As we move forward
What really Matters….
By Mary Beth Rogers
On October 23, 1976 Dr. Harry Rymer critiqued Rualla’s Saya’ad Ibn Shihan (registered in Iran as Shihan’s Saya’ad Ibn Shihan Caesar). The critique form notes this male is imported from Iran, sired by an Iranian male, out of a bitch from Lebanon whose sire was Syrian and dam was Iraqi. This is the first entry into the SPDBS Stud book and is a typical example critique of every Saluki since evaluated. There are now 796 Salukis critiqued in the studbook from across the breadth of the Middle East.
In January of 2002, AKC accepted the Society for the Perpetuation of the Desert Bred Saluki as a Domestic Registry and Salukis successfully completing three generations of breeding and evaluation were now eligible to apply to AKC for registration and upon acceptance accorded all privileges accompanying that registration. A 26-year effort to open the AKC Studbook was finally achieved.
As of June 2017, 221 Salukis have met that criteria from the SPDBS Studbook. Of those 221, 149 to this date have made application to and been accepted into the AKC Studbook. While CH TSH Wyvern’s Zev was the first AKC Champion to finish from the SPDBS rolls he certainly was not the last and at this time 17 have finished their AKC Championship including a National Specialty winner, Winners Dog at the Nationals, and Multiple Grand Champions. SPDBS Salukis that participate in the AKC showring are very successful.
While not an AKC event, the Pyramid Cup is an SCOA event and SPDBS Salukis have won it now 5 times since its inception. Three of those times it was won by an import (twice by the same bitch), once a Generation 1 and once by a Generation 3. SPDBS Salukis have proven very capable on the ASFA Lure fields with multiple LCM Title holders including winning the International Invitational. SPDBS Salukis that participate in all performance events, regardless of their generational status, are successful.
Why the need for SPDBS?
In 1882 the first public studbook was established in England for racing Greyhounds with the National Coursing Club. In 1884 AKC was formed also to register working dogs. It was built on the three-volume studbook gifted by August Belmont, and that studbook was closed before Salukis were accepted into the AKC in 1927.
Our foundation here in the US mirrors England so diversity was eventually going to be an issue. The Kuhl sisters provide an exhaustive look at the AKC beginnings (28 founder dogs) in Goodman’s book The Saluki, Coursing Hound of the East, pages 426 to 554.
Prior to 2002 the Studbook was only opened once in 1945 to admit Abdul Farouk and two of his get from two breedings, along with Lady Yeled Sarona Ramullah and her three get from three litters. This brings our founder total to 30 individuals. All of these Salukis from the 1920’s and the 40’s were either imports, Gen 1, 2 or 3s. In other words, today they would be in the Domestic Registry, SPDBS. Until 2002, unless a Saluki was imported from Europe or other FCI registry with a Generation 3 pedigree, there was no avenue for replenishing the western genepool.
Does this matter?
Our Saluki is an ancient breed and now archeological science tells us he has been recognizable for at least 8 millennia. He did not survive this long bred in a closed studbook. The time we in the west have been breeding Salukis is a blip on the end of their timeline and it is imperative for any breeder to embrace the concept of breeding for a hunting dog. The Saluki looks like he does because of what his job is. SPDBS is the repository of those dogs who embody all things Saluki with a history of being purposely bred to work. He was not bred in a closed gene pool. He was not bred for the show ring. He was bred as a highly functional working dog.
It should be noted that the show ring was a uniquely English pastime and was born in the Victorian era. Queen Victoria loved dogs and was a supporter of the new sport of exhibiting purebred dogs as were the Prince and Princess of Wales. This was the impetus behind the formation of the Kennel Club in 1873 and the popularity transferred to the US and the formation of the AKC. Both organizations are bureaucracies to administer the rules and regulations pertaining to dog shows, and breeding of those animals participating. This period in England was one of English world dominion, the height of the British Empire, and a time of great influence. Economic prosperity allowed breeding for “fashion” and exaggeration was fashionable with the biggest of the big and smallest of the small being highly sought after. The foreign dog was highly desired by the new Middle Class which allowed our Saluki to gain his standing in Britain during this period. Additionally, when the British travelled, they took their dogs and their ideas thus spreading the new paradigm of the pedigreed animal as a superior or more desired specimen.
