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5 Oppressed Iranian Dog Breeds

In the Middle Eastern country of Iran, dog ownership has long been and still is a contentious issue.

And as of recently, freedoms that people like you and me take for granted daily are being removed from Iran.

What freedoms am I talking about? Dog walking.

As of recently, Iran’s Capitol city has banned citizens from walking their dogs in public spaces.

Those who choose to ignore the ban can be hit with hefty fines and even confiscation.

According to a police chief there, the ban was a result of the “fear and anxiety” that dogs create among members of the public.

And while these bans are being created, it doesn’t seem that everyone in Iran is taking to them well.

There are still many dog owners in the country that welcome dogs as part of their family, and love them as one of their own.

So in an attempt to fight back against laws like such, I want to shed some light on some of the amazing dogs that come from the country of Iran.

Today we’ll talk about seven different dog breeds that originate from Iran, and cover six key components about each:

  • general description
  • personality and temperament
  • grooming
  • common diseases and conditions
  • history
  • facts and figures

So without further ado, let’s introduce you to some of these amazing breeds.

1) Saluki (Persian Greyhound)

Saluki dog breed, standing on white background

Description:

The Saluki also referred to as the Persian Greyhound, is, like other greyhounds, very tall, long, and slender, with a narrow body, slim waist, and deep chest.

They range from 23 to 28 inches tall, and weigh anywhere between 35 to 65 pounds, with females on the lesser end.

The breed has long, floppy ears that are covered with long, silky hair, and a long tail that is also covered with fur.

With exception to the ears, the tail, and a few other places on the body, the rest of the Saluki is covered with a soft, short coat of fur.

In some cases, smooth varieties of the breed are available, in which all of the hair is short and sleek. They come in many different coat colors and patterns.

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Personality and Temperament:

The Saluki is a very loyal breed of dog that is extremely devoted to their family.

Though the breed tends to be shy or aloof with strangers, they are very gentle and wouldn’t hurt a soul.

The breed is extremely gentle with children, and also plays well with other dogs.

With that being said, though the breed will happily sit by your side and relish your attention, you won’t find them curled up on your lap.

This breed tends to bond strongly with one particular member of the family and may experience separation anxiety when they leave.

This breed loves to run. In return, Salukis need a great deal of exercise each day – just be careful when they see a squirrel because they love to chase too!

With that being said, as much as the Saluki loves to run, it also likes to lounge.

If you provide the Saluki with a warm room and a soft bed, they will be content to lounge for hours.

The Saluki is an intelligent breed that learns quickly but is also extremely stubborn and independent.

In return, training can be challenging. They respond best to short, interesting training sessions full of positive reinforcement.

Grooming:

The Saluki is a very clean breed of dog that doesn’t give off any door. For the short parts of their fur, regular wipe-downs with a damp cloth will be sufficient to keep them clean.

In terms of the longer fur on their ears, tails, and other parts of their body, this will require regular brushing with a feathering comb to keep tangles and knots to a minimum.

Bathing is only required if they get dirty.

Common Conditions and Diseases:

The two most common conditions seen in the Saluki Breed include anesthesia sensitivity and hemangiosarcoma:

Anesthesia Sensitivity:

Symptoms:

Anesthesia sensitivity is a common condition among all breeds of greyhound due to their low levels of body fat.

Though some sensitivities and allergies to anesthesia can be fatal, this is extremely uncommon.

The most common symptoms of sensitivity are mild redness and swelling at the injection site.

More concerning symptoms may include a drop in blood pressure or pulse rate, or severe cases, cardiac arrest or anaphylactic shock.

Diagnosis:

Unfortunately, there is no way to definitively diagnose an anesthesia sensitivity without actually giving the drug to your dog.

With that being said, some conditions can increase the risk of reaction, including disease, dehydration, diabetes, or other infectious diseases. In some cases, pre-surgery exams can be provided to rule out these risk factors.

If your dog does experience a reaction while under anesthetic, an allergy diagnosis will be given, and a list of medications to avoid will be provided for future use.

