Azawakh

Table of Contents

azawakh portrait
Welcome to the world of Azawakhs, the supermodels of the dog realm! With their sleek physique, striking speed, and regal poise, these African sighthounds are more than just pretty faces. From their unrivaled loyalty to their playful spirit, it's no wonder Azawakhs are stealing the spotlight in the canine world!

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Azawakh is the ultimate companion for the active and adventurous! They’re perfect for those who love outdoor activities and can match their high energy levels. With their loyal nature, they’ll stick by your side through thick and thin. But remember, their independent streak means they also appreciate some ‘me’ time!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEAzawakh
ORIGINMali, Niger, Burkina Faso
BREED GROUPHound Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT23.5-29 inches
WEIGHT33-55 lbs
LIFESPAN12-15 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERHigh
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERLow
GROOMING NEEDSLow
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK194th
azawakh standing by a pillar
Photo: animalinfo/Getty Images

Appearance

Standing tall at 25 to 29 inches for males and 23.5 to 27.5 inches for females, the Azawakh is a slender and statuesque sight to behold. Weighing between 33 to 55 pounds, they’re lightweight and agile, built for speed and endurance.

The body of an Azawakh is a marvel of sleek design. Their deep chest reaches down to their elbow, while their belly is gracefully tucked up, accentuating their slim waistline. This streamlined physique allows them to reach incredible speeds, giving them the nickname “Ferraris of the dog world”.

Just take a look at their head! It’s elegantly long and lean, crowned with large, almond-shaped eyes that can be varying shades of brown. These expressive eyes are windows to their soul, often revealing a thoughtful, intelligent gaze. Their ears are set high on their head, hanging close to their cheeks, giving them an alert and attentive expression.

Now let’s talk about their tail. It’s thin, long, and usually carried low, but don’t be fooled. When the Azawakh is excited or in motion, the tail whips up into a curve, becoming a flag of joy!

Their coat is another feature that sets them apart. It’s short and fine, allowing you to see the defined musculature underneath. The colors can range from light sable to dark fawn and everything in between, including brindle and even rare blue and black.

But the most striking part of an Azawakh’s appearance? Their dignified and regal expression. There’s a certain nobility in their bearing, a quiet confidence that commands attention. They carry themselves with an air of aristocracy, yet there’s an undeniable warmth in their gaze that can melt hearts.

In essence, the Azawakh is a study in contrasts – delicate yet strong, aloof yet affectionate, regal yet playful. Every aspect of their appearance reflects their unique character, making them one of the most distinctive breeds in the world.

azawakh walking on the beach
Photo: animalinfo/Getty Images

Temperament

Have you ever met a dog that’s as dignified as royalty, yet as playful as a puppy? That’s the Azawakh for you! This breed has a personality that’s as unique and captivating as their physical appearance.

Azawakhs are often described as aloof and independent, but don’t let that fool you. While they may not be the type to throw themselves at every stranger they meet, once they form a bond with you, it’s a bond for life. They’re incredibly loyal to their human family, often forming a deep, almost intuitive connection with their owners.

These dogs are also known for their protective nature. As a breed that was originally used for hunting and guarding livestock, they have a keen sense of their surroundings and are always on alert. If they sense any threats towards their family, they won’t hesitate to step in. But don’t worry, they’re generally not aggressive without cause.

Now, let’s talk about their intelligence. Azawakhs are smart, really smart. They have a sharp mind and a quick understanding, which often makes them a joy to live with. But remember, with great intelligence comes a strong will. They’re not afraid to make their opinions known, and they appreciate being treated with respect.

Despite their regal bearing, Azawakhs have a playful side that often surprises people. They love to run, chase, and play, showing off their speed and agility. Their playful antics can bring a smile to anyone’s face, and their joy in simple pleasures is truly infectious.

At home, Azawakhs are calm and well-behaved. They’re not known for being destructive or overly noisy. Instead, they prefer to spend their time lounging around, often choosing a favorite spot from where they can keep an eye on the household activities.