It was during this period that Victorian England developed the concept of “breed type” and “purity of breeding” became the accepted standard. The closed genepool was enshrined as new breeds were created. The Kennel Club was the keeper of the Studbook and dogs of known lineage were deemed a reflection of their owner.
The first truth that must be understood about any population is that the genetic potential of a population cannot exceed what is contributed by the founding individuals. It is finite.
The second truth is that in a closed gene pool, excepting genetic mutation, the amount of genetic variability or diversity declines over time. This process is termed genetic drift or the Sewall Wright effect. Basically, it is the change in the frequency of an allele in the population due to random chance. This eventually reduces genetic variation. In an open gene pool this is of little concern because new genetic material is constantly replenishing the overall genepool.
The Saluki has been blessed throughout time as he has never existed in a closed genepool. In his lands of origin, he never existed in isolation, he moved constantly along trade routes, between grazing areas, given as gifts, taken as tribute, he was in constant movement through the region. This is why he is recognizable on Egyptian tombs, in artifacts in Al Magar and on pottery in Susa, in Persian Miniatures and Mughal Paintings. This is why his perfection has survived. He is the product of an open gene pool, constantly tested as a hunting hound.
Europe has always maintained a mechanism for allowing the Saluki to continue his migrations and places few restrictions on his participation in all FCI events, including the show ring. As a German import, Burydown Uki is a product of that open studbook, reincorporated into the British Studbook after WWII with one slender thread of new genetic material. A handful of other imports have also impacted the English Saluki and Europe with the exception of Germany.
Germany has maintained a healthy influx of Salukis from the Middle East throughout its recent history starting in 1904. Through 2014 over 170 Salukis from the Middle East have been entered into the German Studbook with at least 48 individuals producing litters. Until AKC accepted SPDBS as a Domestic Registry, it maintained a closed Registry for Salukis with the exception of Abdul Farouk and Lady Yeled Sarona Ramullah and 5 of their Gen 1 progeny.
If you look at who that very first Saluki in the SPDBS Studbook was, it is quite the story of diversity. Saya’ad was born in Iran in 1967. His sire was Iranian, the male Fouri von Evin, a trained hunting dog of high grade stock according to his paperwork from the Tazi Club of Iran (defunct after the revolution). His dam was Shihan Amira. Hers is another tale to tell.
Shihan Amira was bred by Dorothy Lees. She was sired by Ceasar Rualla who was bred in the Syrian Desert by the Emir Fauz Sh’alan of the Rualla and gifted to Mrs. Lees. Shihan Amira’s dam is Amira Razzaka who was bred in Iraq by Sheik Abdul Razzak al Razzoul and also gifted to Dorothy Lees. While in Amman, Jordan Mrs. Lees bred the pair and had two puppies survive. One she gifted to Eugenia Kissinger who first took her to Brazil, registered her and successfully showed her before going to Iran with her. While in Iran Ms. Kissinger eventually bred her to Fouri von Evin. The other, a male Sayyad, went to Joe Pendry while he lived in Amman Jordan, Mr. Pendry returned to the US and Sayyad lived out his life in California.
Mrs. Lees eventually returned to England with Ceasar Rualla and Amira Razzaka both of whom attained UK registration. The documents supporting this history are contained in Saya’ad’s SPDBS Studbook file.
Think about the geography of the Middle East at play here. Then consider that neither of the progeny of Ceasar Rualla and Amira Razzaka could be registered in the US while both parents were accepted in England.
Today SPDBS pedigrees encompass almost the entire Middle East. From Iran, to Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, the Emirates, down to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Turkey. The genetic diversity that has preserved our Saluki for thousands of years as he hunts across the sand and rock is alive and available. In 2002 the AKC Board of Directors, after the members of the Saluki Club of America voted in the affirmative in 1999, recognized the work and dedication of the members of the Society by accepting the Society and its Studbook as a Domestic Registry, giving a precious gift to the future. An open genepool. *
*Bibliography-What Really Matters, Margaret E Derry. Bred for Perfection, 2004 ISBN 0-8018-7344-4
Gail Goodman, Coursing Hound of the East,1995-ISBN-0-9639224-0-8
Susan Long, Veterinary Genetics and Reproductive Physiology 2006 ISBN 0 7506 8877 7