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Genetic Differences between Western bred Sighthound (FCI group 10) and Primitive breeds (FCI group 5) Summary by Dr. Dominique de Caprona © de Caprona 2013

The Deutsche Windhund Zucht-und Rennverband (DWZRV, German Sighthound Club for breeding and racing) was offered by the Firm MARS the possibility of establishing a data base for every single Sighthound breed. The aim is to develop and sell a genetic test that would enable to verify whether a Sighthound is purebred or not. It could also help to verify in crossbreeds if they have such a breed in their ancestry. The Laboratory of Eurofins-Medigenomix was asked to carry out the study and MARS financed it. The aim is also to establish the "pure-bred" status of a Sighthound to be registered in Germany.


In the current absence of any scientific peer reviewed publication about these results, we are limited to the data presented at the talk given by Dr.Wimmer at a meeting of the DWZRV in December of 2012 and summarized for some of the breeds by Ursula Arnold (look under each breed for the links). Both documents are in German. We provide here a summary in English to enable these results to be understood outside of Germany.

Lecture by Dr.Wimmer, 2012, about Sighthounds DNA as revealed by microsatellites.


The following breeds were studied with about 21-27 samples per breed. The German Breeding Commission was asked to propose 40 dogs of each breed which represent the breed standards and are preferably not closely related. The Directors of the breeding commission ("Zuchtleitung") then decided and chose 25 dogs as best representatives (criteria for choosing all these dogs is given only for some). Most of the dogs in this study are German bred, except the breeds whose results are based on prior and new samples.


FCI Group 10: Sighthound Breeds ; Afghan Hound (24), Azawakh (25), Borzoi (25), Chart Polski (25), Scottish Deerhound (25), Galgo espanol (25), Greyhound (25), Irish Wolfhound (23), Magyar Agar (27), Saluki (25), Sloughi (24), Whippet (25), Italian Greyhound (25) FCI group 5: Primitive breeds: Pharaoh Hound (25), Cirneco del Etna (23), Ibizan (Podenco Ibicenco) (21), Podenco Canario (23), Podenco Portugues pequeno (25), Podenco Portugues medio (21)


Method: cheek swabs were taken from both males and females to collect the DNA needed to study the microsatellites. For this study 9 markers were used (FHC 2010, FHC 2054, PEZ 1, PEZ 12, PEZ 20, PEZ 5, FHC 2079, PEZ 6, PEZ 8) and 321 SNIPS. Prior to this study, these markers and SNIPS were tested and established by Mars for a test to determine the breeds involved in crossbreed dogs prior to this study - when owners want to know "what their dog is made of".

General Results

1) Sighthounds and Primitives compared to non sighthound (Affenpinscher)

When compared to a non Sighthound breed such as the Affenpinscher, all the Sighthounds and Primitives in this study shared more genetic similarities with each other than they did to that outside breed (page 20 of the lecture).


2) Relationships between breeds

This study reveals that some of the breeds are closer than others.

- Sloughi and Azawakh

- Sloughi and Galgo espanol

- Saluki and Afghan Hound

- Scottish Deerhound and Irish Wolfhound; both stand apart from the other Sighthounds

- Borzoi and Chart Polski

- Greyhound and Magyar Agar

- Whippets and Italian Greyhound

- Primitives (FCI Group 5) and Galgo or Sloughi (mediterranean breeds

                                                                     Results FCI Group 10: Sighthounds


                                                                                     Sloughi © de Caprona


Results Sloughi

Because this website is about the Sloughi, let us start with the results concerning this breed. See also the summary written here in German

Sloughi results in Dr. Wimmer's study by Ursula Arnold


Samples: 29 Sloughi samples were received that came from 6 German kennels, 1 Czech, one French and one American kennel. Only one sample was of North African breeding, a Moroccan Import. In other words, a total of 25 German samples and 4 samples not bred in Germany. In the end 24 samples were used. One does not know which of the samples were removed and for what reason.


Sloughi and other dog breeds

The results of the Sloughi samples cluster separately from the mass of the all dog breeds cluster (a cluster is how the results of all samples of a breed or type of dog group together away from the results of other breeds) except for 3 samples (page 37 Dr. Wimmer). The Sloughi is thus distinct from other breeds of dogs but also from other Sighthounds. The cluster built by the samples is not very tight tending to show that Sloughis are not highly inbred. One individual is located between Sloughi and Azawakh and was removed under the assumption that it is a cross between Azawakh and Sloughi: how such a decision could be taken in the absence of a data bank on North African Sloughis to compare it with is a mystery.

Sloughi versus Saluki, Azawakh and Galgo espanol

The Saluki's more numerous samples were a mix of older samples from a previous data bank from Salukis in the UK and the USA, and recent samples (25) from Germany.

The Azawakh and the Galgo espanol samples were like the Sloughi samples "new samples", there was no older data bank for them.

These four breeds are clearly distinct from one another as shown by their clusters (page 32 Dr. Wimmer). Of these breeds the Sloughis of this study, although distinct, are on the one hand closer to the Azawakh, which comes as no surpise as both originate in Africa, and on the other hand with the Galgo espanol from Morocco's neighboring country of Spain. The Sloughis sampled in this study appear to be a link between African and other Mediterranean breeds.


Sloughi versus Podengo Portugues medium size and Galgo espanol

Sloughi and Galgo espanol form distinct clusters separated from each other. Interestingly several samples of the Podenco Portugues medio are found to group between the Sloughi and the Galgo, although several other samples cluster clearly away from the Galgo and the Sloughi (page 5 Arnold). This would tend to show that at some point in the history of these breeds (or the breeding of the dogs tested itself) - Podenco portugues of medium size, Sloughi and Galgo - some admixture took place, but it is difficult to know in which direction that admixture happened, when and where it happened.

The Podenco Portugues pequeno (small) on the other hand is clearly distinct and forms its own cluster away even from the Podenco Portugues medio.


Within the Mediterranean breeds, the for-the-most-part-German-bred Sloughis in this study are closer to the Galgo and some samples of the Portugese Podenco medio than to any of the following: Pharaoh Hound, Cirneco dell' Etna, Ibizan, Podenco Canario and Podenco Portugues pequeno.


Although these results are promising in that they show that Sloughi/Saluki/Azawakh and Galgo espanol are genetically distinct from one another, one cannot help but think that it would have been a good idea to develop a data base of DNA samples collected on North African Sloughis in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. There is only one Moroccan sample in this study and it is not clear whether it is part of the results or has been discarded. Sloughis from Algeria and Tunisia live further away from the Iberian Peninsula than the Moroccan Sloughis do, and they should be part of such a data bank.This North African Sloughi data base could then have been compared with the Western bred Sloughis to establish how close these Western bred Sloughis are to the original breeding stock in Africa. We know of the various influences of dogs either of unknown origins or other breeds which were mistakengly incorporated into the Sloughi breeding in the early stages of the Sloughi Renaissance in the Western World. For more information please read this article.


As it stands, an alleged "Sloughi breed specific" genetic test based on a majority of German bred Sloughi samples would ONLY give some insight as to whether the dog tested fits to the DNA profile of the German bred Sloughis. It is at the moment a "German bred Sloughi specific" test. In the absence of any North African bred Sloughi genetic data base to compare the dog with, this test will NOT determine whether a dog tested fits to the genetic profile of the North African bred Sloughi.

Thanks to Dominique de Caprona for allowing us the use of this article.

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