Let’s Talk Breed Education!
BY ERIKA WYATT
BREED HISTORY Although the exact origins of the Sloughi date too far back to be complete- ly known, artifacts and history suggest that smooth-coated, lop-eared sight- hounds like the Sloughi have existed in North Africa for several thousand years. The Sloughi hails from the Maghreb, which includes the countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, andLibya, and a large portionof the SaharaDesert (as opposed to the Mashriq, the eastern part of the Arab world that includes Egypt and Sudan, as well as several other countries which comprise the coun- tries of origin of the Saluki). Arab conquests of the Maghreb began in 647, and the Sloughi has been bred by both Berbers and Bedouins for hundreds of years. Historically, the Sloughi served many purposes—first and foremost as a coursing hound that is capable of hunting a wide variety of game over vary- ing topography from harsh, rocky terrain, to punishing scrub and sandy desert. In addition, the Sloughi served to guard the tents and the livestock of its nomadic owners, and was (and still is) occasionally used to herd sheep, goats, donkeys, and camels. Sloughis first arrived in the United States in 1973, yet the breed remains quite rare in this country nearly a half century later.
BREED FUNCTION The Sloughi was originally developed to hunt a wide variety of game, including rabbit, hare, fox, jackal, hye- nas, gazelle, deer, ostriches, and wild pigs. It is a pro- ficient hunter with tremendous speed, stamina, agility, and strength, hunting over a wide variety of very harsh terrain, mostly by sight, but also using scent and sound. Today, large game is rare in its countries of origin, and in Morocco it is illegal to hunt any game with hounds. Instead, the breed is used primarily on foxes (both fennecs and red foxes), jackals, and wild pigs. BREED PRESERVATION The survival of the Sloughi is threatened throughout the world. The lifestyle of the rural hunter is disappear- ing in the Maghreb, and although the keeping of dogs as pets is not uncommon in metropolitan areas such as Casablanca, it is a luxury that is exceedingly uncom- mon outside of the big cities. Rural hunters and farm- ers cannot afford to keep animals that do not contribute to survival, and the keeping of house dogs is disdained in Muslim culture. Without its utilitarian purpose, the future of the Sloughi is very uncertain. Breedpreservationisalsoaprobleminwesterncountries. Thecoursingof livegamewithhoundsisillegalthroughout much of Europe and the United States. As a result, near- ly every breeding decision is based on criteria that do not include the breed’s primary purposes. In addition, the conditions in which Sloughis are bred in the Maghreb are harsh. The way Sloughis are kept and bred, and the ways puppies are raised in the countries of origin, are drastically different than the way westerners do it. Although we love to see Sloughis thriving in the comforts of home without any environ- mental pressures on them, there can be no question that the conditions in North Africa from which this breed emerged produced a tough, utilitarian hound without significant frailties of health.
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“PRESERVING PROPER BREED TYPE IS ESSENTIAL TOWARD PROTECTING THIS RARE AND UNIQUE BREED. IF THE DETAILS THAT SEPARATE THE SLOUGHI FROM OTHER SHORT-COATED DESERT SIGHTHOUNDS ARE NOT PRIORITIZED, TYPE WILL QUICKLY BE LOST.”
JUDGING THE SLOUGHI TO PRESERVE THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS Every act of judging either helps to preserve the breed or contrib- utes to the diminution of the breed. For this reason, it is critically important for judges to look at the Sloughi through the lens of how closely it could perform the tough work in the harsh environment for which this breed was developed. Preserving proper breed type is essential toward protecting this rare and unique breed. If the details that separate the Sloughi from other short-coated desert sighthounds are not prioritized, type will quickly be lost. The Sloughi should not be a generic sighthound. The differences between the Sloughi and breeds that are similar in appearance, such as the Azawakh and the Saluki, should be appar- ent. The Sloughi is not a smooth Saluki or a variation of the Aza- wakh, and it should not look like one. Body Proportions: A male Sloughi is very slightly taller, mea- sured from the top of the withers to the ground, than it is long, mea- sured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks. Ideally, a male’s length is 96% of its height. In other words, a Sloughi is very slightly taller than it is long. A female's body may be slightly longer, proportionally, than that of the male. However, a Sloughi should never appear rectangular. It should never be as upright as an Azawakh, nor as long in the back as many Salukis. These unique body proportions are a defining characteristic of the breed, and long Sloughis should not be rewarded.