Treatment:

In the case of a mild reaction to anesthetics, Benadryl or other types of antihistamines may be given.

Veterinarians also frequently use Corticosteroids to help keep the airways from closing, and to reduce swelling and inflammation.

In the case of a severe reaction, Epinephrine may be administered.

Hemangiosarcoma:

Symptoms:

Hemangiosarcoma is a type of cancer that arises in the cells of blood vessels. These types of tumors can occur anywhere that blood vessels are present, but most commonly occur in the spleen.

Hemangiosarcoma can also spread to other organs, including the lungs and heart.

Sadly, this form of cancer is very aggressive, and many times, symptoms do not arise until it is too late.

When symptoms do occur, they may include things like lethargy and weakness, paleness of the mouth or eyes, heavy or rapid breathing, depression, lack of appetite, or swelling of the abdominal region.

Diagnosis:

In some cases, tumors may be large enough that they can be felt through a physical exam.

But either way, if hemangiosarcoma is suspected, several diagnostic tests may be administered.

These tests will be used to confirm the diagnosis, rule out other causes, and assess the extent of the disease.

Common diagnostic tests may include:

  • Chemistry tests
  • Clotting tests
  • Parasite tests
  • Fecal tests
  • CBC tests
  • Electrolyte tests
  • Urinalysis
  • Thyroid testing
  • ECG’s
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasounds

Treatment:

Treatment for this type of cancer will depend on several factors, including the size and location of the tumor, as well as whether cancer has spread to other organs or areas of the body.

In some cases, surgical removal and chemotherapy may be able to help, but due to the aggressive nature of this cancer, the prognosis is not usually good.

In most cases, supportive care and therapy will be suggested to help your dog live the highest quality of life for the remainder of its duration.

History:

Though the exact origins of the Saluki are unknown, this is considered to be a very ancient breed of dog.

Depictions of the Saluki date back over 4000 years ago where they were often seen on Egyptian tombs.

Older carvings that bear a striking resemblance to the Saluki have also been found dating back to 7 000 B.C.E.

It has been documented that these dogs were often used by Pharaohs to hunt gazelles and hares and that they were honored by their owners, as was shown by the mummification of their remains after death.

Since then, Salukis became widespread throughout the Middle East and were often found in places like Persia, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Arabia.

With that being said, the popularity of the breed did not spread to the United States until the 1900s. The AKC officially recognized it in 1927.

Saluki Facts & Figures:

Did you know?

  • The Saluki is the oldest known breed of domesticated dog
  • The Saluki is extremely fast and has remarkable sight, making them the perfect hunting dog
  • The Saluki first made its way to England in 1840

2) Persian Sarabi Mastiff (Iranian Mastiff)

Persian Sarabi Mastiff lying on the cemented floor

صومعه ملکشاه [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Description:

The Persian Sarabi Mastiff also referred to as the Iranian Mastiff, is a large breed of dog that has heavy bones and a large head.

They stand between 28 and 35 inches tall and can weigh anywhere between 110-220 pounds, with females on the smaller side, and large males on the heavier side.

The breed is one of the most powerful dogs in the world and has a broad, mid-length muzzle. The breed has a long, thick, sickle-shaped tail, and upper lips that hang down.

They come in both short and medium length coat types, and come in shades of brown, with a black mask on their face. In some cases, the entire body may be black.

Personality and Temperament:

The Persian Sarabi Mastiff has long been used as a guardian of livestock and property.

They are one of the most powerful dogs in the world, and their appearance reflects that.

This history, combined with their muscular and powerful appearance makes them excellent guard dogs.

When intruders are near, the Persian Sarabi Mastiff will quickly go into alert mode, and though it’s unlikely to partake in any direct conformation, it will stand its ground when needed.

While the breed is relatively aloof with strangers, they are very friendly, loving, and loyal to their family.

They treat their family as a flock and will guard them with fierce devotion. This is a very large breed of dog and doesn’t do well in apartment situations.

They need room to run and roam and need daily activity to help release their mental and physical energy.

