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Azawakh Dog Breed

About the Azawakh

The Azawakh is an ancient and noble sighthound originating in the Sahel region of Northern Africa. Valued for its uncommon loyalty and unusual elegance, as well as its keen hunting abilities, this unique purebred has traditionally been used by the nomadic Tuareg people to hunt game and guard encampments. With its tall, slender physique and regal nature, the Azawakh not only excels in its functional roles as a hunting and guarding dog, it also exudes an uncommon aura of dignity and reserve.

AKC Group

AKC Group


Dog Breed Height


23,5 – 29 Inches

Dog Breed Weight


33 – 55 Pounds

Dog Breed Lifespan


12 – 15 Years


Country of Origin Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger
Bred For Hunting, Guarding
Known For Great Fineness, Vertical Proportions, Floating Gait
Popularity Low
Temperament Quick, Attentive, Distant
Activities Hunting, Running, Guarding, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports

History of the Azawakh

The story of the Azawakh begins in the unforgiving landscape of North Africa, particularly within the Sahel regions of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. As the companion of the nomadic Tuareg people, this tall and lanky sighthound served as both hunter and protector, and even became a symbol of prestige.

The name “Azawakh” is derived from the Azawagh Valley. Historically, the breed was prized for its hunting abilities, especially in pursuit of fast-moving game such as hare and gazelle. The hounds’ exceptional agility and speed made the dogs perfect for the task, and their keen senses proved invaluable in the sparse terrain of their homelands.

Beyond hunting, the bond between the Azawakh and the Tuareg was deeply intimate. The hounds weren’t merely tools but also cherished family members. They shared the tents with their human counterparts, providing warmth on cold nights, and they stood as vigilant guards, ever watchful for unseen threats.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Azawakh made its way outside of Africa. The hound’s elegance and unique appearance quickly garnered attention from dog enthusiasts in France and Yugoslavia, and efforts soon began to promote the throughout Europe. The first Azawakhs were welcomed to the United States in 1987.

In terms of official recognition, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) first acknowledged the Azawakh in 1981. The Royal Kennel Club (UK) followed in the early 2000s, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) granted full recognition to the breed in 2019.

Read more about the history of Azawakh

General Appearance

Height & Weight

Adult male Azawakhs typically stand between 25 and 29 inches tall at the shoulder, while mature females usually range from 23 to 27 inches in height.

Males generally weigh between 44 and 55 pounds, while females weigh slightly less, usually from 33 to 44 pounds.

Proportion & Substance

The Azawakh is defined by specific proportions that underscore its decidedly unique frame. The length of the body, compared to the height at the withers, follows a 9:10 ratio. It’s worth noting that this ratio may be slightly higher in females. The breed’s light bone structure and lean musculature, coupled with its deep chest, are designed for swift, enduring pursuits in a harsh desert environment. The Azawakh’s bones are refined but strong, enhancing this sighthound’s affinity for both speed and endurance.

Coat Texture, Colors & Markings

Texture: The Azawakh’s coat is short and fine, fitting tightly over the entire body. This sleek covering provides unequalled protection against the intense heat of its desert environment while also allowing for efficient cooling. A harsh texture or semi-long coat is therefore unacceptable.

Azawakh Colors

Standard Color
Fawn ee
Red ee
Brindle ee
Sandy ee
White ee
Black ee
Blue ee
Brown ee
Gray ee
Cream ee

Azawakh Markings

Standard Marking
White Markings ee
Black Mask ee
Piebald ee
Brindle Markings ee
Grizzle Markings ee
Parti-Color ee

A Note About Color: Color is immaterial according to the AKC Standard; however, the FCI Standard allows only fawn, with or without brindling, and/or white patching that is limited to the extremities. White hairs may be present on the forechest, base of the neck and nape of the neck as a small spot, and as stockings on all four legs from the feet to the elbows and thighs. A white blaze is not desired, but a black mask may appear on a brindle-colored Azawakh.


