The Linguistic, Logical and Biological Flaws of the “Saluqi” Story
By Dominique Crapon de Caprona, Ph.D.
First published in Sighthound Review 1999
Clarks’ article, answering my reply to his discussion about my original article comparing 4 recognized FCI breeds (Sloughi, Azawakh, Saluki & Afghan) has been published a while ago. For this reason, I chose to respond by directly addressing those statements which show the most blatant contradictions of the Saluqi story, hoping thus to enable the reader to evaluate the arguments directly.
I. The linguistic flaws
Clark writes: “I repeat Saluki is not classical Arabic for this dog: it is merely one western-invented way of writing the classical Arabic word Saluqi”
Is Sir Terence trying to tell us that “Saluqi” is not a western-invented way of writing an Arabic word, which typically would be written in the Arabic alphabet, very different from the alphabet used to write “Saluqi”? I understand that the authors of the book, “The Saluqi Coursing Hound of the East”, would want to make a difference between “Saluki” and “Saluqi”, but the truth of the matter is that this new spelling with a “q” is a result of their own arbitrary decision. Saluki and Saluqi are pronounced the same way in English and are just 2 different western transcriptions of the same word written in the Arabic alphabet.
Clark: “otherwise Iraq for example would be written Irak, as indeed it was for a time after the first World War.”
The implications of such a spelling rule are humorous. So because Iraq is now written with a “q” in English, this determines the spelling of “Saluqi” with a “q” in the western-way. However English spelling is only one of many western spellings. In German, Irak is written with a “k”, as in almost every western language. According to Clark, “Saluki” with a “k” would then be the correct transcription for the German language. In French, Iraq is written with a “q” or a “k”, so I suppose the same word would have to be transcribed as “Saluqui” or “Saluki”. None of which are really able to transcribe the Arabic pronunciation of this word accurately. The closest pronunciation to the Egyptian way of pronouncing this word is probably in Spanish if the word were to be transcribed as “Saluji”, or “Saluchi” in Dutch.
In fact no Western European pronunciation or spelling is exactly correct. Classical Arabic has no letter “a” for this word, only a hyphen which can be used or not above the Arabic letter ”s” to create an “a” sound. The best transcription in English should actually be “Sluqi”.
Clark: “as I have said before the word Saluqi is that which is used wherever Arabic is spoken for this breed of Sighthound. The fact that an individual specimen comes from a different linguistic area does not turn it into a different breed”.
Of course not, but when the local word is combined with a set of physical (phenotypic and genotypic) characteristics which are typical of the population of dogs thus named, then it does identify a particular breed as I have previously written. Conversely, being called the same name does not make all these populations the same breed. As I have previously written “Saluqi” means Sighthound in Arabic. As exemplified by the Saudi prince cited by Clark, the expression “Saluqi Kahriji” or “foreign Sighthound” tells us that Arabs just need to add the adjective Kahriji to differentiate between the different types of African and Asian Sighthounds or “Saluqi”.
One can argue for hours until death by boredom about what the best transcription of the word in classical Arabic would be, but it does not lead us anywhere. In fact, it is difficult to understand why the whole polemic should center around the words Sloughi/Saluki when nobody seems to mind that the Saluki and the Afghan hound are both called “Tazi” in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan. Should that make the Saluki and Afghan hound the same breeds, just because the locals call them the same way?
In fact, Linguistics and the way locals name their animals have little relevance for the description of species, subspecies and breeds. Many languages have only one word to describe different looking animals. For example in Thai, there is only one word “gop” for all the different families and species of amphibians (frogs, salamanders, gymnophions). There is a reason why taxonomists give names to the various species in the neutral Latin. The names they give to genera, families, species, subspecies, and races frequently have nothing to do with how the locals name the same animals or plants. What taxonomists usually rely on are the physical characteristics, phenotypic and genotypic, of these populations of animals and plants in order to make a decision about how to name them in Latin.
