The corner-stone of any breed is the Breeder. We have a great responsibility, for without us there will be no future for one's breed, which in our case is the Saluki. Breeding is not for everyone and I applaud those that say it is not for them. It is the route we chose to take and we've carefully paved our way for the last forty plus years. Along the way we have had a good degree of success and on occasions hit obstacles. However, with perseverance and some changes in direction, we have continued on our journey with further success along the routes taken.
To consider breeding one is best doing a great deal of fieldwork and homework both in the selection of the puppy bitch one aspires to breed from and when the time comes an equal amount of fieldwork and homework to choose a suitable breeding partner for your chosen girl.
Fieldwork - Going along to a few championship dog shows is the best start, along with attending breed specific seminars which are held by the two Saluki Clubs here in the UK. Talk to and if invited visit some breeders.
Homework - Read the Saluki standard and get your eye in. Decide what you think is beautiful and fulfills your understanding of the standard, look at sizes, types, feathered or smooth? Once you have decided what most appeals to you then approach the people with those dogs, ask them if they have any breeding plans in the future. Most breeders will be skeptical and may ask you questions about yourself. Do not take offence as they are doing their job. It is important for responsible breeders to place puppies in the right home.
Having finally obtained your chosen puppy bitch, where do you go from there? Aside from giving her the best you can in food, accommodation and ensuring her inoculations are completed she needs to start her education. Puppy socialisation classes at your vets practice are extremely worthwhile (these have to take place between the first and second inoculations) Then as soon as possible after the two weeks quarantine following completion of all her inoculations take her to ringcraft classes to carefully socialise her and gradually show her what is expected. Gently let her know she will have a job to do, which is going to shows and behaving herself. Showing puppies is a humbling experience for everyone, as one can never predict what they will do. In time they learn and enjoy the outings.
Hopefully your puppy will grow into a beautiful Saluki and then you can start to look towards the future. According to the Saluki or Gazelle Hound Club “Welfare of the Breed” the Saluki is a slow maturing breed, both physically and mentally, therefore, we do not think they should be bred from before their third birthday. This time will give you a good opportunity to hit the championship show ring and hopefully collect a few wins. Not only is this a good way to learn the ropes, but also a good chance to socialise with other owners and breeders; making important friends and acquaintances, and along the way enhancing your knowledge, which will further help you consider what type of male you would ultimately like to use (or rule out) on your bitch. Showing and being seen to be taking the subject of breeding responsibly can also help make any enquiries from yourself a more attractive proposition to stud dog owners who are careful as to who use their dogs. The final benefit is that it can make it a bit easier to sell offspring to potential show homes if both parents are seen as successful to some degree in the ring, especially if you are obviously interested in breeding potential show quality, sound, healthy puppies.
Who do you breed to? Classically there are three avenues one can go down. The first is ‘line breeding’, the second is ‘outcrossing,’ and the third is ‘inbreeding’. The discussions never end on what is the best road to take. Here is where much homework must take place. Aside from breed type, construction and sound movement, one of the most important issues that you must consider when breeding is health. Having already asked the breeder of your bitch as to whether there are any health issues in the line when you were purchasing your puppy, you will need to do exactly the same with the owner/breeder of any stud dog you enquire about. There is nothing more heartbreaking to a breeder or a owner to have their puppy/dog die before it’s time. As a breeder you must do all your homework to try ensure that this does not happen (though sadly in spite of all ones research it can happen). Temperament is also of importance, salukis do not have to be outgoing, but aggressive or really nervous as opposed to somewhat aloof or friendly are undesirable traits.
Know your dog’s faults so that you can choose a male that compliments her and is strong where perhaps she has a few shortcomings and vice versa . We all aim to achieve perfection.
Another consideration is... are you at home to look after the puppies? The first two and a half weeks are easy, as all being well the mother mainly looks after the puppies. Your job is to look after her and keep everything very clean. At about three weeks we start to feed the puppies and the work intensifies. Also if your bitch has a very large litter then puppies may need supplemental feeding which can be quite time consuming, not to mention more washing of bedding and cleaning up soiled papers plus regular worming! You need to be there for the puppies, not just for their physical needs but also to provide social interaction for them, not just human - of all ages and both genders, plus also noise from vacuums, television etc addition seeing, smelling and hearing both the inside and outside world is important.
I suggest that anyone considering breeding should purchase a copy of the book “The Book of the Bitch” by JM Evans and Kay White. This book is the bible we have used for the last 30 years. No breeder should be without it as it explains all, from the conception procedure, whelping, to how to look after your puppies.
Finding forever homes is the next big challenge. Maybe with a lot of luck you have advertised by word of mouth about the puppies imminent arrival, perhaps via your new found show acquaintances or stud dog owner. However, a solid plan is to have taken an advert in the twice yearly “The Saluki” which is the magazine of the Saluki or Gazelle Hound Club and is an ideal place to start. Also let the Secretary of the SGHC Club also know incase he/she receives any puppy enquiries. An announcement can also be put on the Club’s web site that you have puppies due/available.
For safety's sake I would suggest using a mobile telephone number instead of a landline for any contact regarding the puppies, and do not include your address in adverts or show catalogues when showing. An email address is really advantageous. Whilst it is nice to show off your puppies on Facebook please be wary regarding giving away the location of the litter (sadly dog theft is on the increase) in addition selling puppies from social media is not without risk. Most responsible owners like to sell pups to homes which they or a trusted acquaintance has home checked. Whilst there are genuine loving homes to be found via Facebook there are also many enquiries from people of a less desirable nature who try and use it as a method of finding puppies without going through being asked the type of pertinent questions that normally get asked of prospective owners and get hold of pups without getting home checked.
Most people here in the UK only breed a saluki litter when they themselves are ready for a new puppy, as finding good homes can be somewhat challenging at times. We are not a commercial breed, so having your own litters and establishing your own bloodline is very rewarding, but always be aware that the welfare of the puppies is yours for life. If homes do not work out, for whatever reason then it is the responsibility as their breeder to take the dogs back or find other good homes for them; whether they are one or twelve years old.
So finally, if you are thinking of breeding, or buying a saluki to eventually breed from and this article has fired rather than extinguished your ambitions! ... Then do as suggested regarding carrying out sufficient fieldwork and homework. Most importantly, please do not hesitate to ask for advice or to throw questions at the established breeders, whether at shows, on the phone or by email. They do have the future of the breed at heart and should be happy to help those starting on this journey.