The Azawakh is a very ancient breed of dog that was bred by the Tuareg, Fula and various other nomads of the Sahara and sub-Saharan Sahel. The original job of this breed was as a guard dog and to hunt gazelle and hare. The harsh Sahel environment has ensured that only the most fit dogs survive and has accentuated the breeds ruggedness and independence. Unlike some other sight hounds, the Azawakh is more of a pack hunter and they bump down the quarry with hindquarters when it has been tired out. As a guard dog, if an Azawakh senses danger it will bark to alert the other members of the pack, and they will gather together as a pack under the lead of the alpha dog, then chase off or attack the predator. Their owners treasure the dogs and treat them as members of their families. They will very rarely part with these dogs, so there are very few of these dogs existing outside their native Africa.
Azawakh are very primitive in their temperaments, they have an intense suspicion of the unknown, a strong desire to dig dens, a strong pack instinct and are very territorial. The personalities of these dogs is also very diverse, some are very loving and affectionate while others are very dominant and aggressive. They bond intensely with their owners, but are very suspicious and standoffish with strangers. They make good watchdogs and will protect their territory quite aggressively. This breed has incredible endurance, they were bred to run for hours at a time in temperatures that would kill a Greyhound. To say that they need a lot of space to run is an understatement. It is also imperative that care is taken when this dog is off leash, since they will chase anything that is fast moving. The Azawakh is a breed that is not recommended for a novice owner and is better left to an owner with good dog handling skills.
Azawakh are a lightly built dog that usually weighs 30 to 55 pounds and stand 24 to 29 inches at the withers. They are a dog that has very little fat on its body and most of the skeleton shows through the coat. This lanky appearance is normal and does not mean that the dog is starving and underfed. Their coats are short, smooth and come in almost any color.
This breed is fairly easy to keep, they are considered a low shedding breed since they have such a fine hair coat. The usual maintenance is a weekly light brushing and a quick wipe down with a damp cloth to keep this dog looking at its best.
Azawakh Life Expectancy and Health Problems
Due to their almost feral lifestyle, these dogs are very hardy and healthy. They nomads that kept these dogs had very strict breeding protocols that weeded out undesirable traits and kept them genetically strong. Minor disease concerns are Hip Dysplasia and Epilepsy, which are rarely seen. As with most sight hounds, there are some sensitivities to drugs since they have such little body fat. The average lifespan of this breed is 11 to 13 years.