Interview with Anna Pierson, Breeder of Sloughis du Soleil
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Anna Pierson: I live in Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles. I have owned dogs almost my entire life and have owned Sloughis for 20 years. I co-bred my first litter with my parents in 2013.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Anna Pierson: Sloughis du Soleil is my and my parents’ kennel. Right now, I own four dogs and co-own several more with my parents. Our dogs are first and foremost beloved family members. Even those that are never shown, for one reason or another, are just as treasured, live 24/7 with us, and are doted on into old age.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Anna Pierson: I did not plan to show when my parents got our first Sloughi, UCH Balad Kaheela de Moreau. This was before the Sloughi was in the Miscellaneous Class in AKC. However, he was such a good example of the breed that I did end up showing him in ARBA and UKC shows. At that time, I was in high school and busy with many extracurricular activities, so I didn’t show often. But when I did, he did very well and he finished in UKC with all his competition wins at the Group level.
More recently, my current special, CH Ocerico Ehsan, has been quite successful even with limited showing. In 2022, he only showed on seven days but was No. 4 All-Breed and No. 6 Breed in Sloughis for the year. He’s early in his specials career, but has had a very promising start!
I must say, however, that Conformation shows are only a part of determining the quality of a Sloughi. Some aspects of what make a Sloughi a good Sloughi are not as easily judged in the show ring; their natural athleticism, prey drive, ability to have a good relationship with their owner, etc.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Anna Pierson: A combination of prioritizing the health of the breed and taking time off from breeding for graduate school means I am somewhat too early in my program to have a most influential dam or sire. My current special, whom I mentioned in the last question, “Ehsan,” has the potential to be a very influential sire. I have a couple candidates for dams for whom I have high hopes; Bahja du Soleil and Barqasha du Soleil. They are from my last litter out of Ehsan and a Moroccan import, “Zina.”
Zina is unrelated to any other Moroccan imports in the US and was imported for diversity, but for various reasons only had the one litter in the US. I am especially hopeful that her offspring will be successful and continue forward her lineage.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Anna Pierson: Our puppies are raised in the home. For whelping and the early days, they have their own room. Dependent on the comfort of the dam, they are later moved to a large setup in a main living area of the house where they are exposed to anything they might encounter in their future homes. Weather-dependent, they also spend a good amount of time in the yard; at first in their own enclosed area, and later, with supervised interactions in the rest of the yard with some of the adult dogs of the house.
Once they are a bit older, they also take trips via car and dog stroller to safe areas for exposure to life outside the home. During this entire time, we have a variety of visitors over and interacting with them on a regular basis. Our goal with all of this is to prepare them the best we can for anything their new life has in store.
However, raising a Sloughi doesn’t end with them going to their new homes. With Sloughis, it is especially important to continue exposing them to a wide variety of experiences in order to help them be well-adjusted and happy adult dogs, being especially mindful of helping them through their fear periods.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Anna Pierson: We continually assess all of our puppies as they mature for temperament, structure, and drive. We consult with others in the breed and in other related breeds as well. Ultimately, we match puppies with the best possible home for them, based on characteristics of the lifestyle of the new owner and the personality of the puppy.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Anna Pierson: All of our Sloughis enjoy learning tricks, and as such, most have Trick Dog titles. Additionally, we have enjoyed Scent Work and Barn Hunt classes. Sloughis really excel when they work with their owners, while at the same time are given some freedom to problem-solve by themselves. And even though they are sighthounds, they can follow their noses very well!
Is “performance” part of my decision-making when it comes to breeding?
