Interview with Erika Wyatt, Breeder of Ocerico Sloughis
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Erika Wyatt: We live about 60 miles west of Chicago in rural St. Charles. We have been involved in dogs since 1987 and have been breeding Sloughis since 2006.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Erika Wyatt: We are Ocerico Sloughis. We keep about a half dozen showable dogs at a time and have several aging seniors that are living out their golden years with us.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Erika Wyatt: Our current special, BIS BISS RBIS GCH Itri Ocerico BCAT FITB, is the top-winning Sloughi in AKC history. He was the first (and only) AKC Best in Show Sloughi and only the second AKC RBIS Sloughi in history. He is also the first OHBIS-winning Sloughi. This is even more remarkable considering that he was a hunting dog in the desert of Morocco until July 2021 when we imported him to the US, just days before the importation of dogs from Morocco was suspended by the CDC.
Also noteworthy is Multi BISS RBIS GCH Rima Siham Sahara CA DCAT FITB, another Moroccan import. She was the first AKC RBIS Sloughi and is the top-winning female Sloughi in AKC history, and the first Hound Group-winning Sloughi in AKC history.
GCH Taban Bohemia Genao CM, “Toby,” was the first AKC Champion, the first AKC Grand Champion, and the first Westminster BOB-winning Sloughi. Toby was the first OHRBIS-winning Sloughi.
CH Dune des Sources de l’Oum-er-Rbia CM, our first (of thirteen) Moroccan imported Sloughi, was the only Sloughi to win the National Specialty three times.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Erika Wyatt: CH Dune des Sources de l’Oum-er-Rbia CM has been, so far, our most influential sire, with nine champion offspring, including four Group-placing Sloughis and the most-titled Sloughi in US history, who has, at this time, over 50 titles, including his Conformation championship.
The jury is still out as to which of our girls will end up being our most influential. Amiass Shubah-al-Warda, our sweet redhead whom we imported from Austria but is half desert-bred Tunisian, has produced the most champion offspring to date (seven), but the influence of our girls imported from Morocco has yet to be seen.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Erika Wyatt: We live on twelve rural acres with ample room for the Sloughis to exercise and ample wildlife to keep them interested. We also enroll our dogs in Agility classes, which most Sloughis seem ot love. Our puppies are whelped in a state-of-the-art nursery, with radiant heat floors and air-conditioning, and we utilize Puppy Culture for early neurological stimulation.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Erika Wyatt: We evaluate puppies from birth and continue to evaluate them for conformation, movement, instinct, and temperament throughout their puppyhood. We also seek input from our many sighthound breeder-friends. For us, there is no distinction between a show puppy and a performance puppy. A Sloughi that does not have the instinct and the ability to hunt is not a Sloughi, no matter how pretty it may be.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Erika Wyatt: There is no Performance Event that adequately assesses hunting instinct and prowess in Sloughis. However, for mental stimulation and for engagement, we do Fast CAT and have done some Lure Coursing. We may try competing with some Sloughis in Agility in the future because they really seem to enjoy it and it helps to keep them mentally and physically keen.
Is “performance” part of my decision-making when it comes to breeding?
Erika Wyatt: Hunting instinct, ability, and temperament is what defines a Sloughi. There is no Performance Event that accurately tests this, but we ensure that only Sloughis with those instincts and characteristics are part of our breeding program.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Erika Wyatt: Sloughis that are able to run with enough space will normally keep themselves fit. On the road, we bike them, and when the weather is poor, we also make use of a treadmill.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Erika Wyatt: There are health concerns in this breed, and prospective owners should only obtain Sloughis from breeders who adhere to the parent club Code of Ethics.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Erika Wyatt: No. There are not currently enough experienced Sloughi breeders in this country who have taken the time to really learn and understand this breed and why preservation is so important.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Erika Wyatt: Sloughis make outstanding family dogs for people who are as intelligent and sensitive as they are. Heavy-handed, coercive methods will ruin a Sloughi.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Erika Wyatt: The Sloughi is different from the Saluki and the Azawakh in both form and temperament. Learning about those differences is part of what makes these breeds so unique. The Sloughi’s best-kept secret is its complete devotion to its people and the unparalleled joy it is to live with one.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Erika Wyatt: With every act of judging, you are either helping to preserve this breed or you are contributing to its demise. Please remember, first and foremost, that this breed must hunt a wide variety of game over very punishing conditions. The nuances that make the Sloughi a Sloughi are all essential components of type. Please make use of the parent club’s educational materials available online and reach out to a club-approved mentor if you would like to discuss anything about this breed or the Breed Standard.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Erika Wyatt: Find an experienced mentor who is a signator of the parent club Code of Ethics, and visit the Sloughi in North Africa to understand what makes a Sloughi a Sloughi.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Hound?
Erika Wyatt: “Dune,” whom I mentioned above, was such a picky eater that if I gave him a piece of bread, he would give it back to me!
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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