Grooming:

The Persian Sarabi Mastiff breed comes in short and mid-length fur varieties. Both are relatively low maintenance and only require occasional brushing. Shedding is moderate.

Common Diseases and Conditions:

The Iranian Mastiff has very few health concerns, but may be prone to hip dysplasia:

Hip Dysplasia:

Symptoms:

Hip Dysplasia is a type of skeletal disease that is common in many different breeds of dogs. The condition occurs when the joints of the hip do not develop properly, leaving room for them to dislocate eventually.

The condition can range in severity from simple wear and tear to difficulty walking around.

Symptoms may include a swaying gait, weakness in the hind legs, pain in the hips, intolerance to exercise, reduced activity levels, or difficulty walking around.

In some cases, you may be able to hear a distinct clicking noise coming from the hips as your dog walks.

Diagnosis:

If you suspect that your dog may have hip dysplasia, it’s important to get them to the veterinarian for a physical exam.

If the veterinarian also suspects dysplasia after an initial exam is performed, they may assign x-rays for further reading. Manual tests on your dog’s hips and legs may also be used for diagnosis.

Treatment:

The exact treatment of Hip Dysplasia will depend on the severity of the condition.

In less severe cases, daily lifestyle changes may be enough to manage the condition.

These can include things like changes to diet, the addition of supplements, anti-inflammatory medications, weight loss solutions, and appropriate exercise.

In more severe cases, surgical options like a total hip replacement may be necessary.

History:

Sadly, not much has been documented about the history of the Persian Sarabi Mastiff breed.

What is known, however, is that they are indigenous to the city of Sarab in the North Western area of Iran.

For many years, they were used by Iranian Shepherds to help guard their sheep against common predators like wolves, bears, and jackals.

The breed is thought to have evolved from Assyrian dogs and war dogs of Ancient Persia.

Persian Sarabi Mastiff Dog Facts & Figures:

Did you know?

  • The Persian Sarabi Mastiff is unlikely to engage in confrontation, but if an intruder doesn’t back down, they will strike and defend
  • The Persian Sarabi Mastiff is one of the most powerful dogs in the world and has an extremely powerful bite force
  • The Persian Sarabi dog has a long life span of 12-15 years

3) Alabai (Sage Mazandarani)

Alabai from Iran

Description:

The Sage Mazandarani dog is a large breed of dog that is separated into two different size categories. (image source)

Those that are traditionally used for hunting bears are considered to be the larger of the two, while those used for hunting large cats are typically learner and lighter. The average height for this breed is 28 inches.

Regardless of which category they fall into, both types Alabai are strong and well-boned, and bare powerful bodies, muzzles, and jaws, with strong and sturdy legs.

Though some dogs don’t, most Sage Mazandarani’s have cropped ears and tails.

The breed has mid-length fur that comes in a variety of colors, but are typically white with dark patches.

In very rare occasions, the dog may be solid black, in which case they are seen as the most valued.

Personality and Temperament:

The Sage Mazandarani is considered to be a very aggressive breed of dog and is still used today to hunt large prey like bears and leopards.

Their ability to hunt means that they are both courageous and fearless, but also highly territorial and protective.

Though the Sage Mazandarani is friendly, affectionate, and loving with its owners, it doesn’t do well with strangers or other dogs/animals.

Grooming:

The Sage Mazandarani has mid-length fur that requires occasional brushing and grooming. Regular brushing is necessary to keep fur loss to a minimum.

Common Diseases and Conditions:

Unfortunately, the Alabai is not a common breed of dog, and not much is known about diseases and conditions that are common to the breed.

With that being said, they are subject to regular veterinarian checkups just like any other breed to rule out any conditions that are common among all dogs.

History:

The Sage Mazandarani is an ancient breed of dog that is found throughout Northern Iran.

They are believed to be a descendant of old Hyrcanian Mastiffs crossed with local livestock guarding breeds.

The breed is primarily seen as a working dog and was originally imported to Russia as a bear hunter.

Sage Mazandarani Facts & Figures:

Did you know?