  • Skull: Fine and elongated, the skull of the Azawakh is almost flat but has a slight curve. The width between the ears is notably less than half the total length of the head.
  • Expression: The expression is regal and alert, showcasing a vigilant nature and aristocratic demeanor.
  • Eyes: Almond-shaped and set slightly oblique, the eyes can range from dark to amber in color, depending on the color of the coat. They offer a gaze that’s both penetrating and gentle.
  • Ears: The ears are of medium size, hanging, and set high. They are thin and tapered, with a slightly rounded tip, typically falling close to the head.
  • Muzzle: The muzzle is chiseled and refined, ending in a straight nose bridge. It blends seamlessly with the rest of the head, giving the breed its distinctive profile.
  • Nose: Typically black in color or a shade that matches the coat’s color, the nose is well-defined and complements the breed’s keen sense of smell.
  • Bite: The Azawakh possesses a scissor bite, where the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors. Full dentition is required, and undershot or overshot teeth are unacceptable

A close up photo of an Azawakh's head.


The Azawakh’s tail is another distinctive breed feature. Set low, the tail is slender and tapered, extending to the hock joint. In its natural state, it hangs with a slight upward curve towards the end, resembling a sickle shape. When the Azawakh is in motion or alert, the tail may rise but does not curl over the back. It is sparsely covered with short, fine hair, becoming only slightly bushier towards the tip.

The Azawakh – What to Consider?

Owning an Azawakh is a commitment to understanding and appreciating the unique qualities of this breed. While these hounds are revered for their elegance and grace, there’s more to the breed than meets the eye. This hound requires a special kind of understanding and care.

Home Life

Interaction With Family

The level of affection a breed typically shows towards family members and familiar individuals will vary. While some breeds may only show genuine warmth towards their owner, remaining standoffish with strangers, other breeds will treat everyone they meet as if they are their closest friend.
Independent Affectionate

Good With Other Dogs

The innate friendliness of a dog towards other dogs can depend on its breed. Although supervision is always recommended during introductions, certain breeds tend to be inherently more or less sociable with other dogs, whether in a home setting or in public spaces.
Not Recommended Reliable With Other Dogs

Good With Young Children

The degree to which a breed will typically be patient with young children, and its overall suitability as a family member, will vary. It is important to always supervise interactions between dogs and the kids in the house, as well as with children who are not accustomed to being around dogs.
Not Recommended Dependable With Children


Amount Of Shedding

The amount of hair that a dog sheds will typically depend on its breed. Heavy-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing, have a higher chance of activating specific allergies, and often necessitate more frequent use of the vacuum cleaner and lint rollers.
Low High

Frequency Of Grooming

The regularity with which a breed needs bathing, brushing, trimming, or other forms of coat care is an all-important consideration. When evaluating the grooming effort required, consider your available time, patience, and budget. It is important to note that all breeds need routine ear, teeth, and nail care.
Monthly Daily

Amount Of Drooling

The tendency of a breed to drool significantly varies from breed to breed. For those who prefer cleanliness or are particular about keeping things tidy, breeds that are likely to leave trails of drool on your arm or large slobbery marks on your clothing and furniture might not be the best fit.
Low High

Coat Type


Coat Length




Trainability Level

The ease with which a dog can be trained and its eagerness to learn new skills can depend on the breed. Some breeds are naturally inclined to please their owners and will readily accept training, while others tend to follow their own desires, often showing independence in how, when, and where they choose to do things.
Stubborn Eager

Barking Level

The frequency of vocalization, including barking and howling, will vary from breed to breed. Some may bark at each person who passes by and every bird in the sky, while others will typically bark only for a good reason. Additionally, a few breeds that do not typically bark will still be vocal, using different sounds to communicate.
Quiet Vocal

Energy Level

The level of physical exercise and mental engagement required will depend on the breed. High-energy breeds are always on the go. They are enthusiastic about their next activity and tend to be busy most of the time, running, jumping, and playing throughout the day. In contrast, low-energy breeds are akin to couch potatoes, content to just lounge around and take naps throughout the day.
Couch Potato Busybody

Need For Mental Stimulation

The extent of mental stimulation needed to keep a dog content and healthy will vary by breed. Dogs bred for specific purposes may need tasks involving decision-making, problem-solving, and concentration. Without sufficient mental exercise, these dogs can resort to creating their own activities to engage their minds, resulting in unwanted behaviors like chewing, digging, and escaping.
Minimal Engagement Intensive Interaction

Azawakh Health

Lifespan: The Azawakh typically lives from 12 to 15 years. With proper care and a healthy lifestyle, these hounds can happily lead fulfilling and active lives well into their senior years.