In breeds of dogs, and other animals, once the standards are established (whether in the western world or in the countries of origin), words are chosen by registries to give names to the breeds these standards describe. Such names can reflect the way these dogs are called in their countries of origin, such as“Sloughi” (North Africa), or “Saluki” (Middle East), or they may be western inventions, such as “Afghan Hound” and “Azawakh”, which relates to the river Azawakh in Central Africa (that name replaced the indigenous word “Oska” which itself had replaced “Sloughi of Mali). One can argue about the wisdom of these choices. The facts do not change, however, that the standards describe the different physical characteristics of these breeds, and that these breeds breed true to their standards: these physical characteristics are inherited (see below under Taxonomy)
II. The logical flaws
1) Clark: “An Omani shaikh of my acquaintance asked for a Saluqi from the kennel of the Emir of Adu Dhabi to contribute towards his plans for reintroducing the breed into Oman, from where it had virtually disappeared, and was duly sent a mature pair of pure white Saluqis, which originated however in the kennels of the King of Morocco”.
I do not know the genealogy of the dogs bred by this Emir, but that they should originate from the kennels of the King of Morocco, does not necessarily mean that they were Sloughis, as is indirectly implied by Clark. The standard for the Sloughi belongs to Morocco. These pure white so-called Saluqis, would be disqualified as Sloughis because of their color, but would be accepted as Salukis.
Clark: “both the donor and the recipient would have understood that it was a matter of a Saluqi Asil and neither attached any particular significance to the hounds’ Moroccan origin”.
Why would they? Moroccans also breed many other breeds of dogs, German Shepherds, Poodles etc. Why shouldn’t they breed Sighthounds other than the local one, the Sloughi?
2) Clark: “Dr. Crapon de Caprona does not seem to understand that local breeders have no incentive to crossbreed…Saluqi is regarded as having a special status in Islam and Muslims would not want to make it Najis (unclean) by crossing it with an ordinary dog, as the daughter of an eminent Islamologist should know”.
It is completely wrong, to state that Arabs have no interest in crossing their Sighthounds with other breeds. They do so for example in Algeria, and in the Maghreb, where crosses between the Sloughi and the “Berger de l’Atlas” (“Atlas Shepherd dog”) are bred for boar hunting. Arabs have the same respect for their horses as for their Sighthounds. It, however, does not prevent them from also crossing their horses, the “Fantasia horse” being a cross between the Arabian and Barbe horses.
3) Clark: “Dr. Crapon de Caprona found my reason inadequate for excluding the Afghan from my comments …I was of course merely responding to her initial article which did not mention other sighthounds and had no reason therefore to widen the discussion”.
I cannot help but wonder if Clark actually read that article, which compared the Sloughi, Saluki, Azawakh and Afghan hound, and included an illustration of smooth Afghans.
4) Clark: “by contrast a Saudi Prince was given while hunting last year in Tunisia a local hound, which I imagine Dr. Crapon de Caprona would call a Sloughi. The dog was brought back to Saudi Arabia, since it was a gift, but it was never used as it was not regarded a Saluqi Asil but Khariji (foreign)”.
(On the Gazehound List recently Clark also cited a purebred lineage of feathered Salukis in Bahrain. I have also been told of a similar reaction by a member of the Sian Tribe in Lybia, a Sloughi breeder, who upon his first encounter with feathered Salukis said they were not pure-bred).
Clark: “There are plenty of feral dogs running around in some areas which meet her definition but the Arabs distinguish Saluqis from them, drawing on their main criteria for the quality of Asil: lineage, appearance and performance. As I acknowledged before, I found in Iraq, where such dogs were the result of an accidental cross between a Saluqi and some other breed, they are known as Luqi and in North Africa as Barhush or Barrouche. These are local terms for a Sighthound which is not a Saluqi”.
Let us compare what these sentences say with others written by Clark in his 2 articles.
“Nowadays Saudis take their hounds to Morocco and Tunisia for hunting: their forbears the Banu Hilal were there in large numbers long before in the eleventh century. They frequently leave their hounds behind and take home with them locally acquired ones. In neither place would there be any inhibition about using them for breeding, provided of course they met their criteria of Asil, since they regard them as the same breed.”
