If you’ve not heard of the Sloughi, don’t be surprised. Despite having a long, noble heritage, the breed is exceptionally rare, even in its home turf of North Africa. Aloof with strangers but affectionate with family, Sloughis might not be a dog for everyone, but with the right training and plenty of early socialization, they make excellent (albeit unusual) family dogs. If you’re intrigued to find out more, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the Sloughi.
1. They’re from North Africa
Like many ancient breeds, the exact origins of the Sloughi are vague. While the earliest mention of it in literature can be found in a book from the 1200s, DNA studies suggest it’s been roaming Africa for thousands of years. Although the breed is most commonly associated with Morocco (which is responsible for the breed’s FCI standard), it’s also found throughout Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia. It was originally developed by the Amazigh, a nomadic tribe that populated that region of North Africa for centuries. Over time, it came to be seen as the dog of royalty, with only tribal chiefs and kings being allowed to own and breed them.
2. They’re incredibly healthy
Purebreed’s don’t always have the best reputation when it comes to health, but the Sloughi is an exception. As Wikipedia notes, the number of genetic conditions that have been confirmed in the breed are few and far between. Although they’re vulnerable to certain autoimmune disorders, such as Addison’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and progressive retinal atrophy, they tend to enjoy excellent health well into old age. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that like all sighthounds, the Sloughi tend to be very sensitive to anesthesia, and can also display adverse reactions to vaccines, worming, and other medications. Treatments should therefore be spaced out in intervals to avoid risk.
3. They can be aloof with strangers
Although the Sloughi is an incredibly loyal dog that bonds hard and fast with its owner and family, its background as a protector to the nomadic tribes of the Sahara makes it naturally wary of strangers. It can take the Sloughi a while to warm up to new people, and it rarely appreciates any extravagant displays of affection or overfamiliarity from people it hasn’t yet become accustomed to. As the Sloughi tends to be more territorial than other sighthounds, it needs plenty of early socialization and training to prevent its natural trepidation of strangers from becoming a problem.
4. They need lots of exercise
The Sloughi loves a soft, warm bed, plenty of downtime, and lots of long, lazy snoozes. But when it’s not napping, it prefers to be active. Without at least one long run a day, it’ll become bored, frustrated, and prone to acting out. Due to their activity needs, they do better in a family home with outside space than in an apartment. Just be aware that Sloughis are natural athletes – if you let them out in the yard, that yard had better have a fence of at least 6 feet surrounding it. Anything less, and they’ll be up and over it before you know.
5. They’re sensitive
Sloughis have minds of their own, with a stubborn streak that can seem relentless at times. But despite their strong wills, they’re incredibly sensitive, and won’t respond well to harsh or physical punishment. Although it’s important to set firm boundaries, training should be firm but fair, with plenty of positive reinforcement, affection, and praise. Just be sure to keep the affection to the verbal rather than the physical kind – like most sighthounds, Sloughis are touch-sensitive, startling easily if they’re touched unexpectedly and reacting with discomfort to excess petting.
6. They’re low maintenance
According to the American Kennel Club, the Sloughi’s short, smooth, and fine coat requires next to no maintenance. A weekly brush with a hound glove or soft bristle brush should be all that’s needed to keep it sleek and shiny. Excess bathing can strip their coats and skins of essential oils, so unless they’re smelling particularly funky, feel free to skip the baths. Nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid discomfort. Ears should be checked weekly for wax build-up or signs of infection and cleaned gently with a soft cloth.
7. They’re large but graceful
The Sloughi is a medium to large dog with a square build, long legs, and a lean silhouette. Despite their elegant appearance, they’re remarkably strong, packing plenty of power and agility into their slender frames. Their tails are long and curved, with a slender top. Their feet are webbed to give them better traction on sandy surfaces. Their heads are long and noble, with drop ears and large, expressive eyes. Males typically stand between 26.4-28.3 inches and weigh 55-65 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, measuring 24-26.7 inches in height and 35-50 pounds in weight.
8. They’re expensive
Like most rare breeds, the Sloughi isn’t cheap. According to dogbreedslist.info, you can expect to pay between $1500 to $2000 for a pup, depending on the quality of the breeder. Due to their scarcity, they rarely come up for adoption in shelters, but it’s always worth checking with your local animal rescue centers in the first instance.
9. They’re incredibly rare
In the mid-1800s, the Sloughi began to make inroads in Europe, firstly in France and later in the Netherlands. As was the case with many breeds, their numbers were vastly depleted by World War I + II: at one point, they came within a whisker of complete extinction. As Pet Keen notes, the ban on hunting with sighthounds and a rabies epidemic didn’t exactly help either. However, breeders remained committed to the Sloughi. In 1973, they were introduced to the US, eventually achieving American Kennel Club recognition in 2016. Despite now ranking as 185th in popularity by the AKC, their numbers outside of North Africa remain small.
10. They’re good with children
The Sloughi is a gentle creature that gets on well with children. They don’t, however, like to be cuddled or petted excessively, so it’s important to teach kids how to handle them with care. They also mix well with other dogs and pets, although plenty of socialization and training will be needed to stop their strong prey drive from getting the better of them.