Potential Health Risks

While the Azawakh is typically a healthy and resilient dog, like all breeds and mixed breeds, there are some health risks that owners should keep in mind:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a condition where a shallow hip socket allows the femoral head to slip out of joint. Dogs may show pain or lameness in one or both rear legs.
  • Cardiac Issues: Given the breed’s slender build and high activity levels, heart health is essential. Regular cardiac evaluations are necessary to detect any potential issues.
  • Bloat: Also known as gastric torsion, this life-threatening condition can affect deep-chested breeds like the Azawakh. It is crucial to know the signs and seek immediate medical attention if bloat is suspected.
  • Ectropion & Entropion: These conditions pertain to malformations of the eyelids, leading them to roll outward or inward respectively. These conditions can irritate the eye and may require surgery to correct.

Regular veterinary check-ups are invaluable for the early detection and management of potential health issues. Working closely with both the dog’s breeder and a vet will ensure that the Azawakh receives preventative care.

Azawakh Personality

Azawakhs are intelligent and independent thinkers. The breed’s independence, however, can pose a challenge for novice dog owners. These hounds have a penchant for forming strong bonds with their families, often becoming incredibly protective. This protective streak extends to an innate wariness of strangers. An Azawakh can display a reserved demeanor around unfamiliar faces, so early and consistent socialization is paramount to help these dogs become more at ease in a variety of social situations. Their intelligence demands consistent training and a handler who comprehends the breed’s deeply sensitive nature. The breed’s need for companionship is strong, and these dogs thrive best when they’re involved in regular family activities. Although they generally get along well with other dogs they’ve been raised with, their pronounced prey drive can entice them to chase after smaller pets.

Azawakh Feeding & Nutrition

The Azawakh’s lean and athletic build necessitates a diet that can provide all the essential nutrients without contributing to unnecessary weight gain. It’s essential to provide puppies with a diet specifically formulated for large breeds. Because they grow rapidly, Azawakh pups require food that supports their bone and muscle development. As they transition to adulthood, they need a balanced diet that caters to individual energy levels. Depending on an Azawakh’s weight, activity level, and age, the adult might consume between 2 and 3 cups of food daily. However, this can vary, and it’s always best to consult with the dog’s breeder and a veterinarian to determine the ideal amount. It’s also worth noting that Azawakhs can have a fast metabolism. This means they can burn through calories quite rapidly, so it’s important to monitor their overall condition regularly and adjust their food intake accordingly. And, in addition to providing regular meals, fresh drinking water should always be made available.

Azawakh Training

Training an Azawakh can be a challenging experience. These hounds are independent and intelligent, with an almost cat-like demeanor. This means that while they can pick up commands and cues quickly, they may choose to follow them on their own terms. Positive reinforcement, patience, and consistency are key, and harsh training methods are not recommended as they can damage the bond between dog and handler. Since Azawakhs have a strong prey drive and can be quite vocal, early training is needed to help moderate any tendency to bark excessively or give chase after smaller animals. Proper socialization and exposure to various people and different environments can help to ensure that the observant and mischievous Azawakh is a good neighbor as well as a loyal companion.

Azawakh Exercise

As a sighthound, the Azawakh has a need for short bursts of high energy activity followed by periods of rest and relaxation. While these dogs love to sprint and run, they’re equally content lounging by your side.

Exercise Expectations

Energy Level Moderate to High
Exercise Requirements 1 Hour/Day (Minimum), Daily Walks, Vigorous Running, Regular Exercise, Playing with Another Dog, Mental Stimulation

The Azawakh’s lean and muscular build gives it the capability for high-intensity activities. However, energy levels can vary from dog to dog. Some can be more laid-back, while others can be a bundle of energy. Typically, a few good runs in a securely fenced area a couple of times a week, coupled with daily walks, can provide all the exercise that’s needed. It’s important to be mindful of the weather and avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day. Also, over-exercising a puppy can lead to joint and bone issues, while under-exercising can result in pent-up energy that leads to undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking.

Azawakh Grooming

Taking care of an Azawakh’s grooming needs is relatively straightforward due to the breed’s short and fine coat. However, nails, ears, and teeth should be monitored weekly.

Grooming Expectations

Coat Type Short, Fine, Tight
Grooming Requirements Weekly Brushing, Occasional Bathing, Routine Ear Cleaning, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing

The Azawakh’s coat sheds minimally, and a weekly brushing with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt will give the coat a healthy shine. However, since the coat is thin, these dogs can be more prone to cuts, scrapes, and irritations. It’s important to regularly check the skin for abrasions or injuries that may require treatment. Baths are only required every couple of months or when the dog is particularly dirty, though it’s important to use a mild dog shampoo to ensure the skin doesn’t get irritated.