These hounds are all interbred indiscriminately as far as shape and pelage are concerned, because the breeders are breeding for performance, not for appearance”.
This is what I consider the major logical flaw of Clark’s Saluqi argument.
We are first told that all these populations of African and Asian Sighthounds, from Central Africa to Afghanistan, are the same because Arabs all interbreed them, in other words the Saluqi is a crossbred.
Then we are told that the Arabs themselves make very clear differences between the various types of Sighthounds, and even use different words to describe them.
Third we are told that Arabs are careful to preserve looks and performance and do not cross Tunisian Sloughis with Saudi Arabian Saluqis for example.
In other words, for Clark, there are no breeds such as Sloughi, Azawakh, Saluki and Afghan, because Arabs all interbreed them and they should all be called the same breed “Saluqi”, but, on the other hand the Arabs have pure-bred lineages and do not interbreed these breeds, but they should still all be called the same breed “Saluqi”.
As I have already pointed out before, the populations of Sighthounds in Africa and Asia represent both purebreds and crossbreds. Although I have no doubt that there are other purebred populations which have not yet been described, the Sloughi, Azawakh, Saluki and Afghan, have been described from individuals imported from their countries of origin, and they are sufficiently different from each other to be considered different breeds. The fact that they are sometimes crossed does not mean that they are not different entities. Nobody would think of saying that Greyhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, and various other breeds are all the same breed because they are crossed to produce Lurchers and various Staghounds.
III. The biological flaws
1) Taxonomy, definition of a breed
Clark: “Dr. Crapon de Caprona’s orthodox kennel-club response…”
Such a sentence shows a complete ignorance of the field of taxonomy. I am first and foremost a scientist and a biologist, and it is the field of taxonomy that describes what a species and a breed is, not me nor Clark.
Let us cite here what Dr. Juliet Clutton-Brock, cited by Clark, says about this topic:
“A breed of dog comprises a group of animals that has been selected by humans to possess a uniform appearance that is inheritable and distinguishes it from other groups of dogs. A breed is a product of artificial choice of characters that are not necessarily strategies for survival but are favored by humans for the hunt or for economics, aesthetic, or ritual reasons.”
In taxonomy, this is how it is done. One first describes the physical traits of a population of animals, which are collected in a precisely defined geographical location. From this collection of data, one defines a set of physical (phenotypic and genotypic) characteristics, which are the most common traits among the largest numbers of individuals of that particular population, there being always exceptions to the rule. This is where statistics come in. One needs a certain number of individuals to make sure that the characteristics one describes are representative of the population in question and not exceptions to the rule.
Once this description is completed this population is compared with other known populations of similar animals until its status as species or subspecies is defined. Its name is then given in Latin, independently of how the locals name it.
The major taxonomic flaw of the Saluqi story is the following:
Species are described by a certain set of physical characteristics. Breeds are defined by the physical characteristics written in their standards. One can argue about the validity of such descriptions of species and breeds, but the fact remains that as long as there is no precise set of physical attributes which defines a species or a breed we are talking only about undefined populations of animals.
This is what Clark’s Saluqi is. An undefined population of Sighthound-like dogs whose physical characteristics and geographical range have neither been compiled nor described accurately. It cannot be described as a “breed”, because no set of typical inherited physical characteristics have been compiled which would describe it as one, nor has anybody defined the boundaries of the geographical range in which it is found, nor what differentiates a Saluqi from other populations of Sighthounds.
To this day, no precise description of these dogs as seen through an Arab’s eye (the local standard) has been provided by Clark. All we have are photographs of what Sir Terence Clark thinks is a Saluqi. No precise information is given at any time about these dogs. All we have are the vague sentences: “I would not be so unethical as to present photographs of Asil Saluqis unless I was certain as I could be that they were Asil. Whenever possible I also measured the hounds in the photographs as well as others in the same locality so that I am reasonably confident that they are typical of the range of the local population”
It would be much more convincing if Clark would publish his actual data instead of his assertions. Readers could then judge their validity for themselves.
