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The Sloughi is a medium to large purebred bred to be a sighthound from the deserts of North Africa and has several names including the Berber Greyhound, Slougui, Arabian Greyhound, Arabian Sighthound, Levrier Marocain and Sloughi Moghrebi. It is more commonly found in Morocco where its standard was developed and it was bred to hunt game like desert hare, foxes, gazelles and jackals often working with hunting falcons. It was also used by owners to protect livestock and the home. Today it is also a companion and does well in show events and doggy sporting events.
|The Sloughi at A Glance|
|Other names||Berber Greyhound, Slougui, Arabian Greyhound, Arabian Sighthound, Levrier Marocain and Sloughi Moghrebi|
|Origin||Algeria, Libya, Morocco|
|Average size||Medium to large|
|Average weight||45 to 65 pounds|
|Average height||22 to 30 inches|
|Life span||12 to 16 years|
|Coat type||Short, smooth, dense, fine|
|Color||Brindle, black, cream, spotted, fawn|
|Popularity||Not popular – ranked 185th by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Above average – understands things fairly quickly|
|Tolerance to heat||Very good – can handle some heat|
|Tolerance to cold||Moderate – not good in the cold at all|
|Shedding||Average – some hair will be left around the home|
|Drooling||Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool|
|Obesity||Low – not prone to weight gain|
|Grooming/brushing||Low maintenance – brush once or twice a week|
|Barking||Occasional – some barking but not too frequent|
|Exercise needs||Very active – needs active owners as this dog needs a lot of exercise|
|Trainability||Moderately easy for those with experience|
|Friendliness||Very good with socialization|
|Good first dog||Moderate – not a good first dog, needs experienced owners|
|Good family pet||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with children||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Very good with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Moderate to good – socialization is needed|
|Good with strangers||Good with socialization but tend to be wary|
|Good apartment dog||Very good as long as it gets enough exercise outside as it is not that active indoors|
|Handles alone time well||Moderate – prefers not to be left alone for long periods|
|Health issues||Healthy breed but a few issues include eye problems, hemophilia and sensitivity to anesthetics|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$260 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$255 a year for basic training, license, toys, and miscellaneous items|
|Average annual expenses||$1000 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$1,200|
|Rescue organizations||Several including Sloughi Rescue, American Sloughi Association and SFAA|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Sloughi’s Beginnings
The Sloughi’s exact origins are not known but it is certainly an ancient breed, written mention of it can be found dating back to a book that was thought to have been written in the 1200s. However a DNA study suggests it has been a part of Africa for possibly thousands of years. While it is Morocco that holds the standard for the breed today, in fact back then the area the breed originates from includes not just Morocco but also Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. It was bred and developed by the Amazigh, the nomadic people of the region. This breed has been highly prized by the people there for hundreds of years. It is held in higher regard than other dog breeds and there was a time when only chief or Kings were allowed to breed and own them. To make sure breedings were good and pure owners would travel a long distance to find the right mate.
At one time there were actually two types, a larger mountain Sloughi and then the smaller sleek desert type. In the western countries of Africa the two types have been bred together and there is not as much distinction. It was once thought that the Sloughi and the Saluki were closely related but DNA testing has disproved this. In fact the closest relation is the Azawakh a dog bred by Southern Berber tribes. The Sloughi was used to hunt with and as a watch dog and guard dog as well as being a companion. It was even allowed into the tents to sleep and treated as a family member, decorated with jewels and mourned when they passed.
In the middle of the 1800s information about the Sloughi reached Europe and some came to France and then the Netherlands in the late 1800s. At first it was seen as a French breed because Algeria was occupied by France then, but when it gained independence Morocco actually became its representative country. As with many breeds it was the world wars that had a devastating impact on the breeds numbers and it came close to extinction. Also hit with a rabies epidemic and with France making hunting with a sighthound illegal, popularity and numbers reached an all time low in both Europe and its native lands in North Africa.
New Lease on Life
Breeders worked hard to bring its numbers up from being close to extinction but it remains today a rare breed. It came to the US in 1973and received full recognition from the AKC in 2016. It is ranked 185th in popularity by the AKC but its numbers are a little better in its home lands.
