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, and Libya, and a large portion of the Sahara Desert (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. Breed preser vation is also a problem in western countries. The coursing of live game with hounds is illegal throughout 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.
196 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2020
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