2) Clark: “Dr. D. Crapon de Caprona long disquisition on species, breeds and genes, with which I am well familiar”.
This was not my impression when I first read that the evolution of the populations of African and Middle Eastern Sighthounds was compared to the speciation of Galapagos finches, confusing domestic breeds with wild species, by Clark’s co-author. As Clark’s comments demonstrate the distinction between “breed” and “species” is often confused.
Clark: “..the expert assessment of Dr. Juliet Clutton-Brock of the canine skeleton excavated at tell Brack in Syria from the third millenium BC in which she wrote: “ These (teeth and bones) bear a remarkable resemblance to the skeleton of Luman, one of the earliest Salukis to be imported to this country from Egypt at the beginning of this century by the Hon. Florence Amherst”
Does Clark really want us to believe that, on the evidence of only a few bones that “resembled” those of a Saluki, that it indeed was one? As everybody knows, skeletons, skulls and teeth typically do not give any information as to coat texture, ear and tail carriage, musculature, color etc…nor do their measurements give us any insight as to the genetic make-up of that particular animal.
Clark: “I prefer to form judgements on such scientific evaluations…”
Clark confuses a “description by a scientist” with a “scientific evaluation”. A scientific evaluation would require that these bones and teeth be compared with other Sighthound bones and teeth and with wild Canids of the area, to exclude any possibility that they could be anything else than a dog resembling Luman. It would also require that the measurer would not know the origin of the bones he/she is measuring (double-blind experiment) to make sure that the measurements are not biased by the measurer’s opinion. There have been a lot of arguments recently about the interpretation of such fossil evidence because the molecular analysis of such skeletons has raised serious questions as to the validity of previous interpretations (the same applies for Przezdziecki’s measurements, which I very much doubt included several Sighthound breeds and wild Canids for comparison).
I think that Clark may be over-interpreting what this scientist found. Dr. Juliet Clutton-Brock herself writes: “It is known from the canid bones and teeth retrieved from archaelogical sites that there was considerable diversity in size and bodily proportions within the populations of dogs of the prehistoric period, but there do not appear to have been distinctive breeds until about 3000 years ago… From then dogs of the Greyhound type were frequently depicted on paintings and pottery in Egypt and Western Asia. ….dogs with narrow heads, light bodies, and long legs were obviously common in Ancient Egypt, as were dogs with particularly short legs”. In other words, in her opinion, breeds would have started to be distinct 2000 years after the dog she discovered at tell Brack had passed away. I find it quite interesting in this context that Clark should find my statement about a possible common ancestor to be found in the lop-eared Sighthounds of Ancient Egypt “dubious”.
Clark: “.. unsubstantiated theories about the impossibility of continuity over millennia. There is a wealth of evidence to show that some domesticated mammals have indeed changed relatively little over millennia”.
I suggest here that Clark should read an introduction to the Theory of Evolution by his fellow countryman Charles Darwin. There are in fact very few cases of species in stasis (i.e. which have changed very little, because they have reached almost a “dead-end” in their evolution) and none of these few cases are domesticated. Most animals and plants are under the constant influence of natural selection, and, in the case of domestication, the additional human selection. Although the phenotype (the looks) can remain similar as an adaptation to a particular environment or function, the underlying genotype (the genetic make-up) is under constant mutation. Just because the 25 so far described subspecies of the Gray Wolf all look alike does not mean that they are the same: they have 25 different genetic profiles. Just as most plants and animals were different some 10 thousand years from what they are today, so will they change again over the next 10 thousand years. Evolution is a dynamic process; it never stops at the genetic level.
