Last Updated: April 12, 2021
The Aidi, also known as the Atlas Mountain Dog and the Berber Dog, is a breed from Morocco in North Africa that has a long history. It is a Medium, muscular dog employed to protect livestock and people against predators, and has a reputation for being fearless and willing to take on any threat. It does not take easily to strangers, and can be aggressive unless it is thoroughly socialized from puppyhood. It is very active and needs a lot of space—definitely not a dog for apartment owners. It is loyal and protective, and is an excellent watchdog and guard dog.
The ancient Phoenicians, whose trading ships dominated the Mediterranean for centuries, were also among the world’s first professional dog breeders. The Aidi of Morocco may have been one of the earliest results of their efforts.
|Here is the Aidi at a Glance|
|Other Names||Atlas Mountain Dog, Berber Dog|
|Average weight||50-60 pounds|
|Average height||20-25 inches at the shoulder|
|Life span||10-12 years|
|Coat type||Very heavy, harsh double coat|
|Color||Black, red, tawny, white, black or brown and white|
|Popularity||Not well known|
|Tolerance to heat||High|
|Tolerance to cold||High|
|Shedding||Once a year heavy, otherwise average|
|Drooling||Not a drooler|
|Obesity||Not prone to obesity|
|Grooming/brushing||Weekly brushing, more at shedding season|
|Trainability||Average effort needed|
|Friendliness||Wary of strangers|
|Good first dog||Probably not|
|Good family pet||If socialized early and well|
|Good with children||With proper socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Not the best|
|Good with other pets||Can be, with socialization|
|Good with strangers||Not very|
|Good apartment dog||No|
|Handles alone time well||No|
|Health issues||Essentially none|
|Medical expenses||$75 average annual|
|Food expenses||$170 average annual|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$75 average annual|
|Average annual expense||$350|
|Cost to purchase||$400-$1,100|
|Rescue organizations||None specific to Aidi|
The Aidi’s Beginnings
The Aidi is considered these days to be a native of Morocco, and there is even an organization there dedicated to the breed. But there is evidence to believe that the Aidi was originally a product of the ancient Phoenicians’ desire to make a buck.
Now the Phoenicians, who started out as a collection of city states on the eastern Mediterranean coast around what is now Lebanon, were smart people. For instance, they invented the alphabet that the western world has used, with variations, ever since. They were also aggressive and dedicated sailors and traders whose commercial empire spread over the centuries to cover pretty much all of the Mediterranean basin.
On top of all that, they were professional dog breeders, creating new canine varieties to fit market niches in different parts of their commercial domain. The Basenji, for instance, is thought to be a Phoenician breed. The Aidi is another. It was bred and raised in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco in northern Africa, which is the land of the Berber people. Two other names for the Aidi, in fact, are “Berber Dog” and “Atlas Mountain Dog”.
Aidis were bred to be strong, loyal and fierce. They were, and are today, depended on by the Berber people to protect both human beings and livestock. The point of their super heavy coats, in fact, in addition to helping them deal with the extreme heat and cold of the Atlas Mountains, was to keep them safe from the teeth of jackals and other predators.
New Lease on Life
In the eighth century, as the Muslim empire expanded west across the Nile and into the rest of northern Africa, the Berbers fell under the control of the Muslims. When Mohammed’s armies leaped across the Mediterranean and into Iberian Peninsula, the Berbers went with them. In fact, Berbers made up the majority of the troops that conquered what are now Spain and Portugal, along with parts of France. And of course they brought their dogs along. Those dogs cross bred with others, and one result is believed to be the Pyrenees Mountain Dog, or as it is known in the United States, the Great Pyrenees.
Back in the Atlas Mountains and the rest of Morocco, over the centuries, Aidi have become more popular as house dogs and companion dogs; but they also continue to serve their original purpose of guarding livestock and people from harm.
The Dog You See Today
The Aidi is a big, strong dog, heavily muscled. It stands twenty to twenty-five inches high at the shoulder and typically weighs around fifty or sixty pounds. The thick, heavy coat is rough textured, two to three inches long, and covers all of the body except for the face and ears. Those ears are medium size, and tend to tip over to the front when the Aidi is at rest, but perk up when the dog is alerted by curiosity of threat. The Aidi’s neck, chest and withers have long, full guard hairs that give it a bushy look.
The Aidi’s body is a little longer than it is high, with a large head and a tapering muzzle. The eyes are dark and round. The tail is slightly curved and is carried straight out when the Aidi is on alert.
The Inner Aidi
Although it was bred as a guard dog, the Aidi is generally regarded as a good people dog—relatively docile, gentle and affectionate. It bonds well with the members of its family and is good around children. It is playful and enjoys gentle physical contact. It is also fearless and protective .
An Aidi does not need constant attention, but it does need quite a bit of exercise and activity. It is a working dog, used to attending to and responding to what is going on around it, and does not do well if It is left too much to itself. Most working dogs need jobs, and the Aidi is no exception.
Aidis are not aggressive, but they are very vigilant. They are wary of people and animals they do not know. They will not typically start a fight with another dog, but may be very quick to respond to aggression, or even a hint of aggression, from another dog. They are also territorial, and may feel a need to defend what they see as their turf, and so should be kept on a leash when they will be around other animals. And although physical aggression from an Aidi is not typical, it will bark loudly at turf transgressions.
Living with an Aidi
An Aidi is probably not a very good bet for a first-time dog owner. Given that it will need fairly intensive obedience training early on, and may have some issues around dealing with other dogs and being socialized to relate well with people, its potential owner should be someone experienced with dogs.
