Breed Group: Hound
Height: 23 to 29 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 33 to 55 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 13 years
AKC : Miscellaneous standard- The AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS) is an optional recording service for purebred dogs that are not yet eligible for AKC registration. The AKC Miscellaneous class is for breeds working towards full AKC recognition.
ANKC Group: Hounds
KC (UK): Hound
UKC : Sighthounds and Pariah Dogs
Colour: Dark Fawn, Clear Sand, Blue Fawn, Brindle, Grizzle, Black
The elegant Azawakh dates back to the early Nigerian civilization in West Africa. It was developed in the countries of Mali, Niger and Burkino Faso, but now is found world-wide. These beautiful sighthounds initially served as guard dogs, companions and hunting partners of nomadic people in the southern Sahara desert. They were prized by the Tuareg and other ethnic tribes living in that area. To these people, Azawakhs were true family members. They were given names and used to protect the family flocks from potential thieves and predators. They were also trained to guard the camps and hunt with their owners. They were prized for their ability to take down wild boar and gazelle, not killing their prey but holding it until their owners arrived. If they killed their targets, they would spoil in the hot desert heat. Today’s Azawakhs retain their preference of hunting in a pack, under the leadership of a single alpha dog.
The breed was imported to Yugoslavia in the early 1970s by Dr. Pecar, a Yugoslavian diplomat who had been stationed in Burkina Faso. At that time, these dogs could not be bought. Dr. Pecar received his male as a gift from the nomads. He later acquired a female Azawakh after he killed a bull elephant that had been terrorizing the tribe. The French military and civil servants played a significant role in bringing Azawakhs to Europe. France is the patron country of the Azawakh under FCI rules. The Azawakh made its debut in the United States in the 1980s. The first litter in America was whelped on October 31, 1987, by Gisela Cook-Schmidt . The puppies were all red or fawn, with white markings. Brindles arrived in America in 1989. The first American brindle litter was whelped in November of 1990, by Deb Kidwell . In 1990, a parti-colored male was imported from Burkina Faso. In 1997, a parti-color and sand litter that was bred in Mali was born in Alaska. Fanciers of the Azawakh hope that an even larger selection of dogs will find their way to the United States from Africa, to increase the genetic diversity of this amazing rare breed.
The Azawakh’s unique history has resulted in some interesting genetic diversity. It is not closely related to other sighthounds, most of which were developed in Europe rather than Africa. Genetic analysis ties the Azawakh more closely to wild jackals and wolves than to other domestic dogs. Nomadic dogs and wild canines probably did interbreed thousands of years ago. However, the basic genetics of the Azawakh have remained relatively unchanged for thousands of years.
Azawakhs are still uncommon in Europe and North America. The American Kennel Club accepted them into its Miscellaneous Class in 2011. The American Azawakh Association, Inc. is the parent club for the Azawakh in the United States. The AAA was founded on February 7, 1988, with the goals of promoting the pure Azawakh and guaranteeing the breed’s future in America. The Azawakh was recognized by the United Kennel Club as of January 1, 1993.
The Azawakh can be described with a number of different terms: loyal, protective, calm, and self-confident, but also indifferent, cautious and guarded with strangers. You could even compare them to being more like a cat than a dog in many ways, as this breed is reserved, observant and independent. Your Azawakh likes to do things its own way. Make sure your dog isn’t aggressive, shy or timid by exposing it to different situations and people. If you raise a nervous Azawakh, you’ll have a frightened and panicky dog on your hands that may shake or bite when faced with unfamiliar situations or people.
When it becomes a part of the family, an Azawakh is faithful, gentle and affectionate, bonding closely with one particular member. It is extremely difficult to rehome an Azawakh, because this breed doesn’t like to change owners.
The Azawakh’s guarding instinct is alive and well. This breed likes to be a part of a pack where there is an alpha leader. If you raise your Azawakh with other dogs from puppyhood, it will get along with the rest of your pack. If you have cats, you may want to consider another dog.
This is a dog from Africa, so there’s no surprise that Azawakhs don’t like cold, wet weather. If you live in a colder climate, your dog will need a coat or sweater.
An active breed, Azawakhs need to burn off its energy, otherwise it will become overweight, lethargic, hyperactive and destructive. This breed may not be the right dog for homes with smaller children. And although Azawakhs are suspicious of strangers, this breed has had much success as a therapy dog in rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.