Clark: “I do not mean the partial study on blood proteins cited by Dr. Crapon de Caprona using artificial isolates that are defined in the west as pure-bred hounds”
Stating that this study is partial just because it does not fit into Clark’s story, and earlier in his text that this study was carried out on crosses between Saluki and Borzoi, is simply dishonest. The blood protein study was carried out on German Sighthounds, in a country in which breeding practices are tightly controlled. Such comments reflect an ignorance of how genetics work. If Saluki and Borzoi had been crossed, their genetic profiles would show greater similarities.
Genes are discreet entities, they are either there or not. The fact that our 4 breeds show distinct genetic profiles tells us that the original stocks from which they were bred, were genetically distinct. If the Azawakh, the Sloughi, the Saluki and the Afghan were all interbred, one would find only one genetic profile for all of them. This was not the case.
There was actually another study carried out in Germany by the German Sighthound Club and Mrs. Brigitte Schwab, which tested the DNA of Afghans, Sloughis and Salukis. Between the Sloughi and the Saluki, 7 differences in DNA fingerprinting were found. The study concluded that although all are distinct breeds, Sloughis were more closely related to Afghan hounds than to the Saluki.
Clark again avoids addressing the question of coat structure and color. If all these Sighthounds from Central Africa to Afghanistan and so on (remember no boundaries have been defined for the Saluqi) are supposedly cross-bred, then why do the populations of African Sighthounds, Azawakhs and Sloughis, have smooth coats and do not throw feathered puppies unless crossed with Salukis? Although the length on the Sloughi’s and Azawakh’s smooth coats can vary slightly, it is always smooth and the texture is not that of soft feathering but harder to the touch. The coat colors and their predominance in these various breeds also differ, for example the frequent brindle coats in North African Sloughis rarely seen in Saudi Arabian Salukis.
Clark: “ It is disingenuous of her to say that this study was based on hounds which descend from dogs recently in terms of “biological evolution” imported from their countries of origin”.
:..to make a convincing study of blood proteins or any aspect of these hounds you would need to examine several populations in their countries of origins; otherwise there is a danger of making false judgements”.
Again, it is important to understand how such studies are done, and how evolution works. Before doing such a study one obviously has to define the populations one wants to study. That is the problem. The Saluqi has not been defined, but the Sloughi, Azawakh, Afghan and Saluki have. These breeds were not created out of nothing, but descend from dogs imported from their countries of origin. Remember the recent publication in Science which showed that in today’s pure-bred Whippets and Afghans, although they have been bred to their standard for many generations, genes from crosses which occurred a long time ago still linger (Terrier genes in Whippet, Wolf genes in Afghan). If these Asian and African Sighthounds were only the result of crossbreeding, even a long time ago, it would show in their genetic profile.
Besides, presenting the COO sighthound as a separate entity from the so-called “artificial isolates” we call Sloughi, Azawakh, Saluki and Afghan is naïve, as such so-called “artificial isolates” have been exported from Europe and the USA to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and North Africa, contributing to the local gene pools.
As for how narrow the gene pools are from which some of these breeds descend, Clark is not up to date concerning the Azawakh and the Sloughi. Azawakhs are imported nowadays on a regular basis from Central Africa, whereas the Sloughi’s past and present breeding is based on a large gene pool with dogs originating in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.
Clark: “Where the colour of Saluqis is concerned Dr.Crapon de Caprona has simply allowed theory to obscure reality. I have to assume that she has not hunted with Saluqis in their native habitat; otherwise she would know that they do not as a rule stalk their prey and do not need therefore to approach it undetected…today the hounds are carried by vehicles to the hunting areas with their handlers…”
Clark again makes prejudiced assumptions. I do happen to know how Arabs hunt with these dogs. However, as a biologist, I am less interested in the artificial setting in which humans use these dogs, than in how the dogs themselves hunt when left to their own devices. This is obviously something Clark has never cared to watch. I cannot write about the Saluki, having never owned one, but the Sloughi has an extensive repertoire of hunting behavior patterns, one of which is stalking, and which can be sometimes as extreme as actually sliding very slowly over the ground, crawling while fastening their eyes on the potential victim. They can also stalk prey by sitting or lying very still among grasses or bushes for hours (“lying-in-wait posture”), watching their prey’s every movement before pouncing. It is in such situations that color plays a role.
