The Azawakh is a breed of sight hound dog that originated from Africa. This breed is thought to have been developed in the regions of Southern Algeria, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, by nomadic tribes including the Fula and the Tuareg peoples. This dog was bred for speed so it could hunt hares and other creatures and guard the camps of its people, but only highly fit dogs could adequately survive and serve the tribes in the desert conditions. The Azawakh is recognized by many organizations including the UKC, the AKC, and the FCI, with all of these agencies accepting different breed standards due to the variation of coloring that it can hold.
Recent studies have shown that Azawakh is descended from the pariah dog and probably the Sloughi, although it is only slightly related to other breeds of sight hounds. Archeological studies have found petroglyphs of hunters and running dogs that are similar in appearance to this breed that are 8,000 to 10,000 years old, as well as bones dating back to the Holocene. Archeological, DNA, and blood protein studies have shown that this breed has developed in a largely isolated area from other dogs, which has given them unique traits like hunting in packs, a trait it shares with pariah dogs.
The Azawakh reaches an average height between twenty-four to twenty-nine inches and weight between thirty-three and fifty-five pounds. The body of this species is lean and its bones are clearly visible under its skin. However, it is a muscular species, although these muscles lie flat along its body. This dog’s fur is very thin and is almost nonexistent along the belly. It can vary in color from bluish tan, red, grizzled, black, and blue. Individuals that reside in the breed’s native region are often almost all white in color or bear a white crest on the chest. This breed can mate once a year and has typical litters of four to six pups.
Because the Azawakh is bred to guard, it is very loyal and affectionate to its people. The breed is not instinctively aggressive, but does not prefer to be touched by people it is not familiar with. It holds a pack mentality and is often very affectionate with its pack members. This breed makes a good pet for runners, because it can withstand high temperatures, but it does not like rain or colder weather. It requires a fair amount of training, after which it will be friendly with humans and other pets. The Azawakh is not known to develop hip dysplasia, but it does occasionally develop Wobbler disease or adult onset idiopathic epilepsy. If it is injured, it heals very quickly.
Image Caption: Typical male Azawakh in the Sahel. Credit: ABIS/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)