Aristocratic. Gracious. Leggy. Agile hunter, elegant companion. These are just a few characteristics to describe the Azawakh, a superb dog breed native to the Azawakh Valley in Africa. These fast hunters were known to chase gazelles in the Sahara a hundred years ago.
But as exotic and refined as they may seem, you might be wondering if they make great companions. If they get along well with children? Are they easy to train, like sweet golden retrievers, or will they test your patience, like stubborn huskies?
Well, keep reading to find out everything you need to know in this complete guide to the Azawakh before you splurge into buying such a breed (because no, they aren’t exactly cheap).
Let’s dive in.
25 – 29 inches (male), 23.5 – 27.5 inches (female)
44 – 55 pounds (male), 33 – 44 pounds (female)
12 – 15 years
Red, brindled, sandy, parti-color (which may be predominantly white), blue, black, cream, brown
Active families, those looking for a low-shedding dog
Loyal yet independent, affectionate, protective; gets along with other pets (but likes to be the dominant dog in a multi-dog house)
The Azawakh is part of the Hound Group1. It looks a lot like two of its congeners, the Sloughi and the Saluki. On the other hand, its main distinguishing features are its short back and higher rear end. Its head is long, thin, and lean, with an almost flat skull and slightly slanting eyes, always dark in colorù. Its triangular-shaped ears are set high and drooping along its cheeks. It is an athletic-looking dog, lean and muscular, and at the same time elegant and proud.
It takes its name from the Azawakh valley, near the central Niger plateau and the border with Mali. It is also called Touareg Greyhound, Touareg Sloughi, or Southern Saharan Greyhound. The Azawakh is considered a rare greyhound and was bred to hunt fast games, such as gazelle and hare. Not as fast as the cheetah, but still part of the fastest dog breed in the world: its speed can reach up to 40 mph!
Other Factors to Consider
Temperament & Intelligence of the Azawakh
The Azawakh is a very independent dog who is fiercely attached to his master. It has a strong character which requires a good and rigorous education from an early age. It is energetic but knows how to be gentle with its family. The Azawakh, on the other hand, is very suspicious of people it doesn’t know. That’s why it makes an excellent guardian. But as an active and enduring dog, however, it is better suited to a sportive owner.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
“In terms of the bond with the owner, there is nothing like it. The Azawakh’s devotion to their owner or family is legendary.” So said Deb Kidwell2, secretary of the American Azawakh Association. You can’t go wrong with such a statement. The Azawakh might be a bit aloof with strangers, but when you manage to gain their trust, you will end up with a loyal, lifelong furry companion.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
The Azawakh protects all members of its pack, whether they are on two or four legs. However, it is best to get the young puppy used to being with other animals to learn not to chase them (cats, rabbits, etc.) and consider them as part of its family. Thus, it is better to watch them when they are together and separate them when you are away.
Indeed, the Azawakh will get along well with small pets indoors but may forget that they are their friends if it sees them running outside. It will certainly not hesitate to chase unfamiliar cats or other small furry animals, so it should always be led on a leash. Also, keep in mind that the adjustment period might be even more difficult if you bring new animals into your home with an already adult Azawakh.
Things to Know When Owning an Azawakh:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Used to extreme conditions in their home region, the Azawakh is not picky when it comes to food. The latter should only be of good quality, varied, and adapted to his age, state of health, and physical exercise. It should not be too proteinaceous either.
Even though the Azawakh is independent, it nevertheless appreciates the human presence. It needs a present and a caring owner. And remember: this athletic dog MUST get plenty of exercise. It will benefit from several walks a day in large spaces to run and exercise at will. Do NOT leave it alone all day in your home, as it will become sluggish, overweight, and exhibit potentially destructive behavior.
The Azawakh is both a sensitive and independent dog. Therefore, it is not necessarily easy to train, in the sense that it will prefer to find loopholes rather than be forced to obey. This haughty dog is indeed not very docile by nature, so the training of the Azawakh must be started from the puppy stage (six weeks).
You will have to show patience, pedagogy, and firmness with it, but without ever rushing it. The Azawakh has an excellent memory, and it is very intelligent, so it quickly understands what is expected of it. It will be important to get it used to the noises and the streets while still very young. Keep in mind that it hates being locked up or tied up.
It will also be necessary to strengthen the relationship of trust you have with your Azawakh so that its education is more based on cooperation. Most importantly, never use force and punitive methods to get your dog to obey you. The trust would then be broken, and it would be even more difficult to train this wonderful animal.
On the maintenance side, the Azawakh’s short hair does not require special care apart from brushing once a week.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Thankfully, the Azawakh is a robust dog that doesn’t get sick easily. However, these dogs are not immune to some health problems. Also, note that hip dysplasia and bloating are not common health issues in this breed but can occur nonetheless.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Azawakh
1. It is One of the World’s Rarest Dog Breeds
As is the case with many dog breeds around the world, they are more prevalent in their region of origin than, for example, in the United States or Europe. No wonder why it is sold at such a high price. The Azawakh was officially added to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the largest dog federation in the United States, in 2011.
The other dogs on that list are the Norwegian Lundehund, the Lagotto Romagnolo, the Otterhound, and the Mudi.
2. They Have Larger Hearts in Proportion to Their Body Weight
This particular characteristic is linked to their genetics. This is also one of the reasons why these dogs are such good runners: they can pump more blood with each heartbeat. Also, they have more red blood cells in their blood, which is not the case with other sighthound breeds.
3. The Azawakh Is a 5,000-Year-Old Breed
The Azawakh dog breed occupied the entire central Sahara 5,000 years ago when these areas were steppes traversed by populations of hunters and herders. It was shaped by a natural environment and by men who oriented its breeding according to hunting and aesthetic criteria. The Azawakh is now raised mainly by the Tuareg and Dahousssahaq nomads. Endangered in its native environment due to successive droughts, this breed, introduced in the United States in the mid-1980s, aroused the passion of its new breeders.
The Azawakh is a rare, complex, and highly intelligent breed of dog. Undoubtedly, the most attractive feature of this breed is its absolute and fierce devotion to its owner and family. However, that same quality might be too much to deal with for another type of person, who might not be used to this intense bond with a dog.
So, keep in mind that the Azawakh is not a suitable breed for everyone. But, if you are ready to meet its specific needs and give it all the love and affection it needs, you will be rewarded with a loyal and incredible companion.
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Featured Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock