Figure 1. GCH Starfire’s Lilly Rose
The Azawakh is known for its extraordinary athleticism, intelligence, independent nature, and exotic beauty. It is a sighthound native to the Sahel region of Africa, which stretches across the countries of Chad, Niger, and Burkina Faso. It is named after the Azawakh Valley in the region, which is home to many nomadic people who have used the breed for centuries as a hunting and guarding dog.
Notorious for its speed, agility, and keen eyesight, the Azawakh is a thin, athletic dog with a soft, smooth, short coat that can come in a variety of colors including red, sand, fawn, black, blue, and brindle, with white stockings being a common feature in some. (See Figure 1.)
The Azawakh is believed to be a product of selective breeding by the Tuareg people, a group of nomadic pastoralists who live in the Sahara Desert and the Sahel region. The Tuareg have used the Azawakh for centuries as a hunting dog for small game and as a guardian for their herds and camps. (See Figure 2.)
The breed was also used as a protector for the Tuareg’s tents and possessions as well as for guarding against predators. The Azawakh is aloof with strangers, but is known for its loyalty and devotion to its family and is considered a highly prized possession among the Tuareg. It is also known for its intelligence and independent nature.
Azawakhs first made their way to Europe in the 1970s, the first believed to be to a Yugoslavian diplomat who exported a female and male dog. Another important foundation in Europe was the Azawakh French line, with a total of seven imports between 1972- 1978. The breed is believed to have developed in Europe from the two distinct Yugoslavian and French lines.
The Azawakh was recognized by the French Kennel Club in 1979 and by the International Kennel Club in 1990. France is considered the patron country of the Azawakh under FCI (Federation Cynologique International (FCI) rules. Since its arrival in Europe, the Azawakh has become popular as a show dog and companion animal. It is also still used as a hunting dog in some parts of Europe and Africa; however, the breed remains relatively rare outside its native region, with only a few hundred Azawakhs in existence outside of Africa.
The AKC (American Kennel Club) approved the Azawakh to compete in the Miscellaneous Class in 2011 and received full AKC recognition in 2019. The parent club of the breed, AAA (American Azawakh Association), was recognized by the AKC in 2022.
The Azawakh is a breed that is energetic and playful. It is active and enjoys exercising and playing, and it is well suited to those who enjoy outdoor activities and sporting events. The breed is also known for its stamina and endurance, and it is able to withstand long periods of exercise and activity without tiring.
The Azawakh is a strong, durable breed but is averse to cold or excessively wet conditions. The temperament of the Azawakh is a juxtaposition between an assertive, territorial guard dog and an affectionate and loyal companion. Their bark can be intimidating at times. Some Azawakhs bond with one person and do not change ownership easily. Socialization is an extremely important aspect of their upbringing from puppyhood, and many thrive in social situations such as a family home and the Conformation show ring. Azawakhs integrate well with other dogs in the home, but can have a tendency to be “alpha.”
The AKC Breed Standard indicates that the Azawakh male is 25-29 inches at the withers and the female is 23-27 inches. Greater than one-inch variation from the range is considered a serious fault. Bitches typically weigh 33-44 pounds, males 44 to 55 pounds, with 3-5 ribs and hip bones clearly visible. Topline should be slightly higher at the hip or level (hip bones above or at level with the withers). The height at the withers should be a 10:9 ratio with the length of the body. The body should fit into a rectangle, with its longer sides in the vertical position. (See Figures 4-7.)
Colors & Markings
According to the AKC Standard, colors and markings of the Azawakh are immaterial. The FCI has much stricter criteria, specifically stating sand to red color only are allowed, with or without black brindling. White markings are required on all four extremities, the chest, and the tip of the tail. White facial markings are permitted. Any deviation from these Standards is considered a major fault per FCI Standard. (See Figure 7.)
Overall, the Azawakh is a breed that is known for its intelligence, independence, and loyalty. It is energetic and playful, with a sensitive and affectionate nature. It is a great choice for those who want an active and athletic companion that is also loving and devoted. The Azawakh has excelled throughout the world in the Confirmation show ring as well as in Performance sports such as Lure Coursing. (See Figure 8.)
The movement of the Azawakh is agile and light, without excessive hackney motion. When ambulatingwith a slow gait (trot), the base of the foot should not extend past the nose.
When ambulating at higher speeds, the gallop is leaping in nature with great vertical and horizontal movement to cover a large amount of ground. Excessive reach and drive is an incorrect movement, although the breed tends to raise the legs more vertically at higher speeds to allow passage of the pastern which is particularly elongated in the breed. The movement is an essential part of Conformation judging.
- Heavy General Appearance
- Wide Backskull
- Prominent Stop
- Rose Ears
- Body Too Long
- Exaggerated Reach and Drive
- Heavy Pounding Movement
- Excessively Timid, Hysterical or Aggressive Nature
- Size Deviating > One Inch from the Norm
- Hip Lower than Withers
- Harsh or Semi-Long Coat
With appropriate training and socialization, the Azawakh makes a great companion, pet, and Performance athlete. They integrate well within their pack and with other breeds and families. The Azawakh brings tremendous joy to those lucky enough to own one.
Overall, the Azawakh is a breed that is known for its intelligence, independence, and loyalty. It is energetic and playful, with a sensitive and affectionate nature. It is a great choice for those who want an active and athletic companion that is also loving and devoted.
Azawakh Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the loyal Azawakh dog breed with articles and information in our Azawakh Dog Breed Magazine.
Azawakh Breed Magazine - Showsight