Living with an Azawakh

The Azawakh can adapt to a variety of lifestyles, but there are some considerations for supporting the comfort and well-being of this unique breed. For starters, the sensitive nature of these dogs means they thrive best in a calm and stable environment. Ensuring a peaceful home atmosphere, coupled with regular routines and daily exercise, can help to make them feel secure. Temperature sensitivity is another consideration. In colder climates, it’s essential to provide the Azawakh with protective clothing when outdoors, and early morning or late evening outings are best when the weather’s hot and humid. In the company of other dogs, especially those they are meeting for the first time, the breed’s territorial nature might surface. Proper introductions are needed. However, the breed’s playfulness can make the Azawakh adept at a variety of games and dog sports. And although they can be reserved around people they don’t know, they are especially gentle and affectionate with children they know well.

Azawakh Puppies

The arrival of a litter of Azawakh puppies is a fun and exciting experience that requires a commitment to providing for the specific needs of each pup. As they grow, each pup will show glimpses of the grace and poise that defines their breed. But like all puppies, Azawakhs need consistent care during the first year of life to ensure they grow up to become a healthy and happy adult.

Caring for an Azawakh Puppy

The Azawakh puppy can be rather delicate during its first weeks and months. The breed’s lean structure and fine coat mean the pup doesn’t have much to shield it from physical harm or drastic changes in temperature. Making sure the environment is always comfortable is essential. Nutrition also plays a pivotal role during the puppy’s growth phase. A balanced diet for large-breed puppies can support the development of strong bones and muscles, though it’s always best to follow the breeder’s recommendations. Socialization is another crucial aspect of a puppy’s development. Exposure to various people, pets, sounds, and experiences can help to shape a more outgoing temperament. Early positive interactions with other animals can also help to reduce the chances of aggressive or overly timid behavior. Training should start early; however, the Azawakh’s sensitive nature means the pup will respond best to positive reinforcement techniques. Harsh training methods will be counterproductive and can even instill fear or mistrust. Lastly, regular health check-ups are essential to ensure the puppy is up-to-date on all vaccinations and is growing without any physical or behavioral problems.

Azawakh Activities & Dog Sports

The innate agility and elegant build of the Azawakh make this astonishing sighthound suitable for a variety of outdoor adventures and dog sports.

  • Lure Coursing: This sport capitalizes on a dog’s natural prey drive, allowing it to chase a mechanically operated lure across a field, mimicking the unpredictability of hunting live prey.
  • Fast CAT: This is a timed 100-yard dash where the Azawakh’s speed is put to the test.
  • Agility: By navigating a timed obstacle course, dogs can display both their speed and finesse with the proper training.
  • Obedience: In this precision-based event, Azawakhs can demonstrate their intelligence and their ability to follow a series of commands in a structured environment.
  • Rally Obedience: This is a more “freestyle” form of Obedience in which dogs and their handlers navigate a course that showcases the team’s versatility and training.
  • Conformation Shows: Dog shows are competitive events in which breed like the Azawakh are assessed on how closely their appearance, movement, and character conform to the Breed Standard.

Engaging in these sports and activities provides ample opportunity for Azawakh owners to connect with their dogs in a social setting, ensuring that both hound and handler enjoy a rewarding and invigorating experience.

Group Classification & Standards

The Azawakh is recognized by the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations, which categorize the breed into a specific Group based on its unique characteristics. This breed is recognized worldwide under the following Group designations:

International Organizations

Organization Group Designation
AKC (American Kennel Club) Hound
UKC (United Kennel Club) Sighthound and Pariah Dog
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) Hounds
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) Hounds
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club) Hound
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) Group 10: Sighthounds; Section 3: Short-Haired Sighthounds

The ideal Azawakh is described by a Breed Standard that is approved by each of the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations. The Breed Standards for this breed may be found in the following links:

Breed Standards

Organization Breed Standard
American Kennel Club AKC Azawakh Breed Standard
United Kennel Club UKC Azawakh Breed Standard
Canadian Kennel Club CKC Azawakh Breed Standard
Australian National Kennel Council ANKC Azawakh Breed Standard
The Royal Kennel Club RKC Azawakh Breed Standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale FCI Azawakh Breed Standard

Azawakh Clubs

The Azawakh has a dedicated community of enthusiasts and breeders who are passionate about preserving the unique heritage and characteristics of this African sighthound. For those interested in learning more about the Azawakh, joining a breed club can be an excellent way to connect with other enthusiasts.

