North African Efforts



Interview with Joseph Mangelsdorf, the Algerian Sloughi
May 20 2010
© de Caprona 2010
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Dominique de Caprona: Mr. Mangelsdorf, you are in Algeria at the moment, a country difficult to go to. As you know, the Algerian Sloughi has been the best described and the most well known since the 19th century in Europe, particularly thanks to the description the General Daumas gave of it in 1852. I would then like to take advantage of your stay in that country to ask you to tell us what you have been able to see of this ancient breed 158 years later.

Which are the regions you have travelled to and seen Sloughis?

Joseph Mangelsdorf:
From 1977 to 1980, I stayed in Tlemcen and travelled to Taghit (Colomb Béchar); I had seen few Sloughis except a few populations with the nomads at Sebdou,  south of Tlemcen.  From these nomads I had received as a gift my first sloughi, Anthar, whom I had brought back with me to Germany, where he has lived for 12 years:
From 1980 to 1983,  a stay in Souk Ahras, with trips towards Gardaia; few Sloughis.
A few populations in the region of Biskra.
From 2005-2008, a stay in El Kala. Because of the country’s insecurity at the time, no trip was possible, and I have not seen Sloughis in that region.
Since January 2010, I have stayed in Tiaret and I went several times to the region of Tlemcen, where I found the presence of numerous Sloughis North of Tlemcen (in particular Bensekrane and Sidi Abdelli)
According to what the inhabitants of Bensekrane say, there is also a population of these dogs in Tiaret which I am planning to visit soon.

Bensekrane ©  Mangelsdorf 2010
Hunting grounds in the back on the hill.

Dominique de Caprona: How were you able to establish a contact with the owners of Sloughis?
Joseph Mangelsdorf: In Algeria, it is difficult for Westerners to have access to the Sloughis and their owners. One needs to be very tactful, establish a relationship based on a deep trust and above all, one needs to respect their traditions and the way they treat their dogs.

Dominique de Caprona: About how many Sloughis have you seen there?
Joseph Mangelsdorf: In the region of Bensekrane alone, there are more than 100 Sloughis.

Bensekrane ©  Mangelsdorf 2010

Dominique de Caprona: To whom do the Sloughis belong in that region? 
Hunters, farmers….?
Joseph Mangelsdorf:  The Sloughis has belonged to the inhabitants, without discrimination, for generations;it is tradition. 
The best Sloughis are with the hunters

Dominique de Caprona: Which is the main function of the Sloughi in that region? 
Hunting, guarding…?
Joseph Mangelsdorf: Hunting and guarding sheep herds against night attacks by jackals; the inhabitants possess a Sloughi also "for the honor”, and a bit for the social “standing”.
For hunting they use a smaller Sloughi. The tallest Sloughis are used to guard sheep herds.

Two Sloughis protecting a sheep herd, Bensekrane © Mangelsdorf 2010

Dominique de Caprona:  How do Sloughis live in Algeria, free, tethered, confined?
Joseph Mangelsdorf: In partial liberty, usually in makeshift set-ups with the possibility of going out.

Sloughis playing in the company of a Pointer type dog. Bensekrane © Mangelsdorf 2010

Dominique de Caprona: Which are the coat colors that you could see? Do the Algerians prefer certains colors over others or not?
Joseph Mangelsdorf:  All the colors from black to white through red fawn. The Algerians have no preferences for colors. Above all, they do not know the importance of our standard; for them, the only selection criteria are the speed and courage during hunting.

Bensekrane © Mangelsdorf 2010

Dominique de Caprona:  Which is the most important characteristic of the Sloughi for the Algerian owner?
The temperament, the hunting talent, the fact that he is a good guard dog..etc…?
Joseph Mangelsdorf: The speed and courage when facing game, especially the jackal and the wild boar.

Sloughia of great renown for her courage during hgunting © Mangelsdorf 2010

Dominique de Caprona: Could you describe for us a little the temperament of the Sloughis you have encountered? Which was the typical demeanor?
Joseph Mangelsdorf: The Sloughis are very reserved, they have no interest whatsoever in strangers. They are calm, attentive, they listen only to their "master." Commands are given with whistles or little sounds made with the fingers or the mouth. I have not seen fights among them, they accept other animals except cats. I have not noticed any rank order. They are not aggressive, they are gentle and seem nice. All in all, the perfect dogs.

Dominique de Caprona:  How are the Algerian Sloughis fed? In the Western World, there are many discussions about how to best feed a Sloughi, and I personally think that oftentimes they are given a food which is too rich. 
What do you think?
Joseph Mangelsdorf:  The Sloughis are fed with leftovers of meals (without strong spices). In Bensekrane there is a chicken slaughterhouse, the hunters collect (for free) giblets and leftovers, in particular heads and legs. For the hunters it is the best food for Sloughias with puppies. The leftovers are eaten raw by the Sloughis. 
In any case the people do not have the means to feed them any other way.

Dominique de Caprona:  When do Sloughias have their litters?
Joseph Mangelsdorf : Because of the climatic conditions, during the months of April and May.

Two lovely Sloughi litters, Bensekrane © Mangelsdorf 2010

Dominique de Caprona:  What is the life expectancy of a Sloughi in Algeria? 
Which are the main reasons which end the life of a Sloughi prematurely?
Joseph Mangelsdorf:  The life expectancy is, roughly, of 4 years, mostly due to the lack of means to buy medicine and vaccinate the dogs. 
(For information: a vaccination costs 5,00 Euros).

Dominique de Caprona:  Are there traditions such a brandmarks on the front legs or markings with Henna on various parts of the Sloughi’s body, in the region which you have visited?
Joseph Mangelsdorf:  Brand marks on the legs, no, Henna on the head and legs, yes, to decorate the Sloughi and make him beautiful. It is also a symbol of the Sloughi’s strength.

Henna on the front leg of a Sloughi and on the head of another
Bensekrane © Mangelsdorf 2010

Dominique de Caprona:  Are there Algerian legends about the Sloughi?
Joseph Mangelsdorf:  One tells each other stories about the courage of Sloughis facing wild boar and jackal during hunting or guarding of sheep herds..

Dominique de Caprona:  What do you think of the current situation of the Sloughi in the region where you find yourself? 
I imagine that the owners of Sloughis are very proud of their dogs. In your opinion, are there reasons to be optimistic regarding the survival of this breed in that country of origin?
Joseph Mangelsdorf: In the region of Tlemcen and in Algeria, there are no survival problems for the breed Sloughi.

A proud owner of 4 gorgeous males
 Bensekrane © Mangelsdorf 2010

The future of the breed, Bensekrane © Mangelsdorf 2010

Many thanks to you, Mr Mangeldorf, as well as to your Algerian friends, for presenting the Algerian Sloughi to us.

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