An African sighthound of Afro-Asiatic type, the Azawakh originated in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Raised in the Sahel region of the Sahara desert, they are named for the Azawakh valley. Azawakh means “land of the north”. They are the guardians, hunters and companions of the Tuareg and other ethnic tribes of the southern Sahel.
The Azawakh made its debut in the United States in the mid-1980s. The first litter was whelped on October 31, 1987 by Gisela Cook-Schmidt (Reckendahl). These first American Azawakhs were all red or fawn with white markings. The first brindles came to America in 1989, with the first brindled litter whelped November 27, 1990 by Deb Kidwell (Kel Simoon). In the mid-1990s, a parti-color male was imported from Burkina Faso and in 1997, a parti-color and sand litter which was bred in Mali, was whelped in Alaska. Other desert bred (db) Azawakhs have made their way to the US in the intervening years. Parti-color and brindled parti-colors are becoming fairly common in the US.
In June 30, 2011, the Azawakh was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) for competition in the Miscellaneous Group. The breed is fully recognized to participate in all AKC companion and performance events. The Azawakh is also fully recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC).
The American Azawakh Association is the parent club for the breed in the US. The AAA does not recognize the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) Standard for the breed because of its color limitations. The dogs can be shown in any FCI recognized country under FCI rules which allow only sand to dark red and black brindled with minimal white markings. All other colors and/or extensive white markings are disqualified.
Azawakh are elegant, tall dogs of proud bearing. Lean and muscular of frame, their appearance should indicate swiftness when running. He should be longer of leg than of body, which may seem extreme when compared with other sighthounds His neck is long and graceful, his head held high when alert. His tail is proudly carried above the line of the back. The breed has pendant ears which are raised to the side of the head in response to sounds. Their movement is spectacular to watch. The gait is always very supple and elastic. At the trot, they are light and graceful; the gallop is leaping and they cover ground in great strides. The movement is an essential point of the breed.
Key points of the breed standard: This sighthound presents himself as a rangy dog whose body fits into a rectangle with it’s longer sides in a vertical position. The length of the body is 90% the height of the hound. This ratio may be slightly higher in bitches. The height of chest is 40% the height at withers. Well developed and deep, the chest should not reach the elbow. The brisket may be rounded or angular, but should rise abruptly into a very small waist. The forequarters and hindquarters should exhibit very open angles. The shoulders should be at about 130 degrees, the hindquarters at about 145 degrees. The topline should be flat or slightly arching over the loin. The hips must always be at the same level or higher than the level of the withers
Males range from 25-29 inches in height and weigh 44-55 lb., females, 23 1/2 – 27 1/2 inches and weigh 33-44 lb.. The short, smooth coat comes in a variety of colors to include, clear sand to dark red, white, black, blue, gray, brindle, grizzle, parti-color and all shades of brown, including chocolate. The AAA standard states coat color and markings are immaterial.
Grooming of their short coat is accomplished easily with a zoom groom or hound glove. Frequent bathing is not necessary as the breed has no doggy odor. However, they can have sensitive skin, so use of a mild, hypoallergenic, unscented shampoo is recommended.
Their life expectancy ranges from 12-15 years.