The Azawakh has lived for thousands of years with the nomadic Tuareg Tribesmen, who probably migrated from the Sahel in the Southern region of the Sahara. The function of the Azawakh is that of a guard and a hunting dog. He will protect the camp from intruders and go hunting in a pack working with other Azawakhs in relays to bring down the prey. A versatile Hound that gives protection to his family and also supplies them with food.
The Azawakh covers a wide area lying in the Niger Basin which included the Azawakh valley. Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
The Azawakh gives the appearance of being a tall sighthound, the height range covers from 25 to 29 inches for dogs and 23.5 to 27.5 for bitches and can weigh anything from 35 to 55 pounds. He is a standing rectangle in shape, almost caricature like, he has very thin soft skin and under the belly he can be devoid of skin. Coming in many attractive colours always with white markings.A long elegant head with dark almond shaped eyes, pendulous ears all give the impression of great beauty.
Almost feline in personality, although they love the company of other dogs, aloof and standoffish with strangers but gentle and affectionate with those he knows. A wonderful dog as part of a family having an affinity with children although respect is required for this primitive breed. He is very intelligent and trainable although the Azawakh needs to feel it is worth doing he is not the breed for you if you require a perfectly biddable dog, He adores his owners and will not go easily to another home as an adult dog.
Living with the Breed
The Azawakh needs to be socialised from an early age and it is advisable to get a puppy from around nine weeks preferably no later than twelve weeks, they imprint themselves on you very quickly although they never forget their breeder. You must lay your ground rules down immediately as they soon learn your weak points they require firm training or an Azawakh can be like a spoilt child. They do not do well as kennel dogs liking the closeness of the family group. They are generally good off the lead and require a medium amount of exercise, they are happy to potter in the garden but really love to stretch their legs and unwind, you should try to do this at least twice a week in an enclosed area. They are an endurance hound rather than a sprinter, and will happily go on long walks over any terrain. Not terribly successful hunters on their own so not suited to coursing, although they enjoy lure chasing. Several Azawakhs live happily with cats and other animals but it is important to introduce them early. They survive on what would seem a rather small amount of food compared to a Greyhound although they will eat all the time if you let them, they can bear great variations in heat and cold from almost freezing to over one hundred degrees.
Finding your Azawakh
Firstly make a note of questions you would like to ask the breeder.
- Do they own the Dam of the litter ?
- Is the Sire of the litter well known to them ?
- Are they Kennel Club registered ?
- Are they insured and have any inoculations been given ?
You must also ask yourself, Can I devote the next twelve years of my life to an Azawakh ?.
Most breeders will ask questions too, don't be offended by this. A good breeder will want to make sure that you are right for the breed and the breed is right for you.
Your Azawakh breeder should be on hand for the whole of your Azawakhs life to help you and advise you on the breed. They should also be prepared to take your Azawakh back if you are unable to keep it for any reason.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
I work part time/full time could I have an Azawakh ?
This is a hard one to answer I know some Azawakhs that are at home during the day whilst their owner goes to work but all of these have the company of another dog, they do not like a solitary existence, it is preferable that someone is home at some point in the day, especially with a puppy who will need to be fed and let out to relieve himself.
My Garden only has a four foot fence, Is this high enough ?
Azawakhs are capable of jumping great heights, and if you have your Azawakh as a puppy he will probably respect this but it all depends on what is on the other side of that fence, never forget he is a sighthound and a guard dog if your neighbours have visitors regularly or children it would be wise to raise your fence to five foot at least.
We already have a cat and other animals, Is this OK ?
If you have your Azawakh from a puppy and teach him to respect your household you should have no problems.
Are they a healthy breed ?
The Azawakh is an extremely healthy breed, they recover well from injury but like any sighthound they have to be treated carefully if they require an anaesthetic.
Are they suited to the show ring ?
They are the most beautiful of the sighthounds in the show ring with their clean cut lines, by virtue of their aloofness, they will readily accept some people but not others, judges should approach an Azawakh from the side, rather than look into their eyes or grab them by the head, then the Azawakh is usually accepting of the procedure, if the Azawakh feels threatened it will not be touched by a stranger.
Individual dogs are different, I have met Azawakhs that are happy about the whole procedure and others that do not enjoy it at all early socialisation plays a big part in this and I suggest taking a new puppy everywhere you can to get him used to being touched and fussed by strangers we have one that positively grins at everyone he meets!. Remember they are a breed belonging to a nomadic tribe, therefore the tribesmen would prefer to keep their dogs and not have them taken by strangers.
To sum up, the Azawakh is an elegant and devoted breed, mysterious and totally unique.
About the author : Maria Goodman is an authority on rare sighthounds, she has been involved with rare sighthound breeds for many years and although they are rare in the UK most of them have been FCI recognised for many years. Maria is the founder of Sloughi Club and the Azawakh Association in the UK. She also is an international show judge of rare breeds, judging at the Champion of Champions rare breed show in Hartford Connecticut USA. Maria breeds and shows Ibizan Hounds in the UK who are also multiple winners worldwide.