Pigment: Pigment is an essential characteristic of the breed. Pigment in the nails and skin of dogs comes from melanocytes, which produce melanin. Melanin provides protection from ultra- violet light—and the Saharan sun is relentless. The AKC standard references pigment in multiple places; eye rims must be pigmented, the nose should be black, lips are black or dark brown, the nails are black or pigmented. Black noses and nails are essential breed char- acteristics of the breed, and while the standard specifically allows small white marks on the toe tips, it also disqualifies Sloughis whose color is not in accordance with the standard. Coat: The coat of the Sloughi should always be short, tight, and fine all over the body. Fringe, feathering or longer hair on the ears, legs, haunches or tail is a disqualification. Looser, longer or coarse coats are faulty to the degree they vary from the short, tight, fine coat that is described in the standard. Open Angles: The Sloughi standard uses the word “open” three times to describe front and rear angulation. The Sloughi should be less angular than the Saluki or the Afghan Hound, but slightly more angular than the Azawakh. Ground Covering Gaits: The Sloughi has a supple, smooth, and effortless gait with long strides, covering plenty of ground. Short-strided, hackneyed, and weak gaits or gaits reaching only from the elbows are incorrect. Weak pasterns and floppy pasterns are also incorrect. Hackneyed action is a serious fault. The Ameri- can Sloughi Association has a judges education video on proper gaits in the breed at this link: https://sloughi-international.com/?p=2416.
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feel hard and fit in the ring. The forechest should be bony and angular, and it lacks “fill.” The Sloughi should never be pigeon- breasted. It should never be soft in condition, and it should never appear padded. Temperament: The Sloughi evolved as a coursing and hunting hound, but it also evolved as a guardian of nomadic tents and a sometimes livestock guardian. Part of the Sloughi’s purpose was historically to be suspicious of strangers and to be especially devoted to its family. In the show ring, the Sloughi should be approached in a business- like fashion—never stare into the eyes; ask the handler to show the bite, front and sides, but never open the mouth to check molars. Judges should refrain from speaking when bent directly over a Sloughi. If an exhibit is shy or nervous, please refrain from trying to comfort the Sloughi or talk to it, which will only heighten its suspicion. Furthermore, in the Sloughi, a breed whose physique is so dry as to make every piece of anatomy clear- ly visible, excessive touching or handling is unnecessary. General Comments: The Sloughi originated in a land of harsh desert and rocky mountains to course rabbits, hares, jackals, fennecs and other foxes, gazelles, and all manner of game that can be found in northern Africa. It should present as a tough, athletic dog with lots of speed and endurance, and each component of its conformation should speak to its purpose. It should have tough feet with hard nails, plenty of sturdy skeleton, lean muscles, an elegant but powerful neck, and strong teeth. Whenever an exhibit is presented to you, please consider whether this is a hound that could hunt in extreme heat over rough, unforgiving conditions.
Robust, but Elegant: The standard says the Sloughi is a “robust, but elegant and racy, pursuit dog with no exaggeration of length of body or limbs, muscle develop- ment, angulation, nor curve of loin.” The standard also uses the words, “powerful,” “strong,” and “sturdy.” The Sloughi should not appear fragile or delicate. The muscles and soft tissues should be strong and lean. The Sloughi is sturdier than many of its desert counterparts. Wedge-Shaped Head: The head of the Sloughi is unique among sighthounds. It has a long and elegant, sturdy, wedge- shaped head that narrows from the cranial region to the nose. The Sloughi head is more substantial than many sighthound breeds. The occiput should be apparent, but not as pronounced as that of the Afghan Hound. Ears: The standard reads, “The ears are set at about the level of the eye and droop close to the head when the animal is at rest. Disqualifications are ears erect, or small and folding backwards in a ‘rose ear.’” The Sloughi’s ears are set at about the level of the eye when the animal is at rest. When the animal is alert, the ears are going to be high- er on the head. In addition, a small, rose ear is a disqualification in the Sloughi. Even Sloughis with excellent ears will fold them back when they are anxious, hot, bored or inattentive. A handler can always show that an exhibit’s ears are proper upon request—if they are correct. The Ameri- can Sloughi Association has a judges edu- cation video on Sloughi ears at this link: https: //sloughi-international.com/?p=2227.
