Breed type: Hound
Country of origin: Mali
Popular names: Bareeru, Hanshee, Idi, Oska, Rawondu, Wulo
Height: 64-74 cm (males), 60-70 cm (females)
Weight: 20-25 kg (males), 15-20 kg (females)
Best suited as: Guard dog, Hunting dog
Lifespan: 11-13 years
The Azawakh is a sighthound originating in the northwestern African nation of Mali. Distinguished by its long legs and remarkably thin frame, this breed is also renowned for its guarding and hunting skills. It can outrun most animals and is capable of hunting game of all sizes.
In its homeland of the Sahara Desert, the Azawakh is prized for its endurance in what many consider less than ideal circumstances, such as extreme heat or a meager supply of food and water. In addition to providing its owner with food and protection, the Azawakh is also known to be a devoted companion.
Though this breed is still most popular in its native land, it has become better known throughout the world since introduced to Europe and North America over the last forty years.
The short, sleek coat of the Azawakh is accepted in the Australian National Kennel Council in a variety of shades, from light sable to dark fawn. Common colours include fawn, black, blue, brindle, brown, red, roan, sable, sandy, and white. It may have a black mask around the face and ears. White colouring on the chest, feet, and tip of the tail are required in show dogs.
The skin of the Azawakh clings tightly to the body, highlighting its slender frame. Its muscles lie flat and its ribcage and vertebrae are typically visible. Though the average Azawakh may appear underfed or malnourished, its thin physique goes hand in hand with its natural athleticism. An overweight or overfed dog of this breed can become lazy and unhealthy. Carrying extra weight can also cause joint problems.
Unlike many dog breeds, the legs of the Azawakh are longer in length than the body, contributing to its regale appearance and lithe gait. Its hips are set higher than the withers, which is another unusual physical characteristic.
The Azawakh’s head is long and narrow, capped by a black or brown nose. Its eyes are almond-shaped, preferably dark in colour, though amber is also accepted in show dogs. This breed has large, inquisitive eyes, along with phenomenal eyesight. Its ears are high-set and thin, folding in a triangular shape alongside the head. The Azawakh has tremendous hearing and its ears tend to rise when active or alert.
The tail of this breed is very long and thin, tapering at the end with an upward curl. The tail is carried low while the dog is at rest and is held higher during periods of activity.
This sighthound is tall and long, with males larger in size than females of this breed. Males generally range from 64-74 cm in height, whereas females tend to be between 60 and 70 cm. The Azawakh is incredibly lean, with males weighing 20-25 kg and females weighing 15-20 kg.
The Azawakh is named for the Azawakh Valley, which is located near the borders of Mali and Niger. African sighthounds such as the Azawakh are prized for their ability to hunt game at speeds of up to 64 km/hr. Their natural habitat is the Sahara Desert and their ability to hunt in an area in which food may be in sparse supply is invaluable. They are capable of hunting a variety of game, from small hares to large gazelles.
An exact date of origin of the modern Azawakh is unknown, but it is believed to have descended from African pariah dogs that can be traced back as many as 10,000 years. This breed is also thought to be distantly related to the jackal, which distinguishes it from other breeds of dog.
Though the Azawakh originated in Mali, the nearby nations of Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger are also credited with its development. This multitalented dog is capable of hunting, guarding, and providing companionship for nomadic African tribes. It is very pack-oriented, preferring to hunt, play, and sleep with other Azawakhs.
The phenomenal vision and speed of the Azawakh have made it invaluable to African tribes for thousands of years and the skills for which it is best known are considered just as priceless today.
The Azawakh is independent, driven, and attentive. As with many dogs with a guarding background, the Azawakh is typically reserved or standoffish around new people. This dog will be welcoming and warm towards people it knows, though earning its trust and acceptance takes time. This breed should not exhibit timidity and aggression; such traits are grounds for disqualification in show dogs.
This breed has a strong pack mentality, so it will bond very closely with other dogs, particularly other Azawakhs. If kept as a pet without other dogs, a strong bond with its owner is likely to develop. A deep desire to guard and protect its pack, people, and turf are inherent in this breed. It is prone to barking at those it considers to be a threat and it generally does not hesitate to give chase if the situation and space allow for it.
The Azawakh is naturally suspicious of new people and animals, but socialisation goes a long way in helping this breed determine whether or not a situation calls for its strong guarding skills. Training and discipline can be difficult with this breed, but they are both crucial to its success as a family pet. Exposing this breed to a variety of circumstances will help increase its tolerance, though it is always likely to be initially cautious and guarded.
With other dogs or people it trusts, the Azawakh is typically playful and gentle. It has extraordinary stamina, so it truly benefits from the company of likeminded animals or people. Despite its independent personality, it is unlikely to get the exercise it needs if left to its own devices. Active, engaging exercise is the best way to ensure that this breed expends the proper amount of energy each day.
Care and Grooming
Little more than brushing with a bristle brush or comb is required to maintain the sleek, smooth coat of the Azawakh. Its coat is naturally sparse on the belly and the breed is not known for shedding, which may benefit those with dog allergies.
This breed relies heavily on its ability to run, so care should be taken to ensure that its nails are kept short so as to not interfere with its speed.
The Azawakh originated in a hot climate in which water and food were at times hard to come by. For this reason, only the healthiest and fittest dogs survived. This hardiness is a trait that has been passed down for thousands of years.
This durable breed tends to heal quickly from minor injuries sustained through running, hunting, or playing.
Epilepsy is an issue for some Azawakhs. It typically occurs during adulthood, which makes breeder testing difficult.
Stomach or gastric problems such as bloat are a risk for Azawakhs raised outside their natural habitat, as their immune systems tend to be poorly equipped for standard dog kibble.
This breed has an average lifespan of 11-13 years.
Sustainability as a Pet
This breed originated in the Sahara Desert, so it strongly prefers a hot and dry climate over cold and wet weather. For this reason, climate must be taken into consideration when the Azawakh is kept as a pet.
In order for the Azawakh to thrive as a pet, it is imperative that it be regularly and thoroughly exercised. An owner who is a runner, jogger, or cyclist would be ideal for this highly active breed. Long periods of inactivity, whether indoors or outdoors, will leave this dog restless and may lead to destructive or aggressive behaviour.
The Azawakh likes to dig and can run at high speeds, so a secure yard is crucial to its well-being. Even if it has access to a yard, it requires other dogs or people with which it can play in order to receive sufficient exercise. A bare minimum of 30 minutes of high activity per day is recommended.
The ideal Azawakh owner will be firm and fair. This breed needs a consistent and compassionate leader, as it will not respond well to excessive punishment. This dog looks to its owner for guidance in how to react in unfamiliar situations, so trust is imperative. Extensive socialisation will help this suspicious breed grow accustomed to a wide variety of people, animals, and circumstances. Without such, the Azawakh may be overly distrustful, shy, or even aggressive.
This breed bonds quickly with its family and will be a devoted companion. Proper supervision is recommended when this breed is around small children or animals. Though it is generally friendly with familiar people and animals, this breed has undeniable guarding and hunting instincts, which further emphasises the need for training and socialisation.
The Azawakh is an intelligent breed with phenomenal endurance. As a pet, it will thrive in a warm and dry climate, in a home with open land, and in the care and company of a highly active owner.
Azawakh Organisations in Australia
No club information listed
Azawakh Organisations in the UK
Club Azawakh Swiss
Azawakh Organisations in the US
Azawakh – Australian National Kennel Council
Did we miss your organisation? Let us know. Contact Us