The first mention of the Azawakh brings to mind an elegant-looking dog with a lean body and tall stature. Yes, that’s the Azawakh for you. It is one of the rarest sighthounds with roots in West African countries – Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Its subtle looks certainly make it an epitome of beauty.
Yet, knowing they aren’t the ideal pets for every home is essential. If you have ample time to give your Azawakh and a lot of space around the vicinity of your home, then it would be a perfect pet choice for your family. Talking about the breed’s importance in the United States- you need to be aware that it excels in the role of a perfect companion, lure courser, and guardian dog. It’s quite a new breed in the AKC circle. The American Kennel Club’s Most Popular Dog list of 2021 ranked 185 out of 197 registered species. While in AKCs Most Popular Dogs of 2022 is at 194 of the 199 breeds.
|Azawakh Dog Breed Information|
|Dog Breed Group:||Sighthounds|
|Origin:||Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger|
|Temperament:||Attentive, gentle, affectionate, loyal, and sometimes fierce|
|Alternate names and nicknames:||Idi, Wulo, Oska, Bareeru, Rawondu, Tuareg Sloughi (called formerly)|
|Tendency to Bark or Howl:|
|Health and Grooming:|
|Amount Of Shedding:|
History of the Azawakh
These dogs have an ancient origin. Their roots are in Africa’s Sahel region, which encompasses parts of Mali and Niger. Nomadic tribes like Fula and Touareg mainly bred the Azawakhs. Their primary role in their traditional habitat was that of a guard dog. The tribes used the Azawakh to guard their herds and keep a watch on their camps and tents. They were even used for hunting hares and gazelles. One of their highlighting traits is their speed, as these dogs can run up to 40 mph. The environment of the Sahel region is adverse and austere. There it is the survival of the fittest. The Azawakh is an adept hunters as well (as mentioned above). When tired and unable to run further, these dogs wouldn’t stop. Instead, they would use their hindquarters to bump down the quarry. As guard dogs, too, they have shown their caliber since ancient times. They will alert their folks when guarding in a pack by barking loudly upon sensing danger. Then, they would assemble for the next course of action. Under the leadership of the alpha, they will encounter the predator.
They are still popular in their country of origin, where they perform as hunting and guard dogs to the tee. However, to the West, their status remains one of the most mysterious sighthounds, yet to be unveiled.
Azawakh was introduced in Europe during the 1970s, which began the international recognition saga. All credit goes to a Yugoslavian diplomat for introducing the Azawakh to Europe. The nomads gave him a male Azawakh as a gift. Later he acquired a female Azawakh as well. It was the first pair to reach Europe; the rest is history.
The breed was introduced to the United States during the 1980s. The French Kennel Club recognized these dogs in 1979, while the International Kennel Club recognized them in 1990. In 1993, the UKC (United Kennel Club) recognized the breed. It entered the Foundation Stock Service (of the AKC) IN 1997. In 2011, the breed progressed further as it was allowed to compete in AKC’s Miscellaneous Class. Finally, the AKC recognized it entirely in 2019. In 2022 the American Azawakh Association, or AAA, was recognized as the breed’s parent club by the AKC.
More About the Azawakh
An Azawakh at home means many unpredictable things are on the cards. They could impress you at once with their loyalty and exemplary behavior. The next time they would be up to something undesirable you had never thought of. Yet this beauty is for sure a joy to have. Learn more about their physical and behavioral aspects as mentioned below.
The Azawakh is a gorgeous breed indeed. All credit goes to its subtle physical appearance. It has a lean stature and bony build. Its muscles and bone structure seem prominent through its thin skin. It has large almond-shaped eyes that are at par with the color of its coat. Its high-set drooping ears remain close to the skull. The ears are shaped like a triangle, wide near the base and round towards the tip. The muzzle is also in perfect shape, lean, straight, long, chiseled, and delicate. Their tail is slender, low-set, and slightly tapered. When carried, the tail appears a little raised. However, when the Azawakh is excited, the tail takes the shape of a ring or sickle when carried.
This big dog is tall, with males between 25 and 29 inches tall. The females are 23.5 to 27.5 inches. The males weigh about 44 to 55 pounds. The females are comparatively lighter – 33 to 44 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
They are one of the most versatile breeds temperamentally. These dogs are affectionate, gentle, loving, and loyal. But remember, not to all, only to the ones they consider their own. True that they develop a deep bond with their masters or even with other family members as well. However, they can function independently as well when the need arises.
