The Saluki is one of the larger sighthound dog breeds, and not one of the most common; the Saluki is the 89th most popular dog breed in the UK overall as of 2020, out of a total number of 244 different dog breeds and types.
They have the typical lean, lithe sighthound build and a very impressive running speed, and whilst they have a similar sort of height and legginess as the greyhound, they have feathered ears and legs, which their greyhound cousins do not have!
For those that love large sighthounds and are seeking something a little different, the Saluki is a breed worth considering but they are also a breed that can fairly be considered to be somewhat complex in terms of their health.
Dermatological problems or skin issues of various types are fairly prevalent within the breed as a whole, and whilst skin issues might seem like a fairly minor health problem in the greater scheme of things, such issues can be complex to care for and manage, cannot be cured or reversed, and generally have an impact on the dog and of course their owner for the duration of the dog’s life.
Treating or managing Saluki skin problems and keeping them under control and the dog comfortable can also be costly over the long term too, and so it is important that all prospective Saluki owners have a basic understanding of common Saluki skin problems, how likely it is that any given Saluki puppy will go on to develop skin problems as they get older, and what sort of issues are most prevalent within the breed.
Read on to find out more about skin conditions common to the Saluki dog breed.
There are a number of different dermatological problems that are comparatively common within the Saluki dog breed compared to the dog population as a whole, rather than one specific skin problem alone.
This means that the chances of any given Saluki having one or more dermatological problem increases somewhat, and overall, just over 10% of all Salukis in the UK potentially have at least one skin condition, based on the results of a Kennel Club survey from 2011.
What makes the Saluki more prone than most to developing skin problems in the first place is likely down to a range of factors, but most skin problems or sensitivities in dogs tend to be hereditary in nature, at least partially.
This means that once a health condition becomes established within a reasonable number of members of a breed population, it can become ever-more widely spread and harder to eradicate from the general population, given that only dogs from within the breed in question can be used to breed purebred puppies, limiting the genetic diversity that when present, helps to eradicate health issues of a genetic nature.
The two most common skin problems that can be found in Salukis are dermatitis and alopecia respectively.
Dermatitis is more of a collective or catch-all term for a range of symptoms rather than a diagnosis of a condition in its own right, and it comes in many different forms, ranging from allergenic to genetic, the latter of course being the main risk for a breed-specific health issue.
Dermatitis can present quite differently in different affected dogs, but it tends to result in skin flare-ups of redness, irritation, and an inflamed rash across parts of the body, all of which will be quite irritating for the dog, and is apt to cause them to scratch a lot. This in turn weakens and damages the skin, making it even more sore and also at higher risk of infection.
Alopecia is a rather different condition, and this leads to a usually painless loss of fur from the body, which generally occurs in patches rather than leading to total baldness. This can leave the dog with quite an unkempt appearance in what is otherwise a handsome and distinctive coat, although unlike dermatitis this fur loss won’t make the dog uncomfortable.
Alopecia does, however, place affected dogs at higher risk of developing sunburn on their exposed patches of skin, and this is another issue that affects the breed more than most, due to not just their higher rates of alopecia but generally fine and often, light-coloured fur.
Sunburn can in turn lead to skin cancers, further compounding the breed’s risk factors.
There is no way to guarantee that a Saluki puppy won’t go on to develop skin problems as they get older, and generally Saluki skin issues don’t manifest until the dog is fully grown. There are no recognised hereditary testing protocols for Saluki skin problems either, so this is something of a lottery.
However, by choosing a responsible and well-informed breeder who is knowledgeable about their breed lines and doesn’t use dogs with skin conditions in their breeding programs, you can reduce the risk of picking a pup with elevated risk factors for skin problems later in life.