The video illustrates the difference between proper and disqualifying ears, and also shows how a handler can demonstrate dropped ears. Topline: The Sloughi’s topline is essen- tially level between the withers and the hip bones, but the highest point of the hip bones may be slightly higher than the with- ers, which should be apparent. Body Condition: The Sloughi should always show defined bony structure and strong, lean muscles. The skeletal structure is sturdy. A Sloughi in good weight will have its hip bones apparent (but less apparent than those of the Afghan hound), as well as the three rearmost ribs. The croup is bony and gently sloping. A Sloughi should look and
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THE SLOUGHI: ANCIENT HOUND OF NORTH AFRICA
(Photo courtesy of U. Rosenzweig)
by ERIKA N. WYATT & ERMINE MOREAU-SIPIÈRE
HISTORY T he exact origins of the Sloughi have disappeared in the shifting sands of the Sahara Desert over the past several thousand years and remain part of the mystery of this ancient breed. The Sloughi has been used by the Ber- ber and Bedouin people in the North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria for millennia to hunt both large and small game, including jackals, gazelles, wild boar, hares and rabbits, over desert and mountain ter- rain. In the countries of origin, the Sloughi is still used to hunt in this man- ner today, making it not only a beauti- ful, living piece of antiquity, but also a utilitarian and tough coursing hound whose function is the most essential characteristic of the breed. The Sloughi’s role in North Africa was not limited to coursing. The Sloughi also served as a protector of its master
SLOUGHI TYPE: ESSENTIAL CONFORMA- TIONAL CHARACTERISTICS The overall impression of a Sloughi should be immediately unique from oth- er sighthound breeds due to important differences in its head and body confor- mation. Its head is larger and more sub- stantial than most other sighthounds. The ears are dropped, and although its appearance is graceful, it also exudes power, speed, agility and stamina. Because of the importance of the work for which it was bred, the Sloughi must always present in a hard, fit condi- tion. It must give the impression of being robust and not fragile in any way, while still maintaining its intrinsic beauty and elegance. Importantly, the Sloughi must have no exaggeration in its angulation, length of body or limbs, bulky muscle development, or curve of loin. The Sloughi’s outline distinguishes it substantially from other breeds in the
and home, and defender of flocks of goats and sheep. These characteristics of temperament exist in Sloughis today, and they are extraordinarily devoted to their families and people. They are naturally (and correctly) aloof and skep- tical of strangers. THE ATHLETIC SLOUGHI The athleticism of the Sloughi allows it to excel at a number of performance events, including open field and free coursing (in those states in which it is legally permitted), lure coursing, and non-commercial oval track and sprint racing. The Sloughi also has the potential to excel at agility, if an indi- vidual could be properly motivated with appropriately positive training methods. As a sighthound, the Sloughi is sensitive to correction and heavy handed, corporal training methods will produce a particularly poor outcome with this breed.
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Hound Group. The standard describes the Sloughi as being slightly taller than long (bitches can be somewhat longer). This is an important characteristic of the breed with the length of a male ide- ally being 96% of its height. This ratio sets the Sloughi apart from all other hound breeds. The Sloughi standard uses the word “open” in two places to describe the front and rear angulation of the Sloughi. Correct Sloughi angulation is much more open than many other sighthound breeds and should always be moderate. The topline is essentially level from withers to the hip bones, which should be apparent, but not as prominent as those of the Afghan hound. However, it is also correct for a Sloughi to be slightly higher at its hip bones than its withers. The Sloughi’s chest does not quite reach the elbows and the underline begins in a straight line at the sternum that rises in a smooth curve to a well tucked-up belly. The Sloughi’s hallmark expression is gentle, slightly sad-looking, and mel- ancholy with large, oval to almond shaped eyes that range in color from dark brown to amber with pigmented eye rims. When viewed from above, the cranial area is rather broad, measuring approxi- mately 4-5 inches between the ears (particularly in males), and is rounded at the back and curves harmoniously on the sides. In profile, the top part of the cranial area is flat, the brows are scarcely projecting, the frontal groove is hardly marked, and the occipital crest is barely visible. The occiput is ideally discernable, but not necessarily promi- nent. The ears droop close to the head when the animal is at rest, although normal, dropped ears can sometimes be held back when the Sloughi is hot or stressed or excited. Rose ears, like those of a Greyhound or Whippet, and erect ears are disqualifications. The stop is barely pronounced. The muzzle has the shape of an elongated wedge and forms about half the total length of the head. The jaws are strong and regular. The profile is straight, with the planes of the muzzle and skull approximately parallel. The nose is black and strong and not pinched. The lips are black or dark brown and the bite is scissors with a level bite also allowed. An overshot or undershot bite disqualifies.