  • The Sage Mazandarani is very fast and athletic when working, but in their downtime, they like to laze and be inactive

4) Pshdar Dog(Kurdish Mastiff)

Description:

The Pshdar dog, now referred to as the Assyrian Shepherd dog, is a large breed of dog that stands between 75-90 cm tall, and weighs between 60-90 kilos, with females on the lighter end of the spectrum.

The breed has a deep and broad chest, along with strong and powerful jaws. They have small, floppy ears, and a long tail that curls.

The breed is well known for the fold of loose skin that hangs from their neck, more commonly referred to as a dewlap.

The Pshdar dog has soft, loose skin with short to medium length fur that comes in a variety of different colors, including black and white, grey, reddish yellow, and so on.

Personality and Temperament:

The Pshdar is an intelligent breed of dog that is extremely devoted to its family, as well as to it’s duty and role as protector.

The breed has long been used as a livestock guardian and takes its job of guarding very seriously. As such, the breed is hesitant of strangers and may bark a lot when unknown people are near.

This is not an aggressive breed of dog, and they will stray away from trouble whenever possible.

The Pshdar is a very calm, laid back, easy going breed of dog that is both faithful and affectionate to its owners. The Pshdar does do well with children but is not the “playful” type.

They are easily trained but do require a large yard to roam in. Pshdars do not make good apartment dogs.

Grooming:

The Pshdar has a short to medium coat of fur that has a thick undercoat and a shorter outercoat.

Though it doesn’t require a great deal of grooming, regular brushing is suggested to minimize fur loss around the house.

Common Diseases and Illness

Unfortunately, there is no information currently available on the health of this breed. With that being said, they are subject to regular veterinarian checkups for diseases and illnesses that are common to all breeds of dog.

History:

The Pezhdar dog has been recorded in history for over 6000 years. This is an ancient breed that has long been used as a guardian and protector.

They were originally bred by the Assyrians and Babylonians for protection against wild animals like lions and tigers but went on to become common cattle guardians.

Today, the breed is becoming increasingly popular in both Europe and America.

Pezhdar Dog Facts & Figures:

Did you know?

  • The Pezhdar is one of the most powerful dog breeds in the world, and in history has been used to fend off large predators like lions, tigers, and wolves
  • Pshdar is one of the best “service” breeds in the world.

5) Alaunts:

The Alaunt dog breed is an extinct breed of molosser dogs with its original breed said to have existed in Central Asia, the region of North Caucasus and Europe around the 17th century.

Description:

The original breed of this dog is said to have a resemblance with the Ovcharka, a Central Asian dog breed.

These breeds are described as large and short coated mountain dogs having various types.

This drives to the conclusion that many modern dog breeds are said to be direct descendants of this species.

Personality And Temperament:

  • above average intelligence
  • very easy to train them.
  •  very good watchdogs.
  • very friendly with children.
  •  friendly with other dog species.
  • Not apartment-friendly.

Grooming:

  •  minimal shedding
  •  low drooling tendency.

History of the Breed

As recorded in history, the Alaunt breed is said to have been bred by the Alani tribe, the Sarmatian kavkaz nomads of Indian and Iranian ancestry. Outside of the Persian Empire, there existed an Iranian tribe generally overlooked majorly because of their independence of the central government.

They are also referred to as Alanis, and they settled in Pontic Steppe and the northern region of the black sea. They were considered expert breeders of dogs and horses, and they were responsible for introducing their dogs to Europe.

They were believed to be great warriors and herdsmen who bred dogs and horses. The purpose of breeding these dogs was because of their work, and this was carried out to produce different classes within the breed to carry out specific duties.

So far, as recorded in history, the first ancestors of this breed were native breeds like the Alabai and Gampr of Central Asia and the Caucasus region and the hounds of Persia and India which were shorthaired.

Many believed that the Albanian and Greek breeds were a direct descendant of the white colored Alaunt breed that had influenced many other white dog breeds in the Balkan region.

