SHR banner small


How do
I donate samples
for Saluki studies?


Your tax-deductible donations, made payable to SHR Inc, should be sent to

MaryDee Sist DVM
1629 Meech Road
Williamston, MI 48895


Saluki Health Survey: Background
-MaryDee Sist, DVM
May 30, 2001

Since people have kindly supported my research efforts, I wanted to insure that my continued investigations reflected the concerns and questions of the sponsors. To reach a diverse population of Saluki fanciers, I made the health survey form available at the SCOA National dog show. Gayle Nastasi also kindly made the survey available on the Saluki Health web site, which allowed inclusion of even more responses in the last year. A part of my goal was to ease folks into thinking about Saluki health problems and concerns by presenting a general, non-threatening survey that was easy to complete. The Saluki survey included perceived health problems, i.e., what people had heard of occurring and felt were problems in the Saluki breed.

Unfortunately, and not necessarily unusual for survey responses, only 20 to 25% of the people who took a copy of the survey filled it out. Additionally, of the 102 returned surveys, 20 respondents didn't fill out both sides or checked everything. Since there does not seem to be a lack of concern about Saluki health issues, I am attempting to address the difficulties with the survey. Was it too complicated? I chose to use medical terms for conditions, because if the reader wasn't familiar with the term, then they likely had no experience with the disorder. There would certainly be benefits of conducting an in depth health survey complete with diet, exercise, vaccinations history, environmental exposure, etc including the age and cause of death for each individual dog, etc. BUT this information would be much more difficult to collect.

The accuracy of any survey depends upon the quality of replies. Terminology is also a problem. Just because people have been told that their dog has a specific condition, doesn't mean that it is a correct diagnosis. Laboratory testing is often needed to confirm a diagnosis. For example, a diagnosis of autoimmune disease might not be accurate, unless specific laboratory diagnostics were positive. And the cause does not have to be genetic, since some cases are tick-disease related and other environmental causes might be elucidated in the future.

There are also breed differences that are important for us to be aware of. Just because a Saluki tests low for T4 thyroid hormones does not necessarily mean it is hypothyroid. We now know from the completion of the "normal" thyroid study of 325 Saluki blood samples that many Salukis test low in some values.

Some post-mortem examination reports on Salukis may also be misleading. The diagnosis of cardiomyopathy means that there was something wrong with the heart muscle, but that doesn't mean that it was a primary condition or syndrome. The outstanding example of this was a Saluki that was echoed with a diagnosis of pericardial fluid before he died. The pathologist reported that the cause of death was cardiomyopathy and noted the fluid. The heart was sent to me for inclusion is the Saluki study. The pathologist conducting the Saluki study concluded from his gross and histological examination that the dog died of restrictive pericarditis that was caused by an infection. Over time, the increasing pressure of the fluid building up resulted in deterioration of the heart muscle. Since this was caused by another condition, it was not a primary cardiomyopathy. I have also heard people say that their Veterinarian said that the dog died of an aneurism since no other cause was apparent, but no microscopic examination was done.

Health concerns and breed differences need to be explored in further studies. Additionally, to know the true health status of our breed, thorough examinations with documentation need to be done. I attempted to circumvent some inherent problems by focusing on PERCIEVED health problems in our breed, with respondents reporting what they knew of personally, either in their own dogs or dogs they knew. The exact numbers of specifically affected dogs were not important. It is possible that owners that were more open about their own dog's health problems were over represented. Some of the conditions were related to advanced age and these were fairly obvious.
In summary, I think the generalizations and insights into health problems in our Salukis gained from the survey were certainly worth the effort. Thanks for your participation.

MaryDee Sist, DVM

back to top