The Azawakh dog breed is a fast and graceful sight hound from Africa
The Azawakh is sometimes mistaken for the Sloughi or even a Greyhound, but this is a separate breed from the Southern Sahara/West Africa region. They are rare outside of their home country, although they DO exist in many countries of the world. They have a slim, rangy build, with clearly visible muscles and bones. Some owners have been accused of underfeeding their dogs!
Compared to its close relative the Sloughi, the Azawakh tends to be more of a pack animal. They prefer to be in a group or a family. They can be distrustful of strangers and people they do not know.
This suspicious nature needs to be moderated by early socialization, to introduce the dog to unfamiliar people and situations. If this is done carefully, then the Azawakh can be a good family dog, tolerant of other pets and children.
Although they can make great family dogs, this breed needs plenty of exercise. They like warm weather, and don't mind hot conditions. However, they don't like the cold or wet, and for this reason are best suited to milder climates of the world.
This breed originated in West Africa, in the area of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. This incorporates the Azawakh valley, which is where the breed name comes from.
Although these dogs have been bred and kept by several ethnic groups in West Africa, they are most commonly associated with the nomadic Touareg tribesmen. They were used for hunting gazelle, for protecting the camp and alerting the tribesmen to strangers, and for company.
When hunting, they would work as a pack, chasing their prey to exhaustion before knocking it over. They did not attack the animal directly. These days, hunting is unusual, and they are kept more for guarding small livestock, protection and company.
If they suspect an intruder, they will look for other members of their pack (family), barking to raise the alarm. Then they will try to chase off the stranger.
Height; 25 inches to 29 inches (male), 24 inches to 28 inches (female).
Weight; 44lbs to 55lbs (male), 33lbs to 44lbs (female)
Life Span; 12 to 15 years
Many colors are possible, from Black through Bridle, Fawn, Grey, Red and Sand.
The Azawakh is not difficult to train, but does require careful and consistent socialization as a puppy. This is a very intelligent and sensitive dog breed, and they don't respond to harsh treatment.
It's best to take your puppy to puppy training classes as part of their socialization. This introduces them to the idea of training, as well as meeting other people and animals.
Basic training should be continued at home until the dog is old enough to go to adult obedience classes. It may be worth getting some one-on-one training sessions with a professional dog trainer, too. This will make sure you are handing the dog correctly.
It's important that your dog is taken out for at least 30 minutes vigorous exercise each day, preferably in a safe area where they can be let off the leash. Just leaving an Azawakh in a big back yard is not enough - they need some interaction with a human or other dog for stimulation.
The Azawakh was bred to be a guardian, and they excel as a watchdog. They are alert and watchful, and suspicious of strangers. If they hear or see someone approaching the house, they will let you know by barking. It's unlikely that anyone would get near your home without you knowing it!
As a guard dog, they are less likely to take action. This breed likes to be with others in a pack, and a solitary Azawakh will probably not feel confident enough to take on an unwanted intruder, although they will certainly bring the house down with noise to alert their owners.
The Azawakh has a very fine, short coat that only needs minimal brushing. A rubber grooming mit or a hound glove once a week is normally enough to keep the coat in good condition.
They don't develop much of a 'doggy smell', and so don't need bathing very often. Even if they get muddy, it doesn't cling very tightly due to the shortness of the hairs - just let it dry, and brush it out.
The dogs ears should be checked weekly for any signs of injury or infection, such as swelling, redness or a bad smell. The teeth should be brushed every day with a small, soft toothbrush and a dog-specific toothpaste, not a human toothpaste. The claws should be checked monthly and trimmed if they are getting too long.
This is a very healthy breed, with very few issues that can affect most other breeds. For example, hip dysplasia is very rare. One issue that may arise is the appearance of the Azawakh; in particular, the hip bones are very visible, and may give the appearance of an under-fed dog. It's important for a new owner to know what a healthy Azawakh looks like.
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