Perceiving these hounds only by how humans use them ignores the importance of Canid and canine behavior. I suggest here that Clark consult the works of Nobel Price Behaviorist Dr. K. Lorenz, of Dr. E. Trumler and many others. They have spent endless hours observing and documenting the behavioral repertoire of wild and domestic Canids. These Sighthounds did not evolve to jump from camel, horses, or cars, to hunt for their masters. Instead they evolved from a wild Canid thousands of years ago and, although they have associated with human beings, they have retained most of the instincts seen in wild Canids today. Their hunting urge is so strong that one of the major problems in keeping these dogs safe in our overpopulated and motorized societies is to prevent them from roaming and poaching. They can hunt successfully without human help.
As for the history of these breeds and of the people they accompanied during major invasions, although it is all very interesting, it is not well documented and will remain highly speculative. I do not believe that Clark has witnessed and documented everything that happened since the dawn of humanity and its dogs. Clark therefore has no evidence to support his claims that these African and Asian Sighthounds have always been crossbred. As with every other domestic animal, some of these dogs were probably crossbred, others were purebred. Many scientists are studying how dogs evolved from wolves and have found no definite answers yet, there being no clear-cut evidence to show exactly when a wolf stopped being a wolf and became a dog, let alone a Sighthound.
Other comments of Clark concerning the breeding and current standard of the Saluki are simply out of place.
Clark: “Salukis have been turned in the West into a hybrid of hounds originating from widely dispersed populations without proper evaluation”
Isn’t that exactly what Clark claims the Saluqi is? According to Clark, Saluki breeders are doing exactly what he says Arabs do.
As for his criticism of the Saluki standard, since according to him, all these dogs are “Saluqi crossbreds”, why should Clark care about the standards for these breeds in the western world anyway, since they are in his opinion all “artificial isolates”? When describing and drawing the Azawakh, the Sloughi, the Saluki, and the Afghan, I referred to the current standards, which are the current descriptions of these breeds. Remember that in taxonomy, it is the standard, which describes a breed. The Saluqi, by definition, is not a breed as no description of inherited characteristics has been given.
I will remind the readers here that the first western world standards for the Saluki and Afghan hounds were written in England, and those of the Azawakh and Sloughi in France. Today, the only standard written in a western language to be owned by the country of origin is that of the Sloughi in Morocco.
Clark: “Sloughis too are being developed along lines which do not honestly reflect the diversity of the COO hound”.
I would think that, because the Sloughi is a national patrimony for the Moroccans and the Algerians, these people have the right to choose their own breeding standard for these dogs.
Clark: “Thus we have morphometric results from both Western show and COO coursing hounds showing the standard description to be wrong. These results cannot be dismissed on the grounds that indigenous hounds can be “stunted” or “deformed” as the Saluqis concerned came from fit coursing stock”
This comment ignores how body proportions can change to adjust to the constraints of the environment, and puts words in my mouth, which I haven’t said. Having Rachitis or growing under less than ideal conditions, has never stopped these Sighthounds from being fit coursers. The great strength of these Sighthounds is that they have managed to survive in spite of extreme conditions.
Clark is also confusing his own nomenclature. When criticizing the standard of the Saluki standard he should not refer to the Saluqi. The standard of the Saluki is not that of the Saluqi: the Saluki is a breed, his so-called “artificial isolate”, the Saluqi is an as yet undefined population of COO Sighthounds.
I have myself no opinion about the standard of the Saluki, but I would think it would be appropriate to be careful before making major changes, as the standard was in part based on individuals imported at the beginning of the century and not on animals imported recently. The conditions under which such dogs are bred and raised may have changed during the past 100 years. The measurements carried out on the COO Salukis nowadays may be different from what they would have been at the turn of the century. During the past 20 years or so, Western-bred Salukis and Sloughis, even Greyhounds, have been exported to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and blended into the COO hounds, contributing to the looks of today’s local dogs.
