ABU DHABI // For Saluki expert Cathy Smith her day’s work on Friday involved carefully scrutinising a succession of the hunting dogs as they paraded past her.
Ms Smith, an Australian, had been selected at chief judge at the ninth annual Saluki Arabian Beauty Contest, part of Abu Dhabi International Hunting & Equestrian Exhibition.
She last judged the event in 2009 and said she had noticed a marked improvement in the standard of entries since then.
“I am so delighted to see the quality of Arabian Salukis. They are incredible and I am very confident that they can compete at world stage,” said Ms Smith, who has previously judged Saluki contests in England, the Netherlands and her home country.
But while the animal’s appearance is important, she said, it should also be considered that they were hunting animals.
“Arabian Salukis are mostly meant for hunting and hence should be examined in this context,” she said.
The contest is open to Salukis over the age of two that are physically health and well-behaved.
As the owner parades the dog around a ring, the judges analyse the shape of the animal’s head, the structure of its muscles, the grace of its movement and the sheen of its coat.
A winning personality is also important, as it takes a confident, proud and dominant dog to really impress the judging panel.
This year, about 25 animals competed for the top prize.
The winner of the male competition was Zeheaban, a 4-year-old, sand-coloured dog.
The female best in show was Hamra, also 4, who was more reddish in colour.
Both the dogs belong to the Al Wathba Palace kennels.
There was also a special award for Antar, who at 12 years old won the prize for the oldest participant in the show.
Hamad Al Ghanem, Head of Committee for Arabian Saluki Beauty Contests & Traditional Races, said the show creates public awareness about the cultural significance of the dog breed.
“Throughout these times and changing generations, the traditional values and ethics of Bedouins are being forgotten and it is our duty to preserve and celebrate them for future generations.” said Mr Al Ghanem, who is a well-known Saluki breeder himself.
He said he hoped the competition would inspire a younger generation to become interested in breeding Salukis.