The Dog You See Today
This is a medium to large dog weighing 45 to 65 pounds and standing 22 to 30 inches tall. It has an almost square build and its topline runs almost straight. It is a little taller than it is long and is very leggy. It is a slender, lean dog but it is not at all fragile, it is strong, athletic, fast, agile and powerful in fact. The tail is long and held low and curves up to a slender tip. It has feet like rabbits, oval shaped with two long middle toes and some webbing to give them better traction of the sandy surfaces they hunt and run on. It has a long noble head with drop ears that sit close to its face and dark eyes that are large. The muzzle on some can have black markings as can the ears, the necks and the foreheads.
The Sloughi’s coat is usually single though it can develop a small undercoat in cold climates. The hair is short, smooth and fine. There is no feathering or long patches of hair anywhere. Common colors are reds, sandy, cream and nearly black. There can be some markings like a small amount of white on the toes or chest. Coats are mottled to match the shading and colors you find in the deserts of North Africa.
The Inner Sloughi
The Sloughi is not the best breed for new owners as it is best with people who have some experience. It is an affectionate and sweet dog but it is also independent and stubborn and can be very sensitive. It is not a dog for a home where there is a lot of tension and raised voices and it will not respond well to scolding or physical correction. It is an occasional barker and it is smart and has its moments of playfulness. It is alert so makes a good watchdog and will bark to let you know if there is an intruder. It is more territorial than a lot of sighthounds too so if it feels threatened it will respond.
It is an inquisitive dog, curious about everything and loving to take opportunities to explore, even if that is into things that are none of its business! It bonds very closely to its owners and is a calm quiet dog when indoors. It needs soft cushioning to lie on and while its facial expression make it seem almost melancholic in fact with the right owners it is a happy dog but leans towards being more reserved when there are strangers around. With friends and family though it is loving and expressive and very loyal. It can bond more closely to one owner and it does not change that allegiance very easily which makes re-homing unwanted Sloughi harder so make sure this is the breed for you.
This is a touch sensitive dog so it will not like being startled if touched and it is not expected, and while it is affectionate it is not a dog that will be happy being cuddled all the time. It needs plenty of exercise to keep it calm and happy and it does not adjust quickly to new living situations so if you move homes with one, give it plenty of time to adjust. Be aware too that it does not like strange noises. It will be skittish during storms, strong winds or rains, and fireworks for example.
Living with a Sloughi
What will training look like?
When being trained by experienced owners the Sloughi is fairly easy to deal with as it is inclined to listen and obey and likes to please. In fact in some cases it needs less repetition than some dogs and can train more quickly. Be fair and gentle with your approach keeping it positive, using encouragement, treats and praise. You still need to be firm though and consistent as it can be stubborn and free willed and it needs to know you are the leader and what you say goes. Remember no physical corrections. Housebreaking can be difficult though and may take up to 6 months even when using crate training to help.
Another important part of its development is its socialization. Start socializing as soon as you bring it home. Get it used to different sounds, people, places, situations, animals and such by exposing it to them until it is used to them and knows what an appropriate response is. When a dog has been well socialized it is a more confident and happy dog and a more trustworthy one too. This socialization is especially important to help it deal with strangers so that its aloofness does not become suspiciously snappish.
How active is the Sloughi
Sloughis are a very active dog so it is important they are homes with owners who are very active themselves so there is no issues about it not getting enough daily exercise and mental stimulation. It makes a good jogging dog, can go on hikes or runs or even join alongside you on a bike when well trained. As well as taking it out for a couple of good brisk long walks a day you need to give it a chance to have safe off leash time where it can run, as it was bred to. If you do not have some land for it to do this there is always the option of dog parks. Any yard should be well fenced and keep it on a leash when around traffic as it does not have any road sense, but it will want to chase after small animals it sees as prey. Thankfully with this dog at least since it does not like being too far away from you, even if it chases after something, as long as it is a safe area where it is not going to get hurt, it will come back to you. While it is good in the heat it will need a sweater when it is cold.
Caring for the Sloughi
Grooming and looking after the maintenance of the Sloughi is not going to take a lot of work but it does shed an average amount so some hair will be around the home and regular vacuuming needed. It does not have much of a doggy odor unless it gets wet and things like debris and mud fall off of its short coat very easily. It is easy to groom, just use a grooming glove or rubber brush and give it a brush once or twice a week. You can also give it a rub down with a towel now and then to give it a clean. Just bathe when it really needs one to avoid damaging its natural oils. Also make sure then when cleaning it you do not rub too hard as it has somewhat thin skin and that can cause chafes. It does not need trimming or much in the way of professional care unless you want it to.