When it comes to affection, Azawakhs have their own way of showing it. They might not be the most demonstrative breed, but their quiet companionship speaks volumes. They’ll often follow their favorite person around the house, their silent presence a comforting shadow.

Ideal Environment

Step into the world of the Azawakh and you’ll quickly realize that this isn’t a breed for everyone. These African sighthounds are best suited to active individuals or families who understand their unique needs and can provide them with a stimulating environment.

Physical Environment

First off, let’s talk about the physical environment. Azawakhs need space to stretch their legs. A home with a securely fenced yard where they can run freely would be a paradise for them. But remember, their jumping and climbing abilities are impressive, so that fence needs to be high!

Climate Adaptability

Given their origins in the harsh Sahelian zone of Africa, Azawakhs are more adapted to hot climates than cold ones. Their thin coat and lean bodies mean they don’t have much natural insulation against colder weather. So, if you live in a region with chilly winters, you’ll need to ensure your Azawakh has suitable protection like doggy sweaters or indoor heating.

On the other hand, their desert heritage means they’re pretty comfortable in warmer climates. But remember, no dog should be exposed to extreme heat, so make sure they have access to shade and plenty of fresh water during hotter months.

Ideal Owner

Now, what about the social environment? Azawakhs are known for their deep loyalty to their human family, so they thrive in homes where they’re included as part of the family activities. They’re not fans of being left alone for long periods, so a home where someone is around for most of the day would be ideal.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Azawakhs can get along well with them, especially if they’re introduced at a young age. However, due to their hunting instincts, they might be inclined to chase smaller animals. Therefore, careful introductions and supervision are necessary.

azawakh running in the field
Photo: alekta/Getty Images

Grooming

Grooming an Azawakh is not overly complicated, but you do need to keep up with regular care to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

Let’s start with their coat. The Azawakh’s short, fine coat doesn’t require much maintenance. A weekly brush with a soft bristle brush or grooming mitt should be enough to keep it looking sleek and shiny. This will help remove any loose hairs and distribute the natural oils in their skin, keeping their coat healthy and vibrant. Plus, it’s a great bonding activity!

Now, onto bath time. Given their short coat and lack of doggy odor, Azawakhs don’t need frequent baths. In fact, unless they’ve rolled in something unpleasant or are particularly dirty, a bath every few months should suffice. When bathing, use a gentle dog shampoo to protect their skin, and make sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent any residue from irritating their skin.

Dental Care

Next up is dental care. Like all dogs, Azawakhs can be prone to dental issues if their teeth aren’t cared for properly. Brushing their teeth a few times a week with dog-safe toothpaste is ideal. This will help prevent tartar build-up and keep their breath fresh. Regular dental check-ups with the vet are also recommended.

Nail Trimming

Let’s talk about those elegant legs of theirs. Azawakhs have relatively long nails that need regular trimming to prevent them from becoming too long and causing discomfort. Depending on how fast their nails grow, a trim every couple of weeks should be enough. If you’re unsure about doing this yourself, a groomer or vet can help.

Ear Care

Don’t forget their ears! Azawakhs have beautiful, hanging ears that need regular checks to avoid infections. Once a week, gently lift their ear flap and check for any signs of redness, bad odor, or excessive wax. Cleaning with a vet-approved solution and a cotton ball can help keep them healthy.

Additional Grooming Tips

Finally, remember that grooming isn’t just about maintaining their physical appearance. It’s also a great opportunity to check for any abnormalities like lumps, bumps, rashes, or parasites. Regular grooming sessions can help you spot potential health issues early.

three azawakhs standing side by side
Photo: animalinfo/Getty Images Pro

Exercise

Imagine having a personal trainer who’s also your best friend. That’s what life is like with an Azawakh! This breed is active and energetic, requiring regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

First off, let’s talk numbers. On average, an adult Azawakh should get at least an hour of exercise each day. But remember, this isn’t a breed that’s content with a leisurely stroll around the block. They crave more vigorous activities that challenge their speed and agility.

