By Nancy Lovelady, 2017
As a Sloughi owner and potential breeder, I am greatly concerned for the breed’s future, because now that the breed is officially recognized by the American Kennel Club and competes with other breeds in the Hound Group, there is always a ‘cost’.
The three concerns I have are: the issue of genetic integrity, that breeders will ‘cut corners’ if money becomes more important than maintaining a clean, pure gene pool and how future breeders/owners will even know if their dog is truly a genetically pure member of the breed, as more litters are bred and more dogs are imported from various regions of the world.
The first, and perhaps most important of the three concerns is the concept of genetic integrity. In other words, that the Sloughi is indeed, a Sloughi, and not a mix of some other Sighthounds that may look like a Sloughi. According to recent scientific studies, many hounds in Africa and the Middle East have been separated by geography, leading to their evolution as pure, distinct breeds, even though the breeds look similar to the untrained eye and perform similar functions in their native environs.
It is not my intent to write the history of Sloughis, as that has been well documented by Dr. Dominique Crapon de Crapona, in a thorough and efficient manner, in her books, “Sloughi”, published by Kennel Club Books (2004) and in “The Sloughi: 1852-1952” (2007) the only books currently published about the breed. She has also written recent articles in Best In Show Daily (2016), and Sighthound Review (2017), both citing the history and evolution of the breed, as well as providing additional information and research on her webpages.
The three similar but genetically different breeds from Africa and the Middle East are the Saluki, Sloughi and Azawakh. True Salukis are found primarily in the Middle East, in the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and related locales. True Sloughis originate primarily in North Africa in the Mahgreb area including the countries of modern day Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, listed by the FCI as the Country of Origin (COO) of the breed, and sometimes Libya. True Azawakhs are from Burkina Faso and Chad, in Central Africa.
As Sloughis will undoubtedly become more popular with AKC recognition, it is imperative of those of us who choose to breed their dogs to continue to breed only genuine Sloughis, not Saluki-Sloughi mixes, nor Greyhound-Sloughi mixes, or any other mix. All this will do is create a ‘new’, indistinguishable sighthound, such as the Labradoodle-type mixes that are so expensive and popular today. Also, the subtle nuances, characteristics and traits that define each of the three breeds and make them unique will be lost with each new ‘blended’ generation.
Be aware that this is not a problem unique to America; it is a worldwide concern. There are breeders in other parts of the world who breed and sell as genuine Sloughis, Saluki-Sloughi mixes and export them to other parts of the world, so please do not think that I am ‘throwing stones’ at Americans only.
I feel that with AKC recognition of the Sloughi in 2016, we in the US are presented a unique opportunity to truly improve the breed and negate mistakes that have occurred elsewhere, instead of perpetuating poor breed quality and type. Americans should ONLY import dogs that are legitimate Sloughis, no matter where they come from.
I do realize this is a controversial statement, but it is the truth. The ‘average’ person/puppy buyer will not know this, which is why it is SO important for breeders to breed and sell only genuine Sloughis, as we lay the foundation for the breed here in the States. Breeders will be making the breeding choices, not the puppy buyers, so it is the duty and obligation of every Sloughi breeder to research pedigrees and gather information so that the integrity of the breed is not lost. EVERY breeding made in the US is crucial to the breed as a whole, with such a small gene pool.
The Sloughi breed is very fortunate, compared to many other breeds, in which the dogs are bred in their native country, and can refresh the gene pool with dogs that still can and do perform their purpose. For the majority of breeds, this is simply not an option.
The next concern I have is that breeders may be tempted to import Saluki-Sloughi mixes because they may be cheaper to acquire, or possibly be even given to breeders/importers at little to no cost, to unknowing breeders anxious to become involved with the breed. The temptation lies in the fact that since the breed is so new, that the typical American fancier will not be able to truly tell the difference between a mixed sighthound, since they do look similar, and perform similar work, and will take their breeder’s word that the purity of the dog is legitmate. Serious breeders must only breed Sloughis that are truly genuine, and then when pure dogs are acquired, to only breed their best animals in an effort to crystallize the purity of the breed here. We need to protect the breed’s progress and grow it slowly and carefully, so that it does not become an impure, muddled mixture of similar looking hounds, lacking soundness and breed type. It will also be important to breed healthy, good looking and purposeful dogs so that they can be in the show ring one day, and coursing the next.
Lastly, how can you tell if your Sloughi is a crossbred dog? Look on the Pawpeds Sloughi database, and look far back into the dog’s pedigree, beyond the 3 generation pedigree.
Search for the following names, which are ‘red flags’ which denote impure lines:
Laba’an was listed as a sire for three breeds: Sloughis, Salukis and Azawakhs, making his contributions much more far ranging and concerning, as he impacts the purity of not only ONE, but THREE breeds!
What is probably even more important than finding the above names of these dogs, is the percentage in which these three dogs are found in a pedigree (on the Pawpeds webpage, click on ‘Foundation’ to discover the percentages of contribution of each dog in the pedigree) These names are sometimes found in varying amounts in pedigrees. Closely bred dogs of quality, although somewhat objectionable, are not nearly as detrimental to breed type as mixes, especially those found more recently in the pedigree.
In closing, it is not my intent to castigate or shame ANY breeders, but I think that in the US we have an amazing and rare opportunity to improve what has in the past, been an unfortunate situation. We must all be honest with ourselves, look at pedigrees and not blame, only move forward, armed with the information presented above. Our job as breeders, especially of a rare breed, is to help the breed move forward with informed breeding decisions. The information is readily available on Pawpeds and is free, so there really is no excuse to continue breeding and selling mixed breed ‘Sloughis’.
It is my sincere hope that the newly evolving Sloughi dog show community works to be inclusive, honest and motivated to improve the best genuine Sloughis in the world…hopefully in 10-20 years, other countries around the globe will be interested in importing our dogs to improve their stock, versus the opposite!
Nancy Lovelady is from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, with over 35 years of breeding, showing and handling experience, and has participated in AKC, FCI and IABKC shows. A second generation Cairn Terrier breeder under the McHan kennel name, she bred and handled dogs for her kennel and others, while working full time and raising a family. She became enamoured of hounds in the 90s, but due to an experience with one of her dogs bloating, she searched to find a healthy, feisty sighthound breed and has fallen in love with the Sloughi, importing her most recent Sloughi this past May of 2017.
She is currently an AKC approved judge in terriers and some hound breeds (including Sloughis).
© Nancy Lovelady
Reproduced with Kind Permission