The Sloughi (pronounced sloo-gee) is one of the breeds which developed from the Greyhound family of hunting dogs which, almost certainly, pre-date recorded history. It is difficult to precisely define the breed’s origin but it is suggested that the Sloughi may have reached North Africa thousands of years ago from the Middle East and was established in Morocco and Tunisia which are now regarded as its homeland. From time immemorial the Sloughi has been valued among the people of the desert for its perfect form and its hunting prowess in an unforgiving environment. Selective breeding has been practised for centuries with only the finest animals being allowed to survive to pass on their greatness to succeeding generations. Although hunting of gazelle is now prohibited the Sloughi is still accorded the honour and affection that it traditionally enjoyed, being treated as a member of the family and mourned for in death as a child would be. Numbers of Sloughi declined in the mid 20th century due to a combination of factors including industrialization, Westernization and loss of hunting grounds, but interest in the breed was revived in the 1970s and, although not numerous, the Sloughi appears safe from any threat of extinction in its native lands. The breed was first introduced into Britain in 1907.
The proud carriage and air of haughty indifference give a good indication of the Sloughi’s somewhat independent personality. Not for him the boisterous greeting or insistent demands for petting and fussing. With his loved ones he is quietly affectionate, expressing his devotion in a modest manner: a brief lick of the hand, a movement of the tail and, most tellingly, a soft tenderness in those far-gazing eyes which rest on everyone else with complete lack of interest. His loyalty to his owner is absolute and he needs to be accorded a place in the home so that he may enjoy the company of his family. If he is consigned to the backyard for long periods he will feel rejected and fail to thrive. He maintains a distant attitude with strangers and does not lightly bestow his friendship. As a watchdog he is excellent as he is constantly vigilant and will bark loudly to warn of the approach of strangers. He requires a quiet and peaceful environment as his emotional sensitivity is such that he can become very stressed by tensions and loud voices in the home. It is essential that garden fences are high and secure to prevent him absconding should he catch sight of a potential prey animal and care must also be taken with cats, other small domestic pets, wildlife and livestock as the Sloughi is a consummate hunter taking joy in the pursuit and also in the finale. This is an undeniably beautiful dog with many fine qualities, but this breed is not recommended for inexperienced owners and is not suitable as a playmate for young children.
“Its is beautiful to see the Sloughi in the field, see his huge leaps, how excited he is, how his eyes are glowing. And what endurance, what lungs, He never breathes heavily, is always fresh, courageous and inexhaustible.” (August le Gras: German Greyhound-breeding Book, 1912). The freedom of the deserts is not an option for the Sloughi in a domestic situation but long, interesting daily walks will keep him fit in both body and mind. Unless a safely enclosed area is available for off-lead exercise it is wise not to allow free running as, should ‘prey’ catch his eye, he will be off and chasing at breathtaking speed and any recall training will, almost certainly, be subsumed by instinct. The sport of lure-coursing will present the opportunity for him fulfill his desire and his need to run.
Basic obedience training should start as early as possible. The Sloughi trainer should take into account the innate independence and pride of the dog and realize that he will willingly work with an owner only if the relationship is based on mutual respect and affection. The Sloughi should be regarded as a partner in training, he is very intelligent and will learn quickly but servile responses are not to be expected. Rough handling and angry reprimands are unnecessary and will not achieve desirable results. Patience, consistency and benevolent firmness with rewards of treats and unfeigned praise for good work will bring out the best in him. Socialization should be commenced from a young age. Introducing the pup to as many various people and novel situations will reduce any tendency to shyness or over-suspicion of strangers and will ensure that he grows to be gracious and adept in social skills and a pleasure to own.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- susceptible to gastric dilitation volvulus (GDV)
- sensitive to some anaesthetic agents
Some photographs of the Sloughi...