So, what kind of activities can you do with an Azawakh? Running is a fantastic option. With their long legs and lean bodies, Azawakhs are natural-born runners, capable of reaching impressive speeds. Whether it’s a jog in the park or a sprint in a secure open field, they’ll relish the opportunity to stretch their legs.

In addition to running, Azawakhs also excel at dog sports. Activities like lure coursing and agility training are great outlets for their energy and intelligence. Plus, they offer a fun way to strengthen your bond with your dog while keeping them mentally stimulated.

Don’t forget about playtime! Whether it’s a game of fetch or chase, Azawakhs love play sessions that tap into their natural hunting instincts. Just make sure any games are conducted in a secure area, as their strong prey drive could lead them to chase after small animals.

Finally, keep in mind that exercise isn’t just about physical activity. Mental stimulation is equally important for this intelligent breed. Puzzle toys, obedience training, and socialization opportunities can all help keep their minds sharp.

Training

Training an Azawakh is like working with a gifted student who has a mind of their own. They’re intelligent, quick learners, but they also have a strong independent streak that can make training a unique challenge.

Firstly, let’s talk about their intelligence. Azawakhs are smart dogs – really smart. This means they can pick up new commands and tricks quickly, often surprising their owners with their fast learning. But remember, with great intelligence comes a strong will. They’re not the type to blindly follow orders. Instead, they need to see a reason why they should do something.

This is where positive reinforcement comes in. Azawakhs respond best to training methods that use rewards and praise. Whether it’s a tasty treat, a favorite toy, or a simple pat on the head, finding what motivates your Azawakh is key to successful training. Remember, harsh correction methods don’t work well with this breed and can even harm your relationship.

Socialization is another important aspect of training. Azawakhs can be reserved around strangers and other dogs, so early socialization is crucial. Introducing them to a variety of people, animals, and environments when they’re young can help them grow into confident, well-rounded dogs.

Obedience training is also beneficial for Azawakhs. Not only does it teach them basic manners, but it also provides mental stimulation, which this intelligent breed craves. Plus, it’s a great way to strengthen your bond with your dog.

Lastly, keep in mind that consistency is key when training an Azawakh. They’re smart enough to spot any inconsistencies in your rules and may try to take advantage of them. So make sure everyone in the household is on the same page when it comes to training.

azawakh running on the beach
Photo: animalinfo/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

Firstly, let’s talk about what to feed them. Whether you choose dry food, wet food, or a raw diet, the key is to ensure that it meets the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This means it should be balanced and complete, providing all the essential nutrients your Azawakh needs for optimal health.

How much should you feed them? Well, that depends on their age, size, and activity level. Puppies usually need more frequent meals – up to four times a day – to support their rapid growth. As they grow older, this can be reduced to two meals a day. The exact amount will vary, so it’s always a good idea to consult with your vet or follow the feeding guidelines provided by the food manufacturer.

Keep in mind that every Azawakh is an individual with their own dietary preferences and needs. What works for one might not work for another. So don’t be afraid to experiment a little until you find a diet that your Azawakh thrives on.

Treats

Don’t forget about treats! They’re a fantastic training tool and a great way to show your Azawakh some love. But remember, treats should make up no more than 10% of their daily calorie intake. Overdoing it can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

Water

Hydration is also crucial. Azawakhs should have access to fresh, clean water at all times, especially during hot weather or after exercise. Make sure to clean their water bowl regularly to prevent bacteria buildup.

Health

With a life expectancy of around 12-15 years, Azawakhs are generally quite healthy. However, like all breeds, they do have their share of health concerns.

Here are some health issues associated with the Azawakh:

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus): This serious condition can occur in deep-chested breeds like the Azawakh. It involves the stomach filling with gas and possibly twisting, which can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit together perfectly, which can lead to arthritis over time.

Autoimmune Diseases: Some Azawakhs can be prone to certain autoimmune conditions like hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones.

Heart Conditions: Certain heart issues, such as heart murmurs or arrhythmias, can occasionally occur in this breed.

Eosinophilic Myositis: This is a rare inflammatory muscle disease that can cause jaw pain and difficulty opening the mouth.