It’s important to mention that they are highly reserved with people they aren’t familiar with when it comes to interacting with strangers. The Azawakh would not even approve of being touched by a stranger. However, expressing denial through aggression isn’t their thing either, unless provoked or threatened.
Another fact that most Azawakh owners would agree to is the breed’s high endurance level. They have a remarkably high capacity to withstand pain. If your Azawakh has gotten a wound or injury or has some physical discomfort, it would be impossible to decipher from their expressions.
They are inclined towards the members of their pack members, and can even identify their mates after a prolonged separation. As a pet parent, you must use their sharp memories when training. They don’t have a problem staying in the sun for long. However, the Azawakhs have trouble coping with cold weather and heavy rain.
A dog enthusiast put it perfectly while describing the boons and banes in raising an Azawakh. He set forth the example of a building that had an extremely fragile construction. If dealt with sensibly, the building could be protected in no time. The same goes for this breed. They need delicate handling. When they see their master return from home, they will not shy away from showing affection by sitting on his lap. They would behave the same way with guests they see regularly and whom they love. However, one should be aware of gentleness and calmness of this breed. They have that native and wild spirit deep down in their mind. Treating them like any other dog would be the biggest mistake on the owner’s part.
The Azawakh is a healthy breed. Yet it may be prone to certain conditions mentioned below.
Hypothyroidism is quite common in sighthounds. In a study conducted, it was found that around 7.5% of the sighthound population were detected with hypothyroidism. So, your Azawakh may be susceptible to hypothyroidism as well. Common symptoms include lethargy, unwillingness to exercise, aggression, hair loss, dry skin, coat, etc. The condition can be managed well with proper care and medication when diagnosed early.
The Azawakhs are prone to suffer from bleeding disorders that could either be mild or severe. If your dog has a bleeding disorder that could come to light after he has suffered from a wound or injury. Von Willebrand’s disease is one such bleeding disorder. If your dog suffers from the same, he may display symptoms like nose or gum bleeding, bruising in the skin, or intense bleeding after surgery.
They have a deep and narrow chest. So this makes them more susceptible to bloating. It’s why keeping a close watch on their diet is essential. Also, avoid feeding them too much in one go. When left untreated or if the symptoms aren’t recognized at the earliest, bloating could even turn out to be fatal for your dog.
These dogs are prone to suffer from seizures. They could develop it at any point when they are six months to three years of age. Your dog could have a mild seizure or a severe one. It could reoccur quite frequently or happen just once. A dog with seizures could display several symptoms, like stretching out its legs, falling to the floor (if in a standing position), or even paddling its legs in agony. The earlier you identify the symptoms and take your dog to a vet, the sooner his chances of recovery.
Auto-immune diseases are triggered when the immune system doesn’t respond appropriately. Some common symptoms of autoimmune diseases in dogs include rapid breathing, weight loss, lethargy, increased heart rate, pale gums, skin, etc. So, if you find your dog displaying any of these symptoms or a combination of many, do not delay consulting a vet.
They are active, energetic, and athletic. So it goes without saying that these dogs need a lot of exercises to stay fit, happy, and healthy. They would enjoy long walks that you may take them for. These dogs would be the happiest as your jogging partner as well. However, if more outdoor activity is needed, ensure that you give them sufficient playtime. It could be inside your yard or garden. Thirty minutes of physical exercise is enough for them. After a strenuous workout session, your Azawakh would peacefully recline on the couch.
However, here is a word of caution for all Azawakh owners. It is known that they have a strong instinct to chase anything on the move, from skateboards to bicycles or even children running. They wouldn’t spare small pets either. So remember the leash when they are outdoors.
As mentioned above, they are intolerant to cold weather due to their short coats. Whenever you take them out during winter, make them wear something warm.
Trim their nails once or twice a month or when they get long. Then, gently clean your dog’s ears. Check their ears once or twice weekly for redness or bacterial infections. You may dip a cotton ball into a safe ear solution approved by the vet.
Brush its teeth two to three times a week. It would help minimize the chances of tartar buildup.
If your dog spends much time outdoors, you should ensure that fleas and ticks don’t get into their fur. Signs of a flea or tick bite include itchiness and redness. Contact the vet, who will give you collars, oral medicines, powders, or liquids to manage fleas and ticks.