Although this is a relatively healthy breed, there are some concerns that may affect the Azawakh. Like most sighthounds, the Azawakh is sensitive to anesthesia. Because of its deep chest, this dog is prone to bloat, a condition in which the stomach expands with air. The stomach may twists on itself, cutting off blood flow and causing gastic torsion (a potentially fatal condition). Other health concerns include autoimmune mediated thyroiditis, eosinophilic myositis, heart problems, hypothyroidism, seizures and skin allergies.
Azawakh need a fairly high level of exercise and should have regular runs off lead in large enclosed areas to run off steam. The dogs are very social and emotional. They need a master that provides firm but fair leadership. Azawakh thrive on companionship of other Azawakh.
The Azawakh will do okay in an apartment if it gets enough exercise. They are relatively inactive indoors and a small yard will do. Azawakhs are sensitive to the cold but do well in cold climates as long as they wear a coat outside.
Although the Azawakhs are independent, dominant and strong-willed, this breed can get a bit timid and touchy at times. You need to be the pack leader at all times, otherwise the Azawakhs will take over. As the dominant pack leader, you must lay down the rules and ensure that they are followed in a consistent and kind manner.
This breed is smart and sensitive, so you’ll get better results by using reward-based positive reinforcement. You won’t get anywhere with yelling, harsh treatment or physical punishment – in fact, it will damage the sense of trust and may cause your Azawakh to become fearful or aggressive. With the right owner, the Azawakh will become an amazing family companion and a champion in the ring.
Azawakhs are very active animals that require 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous running or play every single day, and make the perfect companion for bikers, runners or other active, outdoorsy people. They are bred to run and they must be allowed to do so on a regular basis. When playing, Azawakhs like to run in spurts, and then nap on a couch or lounge in front of the fire. They should have a large, well-fenced area where they can stretch their legs, but they probably will need to interact with people or other dogs to get enough exercise. Leaving them alone in the back yard won’t do the trick; unless they are chasing something because despite their need to run, Azawakhs can be lazy when left to their own devices. Finding a securely fenced ball field is perfect for play dates. Tossing a ball, paying fetch and retrieve or hiding and chasing are great ways for Azawakhs and their owners to burn off energy and stay fit.
Azawakhs don’t do well kept in crates. If unattended for long periods of time, they become bored and will look for their own forms of entertainment. They can shred furniture and dig giant holes in short order. They also can be escape artists. Azawakhs generally make terrific travelling companions and also enjoy hopping in the car to accompany their owners on short local errands. Azawakhs excel in competitive canine sports, including lure coursing, field hunting, agility, utility, jumping, freestyle and obedience, among others. They also thrive just hanging out with their family – playing, hiking, jogging and swimming. They are not well suited for apartment living.
Looking for a dog with an easy-care coat? The Azawakh has you covered. Weekly brushing of his smooth, shorthaired coat and regular nail trimming and ear cleaning are all he needs to stay clean and in good condition, plus the occasional bath if he rolls in something stinky.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Like most sighthounds, Azawakhs are sensitive about having their feet handled, so practice this early on with a puppy and be sure you never hurt him when you are touching his feet. He’ll never forget it. Keep the ears clean and dry to prevent bacterial or yeast infections from taking hold. Brush the teeth frequently with a veet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
What makes the Azawakh Unique?
A dog breed named for the Azawakh Valley in the Sahara desert where he originated, this is a lean and swift hunter with a regal presence. He’s proud but loyal, and protective of his home and family.
Is the Azawakh Right For You?
The Azawakh is not a dog breed for coach potatoes. This breed has high energy, high endurance and needs daily exercise. These dogs are great jogging companions and love spending time with their family members. They can become attached to their family and are protective. They can be reserved with strangers, so socialization is important. They are easy to train.
There are a decent amount of health problems associated with this breed, so keeping up with veterinary appointments and asking for health screenings are important. Grooming the short, thin coat is simple with occasional brushing and bathing. The Azawakh can do well in apartments if sufficiently exercised. Keep your dog on a leash or in an enclosed area when outdoors.
If you are looking for an active and dedicated family companion and can fulfill the breed recommendations, consider an Azawakh as your next dog.
Did You Know?
Resembling a runway model, the leggy and elegant Azawakh comes to us from the Sahel region of Africa, which touches Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. He has long been a prized companion of the nomadic Touareg people. He is more devoted than the typical sighthound.