In the United States, the American Azawakh Association (AAA) is the primary organization dedicated to the breed. Founded on February 7, 1988, the AAA and its members remain committed to the breed, focusing on the preservation of its health, temperament, and physical conformation. Beyond setting standards for breeding and exhibition, the association hosts events, champions education, and acts as a resource for admirers of this extraordinary breed.

In Canada, the Azawakh Club of Canada is the central organization dedicated to the breed’s welfare. The club plays a pivotal role in promoting the breed by upholding the Breed Standard and educating the public about the Azawakh’s many distinctive qualities.

The Azawakh Association of the United Kingdom was founded in 2002 and gained full recognition for the breed in 2015. As the parent club in Great Britain, the AAUK endeavors to preserve, protect, and promote the breed at events like Discover Dogs at Crufts.

Azawakh Rescue Groups

Rescue organizations and their volunteers play a vital role in supporting the needs of individual dogs, offering refuge and care as needed, and providing new beginnings.

In the United States, Azawakh-Rescue is a community-driven organization dedicated to the breed. This collective is committed to providing aid to any Azawakh in need of rehoming. Additionally, the American Azawakh Association (AAA) also steps in to assist in rescue and rehoming efforts.

In the United Kingdom, potential adopters and those looking to rehome an Azawakh are advised to consult the Azawakh Association of the United Kingdom for guidance on rescue and rehoming opportunities within the country.

Azawakh Facts

  • Origins in the Sahara: The Azawakh hails from the Sahara Desert and the Sahel region, predominantly from countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. These dogs were traditionally kept by the Tuareg, Fula, and other nomadic peoples.
  • Purpose: Primarily known as a sighthound, the Azawakh was also used for guarding and as a loyal companion. The breed’s tall and slender build allows it to reach high speeds in short bursts, making it an effective hunter.
  • Physical Distinctiveness: Unlike other sighthounds, the Azawakh’s proportions are more upright, with a deep chest and well-defined keel. Its skin is tight, showcasing its angles as well as its muscles.
  • Bonding: Azawakhs are known for their deep loyalty. They can be reserved with strangers but are intensely affectionate with their family members.
  • Endurance: Adapted to the harsh climates of the Sahel, the Azawakh possesses an incredible level of endurance. These dogs are capable of covering great distances in punishing desert terrain.
  • Health: The breed has a relatively low rate of genetic disorders compared to many other breeds. However, like all dogs, individuals can be susceptible to specific health risks.
  • Rarity: The Azawakh is considered a rare breed, even in Northern Africa. However, it remains a cherished partner for those who appreciate its many fine (if unusual) qualities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How fast can Azawakhs run?

Azawakhs can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. They are known for their incredible agility and endurance, two qualities that have made them prized hunting dogs in their native lands.

How many Azawakhs are there in the world?

It’s challenging to determine the exact number of Azawakhs worldwide; however, they are considered a rare breed.

Where do Azawakhs come from?

Azawakhs originate from the Sahel region of Northern Africa. Specifically, they originate from countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso where they’ve been bred by nomadic clans for centuries.

Can an Azawakh be left home alone all day?

Like many dogs, an Azawakh can be left home alone, but not for extended periods. These dogs thrive on human companionship and can become anxious if isolated. Therefore, it’s essential to provide them with both stimulation and comfort when they are by themselves.

Are Azawakhs high or low maintenance?

Azawakhs are relatively low maintenance in terms of grooming. However, they require regular exercise and plenty of mental stimulation. Their short coat is easy to care for, but they are characteristically sensitive, both emotionally and physically.

Do Azawakhs bark a lot?

Azawakhs are generally quiet dogs and don’t make excessive vocalizations. However, they’re likely to bark if there’s a specific reason, such as if they’re alarmed by an intruder. Thankfully, they are not known to be nuisance barkers.

Do Azawakhs shed?

Azawakhs do shed, but their shedding is minimal compared to many other breeds. Typically, the breed’s short and fine coat means less hair will be left around the house. But, as with any dog, regular brushing can help to manage the shedding.

Is the Azawakh a good hunting dog?

The Azawakh is an excellent hunting dog. Since the breed was traditionally used to hunt gazelle and other fleet-footed prey in the desert, the dogs’ speed and endurance make them adept hunters in similar environments today.

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The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin?

Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral Program, which is listed on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.

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