Size matters in the Sloughi. The ideal height is 26"-29" for a male and 24"-27" for a female. While there are no disqualifications in the breed with respect to height, and the standard spe- cifically allows for “somewhat taller” Sloughis, the benchmark in evaluat- ing a Sloughi whose height is outside of standard, should be whether or not the individual appears capable of hunting jackals, gazelles, wild boar and hares over desert sand or rocky mountain terrain. The coat of the Sloughi is always smooth. The hair is short, tight, and fine all over the body. The Sloughi is presented in natural condition. Disqual- ifications are any coat other than short, tight, and smooth and/or feathering on the ears, tail and/or legs. The coat colors are all shades of light sand (cream) to mahogany red fawn, with or without brindling or with or without black markings such as black mask, black ears, dark overlay, and black mantle, with no invasive white markings. White hairs due to aging or scars are permitted. Disqualifications are color not in accordance with the standard and/or solid white extending above the toes or white anywhere else on the dog except the forechest. The croup is bony and oblique and the insertion of the tail should not rise above the topline. Because the tail is long and curves upward toward the end, the last third of the tail may some- times rise above the topline, but not at the insertion to the body. In Morocco, a ring at the end of the tail is preferred because hunters believe that a ring pro- vides a counter-weight which enables a Sloughi to be more able to make fast turns at high speed. While the AKC standard does not call for this, it is a positive and desirable detail. As a coursing hound, the Sloughi is a galloping breed and evaluating the gaits of a galloping breed in the context of a conformation ring poses challenges. The Sloughi has a supple, smooth, and effortless gait with long strides, cover- ing plenty of ground. The tail is held low or even with the topline at its insertion with the head at a moderate angle to the body. The Sloughi moves over the ground in an athletic way with graceful, fluid strides, always giving the impression that the burst of speed and agility necessary to give chase to quarry is possible at any moment. The Sloughi
(Photo by E. Moreau- Sipière)
(Photo by S. Collier)
(Photo by E. Wyatt)
(Photo by E. Wyatt)
(Photo by S. Collier)
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(Photo by S. Collier)
SLOUGHI HEALTH Sloughis generally enjoy robust health even into old age. The typical lifespan is 12 to 14 years, but many Sloughis live to 15 years. Inherited diseases do exist in the breed. The most well known of these is Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a genet- ic disease that is characterized by the bilateral degeneration of the retina, causing progressive vision loss culmi- nating in blindness. Fortunately, the recessive gene for PRA has been iden- tified and conscientious breeders only breed animals that have been tested for Sloughi PRA. Cancer, which is prevalent in dogs of all breeds as well as mixed breeds, has been reported in the breed, and most recently, confirmed cases of Addison’s Disease, as well as other autoimmune disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Dis- ease, have been diagnosed. Genetic diversity, and forthright disclosure from breeders are needed to help protect the gene pool of the Sloughi in the United States. The Sloughi certainly is not a breed for everyone. However, for the indi- vidual whose personality and lifestyle match with that of the Sloughi, the bond between a Sloughi and his owner provide an unparalleled experience. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Ermine Moreau-Sip-
should not move with gay, high tailed, extravagant movement with a lot of wasted upward energy. Any faults or weaknesses which would prevent a Sloughi from perform- ing the work for which it has been bred for millennia in North Africa should be penalized. TEMPERAMENT Because of its long history as a cours- ing and guard breed of nomads, the Sloughi is skeptical about strangers and is aloof. They will not usually animate for squeaky toys or food being offered by a stranger in the show ring and will often disdainfully ignore such attempts. An object thrown gently to the side is more likely to provoke an expression than proferring a treat. This tempera- ment is part of the inherent charac- teristics of the breed and should not be penalized, particularly in young or adolescent Sloughis. In examining the Sloughi, judges do best using a businesslike manner and refraining from trying to comfort an uncertain Sloughi with baby talk or unnecessary petting. The most produc- tive approach is to bypass the head, and begin at the shoulders, examining the body first and then returning to the head for examination last. Slough- is may feel threatened and insecure by direct eye contact, particularly at close range. Although a Sloughi may be suspi- cious or insecure around strangers, aggression or fear biting is not charac- teristic and should never be tolerated under any circumstances.
Jacques, and their five children in their native France. That Sloughia began a passion for Ermine and by the time she moved with her family and her beloved Arabian horses to the United States in 1979, they brought with them three additional Sloughis of French breeding. From there, they imported additional specimens from Germany, Tunisia, France and Italy, and bred some of the finest Sloughis in the US for more than 35 years. In 1989, Ermine and a handful of other Sloughi lovers, founded the American Sloughi Association, which is today the AKC National Parent Club for the breed, and over which Ermine contin- ues to preside as the president.
Erika Nicole Wyatt is the vice president and judges educa- tion coordinator for the American Sloughi Association. She has been actively involved with the breed since
1995, having presented Sloughis at two Sloughi specialties before she even acquired her first Sloughi. She bred her first litter in 2007 and since that time has imported Sloughis from Morocco, the Czech Republic, Austria and Norway, with a heavy focus on Sloughis from the countries of origin. Her bloodlines today include Moroc- can, Tunisian and Libyan Sloughis. Erika imported, owns and handles the first AKC Champion Sloughi in his- tory, the first AKC Grand Champion Sloughi, and the first Westminster Best of Breed winning Sloughi.
ière received her first Sloughi, an Algerian import, more than 40 years ago while still liv- ing with her husband,
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