On the other hand, the Western Alani tribe got involved with the Vandals and followed them in their raids in the 410s through Europe.

They had really fierce dogs which influenced so many other breeds in Spain, England, Portugal, France, and some other countries, where the use of the name “Alaunt” was spread, making the breed synonymous with the title of a working dog rather than just a specific breed.

Furthermore, through the process of breeding with other species like sighthounds and scenthounds, the breed became valued mainly as a game hunting dog, with various species which were dictated according to preference.

The breed was separated in France according to their appearance and duties performed by them.

The types include the Alaunt Gentil, considered the lightest, looking like a greyhound and eventually were bred with the Alaunt Veantre, a local hunting breed.

The heavier species, the Alaunt de Boucherie, played a vital role in developing the baiting and fighting dogs in France.

Other countries like Spain and England, repeated the same process, with bulldogs and mastiffs produced as the Alaunts were cross-bred, which influenced almost all European baiting, fighting and guarding dog breeds.

Form what we know from above; let us take a closer look at the types of the Alaunt breed.

The Alaunt Gentile:

The Alaunt Gentil or otherwise known as the Alaunt Lebrel, was not really a Greyhound, but it was instead made like its shape (that is the shape of the greyhound), but however, it had substantially a lesser bone structure, a short-muzzled head that was heavier than that of a greyhound, with a squarer jaw.

The Alaunt Veantre:

It has slouching ears, a bid head, and hanging lips. It was bred for the sole purpose of hunting the bear and wild boar.

The Alaunt Boucherie:

This breed of the Alaunt was known as the butcher’s mastiff in England. It was in two forms, the larger species and the smaller species, where the larger species are known as the Shepherd’s Mastiff and the smaller species known as the Butcher’s mastiff. They both performed similar tasks, though, which was to guard the herd and the house.

MODERN RELATIVES OF THE BREED

Fanatics of the Alaunt breed are now developing new breeds based on the Alaunt bloodline.

They include; the new Alaunt, the Abraxas bulldog, the American Alaunt, and the Dogo Belgrado.

Although its origin is still rooted in the ancient dog breeds of the east, the Alaunt breed is being regarded as an original breed of the bulldog species.

European Dogs bred from the Alaunts Specie

The Spanish Bulldog:

Also known as the Alano Español, has its name derived from the nomadic pastoralists of  Alani tribe of Iran who arrived in Spain during the migration period of the 5th Century.

Bullen Beisser:

There is a belief that this breed has its development from Germany.  They were believed to have developed as a result of cross-breeding with Canis Alani specie after Rome had fallen.

The English Mastiffs and Bulldogs:

In 50AD, Hadrian’s wall was guarded by about 5,500 Alanis a period which saw the Alans providing calvary for Rome.

Therefore, this gave rise to the crossing of the Alaunt breed giving rise to British pugnances as the fighting dogs which are then believed to be the ancestors of the Bulldogs and the English mastiffs.

Presently, countless mastiff and bulldog breeds owe its existence to the Alaunt.

The Dogo Argentino:

It was believed that in the 1920s, the Dogo was developed by breeders who crossed the Cordoba Fighting Dog with other breeds like the Great Pyrenees, the Great Dane, Dogue de Bordeaux, Bull Terrier, and the English Bulldog.

Conclusion:

In summary, the dog breeds of Iran are just as loyal, loving, affectionate, and deserving as any other breed of dog from around the world.

Despite the belief by the Iranian government that these dogs spread “fear and anxiety” to the public, they are still beloved by many in the country.

If we can shed light on the many benefits that come along with owning a dog – protection, love, loyalty, companionship, service, etc. – then we may eventually be able to change laws against dogs.

Dogs can’t speak for themselves, so it’s up to us to do it for them – so let’s start shedding some light!

 

 

 

About The Author: Chalene Johnston graduated with honors from University with a BA in psychology. She is a proud stay-at-home mom to her 2-year-old French Bulldog puppy, Stella! When she is not looking for adventure travel destinations, she loves to write! She writes for a wide variety of topics – with animals being one of her favorites.