Azawakh

Type: Sighthound

Height: 23 1/2 - 29 inches.

Weight: 35 - 55 lbs.

Life Span: 12 years is average, but they may live around 11 - 13 years.

Litter Size: 3 - 7 puppies.

Country of Origin: Mali

Activity: Medium. They need to be exercised by the owner, or else they will become obese.

Watch-dog: High.

Guard-dog: High.


Description: The Azawakh is an interesting-looking breed. They have the appearance of grace and swiftness in combination with a disproportionate body, head and legs. Their chests are very deep, but the stomach area is very small in proportion, and the hindquarters are higher than the shoulders. The breed is very tall and thin, with the skeletal structure obvious. They will almost always have white on them somewhere, as was the custom to kill them in their native country in previous years if they did not have such markings. They have very short fur, almost none on the belly, and the tail hangs down and makes a small curl at the end. Used for protection and hunting in Mali, the Azawakh was strictly kept in order to preserve certain aspects in the breed. The Azawakh is affectionate and gentle to the people it knows, and it can be playful with its owners. They are, however, wary with strangers and sometimes even aggressive. They are very protective and alert, and if they become aware of a danger they will gather with their pack and chase the threat away. They are a light footed guard and watch dog, being intelligent and discerning of strangers.

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Other Names: Tuareg Sloughi, Idii 'N Illeli (Sighthound of the Free People), Tuareg Greyhound, South Saharan Greyhound

Colors: Sable (brown, light fawn to dark red) with white markings. They can also be brindled, white, black, gray, blue grizzle, or parti-colored.

Coat: Very short, fine, and very soft.

Temperament: Azawakhs are gentle and affectionate. They are playful and friendly with their family, but quite wary of strangers. They have even been known to be aggressive with strangers, making them an excellent guard dog. They are protective, intelligent and alert, making them an equally good watch dog. Owners have been known to love this breed! The Azawakh is proud, haughty and does not like harsh punishment, as they should never be treated. They do not see their owners as above them, but equal with them. They do better in warmer climates, and enjoy the sun. If they are not correctly exercised or trained, the Azawakh may turn into a food thief and may become obese. In their native country, they can be seen on the rooftops of straw roofs, sleeping until any danger comes by. When greeted with danger, they leap to action and gather together to chase the threat away.

With Children: If they are socialized around the children and accept them, they can do well with children.

With Pets: If socialized properly, they can get along with other animals. They naturally bond with members of their own breed.

Special Skills: Hunting dog.

Care and Training: The Azawakh's thin coat needs almost no attention. A simple rub down every once in a while should suffice. This breed does need adequate exercise, however. They should have access to long walks and be able to occasionally run off-leash. Exercise should occur every day, as they need a regular to high amount of exercise. They do well with schedules, and can be exercised around the same time each day.

Learning Rate: Medium.

Special Needs: Close supervision with strangers, leash, fenced yard, socialization and training.

Living Environment: No good for kennels, this breed does better in the country than the city. They enjoy the sun and warmth a great deal as well, making them a poor choice for a colder climate. They need special care during cold times to keep warm. The best owner for this breed would be a firm, dog-experienced owner living in a rural or suburban living environment.

Health Issues: Cardiac problems, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, seizures, spondylosis, and bloat. Bloat is a common health issue to most dogs, being the second largest killer of dogs than cancer. It occurs when the dog eats too much too fast, and is also known as gastric torsion or twisted stomach.

History: The Azawakh developed about a thousand years ago, originating from the areas of the African countries of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. They may have also developed in neighboring countries as well. The Tuareg people raised this breed and perpetuated it with extreme strictness. They were developed to hunt game such as rabbits, gazelle and to also protect against strangers and wildlife. When a litter was born, only one male was kept, which had to have the right requirements for the nomadic hunters. The dog had to have white markings, black nails, black eye rim pigmentation, and sometimes even five warts on the head were required! If the dogs did not have these aspects they were killed. Sometimes a female was kept for reproduction, but otherwise all the puppies were killed unless they had those aspects or if they were the male picked. Therefore, the breed didn't go very far outside of those particular tribes. The pup would start off catching rats and hares, then when he was old enough he would be taken out for hunting a gazelle. These hunts sometimes lasted 4 to 5 hours. An ambassador to the Upper Volta and Ivory Coast named Dr. Pecar was a well-renowned hunter, and greatly admired the Azawakh. He made great efforts to obtain some Azawakhs, but it was very difficult. Finally, before he went back to his home in Yugoslavia, he was given a male Azawakh as a gift. Excited, he also wanted a female to breed. This would also prove to be difficult due to the strictness of raising these dogs. Fortunately for Pecar, an elephant had been terrorizing a Tuareg tribe, and Dr. Pecar killed the elephant. Thus, he was rewarded a half-starved female Azawakh to take with him. Thus the introduction of the breed into Europe was by such means. In 1980 the FCI accepted the breed, and since then a few other kennel clubs have accepted it as well. Today the breed is still extremely rare, even, of course, in its home country.

First Registered by the AKC: FSS since 1997 (Foundation Stock Service - not yet eligible for the AKC)

AKC Group: Miscellaneous

Class: Hound

Registries: FCI (Group 10), KC (UK) (Hound), UKC (Sighthounds and Pariah Dogs)