The hound group contains some of the oldest dog breeds in the world and have been kept for their impeccable hunting skills. Dog breeds in the hound group have been depicted on tombs of the pharaohs and in other Egyptian art for many years. They are instinctively hunting dogs, which have evolved to aid humans by pursuing and catching their quarry. They don’t wait for their hunter’s direction, instead, they lead the way. There are two groups of hounds: Sighthounds and Scenthounds. As the name suggests, Sighthounds chase by sight while Scenthounds use their sense of smell on the ground to follow their target. However, there are some dog breeds that hunt both with their sight and sense of smell.
The size, speed and strength of hounds is so varied that the quarry can range from small rabbit to larger, ferocious animals such as wolves, boars, elks, and even leopards and lions. Many of the breeds within the hound group carry out their work as a large pack but lately smaller packs of hounds are used for hunting.
Although many hound breeds are kept as companion animals, owners should never forget that all hounds retain some ancestral hunting skills. While dogs in this group are beautiful with their varied coats, they do not often advance in the obedience department. Colors, size and weight vary between breeds, with some of the most popular breeds being the Greyhound, Bloodhound or Beagle. Other unknown and unobtainable breeds outside their country of origin include the Sloughi.
The Sloughi (pronounced Sloogi) also known as the Arabian Greyhound, is an ancient breed originating from North Africa and mostly found in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya and has never achieved great popularity. Despite efforts in Europe and North Africa, the Sloughi is still not a very common breed. Known as a tireless hunter, Sloughis were originally the sighthounds of the Berber people of Morocco. Like other hound breeds, he is thought to be depicted on Egyptian art such as on the tomb of Tutankhamun. They were so highly worshipped that they were often decorated with jewelry and amulets. For the Berber people, the Sloughi is a noble animal compared to the other impure local dogs. In his native countries, the Sloughi is the only canine bred and selected with the same care as the Arabian horse, and is still used as a flock guard and hunter. Puppies were often breast fed by Bedouin and Berber women to help nursing bitches, which is highly unusual in Western society. Their owner sometimes ritually brands their legs, and their ears are cropped up to prevent them from being torn to pieces when hunting jackals.
The Sloughi is described as the smooth coated version of the Saluki. He is a medium size dog standing between 23.5 to 28 inches. There is a tendency to try to keep them lean to a degree that suggests under nutrition, but he can still weigh between 35-65 lbs. There are both desert and mountain varieties: the desert type appearing slender, light, graceful, and elegant, and the mountain type appearing compact with stronger bones. The mountain type has a muscular and lean appearance with a large ribcage that contributes to its excellent lung capacity, which is ideal for hunting gazelle and hare. He has large, dark eyes, with a gentle and sad expression. He has a black nose with large and open nostrils. He has long and lean paws which are lighter than those of the Greyhound. His hocks are close to the ground but not bent. He has fine, smooth and close hair that does not retain heat and the coat varies from fawn with a black mask, to sable, to black. Coat colors from sable to fawn provide an ideal camouflage for hunting desert animals such as gazelles, hares, and Fennec foxes.
The Sloughi is affectionate, gentle, and very closely knit to their owners, but have little regard for strangers. They don’t make the most obedient dogs, but they respond to fair and gentle training methods. Since they are hunting hounds with a strong chase instinct, being extra vigilant is recommended when the dog is outside with smaller animals, as the smaller animals may trigger the dog’s hunting instinct. They make excellent jogging partners, and need to go on daily walks and runs. If you plan on owning this type of breed it is recommended for the Sloughi to be raised with young children and other animals. They are average shedders and grooming their short coat is rather easy with a rubber brush or grooming glove, which will remove dead hairs. Because this breed is a desert hound, they need protection from cold or wet weather.
The first Sloughis were imported to the United States in 1973 and is generally thought of as a very health breed. They have a life expectancy of between 10 to 15 years but, like most sighthounds, they are sensitive to anesthetics. The Sloughi is prone to Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is an inherited disease of the retina, and older Sloughis commonly become arthritic.
Although the Sloughi is not as popular as other hound breeds, he may be the perfect dog for your family if you are ready to handle their unique behaviour and willing to provide as much space and exercise for him to live a healthy life. The Sloughi is also a perfect dog for people with mild dog allergies.