Tall and elegant, the Azawakh is a West African sighthound who originates from the countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. The Azawakh has a short, fine coat which may come in any color or color combinations: red, clear sand to fawn, brindled, parti-color (which may be predominantly white), blue, black and brown. The head may have a black mask and there may be white markings on the legs, bib and at the tip of tail. There are no color or marking disqualifications in the breed. Befitting its heritage, the Azawakh excels as a companion, guardian and a lure courser in the United States.
- Height: 25-29 inches (male), 23.5-27.5 inches (female)
- Weight: 44-55 pounds (male), 33-44 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
- Group: Miscellaneous Class
About the Azawakh
This ancient hunting hound is so lean and rangy that his bone structure and musculature can plainly be seen beneath his skin. The smooth S-shaped contours, deep chest, and aerodynamic head mark the Azwakh as a member of the sighthound family, canine sprinters that rely on keen vision and blazing speed to fix and course their prey. The ultrafine coat comes in several colors and patterns. The overall look of this leggy hound is one of elegance and fineness, but don’t be fooled: This is a tough, durable hunter who’s been chasing gazelle across the scorching sands of the Sahara for more than a thousand years.
The original homeland of the Azawakh, are the endless arid regions of the south Sahara and the Sahel zone. Geographically encompassing the border region of Mali and Niger, lies the center of the Azawakh Valley. Found here are most of the types of examples of the breed. Traditionally owned by the blue-clad Tuareg nomads, they are called, “idii n’ illeli” (Translated from the native tongue, this means, “sighthound of the free people.”). The Azawakh enjoy a special appreciation from the nomads. They live under the same roof and are fully accepted members of the family. They assume the duty of protecting the encampment and flocks from invaders. They are passionate hunters and provide the family with meat, however, the diminishing of game and usage of firearms, lessens the utilization of the dogs. The preferred prey is a hare, antelope, and wild boar. It is here the dog can utilize their agility and stamina. The rough and broken terrain is no hindrance. In spite of their fine-limbness, they are not prone to injury.
The Azawakh should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
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. Azawakhs don’t have a doggy odor, so frequent bathing isn’t necessary. Even if the hound does find his way into a mud puddle, a bath may not be required—waiting for the mud to dry and then brushing it away may do the trick. As with all breeds, the Azawakh’s nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails are painful and can impede the dog’s gait.
The Azawakh is an active breed, requiring daily exercise to keep both mind and body healthy. Adult Azawakhs can make great running companions. Failing that, a daily half-hour play session in a well-fenced field, park, or yard will keep the hound happy and healthy. However, an Azawakh left alone in the yard will not self-exercise. He is more likely to get the activity he needs in the presence of the owner or another dog.
Because the Azawakh is both highly intelligent and fiercely independent, training needs to be started early. Early socialization and puppy training classes with a trainer who has a positive approach are recommended. The Azawakh possesses an amazing amount of dignity and does not respond well to harsh or punishment-based training, which can produce a hound who is either broken in spirit, or aggressive and unmanageable. Positive, reward-based training with gentle but firm corrections can result in a hound who is obedient, affectionate, and loyal.
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.