There are many lesser known dog breeds native to the African continent with one of them being the lovely Aidi, a breed that hails from Morocco. Also known as the Mountain Atlas Dog, these charming characters have a lot to boast about and were first bred to guard flocks of livestock in their native land.
Not only are these dogs revered for their guarding abilities, but they are also known to be extremely good hunting dogs and have often been compared to a Sloughi, another breed native to north Africa. The only difference being in their turn of speed, the Aidi is more of a scent dog whereas the Sloughi will chase down prey until they catch it being a superb sight hound.
The Aidi is considered to be one of the more ancient dog breeds on the planet. However, their true origins are unknown although some people think they have been around since the time of the Phoenicians, a civilisation considered to be the greatest traders of their day which was around 3200 BCE. It is thought the Aidi was developed by the Phoenicians although other people think the breed first appeared on the scene in the Atlas Mountains, hence their other name. There's even some thought that the Aidi could be an ancient ancester of the Pyrenean Mountain dog we see today.
What is known is that the Berber people kept Aidis as watch dogs that not only guarded flocks of animals but families too. However, they were never used as herding dogs and should therefore, not be thought of as sheepdogs.
Known to be extremely loyal and courageous, the Aidi is a strong dog that boasts a solid build. Male dogs can stand anything between 21 and 25 inches at the shoulder and can weigh in at between 50 to 60 lbs. Their female counterparts tend to be slightly smaller and lighter. They have very thick coats that not only offer them a tremendous amount of protection against the elements, but against attacks from wolves and other predators that preyed on the flocks they were guarding.
The Aidi is known to be a gentle and affectionate dog towards the people they know and love. However, always alert they are quick to let you know when strangers or other animals are about and can be wary of people they don't know. They are renowned for being brilliant watch dogs because it's in their blood to protect and guard. These dogs need to be well socialised from a young age and their training needs to start early too or they might mature into more dominant characters and not recognise who is the boss in a household.
However when they are being trained, the Aidi needs to be handled with a firm yet gentle hand because they are very sensitive dogs by nature and do not do well when any sort of harsh training methods are used in their education. They are definitely not the best choice of pets for anyone living in an apartment and would be much happier living in a rural setting or with people who have large back gardens.
Being such intelligent dogs, they are highly trainable, but this means they can pick up bad habits as quickly as they learn the good things they are being taught. As such they are not the best choice for first-time dog owners, but are an ideal choice for people who live active outdoor lives and used to owning and handling dogs.
When it comes to coat care, as previously mentioned the Aidi boasts a very dense thick coat that's typically around 2 or 3 inches long although around their faces as well as their ears, the hair is much shorter and a lot finer. They have very distinctive bushy tails with male dogs having guard hairs around their necks, on their shoulders and chests which are a lot more pronounced than on their female counterparts. When it comes to coat colours, the Aidi can by anything from black to a very light colour or they could be brindle with a combination of different colours too.
Because the Aidi has a very dense, thick double coat that consists of a coarse outer coat and a much softer undercoat, it means they do need regular and frequent grooming to keep things looking good. Just like other dogs, the Aidi tends to shed more during the spring and then again in the autumn which is when they would need more frequent grooming to keep on top of things and to prevent too much hair from being left around the house.
When it comes to health issues, the Aidi boasts being one of the healthiest dogs on the planet and are not known to suffer from any hereditary or congenital conditions. When well cared for and fed a nutritious diet to suit the different stages of their lives, the Aidi can live anything up to 12+ years.
The Aidi is one of the lesser known dogs that hails from Morocco in North Africa where they were and still are used as working dogs, guarding flocks of livestock. Today, more breeders outside of their native land are producing lovely examples of these dogs because they do make wonderful pets as long as they are well socialised and trained from a young age with a firm yet gentle hand. They are not the best choice for first time owners nor would they be happy living in an apartment. However, if you live in the country and enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, sharing your home with an Aidi could be the perfect choice of a canine companion.