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Get to Know the Sloughi: Swift Hunter of North Africa

Old meets new as this ancient breed becomes one of the American Kennel Club's newest additions for 2016!

Caroline Coile  |  Mar 14th 2016


You say Saluki, I say Sloughi — they’re really the same breed, right? No! Although the two breeds are both sighthounds, bred to run down swift game in desert areas, DNA evidence suggests they are not as closely related as they would appear on the surface.

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(Sloughi by Ullis Sundell)

More interesting things about the Sloughi

  • The Sloughi is a sighthound, the Greyhound-like family of dogs who hunts by running down swift game by sight.
  • Sloughis are probably equally ancient. Egyptian art includes images of lop-eared sighthounds, but who knows if they were Salukis or Sloughis?
  • A 2008 DNA study suggests the Sloughi is more closely related to the Basenji, Sica, and Nguni, although it still seems like the dog should be a cousin to the Saluki.
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(Sloughi by Fia Eldh)

  • The Saluki is more identified with the Middle East, while the Sloughi is distinctly North African.
  • The Sloughi is always totally smooth-coated, often comes in brindle (a controversial pattern in Salukis, which some argue comes from crosses to Sloughis or other breeds), and often has a black mask (seldom seen in Salukis).
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(Sloughi by Fia Eldh)

  • The modern Sloughi is found in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia.
  • The breed was used for both hunting and guarding. The dog hunted hare, fox, gazelle, jackal, and even hyena and ostrich.
  • In the past, with changing political powers and even laws against hunting with sighthounds, many Sloughis were shot on sight and breeding programs were abandoned. Those factors, along with a rabies epidemic, decimated the population to the point they were nearly extinct by 1900.
  • In the 1960s, efforts were made in North Africa and Europe to reestablish the breed.
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(Sloughi by Fia Eldh)

  • The first Sloughi came to America in 1973. The first American litter was born in 1981. Many early Sloughis in American pedigrees today came by way of French breeders. Germany had a strong influence slightly later.
  • The United Kennel Club officially recognized the Sloughi in 1995.
  • The American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA), which holds lure-coursing competitions, recognized the Sloughi in its Miscellaneous Stakes in 1996 and as a regular breed in 2001.
  • In 1997, the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the Sloughi into its Foundation Stock Service. The breed then advanced to the Miscellaneous class, and in 2016 became officially recognized as a member of the AKC Hound group.
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(Sloughis at play by Inger Gelius)

  • The breed is extremely rare, but with AKC recognition, numbers are expected to grow slightly. However, much of this growth will probably remain with show or performance breeders rather than simply companion owners, despite the fact that Sloughis make extremely good companions. They are very loyal, quiet, and devoted, but like most sighthounds have a tendency to be independent and to turn deaf when chasing wild animals.
  • Having just entered the AKC show ring, the Sloughi won’t compete at the Westminster Dog Show until 2017.
  • No celebrities are known to own this elegant breed. Because, let’s face it, few of them have probably ever heard of the Sloughi!

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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier