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Azawakh

Other Names: Idi, Hanshee, Oska, Bareeru, Rowondu, Wulo

Country Of Origin: Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

Dog Group: Sighthound

Size: Medium

Recommended For: Couples, single owners, families with older children

Maintenance Level: Moderate

Lifespan: 10-12 years

Temperament: Aloof, affectionate, loyal, cautious

FAQ:

Good For First-Time Owner: No

Good With Children: No

Good With Other Animals: Yes

Good With Strangers: No

Good For Apartments: No

Exercise Requirements: Daily walking

Can Live In Hot Weather: Yes

Can Live In Cold Weather: Within reason

Can Tolerate Being Left Alone: Yes

Grooming: Low

Trainability: Easy/moderate

Breed Overview:

 Azawakhs are a very ancient breed of dog, and have been used in their native regions for centuries, if not millennia.

Their main purpose is as sighthounds and livestock guardians, although they also used to be used as hunting dogs. However, this role has fallen off because there’s very little game in their native lands.

The Azawakh has long been used by nomadic groups in the Sahelian zone, and it isn’t really a popular family pet breed.

This is mainly because other, more appropriate breeds exist, and although Azawakhs can form very strong bonds with their owners, they can also be quite aloof around people.

 Color: Fawn

 Height: Males – 25-29 inches, females – 24-28 inches

 Weight: Males – 44-55lbs, females – 33-44lbs

 Personality And Temperament:

The Azawakh is mainly kept for protection of livestock, and so its personality has never been developed for use as a companion pet.

For this reason, the breed is quite indifferent to most humans, but can develop a very close relationship with its owners.

However, the breed is also very independent, and can perform its role as protector with little or no instruction.

The breed is very energetic, and has excellent stamina. They should be walked for at least an hour each day, if not multiple long walks.

They should ideally be given a working purpose in order to provide them with enough exercise and mental stimulation, otherwise they might become depressed.

Similarly, Azawakhs are quite easy to train, and they’re capable of learning very complex commands.

They also can perform roles with very little instruction, which makes them ideal for agility and obedience competitions.

Any kind of training should be started early, which will be easy because the breed has a natural desire to learn.

Owners should also try to keep up training throughout the dog’s life so they have enough mental stimulation and don’t get bored.

Azawakhs are suitable to be kept around other animals, including dogs and other pets. They’re not naturally aggressive, and have no real hunting instinct, so owners should have little problem keeping them around small animals.

However, any socialization should be done from an early age to ensure success. Azawakhs have very intricate social structures within their family groups, which shows they have an innate disposition towards socializing.

Due to their native climates, Azawakhs are much better suited to hot weather than cold. They were developed to work for long hours in searing heat, and so much prefer this kind of weather.

While they can be kept in colder climates, this should be avoided because owners will notice a difference in the dog’s attitude if it gets too cold.

Although Azawakhs can form intense bonds with their owners, they’re not the most suitable family pet. This is mainly because they weren’t bred with the intention of keeping as a companion, and so can be aloof towards people.

This is particularly true with children, as the breed can be quite intolerant of them. However, there are fewer problems with older children because they generally have a different attitude towards animals.

The breed isn’t suitable for first-time owners, again simply because they weren’t designed as pets, but for working purposes. The main thing that will put first-time owners off the breed is the amount of exercise they need.

This is a big commitment for anyone to make, and is something that needs to be maintained so the dog doesn’t become depressed.

Few first-time owners are happy with the idea of several long daily walks, and prefer the idea of a low maintenance pet.

Azawakhs are naturally protective and cautious, and so aren’t great around strangers. However, this means they’re good at what they do, and so make excellent guard dogs.

If their owner is around, then an Azawakh will be slightly more tolerant of strangers, but they’ll never be affectionate on the same level as something like a Labrador.

If it wasn’t already quite obvious, Azawakhs are not suitable for living in an apartment. This is mainly because of their size and energy levels, as they’re much better suited to having plenty of land.

If you keep one in a house with plenty of land, the dog will be fine to roam around, but the backyard should be fenced in, and the dog should ideally be microchipped.

 Grooming:

Azawakhs have a short, fine coat, again due to their use in very hot climates. This means they need minimal grooming, and owners should find a weekly brush is more than enough to keep them looking healthy.

The breed does shed, but it’s not a massive problem because their hair is so short. Grooming with a short bristle brush should be enough to keep this in check, and using a rubber mitt will help collect the hair easily.

In general, bathing should be kept to a minimum. Because the Azawakh’s coat is so short, frequent bathing would dry out their skin, which can lead to more problems than it solves.

The breed isn’t known to get smelly, and most dirt problems can be solved with brushing.

Owners should make a real effort to keep the dog’s nails short, as their long and skinny legs are much more easily affected by long nails than a sturdier dog.

Azawakhs are a very graceful breed, and any impact on their gait is very noticeable. Nails should be checked on a weekly basis, and trimmed as needed. However, a dog that gets plenty of exercise should need minimal nail clipping.

As with all dog breeds, an Azawakh’s teeth should be cleaned several times a week to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Owners should also provide chew toys that promote oral health, and many can have toothpaste added for extra cleaning.

 Common Diseases And Conditions:

Azawakhs suffer from few hereditary conditions, and unlike breeds such as greyhounds, are nowhere near as susceptible to injuries from running.

That said, owners should always be careful, as the breed have very long and skinny legs that can break much easier than stocky breeds.

One noted condition in the breed is epilepsy, and this mainly develops in adulthood. Although symptoms are usually the first indication of the condition, vets can test for it to confirm.

Although epilepsy can’t be cured, it can be treated and managed with medication.

Another condition the breed suffers from is Wobbler disease, which is a malformation of the cervical vertebrae in the back.

This results in an uneven gait and lack of coordination, and develops as the dog gets older. Many breeders believe this condition develops because of Western dog diets, which are much higher in protein.

Any easy way to prevent this problem from developing is simply to manage the dog’s diet as closely as possible.

 History:

The Azawakh has been used by nomadic Tuareg and Fula tribes for a very long time, although the exact history isn’t known for certain because of the way these communities record their history.

In short, the development of their working dog stock wasn’t necessarily something they felt the need to keep track of.

Azawakhs were originally used for hunting gazelle and other game, although they now mainly serve as livestock guardians. However, the breed is known as a pack hunter, and dogs would work together to down prey, and have very complex methods of communication that they use while hunting.

The breed is still very popular in its native region, although this is still primarily as a working dog.

Azawakhs aren’t as popular in Europe and North America, although they are growing in recognition.

Azawakhs currently aren’t recognized by any major Western kennel clubs, although the American Kennel Club does recognize them as foundation stock, and dogs can be registered with the Puerto Rican Kennel Club.

Azawakh Facts & Figures

Did You Know?

  • Azawakhs can work in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easily enough to kill even the hardiest of dog breeds.
  • When in hunting mode, Azawakhs can run at speeds of up to 40mph!
  • Their native land is mainly the Sahara Desert, which gives you an idea of the temperatures they were bred for.
  • The breed was only brought out of Africa in the 1970s, hence why it’s still not particularly popular.
  • The breed absolutely loves to dig, and can easily destroy a backyard in the space of a few hours. They do this looking for prey, but plenty of exercise will reduce the risk of destructive behavior.
  • The breed’s name is pronounced Oz-a-wok, but their name in local languages is idii n’ illeli, which translates as “sighthound of the free people.”