A Long, Lean, Leggy Creature with the Build of a Fine Colt


The Azawakh is a Long, Lean, Leggy Creature With the Build of a Fine Colt

Elegant, refined, and "with legs like a runway model," the Azawakh originates in West Africa, from Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Like this dog’s appearance, its personality is rather "exotic" as well. Quiet and exceedingly affectionate, the protective Azawakh is an excellent pet and companion for the dedicated single owner or family.


In the Azawakh Valley, encompassing the border regions of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, the Azawakh was born in the arid climate of the Sahara desert. A companion and working dog of nomads, the Azawakh's traditional name is the "sight hound of the free people." The Azawakh is a protective guard dog, watching over both flocks of animals and human encampments to prevent invasion. It is an excellent prey hound, able to hunt antelope, wild boar and hare for meat on command, under the direction of the kind nomadic people whom the dog so devotedly serves.

It is said that the breed may originate from the time of the "Green Sahara," during the Holocene and Neolithic Eras, in the Fourth Millennium BC. The breed has remained relatively unchanged over the years, and is actually only distantly related to other sighthounds, but more closely related to the jackal, fox, and Italian Wolf, as well as the Saluki and Sloughi . This "noble dog of the free people" remains rare in the United States since its introduction in the mid-1980s, although it was accepted into the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service in 1997.


Long, lean, and "leggy," this fine-boned and elegant creature resembles a fine colt in body – or as some have said, a runway model. Bone structure and musculature are clearly visible beneath the skin with an extremely slender appearance in adulthood. This should not alarm you, since this is precisely how this breed should look. The skin is tightly stretched over the body, covered with short, fine hair. Coat colors are usually dark fawn to light sable, blue, or black; white flecking exists on the extremities, as does a white bib on the chest and a white brush at the very tip of the tail. The forelimbs usually have a white stocking, and there may or may not be a black face mask present.

In adulthood, the lanky Azawakh stands 22 to 29 inches at the shoulder and weighs only a mere 37 to 55 pounds.


Though some may call the Azawakh high strung, this dog is simply very intelligent – and very sensitive. Naturally aloof with strangers but closely bonded with its owner, it is best to get an Azawakh as a puppy, since adult dogs do not handle change well and may have difficulty adapting to a new owner at that time. It is important to train this breed from a very early age since these dogs also have an independent streak but respond well to gentle treatment.

Highly sensitive, the Azawakh should never be harshly disciplined because such treatment could truly ruin your pet by causing aggression or fear. With clear, consistent and kind training, this dog should present no behavioral problems with the exception of a few instinctual traits that may prevail. The Azawakh is a natural hunter of small prey, which means rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, or rodents like hamsters, gerbils, or mice may be vulnerable if residing in your home.

A natural guard dog, the Azawakh will want to protect you. While usually good with children, the dog must have clear guidelines for proper behavior, as must the children as well.

It should be noted that the Azawakh is not for everyone. This dog is NEVER to be left alone on its own. It needs people and has been bred to be an integral part of the family. Indeed, the nomadic people from whom the breed originated kept these dogs close at all times, including sleeping under the same roof with them. If you do not feel that you have the patience or dedication to spend most of your time with this lovely dog, treating it with "kid gloves,” it may be best to get another breed.

An additional observation: Although the Azawakh needs the security of your immediate presence at all times, the dog does not require cuddling, holding or a lot of attention. The Azawakh is quite independent as long as it knows that you are there, nearby, for companionship. Actual physical contact can be kept at a relative minimum. Yes, the Azawakh is rather aloof, sometimes, even with family – although it can at times also be very playful.

Finally, the Azawakh is an athletic dog that needs plenty of exercise. Rough terrain is no problem for this breed, and it is a natural runner that can approach 40 miles an hour. Regular vigorous activity like runs in dog parks, long walks and hikes with you will keep this dog happy. Keep in mind that this animal is a desert dog by nature and will not tolerate extremely cold temperatures well, so dress your dog appropriately if you must expose it to frigid conditions.


The Azawakh is very hardy and healthy, and heals very quickly from injury. It will also have a high tolerance for pain. Unlike most larger breeds, hip dysplasia is rare, although adult onset idiopathic epilepsy is sometimes seen. A cervical vertebral instability called Wobbler Disease is also a rare condition, although many breeders believe that this happens because puppies grow too quickly due to a high-protein, westernized diet. Lifespan is about 12 years.


As you might expect, your pet doesn't need much grooming at all. Brushing with a firm bristle brush and dry shampooing occasionally is all that's needed to control average shedding.


AKC Meet the Breeds®: Get to know the Azawakh.

Retrieved August 17, 2013.


Retrieved August 17, 2013.


Retrieved August 17, 2013.

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