Aidi

 

Native to Morocco, the Aidi or Chine De l'Atlas is a dual purpose dog used as both a flock guardian (Livestock Protection Dog), vigillantly protecting herds of both sheep and goats; and as a hunting companion to the Sloughi. Lacking in speed but strong in scenting ability, the Aidi is often paired with the much faster Sloughi which will chase  down prey that the Aidi has located by scent.

 

Breed Information

Breed Basics

Country of Origin: 
Size: 
Large 35-55 lb
LifeSpan: 
10 to 12 Years
Trainability: 
Moderate Effort Required
Energy Level: 
High Energy
Grooming: 
A Couple Times a Week
Protective Ability: 
Very Protective
Hypoallergenic Breed: 
No
Space Requirements: 
Needs Alot of Space
Compatibility With Other Pets: 
Indifferent To Other Pets
May Be Okay With Other Pets If Raised Together
May Have Issues With Other Dogs
Not Recommended For Homes With Existing Dogs
Not Recommended For Homes With Small Animals
Litter Size: 
5-8 puppies
Names: 
Atlas Mountain Dog, Atlas Shepherd Dog, Chien de l'Atlas, Chien de Montagne de l'Atlas

Height/Weight

Males: 
21-25 inches, 50-60lbs
Females: 
Slightly Smaller

Kennel Clubs and Recognition

FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale): 
UKC (United Kennel Club): 
History: 

 

Like many ancient breeds of dog, the true history of the Aidi is shrouded in some mystery. Many believe that it was the Phoenicians; an ancient civilization centered in the coastal regions of modern day Lebanon, Syria, and northern Israel that are responsible for creating the Aidi. What is known of the Phoenicians is that between 1550BC and 300BC, they were the greatest traders of their time owing much of their prosperity to trade. The Phoenicians used man powered sailing vessels known as galleys to become the major naval and trading power of the region in the centuries after 1200 BC. The Phoenicians also bred and developed dogs. Breeds such as the  the Basenji, Ibizan Hound, Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell'Etna, Cretan Hound, Canary Islands Hound, and Portuguese Podengo were developed locally for trade elsewhere; primarily with Egypt. We also know through archeological excavations that the Phoenicians had an established production center for colored dye in present day Morocco, the recognized origin of the Aidi.

 

Others believe that the Aidi also known as the Atlas Mountain Dog was developed in the Atlas Mountains; a mountain range extending 1500 miles across northern Africa through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The Aidi was then subsequently traded or migrated with nomadic people or armies of the time to the Pyrenees Mountains of southwest Europe ; the natural border between France and Spain. Here it is believed that it became the original antecedent of the modern day Pyrenean Mountain Dog or Great Pyrenees as it is known in the United States. This is a fact that is widely disputed among dog experts as the commonly held belief is that no sheepdog type breed existed in the Atlas Mountains during this time.

 

It is however possible for the Aidi to have made the journey from North Africa to Northern Spain as a result of the Berber people. The Aidi is also referred to as the Berber dog and was historically known to have existed with Berber nomadic tribes; the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley, which were distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River, including the area that is current day Morocco . After the Muslim conquest of the Middle Ages, the Berber tribes of coastal North Africa became Arabized.  It was during the 8th century that the now Arabized Berber people provided the bulk of the invading armies that conquered the Iberian Peninsula; an area that includes modern-day Portugal, Spain, Andorra, the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar and a very small area of France including the Pyrenees Mountains.

 

Although its true origin may have been lost in time, we do know that the Berber people used the Aidi as a protective guard dog for family. The job of the Aidi was to watch over livestock and property; keeping them safe from predators and strangers. The role of the Aidi as a guard dog for livestock; primarily sheep, falsely lead to the assumption of it being a herding type of sheepdog,  although the Aidi has never worked sheep in the herding sense. The 1963 breed standard even labeled the Aidi as the Atlas Sheepdog, a mistake that was later revised and corrected in 1969. 

 

The natives of the region describe the role of the Aidi as such:

 

“There are no sheepdogs in the Atlas. The Morrocan dog who lives in our mountains has never guarded the flocks in the same way attributed to that type of work in Europe. The Aidi is a mountain dog so called to defend the tent and belongings of his masters as well as protecting the stock from the wild animals which could cause damages.”

 

The main role of the Aidi with sheep has always been to protect them from jackal and other predators by using its strong scenting ability as an early warning system to detect approaching predators before they can strike at the flock. However, the Aidi is not one of the quicker, more agile breeds, and often these predators were allowed the opportunity to escape, only to return later for another attempt at the flock. This is the primary reason that the modern Aidi is often paired with the swiftly moving and agile Sloughi in order to create a lethal hunting combination.