NOTE: Your Azawakh is so stoic that it would never give you a hint when it is in pain. So the responsibility is yours to keep a close watch on him. Contact the vet whenever you spot something unusual in your Azawakh’s behavior.
Treats are an integral part of the training process. Feed them many small meals instead of one big meal to avoid bloating. For puppies, it should be around 4-5 meals each day. In comparison, adult dogs should be given meals three to four times a day in small proportions. But, when given in excess amounts, that could trigger obesity.
Coat Color and Grooming
The most typical colors of Azawakh are brown, dark fawn, brindle, and red. They have patches of white on their feet, chest, and tail tip. The black mask is optional.
The Azawakh has a short coat and doesn’t shed a lot. So, maintaining this breed is a challenging task. Brushing them using a soft-bristled brush once or twice a week would help keep their coat in good form. Also, using a hound glove or grooming mitt would effectively remove dead hairs. They don’t have that typical doggy odor. Hence, frequent bathing isn’t needed.
Children and Other Pets
If you are looking for a dog for your kid, there are better choices than Azawakh. They are independent and have a strong instinct to chase. So, keeping them with small children is a No-no unless parental supervision exists. However, the Azawakh will be okay with the older kids, who know and understand how to handle a dog. The Azawakhs tend to chase running children. So take caution, especially if you have a kid running everywhere.
They will develop a rapport with other dogs provided they are brought up with them since their puppy days. However, with the dogs that they don’t know, the Azawakh may not share a comfortable relationship.
Can you keep an Azawakh with cats and smaller pets? The answer is NO. These dogs are tremendous chasers and have a high prey drive. They would get after the smaller pets at the slightest available opportunity.
The Azawakh are intelligent and independent. So, training this breed will be a challenging task. It is also essential to know that these dogs are only suited for some new owners due to their complex personalities. But, these dignified dogs will never stand harsh treatment. They could react negatively under such circumstances. Implementing the positive reinforcement technique during the training process is a mandate.
Start with socialization training as early as possible. By exposing the dog to different people and situations, their extreme reservedness toward strangers could get controlled if not eliminated.
The next issue is their strong prey drive. To address this, they should be given obedience training and taught to follow the basic commands like ‘Stay,’ ‘No,’ and ‘Stop’ quite early in their life. Once he learns to follow orders, teach him to wear a leash. Whenever you take him out, ensure that he is on a leash.
For owners having dogs with strong chasing instincts, it is vital to be aware of your canine’s prey drive. Also, make a conscious effort to eliminate or minimize the triggers which could intensify his prey drive. Each time he listens to you and doesn’t chase, reward him with a treat or anything else that could please him.
True that owning and training an Azawakh isn’t a cakewalk. Yet, those who have had an Azawakh at home would surely agree that they are one of the best dogs, despite the difficulties in managing them.
An Azawakh puppy costs between $2000 and $2500. You may incur a fee of around $4000 during the first year when purchased from a reputable breeder. After which it would drop to about $2000 annually. It, however, depends on the manner you are raising your dog.
It’s a low-shedding breed. All credit goes to its short and smooth coats.
The Azawakh is closely related to another sighthound, Sloughi, which originated in the African belt. They may even look like the Sloughi. Yet, both have identifiable physical differences. The Sloughi appear bigger and more powerful than the Azawakh. They even have a stronger and more elegant-looking heads.
Azawakh dogs have been praised for their independence, intelligence, and aloofness. They are very devoted to their owners and can be fiercely protective of their family and territory. They are reticent among strangers, therefore early socialization and training are critical to helping children develop decent manners.
Azawakh dogs have short, fine hair that requires minimal grooming. They only need occasional brushing and bathing to maintain their coat’s health and cleanliness. However, their nails should be trimmed regularly, and their ears should be checked for signs of infection or irritation.
Azawakh dogs are typically healthy, however they are susceptible to some health issues, such as hip dysplasia, autoimmune illnesses, and eye difficulties. To maintain your Azawakh healthy, find a reputable breeder who does health testing on their dogs and plan frequent vet checkups.
Hi, I’m Walter,
I live in Oklahoma City, USA, and have extensive dog caring and grooming expertise. In addition, I provide dog training tips and tricks through my blogs in Canine Weekly. I have a Dog Behavior and Training diploma and have previously worked as a Dog Trainer at ROC Animal Training and Behavior and Tip Top K9 of OKC Dog Training.
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