Originally bred in the West African countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, today the Azawakh is considered a terrific family and companion dog as well as a wonderful guardian.
History of the Azawakh Dog
The Azawakh is a sighthound guardian breed of dog from West Africa. They were bred by the Tuareg, Fula and various other nomads of the Sahara and sub-Saharan Sahel.
The breed known by the tuaregs as ”Oska” was used there as a guard dog and to hunt gazelle and hare at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
The rough conditions of the Sahel environment ensured that only the fittest dogs survive which accentuated the breed's independence and ruggedness.
They are not very common in Europe and North America but there is a growing band of fans. The breed made its first appearance in the U.S. in the 1980s, and has since become beloved for its strong loyalty to its family.
The Azawakh is a particularly slim and elegant breed whose bone structure and muscles show through thin and dry skin.
The breed has a long, fine, lean and chiselled head. The Azawakh has almond eyes that are rather large and slightly oblique. Their colour is dark or sometimes amber but never blue. As for the rest of their facial features, the muzzle is long and straight and they have flat cheeks.
The Azawakh's ears are set quite high. The shape is that of a triangle with a rounded tip. The base of the ears pricks up when the sighthound is attentive.
Their neck springs clearly from their shoulders and is long, fine and muscular. Their body, arguably one of their most distinctive features, is approximately horizontal or slightly rising from the withers towards the point of the hips. Hips clearly protruding and placed at the same height or higher than the height of the withers.
The Azawakh's tail is set low, long, thing, lean and tapered. As for their legs, they are long and thin. The shoulders are long, muscular and only slightly oblique viewed in profile.
Males stand 25 to 29 inches at the shoulder and weigh 44 to 55 pounds; females are 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall and weigh 33 to 44 pounds.
Source : American Kennel Club
An Azawakh's coat is short and fine, down to none on the belly. Colour wise, all shades are admitted from clear sand to dark fawn (mahogany) to red.
They have white stockings or tips on all feet which can be tips of toes to high stockings.
Known to be extremely loyal and affectionate, the Azawakh also has a sharp temperament and they are wildly protective of their owners and their territory. The breed also adapts easily to various conditions.
When it comes to strangers, the Azawakh may react as accepting, indifferent or avoidant, or they could be friendly and affectionate. Their fierce loyalty means that immediate socialization will be important to their and your happiness.
Any training for the breed should be positive and reward based, as harsh treatments could lead to a dog who mistrusts, fears and is aggressive. Additionally, daily exercise of both the mind and body is important to keep the Azawakh happy and sharp.
Health and Care
Azawakhs are generally health dogs, and a responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health issues such as hypothyroidism, seizures, cardiac problems, and autoimmune-mediated disease.
Azawakhs are slender, elegant dogs whose thin skin naturally allows their bone structure and muscle to show through; owners should learn what an Azawakh in good weight and condition looks like.
The breed can live up to 12 years when properly exercised.
The Azawakh’s short, fine coat requires minimal upkeep. A weekly once-over with a soft bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove is usually all that’s needed to keep the coat in good condition.