This is a smart dog though and with the right person will respond well to positive training techniques. The Aidi comes from a history of guarding people and livestock and can be independent still so needs a firm and consistent approach.
How active is the Aidi?
First of all, an Aidi is definitely not the right dog for someone who lives in, or plans to live in, an apartment. The Aidi does not handle confined spaces well, and will become nervous and touchy. Even though it does not do the kind of running and roaming that some dogs are prone to, the Aidi needs a fair amount of space around it to feel comfortable. This may be have to do with its role as a guard dog and protector; being able to see potential threats from a distance is probably a part of its defensive strategy. As a result, a large yard is good, and something like a farm is better.
An Aidi really needs a job, and the breed does quite well in tasks involving agility, tracking and hunting. It is a working dog, after all. And once again, this means it needs an owner who likes working with dogs, and who has the time to get well involved with the learning process.
Caring for the Aidi
The Aidi has a weather-resistant coat that is thick and medium length. The coat will shed a moderate amount all year long and should be brushed about twice a week using a firm bristled brush. It will shed more during seasonal shedding times and then will need daily brushing. Aidi should be given a bath to wash that coat just when it is really needed to protect the natural oils in its skin.
If the nails on the Aidi do not naturally wear down from being active outside then they will need to be trimmed when they get too long. Dog nails are not like peoples and some experience is needed to do this. If you are not familiar with them take your dog to someone who is like the vet or a professional groomer. Dental care is important too so brush its teeth at least twice a week. Ear infection is something to watch out for in many dogs. Check them once a week and give them a wipe to clean them. Never insert anything into the dog’s ears though.
As a Medium sized dog it is likely to require 1½ to 2½ cups of high quality dry dog food on a daily basis. However it should not be eaten in one sitting, spread it out between at least two meals. How much dogs eat depends on their activity levels, size and general health so this may need some adjusting depending on your dog.
Children and other pets
The Aidi is a family dog. One of the things it was bred for, after all, was protecting the home and its people. An Aidi gets along well with children, bonds with them easily, and enjoys playing with them. Once again, however, early socialization and training is important, and spending the time and energy to get this done is vital, not just at the beginning of the relationship, but as an ongoing process. A person who cannot commit the time and energy to this responsibility needs to be thinking of a different breed of dog.
Even with experienced dog people an Aidi is also not necessarily the best choice. Given its territoriality, it tends not to do well in homes that already have other dogs. This can also be true of other pets in the home. If you are looking to bring an Aidi into a home with other animals, early and careful socialization will be necessary. In fact, the potential owner of an Aidi needs to be a firm, consistent disciplinarian, willing to put quite a lot of time and energy into training and socializing his new dog right from the first days of puppyhood. The plus here is that the Aidi will respond well to that discipline and structure.
What Might Go Wrong?
Because it is a very active dog, there is always a possibility of injury with an Aidi. Overuse injuries can occur with any dog, and so the Aidi might fall prey to something like hip dysplasia, where the hip becomes dislocated, or patellar luxation, a similar problem involving the legs.
Generally, however, this is a tough, durable dog. It has no known congenital medical problems, and can be expected to stay healthy throughout its life.
Looking at data that covers over 34 years of dog attacks reports none reveal that any were the result of an Aidi. The Aidi is not known for being aggressive towards people though it is wary and can be territorial with other dogs involved. Key to avoiding problems with aggression is to make sure you have a dog that suits your lifestyle and living arrangements. One that you can give the attention, training, socialization and activity that it needs. A properly raised dog is going to be far less likely to have problems with aggression.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
Because the Aidi, except in North Africa, is not a well-known breed, you may have some problems finding one; and if you do, the price is hard to predict. A search will locate dogs priced anywhere from $400 to $1,100. Also, you are not likely to find one at an animal shelter, and there do not appear to be any rescue organizations that specialize in the breed.
If you do manage to locate one, then the next stop, of course, is the veterinarian, for spaying, if the Aidi is female, or neutering, if it is male. This can be expected to cost, on average, $200. At the same time your new pup will need inoculations and other beginning medical work that will run about another $70. Add to that a collar, leash, and pet license, which will usually add up to approximately $45 or $50.
The next step is obedience training, which is not a thing to duck in this dog’s case. The best bet will be to locate someone who is experienced with, and understands the psychology of, working and hunting dogs. An initial round of obedience training will probably cost somewhere between $120 and $150.
Your Aidi needs to eat, of course, and a year’s supply of good quality dog food will run in the neighborhood of $120. Add to that toys and treats for about another $50 or $60, although some owners spend as much or more on treats as they do on regular dog food.
Overall, after the initial expenses, you can expect your Aidi to cost you in the neighborhood of $320 a year.
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The Aidi, also known as the Atlas Mountain Dog and the Berber Dog, is a breed from Morocco in North Africa that has a long history. There is some evidence that it originated with the ancient Phoenicians, a culture that dominated the coastal areas of the Mediterranean from about 1500 B.C to 500 B.C. It is a Medium , muscular dog employed to protect livestock and people against predators, and has a reputation for being fearless and willing to take on any threat. It does not take easily to strangers, and can be aggressive unless it is thoroughly socialized from puppyhood. It is very active and needs a lot of space—definitely not a dog for apartment owners. It was bred to be a working dog, and It needs the firm but gentle hand of an owner who has the time and energy to spend working with it. At the same time, the Aidi can be affectionate and playful, and is very good with children. It is loyal and protective, and is an excellent watchdog and guard dog.
An avid animal lover, Roland started this blog to help all varieties of pets and their owners on their journey to living their best lives.