 

For those still living a simple traditional lifestyle, the modern day Aidi still fulfills its working dog role by guarding the flocks of the remote North African mountains. It has even adapted well to use as a Moroccan police dog,  although it is becoming more commonly seen as a household pet.

 

Appearance: 

 

The Aidi is a large, muscular, solidly built dog that carries itself authoritatively. Measuring 21 to 25 inches at the withers, weighing 50 to 60 pounds, with a thick armor like coat and centuries of flock guarding experience, the Aidi is a formidable adversary for any livestock hunting predators. The Aidi always appears alert and vigilant in expression, very true to its nature of being the protector of both man and animals.

 

The thick double coat of the Aidi is dual purpose in that it provides protection from not only the extremes of hot and cold found in its native mountain home, but also from the teeth of wolves and other predators while protecting the flock. The hair of the coat is between 2-3 inches long, covering every part of the body except the face and ears which have shorter finer hair. Long hair extends from the buttocks and the tail giving the rear of the dog a bushy appearance. Bushiness of the tail is interpreted as a sign that the dog is a purebred. The guard hairs encompassing the neck, withers and chest are longer than those of the body giving the Aidi a pronounced mane; a feature more prevalent on males than females of the breed. The color of the coat can vary from black, fawn, pale red, black and white, tawny, or brindle combinations such as a coat that is fawn and brindled with black.

 

The bear like head of the Aidi is well proportioned to the heavy muscular and well balanced body. The skull is large and conical with a tapering muzzle that leads to well formed largish nostrils, with nose color generally being black or brownish and matching that of the coat. The ears are set widely spaced atop the skull with somewhat rounded tips, that tend to fold or tip forward when the dog is alert and lay back when the dog is more relaxed. The jaws are powerful with thin, tight lips that also tend to match the coat in color. The dark colored eyes are of medium size with well pigmented eyelids and have a lively, alert and watchful expression.

 

The long bushy tail of the Aidi is set as an extension of the spine, usually carried low with a curve when the dog is at rest. When alert or on the move the tail is carried higher from the ground more straight out from the body but should never curl over the back of the dog.
 

Temperament: 

 

The Aidi is a naturally protective and vigilant breed that has stood watch over its master, his possessions and his flock for centuries. Aidis are known to be energetic high strung dogs that need a job in order to be happy.  The highly alert and every watchful disposition of the Aidi means that it tends to be a barker, sounding the alarm at even the slightest disturbance. Mistrusting and cautious of strangers the Aidi may act aggressively toward uninvited guests.

 

The protective and territorial nature of the Aidi can sometimes lead to fights with other dogs if they venture into its territory. This is a dog that requires firm, kind training and a strong human leader to keep it in check. The most important aspect of training an Aidi is keep the training positive while taking care to avoid rough handling the dog as they tend to be a sensitive breed that will quickly become mistrusting of an overbearing owner. A very loyal and loving dog, they have proven to be excellent family pets that are gentle with children; especially if they are well socialized at an early age. 

 

In the home they tend to be relatively inactive and at peace, however this is an intelligent working breed that requires mental stimulation in order to stave off boredom. A bored or neglected Aidi can quickly turn destructive or become a nuisance barker. In the home range of the Aidi they live on mountainous expanses of land, as such they require plenty of space and would not be a good choice for an apartment dog or for a small home. A farm setting with plenty of acreage and the ability to roam semi freely would be the best habitat for the Aidi.
 

 

Grooming Requirements: 

 

Since the Aidi possess a naturally weatherproof double coat of fur, consisting of a thick, dense, soft undercoat and a coarse longer topcoat some grooming and ritual brushing is going to be required if you plan on letting them in the house. Brushing the coat on a regular basis will help to distribute the natural oils of the coat, improving weatherproofing and keeping the coat healthy. The undercoat will shed or “blow out” annually and for females this may happen twice a year.  For dogs living in warmer climates there is a tendency to shed year-round. Caring for your Aidi will require that you put up with plenty of dog hair on the furniture and carpet, and floating through the air during these shedding sessions that can last three weeks or more. You can reduce the loose hair you find with regular brushing and grooming sessions during these times.  You should only bath an Aidi two or three times a year so as not to remove the weatherproofing of the coat.

 

Health Issues: 

 

The Aidi is one of the healthiest breeds of dog in the world, there are currently no known congenital health issues associated with this breed.

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