Anna Pierson: There should be no split between show and performance Sloughis. Some Sloughis may be easier to get into the Conformation ring because their personality is more naturally outgoing; however, a Sloughi that is pretty and flashy in the ring, but has no drive to hunt, is not a Sloughi that should be bred. We are lucky to be using lines with recent countries of origin imports, which we’ve found notably means more instinct to hunt.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Anna Pierson: The breed is athletic by nature. A healthy, well-kept Sloughi with access to frequent opportunities to run should not need any special conditioning. While our Sloughis stay fit largely by playing with each other in our yard, we make sure they enjoy frequent individual outings and walks at local parks, stores, and even road trips with us. This is especially important to “condition” them in a different way; helping them to be prepared for novel experiences and making them more comfortable in all kinds of situations they may encounter.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Anna Pierson: While, overall, Sloughis tend to be a healthy breed, they are not devoid of health concerns. Specifically, thyroid issues, neurological diseases, and autoimmune disorders have shown up in the breed, though luckily none are so prevalent or widespread as to be considered common. At Sloughis du Soleil, we are strong believers in proactive testing whenever possible, and we test well beyond CHIC level. With so few Sloughis in the country, every breeder and owner should do their part to keep this breed healthy by health testing (and I do not mean just with Embark or Wisdom Panel) and being transparent about any health concerns they may encounter.
There aren’t any special nutritional needs for Sloughis. We have had success feeding raw, home-cooked, freeze-dried, and many different brands of kibble. The main concern is feeding an appropriate and balanced food for their life stage and NOT overfeeding, as being overweight can be extremely detrimental to the health of any Sloughi.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Anna Pierson: One main hurdle this breed has in the US is the lack of knowledgeable breeders who are willing to truly breed for the betterment of the Sloughi. I do not think we necessarily need that many more Sloughis in the US, but I think we need a greater number of people who are willing to breed for the right reasons (e.g. when they have a dog with something special to contribute to the breed), even if they can only breed infrequently.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Anna Pierson: Sloughis can be wonderful family dogs in homes that are sensitive to their needs, truly understanding of their nature, and willing to develop a solid interactive relationship with them. While traditional living conditions for Sloughis in their countries of origin may seem drastically different as compared to the current day, suburban lifestyle in the US, there are some core similarities. Namely, that they are used to living closely with “their” people and they are very happy being part of a family. As such, they enjoy being included in as many aspects of daily life as possible.
The best candidates for owning the breed are people who involve their dogs in many aspects of their life, are generally dog-savvy already but are also willing to adjust their ways to a breed that is uniquely sensitive and intelligent, and who are ready and equipped to deal with potential late and long fear periods as their dog matures.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Anna Pierson: The biggest misconception is that they are just like any other sighthound. In particular, someone coming into the breed who is experienced owning other sighthounds should have an open mind and be flexible when adding a Sloughi. They should realize there may be times when what has worked for raising their other sighthounds might not be as effective with their Sloughi.
The Standard mentions their “somewhat aloof” personality, but this is really only a small aspect of their character. Those who live with Sloughis quickly find out that the best-kept secret of the breed is just how gentle, sweet, and engaged they are with their family.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Anna Pierson: When judging the breed, it cannot be stressed enough how important sound movement is in the breed. If a Sloughi doesn’t have sound movement, it doesn’t matter how pretty they are, or how well they may fit other aspects of the Standard. An unsound Sloughi is not one that should ever be rewarded in the ring.
You may not get to see many Sloughis in the ring compared to other breeds you judge. However, make sure you are looking for the hallmarks that make them a Sloughi vs. another sighthound breed or a generic sighthound. If you aren’t certain what these are, or you just want more information, any ASLA-approved mentor will be more than willing to chat with you, and their contact information is available on the ASLA website.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Anna Pierson: Take your time. Start earlier than you might think in getting to know the community and the breed, even well before you are ready to own one. It is especially important to seek out as many Sloughis as possible to meet them in person; ideally dogs from different breeders and lines. I am always willing to meet up with people in my area, and I frequently discuss the breed online with those interested. We are a small community but quite welcoming. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions, always in the nicest ways possible, of course. While we desperately need more good breeders, we also need people breeding who truly understand the breed and who are dedicated to preserving it as it is in its countries of origin.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Hound?
Anna Pierson: Our first Sloughi, “Balad,” had a specific frog toy that was his favorite. One time, we were packing for a road trip and the frog toy needed to be washed. So, it wasn’t coming along. But somehow, it kept showing up in the pile of dog stuff that was waiting to be packed! We kept putting it away and Balad kept putting it back with the things to go along on the trip. Suffice to say, the frog toy came along—no matter how much it needed a wash!
Are you looking for a Sloughi puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Sloughi dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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