Although the “Saluqi” story deserves the credit of having drawn the long overdue attention to the COO Sighthounds of North Africa and the Middle East, it has at the same time undermined the very importance of such dogs for Western breeding. Stating that these dogs are always indiscriminately crossbred by Arabs does not reflect the reality but has generated a lot of mistrust towards such COO Sighthounds: who would want to introduce crossbreds into purebred lines? For the same reason it undermines the very conservation of such distinct populations of COO Sighthounds by negating their differences.
A further consequence of the “Saluqi” rhetoric is that, either we have to have a standard for the Saluqi and discard the standards for the Sloughi, Azawakh, Saluki, and Afghan (since Clark tell us they are all crossbreds and the same breed) or we keep these different standards, in which case the word “Saluqi” simply becomes a general term as we have in English, namely “Sighthound”. Since we already have words in English, such as Sighthound and Gazehound to describe such dogs, I really do not see the need to have the word “Saluqi” in addition. The fact that “Saluqi” and “Saluki” are pronounced the same way guarantees conversations full of uncertainties as one never really knows exactly what the other person is talking about! The Saluki “artificial isolate”, or the Saluqi “COO cross-bred”?
If one examines Clark’s Saluqi argument from a biological perspective, scientifically weighs the evidence, and objectively studies all known aspects of the problem, one can only conclude that the diverse features of these sighthounds have developed into four distinct breeds with distinct features. It is essential that two aspects of the evolution of these dogs be reconciled, namely that these dogs are sometimes crossbred, at other times purebred. I would like to stress the point I made in my first article addressing this issue: “Several thousands of years have passed and during this time the combined effects of peoples’ migrations, geographical isolation of variable lengths of time and changes in climate have enabled the North African, the Central African and the Middle Eastern Sighthounds to develop into different breeds with distinct features”. There are always many aspects to the evolution of animal populations.
The arguments for the Saluqi story are vague and superficial and do not stand up to a close examination. Although there is no doubt in my mind that individuals of the various populations we name Sloughi, Azawakh, Saluki and Afghan are crossbred in various countries (also with non-Sighthound breeds), there is equal evidence that in other cases they are purebred. As to whether the standards of these breeds are 100% representative of the physical characteristics to be found in their respective COO hounds, this is a completely different chapter. The COO Sighthound itself is no longer a separate entity, as it has come into contact with imported Western purebred Salukis and Sloughis. I am also convinced that there are populations of Sighthounds, which have not yet been described accurately, and which would deserve to have their own standard. However, there is also no possible way to preserve in the western world individuals of every population of COO hounds, just like it is impossible for North Africa and the Middle East to have individuals of every type of dog found on the American Continent.
While Clark has been active in criticizing the breeding and the standards established for these four breeds, he has failed so far to come forward with a convincing alternative.
Like the Saudi Prince cited by Clark who preferred not to breed his own Salukis with a Tunisian Sloughi because it was “Khariji” (“foreign”), I will not breed my Sloughis with Salukis because I consider them to be Khariji to the breed I grew up with.
Clutton-Brock J. and Jewell P. (1995): Origin and domestication of the dog. In: Anatomy of the dog, H.E. Evans editor, Saunders, Philadelphia, pp. 21-31
Fritzsch B. (1997): Molecular Analysis helps understanding the origin and interrelationships of Sighthounds, Sighthound Review Issue 5, J. Gaidos editor.
Vila C., Savolainen P., Maldonado J.E., Amorim I.R., Rice J.E., Honeycutt R.L., Crandall K.A., Lundeberg J., and Wayne R.K., (1997): Multiple and ancient origins of the domestic dog. Science 276:1687-1689
Wayne R.K. (1995): Phylogenetic relationships of canids to other carnivores. In: Anatomy of the dog, H.E. Evans editor, Saunders, Philadelphia, pp. 15-21
© Dominique Crapon de Caprona, Ph.D.
Reproduced with Kind Permission