Every year, the American Kennel Club compiles their list of America’s most popular dog breeds. The top of the list is exactly what you’d expect (the Labrador, German Shepherd, and Golden Retriever consistently secure spots in the top five), but the bottom of the list is full of breeds that are a mystery to most people.
And the biggest mystery of all? The breed at the very bottom of 2018’s list—the Sloughi. If you’ve never heard of the Sloughi, you’re not alone. In fact, the Sloughi wasn’t even recognized by the American Kennel Club until 2016.
But just because you’ve never heard of the Sloughi doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to learn—and we have a feeling that by the end of this article, you’ll find yourself falling head over heels for this rare North African breed.
America, get ready to meet and fall in love with the Sloughi, the rarest dog breed in the USA. The Sloughi is the newest dog breed to take on this mantle, eclipsing the rare Norwegian Lundehund as this year’s least common dog.
First, let’s cover the basics.
Sloughis are an ancient North African hound breed (nicknamed the “Arabian Greyhound”) originally bred for hunting small-to-medium game like fox, hare, and gazelles; their hunting roots are evident in their speed, agility, and overall graceful nature.
Sloughis are lean, muscular dogs—on average, they grow to be between 45 and 75lbs in weight and 24 to 29-inches in height. Their life expectancy is between 10 to 15 years—which is pretty average for a breed of their size and stature.
Sloughis are instantly recognizable by their slender faces, long noses, and dark, brooding eyes (which, according to the AKC, many describe as “melancholy”). In terms of coat, Sloughis represent a variety of colors (from gray to tan to red—and just about everything in between) and may have a brindle appearance or black markings (for example, on their ears or mantle).
Like many dogs in the sighthound family, Sloughis can be aloof to people they don’t know well but are extremely loyal, loving, and gentle to their human families—making them a great family pet.
Caring for a Sloughi
When it comes to grooming, Sloughis are as low maintenance as you can get. Giving them a brush about once a week along with an occasional bath, ear check, and nail clipping is all you need to keep your Sloughi looking and feeling fresh.
The one thing you need to be mindful of when caring for a Sloughi? Making sure they get plenty of exercise. When they’re hanging out indoors, Sloughis are pretty laid back. But Sloughis are hunting dogs, which means they’ve got a natural instinct to run, chase, and hunt—so if you want to keep a Sloughi happy, you need to make sure they have ample opportunity to get outside and work off all that pent up hunting energy.
A word of caution: Sloughis may be on the smaller side, but they can jump seriously high. So before you let them off leash, make the fence is high enough that they can’t clear it with a well-timed leap (five to six feet—or higher—is a good rule of thumb).
What makes a Sloughi so unique
As the least well-known breed in America, Sloughis are a bit of a mystery. So what, exactly, makes Sloughis so unique?
One of the things that makes Sloughis so special is their sensitivity. Sloughis are known for being exceptionally empathetic and in tune with their owner’s emotions. So, if you’re having a tough day, your Sloughi will be the first one to notice and give you a snuggle to lift your spirits.
Another interesting characteristic of the Sloughi? They’re can definitely be on the quiet side! A Sloughi will bark if there’s cause for alarm (so, for example, if a stranger is approaching the home), but they typically won’t bark without reason—so, if you’re a person who likes peace and quiet in your home, a Sloughi may make a great addition to the family.
Sloughis are a fantastic breed—but that doesn’t mean these dogs aren’t without their challenges.
Like many hound breeds, Sloughis are independent—which can make them more challenging to train. Most Sloughis lack the “I want to please” you attitude that’s characteristic of other, easier-to-train breeds.
They’re also extremely sensitive, so pet parents shouldn’t be too harsh during training (anything that resembles punishment should be avoided—lest the Sloughi’s feelings get hurt).
Sloughis can also present safety challenges. As mentioned, Sloughis are jumpers—so unless they’re kept in an area with a high fence, they can leap over the boundary and escape. Not only is this a safety issue for the Sloughi, but it’s also a safety issue for other animals. Sloughis have a natural prey drive, so if they escape, they’re likely to chase and harm (or even kill) squirrels, cats, or other small animals (including smaller dogs).
Lastly, while they’re overall healthy dogs, Sloughis are prone to a few serious health issues, including Progressive Retinal Atrophy (which may result in blindness), Addison’s Disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The bottom line
Sloughis may just be making their mark here in the US—but for people looking for an active, loyal companion, this breed could be a fantastic fit. But before you bring a Sloughi home, make sure you do your research and are prepared to give this special hound everything they need to thrive, including plenty of space. Sloughis are definitely not an apartment dog and will need a decent size yard—with a high fence—in order to feel their happiest and healthiest.
One thing to keep in mind: Sloughis are an extremely rare breed, so finding one might be a challenge. But if it proves to be too challenging, remember—there are plenty of amazing shelter dogs waiting to find their forever homes! Just schedule a visit with your local shelter and find the perfect pet for you and your family.
Featured image via Facebook (public Sloughi group)