Are Salukis and Afghan Hounds the same breed of dog?

Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

Saluki: Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC as a young dog

Yes. They are.  Or, rather, they are the same species:  actually, a different phase of the same species.
Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzu, and Pekingese are  the same breed—-different ‘phase’, and Bichon Frise, Maltese, White Toy Poodles,  and Coton de Tulear are the same.

People—they are dogs: they are the same species.  Bulldogs and Greyhounds,  Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Boston terriers—same species.  So  how is it they BREED TRUE?

Isn’t THAT the amazing thing!  That  disparate people who fell in love with the type wanted to preserve it, and got together and agreed on the breed standards for the breed.  Acting with integrity, breeding for the type they wanted, with little variation, we got the distinct breeds we now know.

Well known sighthound  breeder (and judge) Bo Bengtson wrote an article (Dogs in Review, July 2014, Vol. 18, issue 7) comparing the  two breeds using their  modern history and  how their breed standards are written.  If you didn’t know the  breeds…would you actually be able to form a picture in your mind of what these dogs looked like just using the written description?  I don’t think so.   Neither actually addresses proportion of back skull to foreface. Also, neither addresses the actual shape of the skull of either breed.  Having  really loved Afghans  for  over  four decades (And Salukis for about  three decades), I generally think of  Afghan Hounds  has having a more ‘appley’ rounded backskull with a prominent occiput (surmounted by a topknot), where the Saluki back skull is  flatter.  Ratio of backskull to foreface is about 1 to 2.  Both breeds have  long, narrow, chiseled forefaces.  Also, Afghan Hounds  have a lower set ear—on level with the eye or even lower. Saluki ears should be at the top of the skull.  I don’t know if the Afghan  Hound fanciers  specifically chose this wording as compared to Salukis, but  a bad ear set is not a serious fault in either breed, nor is an ‘inelegant’ foreface lacking chiseling, or being overly broad.  Being a pet groomer, I’ve seen some really grotesque heads on Afghan Hounds, and same with  Salukis.  However, as the breeders making excuses say, “They don’t run on their heads.

Zulu, a black Afghan Hound

Zulu, a black Afghan Hound

Then, there is the shape of the ‘brisket, and whole front end assembly.  Both breeds call for laid back shoulders, and needing  drive, it is assumed that the  shoulder/upper arm  assembly should be well angulated.  Salukis are narrower in the chest, but  in both breeds, we want a chest coming to the elbows.  That is, a strong, deep rib cage.  The Saluki  is assumed to be narrower, but this is such a subtle thing.  Neither  breed should be weedy or slab sided, nor barrel chested.  It is easy to cover up an improper front on an Afghan Hound with a proper coat pattern.

Feet….  Since it is assumed that Afghans are the mountain  phase, the standard calls for a cat foot, large, with well arched toes….thick hair in the pads.  Unfortunately, we see a lot of Afghans with terrible feet.  Broken down, flat, small, Often, it is due to improper nutrition, exercise, even hookworms, but no excuses for a running dog.  Similarly, we see  foot faults in Salukis.  The proper foot would be a hare foot:  long, well arched toes. Someone described it to me like a snow shoe.  This would be an excellent shape for running in sand.  As an aside,  many Afghans seem to have ‘double jointed’ pasterns.  This is excellent for  running on uneven, rocky terrain.

They don’t run on their tails, either, but the ideal Afghan has a ring or curve at the end, and usually carried the tail high when moving.  The ring tail is really highly prized.  Salukis have longer, looser tails, and generally carry then lower than an Afghan.

It is the coat That makes the Afghan distinctive.  The coat is supposed to be silky—never woolly or cottony.   Also, the coat pattern is very distinctive.  We want a ‘clean’ face,.  Most Afghan puppies have ‘monkey whiskers’ that fall out when the dog matures.  The breed standards says the Afghan is neither clipped nor trimmed, but shown in a natural state.  We still see way too many stripped and trimmed Afghans. Yet, the breed standard  does not call for a severe penalty, so  apparently there is wiggle room, and in the  1960s through the 1980’s, I thought for sure we’d lose the natural saddle.

The Afghan Hound standard addresses temperament, The Afghan Hound is  ‘aloof and dignified, yet gay.’ The Saluki standard does not.  From experience, I can say they are very similar:  wary of strangers, not cuddly, intelligent.  often they can find ways to amuse themselves.  Unless you find a way to captivate them, they can be difficult to train  as they are  independent dogs.  They are  usually social with their own kind (Salukis and Afghans tend to bond with both breeds) and can’t be bothered with dogs  which aren’t sighthounds.

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2 Responses to “Are Salukis and Afghan Hounds the same breed of dog?”

  1. Tali Says:

    Shih Tzu is a mix between Pekanese and Lhasa Apso. Lhasa Apsos are very different from Pekes and Shih Tzu. Please don’t confuse them.

    • disparateinterests Says:

      I’ve read several different accounts of histories….mostly that they started out as the same breed…and evolved due to breeding styles in different localities.

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