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The Arabian Saluki, one of the fastest dogs on the planet

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For thousands of years, the Arabian Peninsula has been home to desert nomads. To survive in this harsh habitat, people needed to catch fast animals, like gazelle and wild hare. But they couldn’t do it alone.

This is the saluki, one of the oldest hunting breeds in the world. And having been so successful, they’ve remained relatively unchanged for over 6,000 years. But to be that good at hunting in this environment requires a very particular skill. They have become masters of speed.

Biologist Patrick Aryee travels to a desert plain in the United Arab Emirates to see how fast a saluki can run with its aerodynamic head and claws that grip the sand: This Arabian Dog is Fast Enough to Catch a Gazelle.

The clip is from Aryee’s Amazing Dogs series on the Smithsonian Channel.

saluki running at high speed
More from the American Saluki Association:

“The Saluki, royal dog of Egypt, is perhaps the oldest known breed of domesticated dog. They are identified by some historians as “a distinct breed and type as long ago as 329 B.C. when Alexander the Great invaded India.”

dog and owner walking in the desert sand, filmed from above

Earliest known carvings look more like Salukis than any other breed: they have a Greyhound body with feathered ears, tail and legs. This same exact hound also appears on the Egyptian tombs of 2100 B.C. and again in more recent excavations of the Sumerian empire, estimated at 7000-6000 B.C. The Saluki was so esteemed that his body was often mummified like the bodies of the Pharaohs themselves. The remains of numerous specimens have thus been found in the ancient tombs of the Upper Nile region.”

saluki walking in the sand
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