Don’t let this list scare you! Many Azawakhs live long, healthy lives without experiencing any of these issues. The key is to ensure they receive regular veterinary check-ups. These will help catch any potential problems early, when they’re often easier to manage.

Vaccinations are also crucial for keeping your Azawakh healthy. They’ll help protect them from a range of common canine diseases. Your vet can provide a vaccination schedule tailored to your dog’s needs.

A balanced diet is another important part of maintaining your Azawakh’s health. Good nutrition can support their immune system, keep their coat shiny, and contribute to their overall well-being.

azawakh running in the field on lure coursing competition
Photo: alekta/Getty Images

History

The story of the Azawakh begins in the Sahel region of Africa, a harsh, unforgiving landscape stretching across countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. This is where the nomadic Tuareg people first bred these elegant sighthounds thousands of years ago. The Azawakhs were not just dogs to the Tuareg – they were companions, hunters, and protectors, valued for their speed, endurance, and loyalty.

Despite their long history, Azawakhs remained relatively unknown to the rest of the world until the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the first Azawakhs were brought to Europe, where they quickly gained attention for their unique appearance and temperament. However, it took several more decades for them to make their way across the pond to America.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Azawakh in 2019, making them one of the newest breeds in the club’s roster. Despite their recent recognition, Azawakhs have quickly made a name for themselves in the show ring, impressing judges with their graceful gait and regal bearing.

One famous Azawakh is Amidi, who made headlines in 2020 when she became the first of her breed to compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Although she didn’t take home the top prize, her presence on the prestigious stage was a significant moment for the breed’s visibility and recognition.

Despite their growing popularity, Azawakhs remain true to their roots. They still carry the spirit of the Sahel within them – a testament to their resilience, adaptability, and enduring loyalty. Owning an Azawakh is not just about having a pet; it’s about becoming part of a rich, ancient story that’s still being written with every new generation.

Parent Club

The breed club for Azawakhs in the United States is the American Azawakh Association (AAA). Founded in 1988, the AAA is dedicated to preserving the Azawakh and its heritage.

The association provides resources and support for owners, breeders, and fans of this unique breed. You can visit their website for more information about the AAA and their work.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check the Azawakh’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

two azawakhs standing outdoors
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images

Acquiring

Acquiring an Azawakh is a thrilling journey, but it requires careful planning. Start by preparing your home and lifestyle for their active nature and specific needs. If you choose to buy, ensure you purchase from reputable breeders who prioritize the dogs’ health and temperament over profit.

However, consider rescuing an Azawakh. There’s a certain joy in giving a dog a second chance at a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the American Azawakh Association can provide resources and help connect you with rescue organizations.

Remember, whether you buy or rescue, you’re not just acquiring a pet, but welcoming a new member into your family. So take your time, do your research, and prepare to fall head over heels for your Azawakh!

FAQs

Are Azawakhs good pets?

Absolutely! Azawakhs are loyal, intelligent, and affectionate with their families. They can be reserved with strangers, but once they bond with you, they’re incredibly loving.

How rare is the Azawakh breed?

Azawakhs are quite rare, especially outside of their native Sahel region in Africa. They were only recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2019, so they’re still relatively unknown to many people.

Are Azawakhs aggressive dogs?

No, Azawakhs are not naturally aggressive. However, like any breed, they can develop behavioral issues if not properly socialized or trained. They’re known to be protective of their families, but they’re generally calm and reserved.

How much exercise do Azawakhs need?

Azawakhs are active dogs that need at least an hour of regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. This could include daily walks, playtime in a secured yard, or even dog sports like lure coursing.

Can Azawakhs live in apartments?

While Azawakhs are adaptable and can adjust to apartment living, they do best in homes where they have plenty of space to move and stretch their legs.

Are Azawakhs good with children?

Azawakhs can get along well with children, especially if they’re raised together. However, due to their slender build, it’s important to teach children how to interact with them gently.

Do Azawakhs get along with other pets?

They can, especially if they’re socialized properly from a young age. However, due to their strong prey drive, they might not be the best match for households with small pets like rabbits or hamsters.

Table of Contents