osama al-Hammadi. The man, who lives in the rebel region of Idlib in Syria, has spent his entire life raising and training these animals. He says, “Puppies learn quickly, they can come back to you as soon as they hear their name, no matter how far away they are. I give wild rabbits to the puppies and let them chase them in the open.”

With a speed that can reach 42 miles per hour, the Saluki is the second fastest dog after the greyhound. In fact, the two breeds are very similar in that both have very thin bodies and long legs, allowing them to glide quickly over surfaces. To maintain this quality of speed, Osama trains his dogs every day until sunset: “It is a daily training for them to run constantly to keep their bodies in shape“.

… the Saluki is said to be one of the oldest dog breeds 

There is one more feature in addition to speed! The Saluki is said to be one of the oldest known dog breeds in the world! 

Their most ancient traces date as far as Egyptian hieroglyphics, and it is believed that these dogs were introduced to Europe during the Crusades. Of course, nowadays, they are bred all over the world. 

Osama al-Hammadi’s dogs have a variety of bloodlines, but the most prized are those with a proven Arab pedigree. Unfortunately, the war in Syria has left our man with only 25 dogs, whereas he had up to 80 at a time before this period. 

To sum up, if there is one thing about them that we should remember, it’s tha beyond their ancestral character or their flawless speed, Syrian Salukis are one of the most loyal and affectionate breeds of dogs. 

So happy birthday to all our best friends!