Aidi (Atlas Mountain Dog, Chien de Montagne de l'Atlas)
The Aidi (Chien de Montagne de l'Atlas) is an exceptionally effective watch and guard dog native to Morocco. This truly ancient breed has served sheep farmers from mountainous regions of North Africa for at least five thousand years. Unlike the most modern breeds it predominantly remains a working animal and this situation isn’t about to change in any foreseeable future.
Little is known about the origin of the Aidi because of the very old age of this canine variety. Some experts ascribed its development to the Phoenicians who were both professional merchants and skilful dog breeders. The other name of this dog is the Atlas Mountain Dog (Chien de Montagne de l'Atlas) so it’s also possible that it came to existence in the Atlas Mountains and then was brought to the Pyrenees Mountains of southwest Europe by nomadic tribes or armies of that time. The third assumption sticks to the idea that it was initially owned by the Berber people who originally inhabited the territories west of the Nile Valley and later spread to other areas, including the present day Morocco.
Obviously the true ancestry of the Aidi will never be revealed but it’s a rather well-known fact that the Berber people and other ancient folks rated its guarding abilities extremely high. The breed was charged with protection of livestock and property so it effectively kept off wild animals and strangers. This dog has a keen nose but it’s somewhat sluggish in pursuit. That’s why it was often paired with the Sloughi that is praised for its agility and tracking talents. Although the Atlas Mountain dog has never been used to herd goats and sheep, its first standard of 1963 categorised it as the Atlas Sheepdog. The standard was modified in 1969 and the mistake was rectified.
The Aidi gained recognition of the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 2006. But it’s virtually unknown in other parts of the world. The vast majority of its specimens still perform guarding tasks in the distant highlands of North Africa. The breed also proved its usefulness as a police dog and it’s actively used in this role by a Moroccan police force. Besides an increasing number of these dogs are acquired solely for companionship.
The character of Atlas Mountain Dog can be portrayed as self-confident, assertive, faithful, and highly vigilant. Some dog specialists claim that this dog can’t be turned into a reasonable household pet but happy owners of Aidis believe otherwise. A well-socialised breed member can be successfully kept together with kids and will be always gentle and careful in interaction with them. However it would be a bad idea to introduce this dog in the household with a toddler because of its rather large size and extremely vigorous nature.
Bred for centuries as a livestock guardian, the Aidi became highly distrustful of strange people. Early and continuous obedience training is strongly recommended if you want your pet to act politely around guests in your house. This dog is predisposed to excessive barking, which may greatly disturbs neighbours. On the other hand it will never fail to warn its masters about the approach of an intruder and therefore makes a very dependable watcher. It’s rather needless to say, that the breed suites perfectly for the role of personal and property guardian.
The Atlas Mountain Dog is known to have certain aggressive issues with other canines. It treats all strange dogs as potential threats to its domain or favourite people and it’s always ready to rush to their defence. Moreover this dog should never be walked off-leash in public places since it tends to instigate confrontations with other dogs over alpha status. It’s also completely intolerant of stray cats and other non-canine animals because of its well-developed prey drive. But if you take time to properly exhibit your pup to an individual home cat the grown-up dog will perceive it as the member of its family.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· obesity due to the lack of exercise;
· canine hip dysplasia (common for not pure-bred breed members).
The Atlas Mountain Dog is notable for average grooming requirements. The fur of this dog is made up of two layers, rich and soft undercoat and longer and wiry topcoat. Regular brushing will help to keep it free of tangles and mats as well as will add to the dogs’ hair natural shine.
Bear in mind that this breed will shed its entire undercoat at least once a year so during these periods the amount of loose hair in your house will grow exponentially. Moreover specimens who live in a warm climate are prone to become constant and very heavy shedders.
Bathe your Aidi as rarely as possible otherwise you risk to remove natural oils, which are responsible for weatherproofing qualities of its coat. It’s also essential to trim the dog’s nails every other month and periodically inspect and clean its ears.
The training of the Aidi requires rather moderate investment of time and efforts. Despite the fact that it lacks eagerness to please it’s generally endowed with enough intelligence to master virtually any command. There is no doubt that such confident, independent and strong dog must be trained by equally dominative and experienced person who will be able to win its obedience by firm but kind treatment.
It’s advisable to reinforce the dog’s interest with its favourite food as well as generous praise. The inquisitive and bright Aidi is apt to get bored really quickly so keep training sessions short and interesting. Remember that rough-housing is an absolutely infective way to make this dog do your biddings so it should be completely avoided.
The Atlas Mountain Dog is a highly vigorous and tough working dog that needs both mental and physical stimulation. Nonetheless after a long and brisk walk or run it tends to behave itself calm and relaxed indoors.
The breed won’t make a perfect companion for an apartment dweller as it gets used to spaciousness of Moroccan mountains and should be provided with sufficient room to move and play. Be mindful that the dog of this size and power can become very destructive if it doesn’t receive essential minimum of physical activity.