Other needs will include having its nails trimmed when needed, keeping its ears clean and infection free and keeping its teeth and gums healthy with good brushing. The latter should be done with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste and you should brush at least two to three times a week if not more. Once a week clean its ears using cotton balls and dog ear cleanser or a damp cloth but only wipe the places you can reach, never insert anything into its ear. Finally its nails – they may get worn down naturally with activity and exercise, but if not they should be clipped when they get too long with proper dog nail cutters. Have a vet show you how if you intend to do this, or have a professional groomer or the vet do it for you. Care has to be taken not to cut into the quick of the nail where the dog has blood vessels and nerves as it will hurt it, and cause bleeding.
A Sloughi will need to be fed 2 to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into two meals at least. It will also need access to fresh water at all times. How much it eats exactly can vary from one dog to another depending on its size, health, metabolism, age and level of activity.
How is the Sloughi with children and other animals?
This breed is good with children with socialization and when raised with them especially. It will play with them, is affectionate with them but does not like excessive squeezing or hugging and does not like to be touched unexpectedly or startled by sudden loud noises. This means it is better with older children rather than toddlers who are likely to do all of the above. Make sure too that children are taught how to touch dogs and play nicely with them. The same is true of other pets, if raised with them it can learn to accept them but with other animals outside, strange cats, rabbits even birds it likes to chase them. Remember this is a very fast and agile dog so when walking keep it on a leash. It is also very good with other dogs with socialization.
What Might Go Wrong?
The Sloughi has a life span of about 12 to 16 years. It is quite a healthy dog but there are some issues to be aware of such as eye problems, balance problems, heart problems, hypothyroidism, problems with its immune system, hemophilia and sensitivity to anesthesia.
When looking at reports from Canada and the US over the last 35 years of dogs attacking people and causing bodily harm, there is no mention of the Sloughi. It is not at all a breed likely to be aggressive towards people, unless there was a genuine threat to it, its home or its owner, or unless it was provoked into it. There is no 100% safe breed that would never be aggressive to people no matter what, dogs can be provoked and can have bad days. There are things you can do to help it learn how to handle itself though which can lessen the chances of an incident. Make sure you have a dog that is suited to your level of activity, experience and level of commitment. Also ensure it gets the level of exercise and stimulation it needs, the attention it needs, and that it is well socialized and trained.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
The Sloughi puppy will cost about $1200. This will be from a decent and experienced breeder, if you want something from a top breeder of show quality dogs that is going to go a lot higher. Because it is not a common breed you will also have to prepare yourself about being placed on a waiting list. As much as you might want to rush this once you have set yourself on this breed do not be tempted to turn to faster but a lot less trustworthy means to acquire a puppy like pet stores, back yard breeders or puppy mills. There is of course another option to find a dog, one that is especially possible for those just looking for a companion dog. Rescues and shelters have dogs needing new homes, desperate to prove how great a new friend they can be. Adoption rates tend to be around $50 to $400 but you are more likely to find mixed breeds, and may find a mature dog rather than a puppy.
When you have settle where you are getting your dog from and are ready to bring it home there are some extra initial costs you need to spend on medical needs and items for the home. For example you will need food bowls, a crate, carrier, collar and leash and these will cost about $240. As soon as the dog or puppy is home it needs to take a visit to a vet for some tests and checks. It will need a physical exam, blood tests, deworming, micro chipping, spaying or neutering and shots for example. This will cost about $290.
There are ongoing costs too when you are a pet owner. It will need at least basic health care like shots, check ups, flea and tick prevention and then pet insurance and that will come to around $485 a year. Food (a good quality dry dog food ) and treats will come to around $260 a year. Then toys, miscellaneous items, basic training and license comes to about $255 a year. This gives an annual total starting figure of $1000.
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The Sloughi is an elegant, sleek dog, it is swift and graceful and needs lots of exercise especially opportunities to have some safe run time off leash. It needs socialization as it is territorial and is also wary of strangers. With its owners it is very loyal and likely to bond more closely to one owner in particular. It is a very sensitive dog, it does not like loud noises, being unexpectedly touched, squeezed or around arguing all the time. Indoors when it has enough stimulation and activity it is calm, gentle and sweet.
Featured Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Sloughi’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Sloughi
- Living with a Sloughi
- Caring for the Sloughi
- How is the Sloughi with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag