Monday, September 26, 2011

Unusual Breed: Azawakh

A female Azawakh

One of my top five favorite breeds, the Azawakh is one of the few breeds that originates in Africa, specifically from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The breed's name comes from the Azawakh valley, and it was first exported in the 1970s. Its first appearance in the United States was in the 1980's. It is a sighthound that can be fiercely loyal to its people. They can also be quite independent, which has made many remark at how unusual this combination of characters is. They can be hesitant or possibly even aggressive toward strangers. In contrast, they can be very loving and affectionate to those they accept. They have very strong hunting instincts, and anybody who wishes to own one of these dogs must be aware of that. They may do fine with children, but interactions should be approached with caution. It is also questionable whether an Azawakh will be able to live with such things as cats and small dogs. As so often is the case, it depends on the dog and on socialization.

The Azawakh is very leanly built, appearing "rangy." They are usually taller than they are long, and as such often appear to be all legs. They are intolerant of the cold, but handle the heat quite well. They require exercise and without it, like most sighthounds, can become destructive as they will look for ways to entertain themselves. Unlike most sighthounds, this breed can actually be rather reliable off-lead as long as they are trained properly.

The FCI says this dog is the "wrong" color
There is currently much controversy surrounding the acceptance of color in this breed in the Western registries. Some standards, most notably the FCI, accepts only a quite narrow range of color, whereas in Africa these dogs actually come in numerous colors and patterns. Despite this, the FCI only accepts shades of red with certain amounts of white, with or without black brindling or a black mask. I take the view of many Azawakh fanciers, and indeed many breed standards: the breed should be preserved as it appears in its area of origin.

Overall, though fairly healthy, the Azawakh is prone to sensitivity to certain anesthesia and their blood-work may appear odd to the uninitiated veterinarian. Bloat is a concern, as in all deep-chested breeds. Seizures, Wobbler's syndrome, and cystinuria (a kidney issue) sometimes occur. Hip dysplasia is not a problem.

Sources are the AAA, the AKC, tombouktous-azawakhs.de, Vet Street, and the FCI. Images are from Wikimedia Commons and are under a creative commons license or are copyright free: one, two

No comments:

Post a Comment