Azawakh Hound – Ten Must-Know Dog Facts!

Photo by Pat028, cc3.0

Azawakh Hound – Ten Must-Know Dog Facts!

Photo by Pat028, cc3.0

Are you looking for an unusual, exotic-looking dog, one that will catch people’s eyes and interests as you cross the dog park? Then you might want to consider getting an Azawakh Hound.

Indeed, the Azawakh Hound is fairly new in Europe and North America so it is still uncommon. If you own one, it is likely that people will approach you to ask what breed it is or maybe they will even mistakenly guess that it is a Greyhound, a Sloughi or a Whippet, which it resembles in appearance. Speaking of appearance, some people find the Azawakh an exotic beauty while others find it unattractive so it’s up to the eye of the beholder. Either way, it will surely turn heads and earn curious stares.

Interested in the Azawakh? Here are some other important things you should know about this rare dog breed before waiting in line for a puppy:

1. The Azawakh is originally from the Sahara Desert.

Azawakh among the Tuareg. Photo: Jörg Dahl, Berlin, Germany. GFDL.

The name of the Azawakh comes from a valley in the Sahel region of the Sahara Desert. There, Azawakh Hounds have served as the companions of the various nomadic tribes such as the Tuareg and Fula tribes for decades. They guarded the members of the tribe against hyenas and other wild animals and they hunted hares and gazelles for the tribe to eat. Only the fittest Azawakhs were allowed to survive and usually, female puppies were not allowed to live unless the tribe needed more dogs.

The other names for the Azawakh are Tuareg Sloughi, Sahelian Greyhound, Hanshee, Oska, Bareeru, Rawondu, Idi and Wulo.

In the 1970s, the Azawakh was taken out of Africa and in the 1980s, it was introduced in the United States so it is still rare. In 1993, it was recognized by the American Kennel Club and in the past years, the breed has also gained recognition from various kennel clubs in Europe and North America.

2. The Azawakh Hound is a sighthound.

Azawakh’s appearance. Author: Desaix83, PD image.

The Azawakh is a hound or a hunting dog and more specifically, a sighthound. A sighthound is a dog that hunts using its excellent eyesight as opposed to a scent hound which hunts using its keen sense of smell.

Like other sighthounds, the Azawakh is tall and lean with long legs, a deep chest, high hips and a narrow waist, with ribs that show through its skin – a built that is made for running.

What does this mean for you? It means that not only is the Azawakh fast and alert but that it has a strong prey drive, which in turn means that it is likely to chase after moving objects. Not only that. Once it catches these objects, it is prone to attack them. Small creatures particularly catch their interest so if you’re not too careful, expect the neighbor’s cat, a bird, a squirrel or even a smaller dog on your doorstep – probably something you don’t want to see.

3. The Azawakh Hound is a medium-sized dog.

Sand color Azawakh female. Author:Azawakh, PD image.

The standard size for the Azawakh is 33 to 55 pounds with a height of 24 to 29 inches. Females usually weigh between 33 to 44 pounds and can reach up to 27 inches tall. Males are larger, weighing 44 to 55 pounds and standing up to 29 inches tall – that’s taller than your Lab or German Shepherd.

Looking at an Azawakh, you’ll notice that it is quite a large dog though it is only classified as a medium-sized dog because of its lean and light build.

4. Azawakhs make good guard dogs and loyal companions.

Azawakh male in tuareg camp in Sahel. Author: Azawakh, PD image.

Azawakhs were originally bred to guard nomadic tribes, going with them as they traveled from place to place in search of food. Because of this, they have good guarding instincts. They are watchful and alert, sometimes even becoming protective of their territory and their owners. This makes them aloof towards strangers and other dogs, strongly suspicious of anything unfamiliar to them.

To those they know, Azawakhs are fiercely loyal, playful and affectionate, provided they are trained well. They can even be taught to be gentle with children, especially those they are raised with.

That said, Azawakhs can be difficult to train since they are not good listeners and are strong-willed. When training one, start early and display a firm attitude, showing your Azawakh that you are the leader of the pack, if not more dominant than he or she is. Never be harsh, however, as a heavy hand will break the Azawakh’s trust and spirit, causing it to lash out in aggression.

5. Azawakh Hounds have good health.

Image credit: Pat028, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Bred to survive in the desert, Azawakh hounds are of sound health as long as their nutritional and exercise needs are met. They are not prone to hip dysplasia or an abnormality of the hip joint like many other big dogs. They are, however, at risk of bloat because of their deep chests so their bowls should never be raised no matter how difficult they may look stooping to eat or drink from the ground. Epilepsy can also occur, though rarely. Skin diseases like mange are more common but can be easily treated.

Azawakhs have a high tolerance to pain so they may not complain if they are hurt. In addition, they heal from injuries quickly.

Azawakhs live long for big dogs – 12 to 15 years.

6. Azawakh Hounds need at least half an hour a day of exercise.

Image credit: Pat028, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

As sighthounds, Azawakhs can run very fast and if you like to jog or train for marathons, an Azawakh can easily keep up with you. If you don’t, just make sure your Azawakh has at least half an hour a day of active exercise. Even though Azawakhs are independent, they will not play on their own so you have to engage them in active play, particularly games that involve running. Once playtime is over, Azawakhs are content to sleep on the couch or laze around so in that aspect, they are easier to live with than some other large dog breeds.

7. Azawakh Hounds are easy to groom.

Image credit: Pat028, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Again, because they were bred for desert life, Azawakhs have short and thin coats that can be easily maintained by just a bit of brushing. They are also odorless so they do not need baths so much, which is good since Azawakhs do not really like water. (There isn’t much water in the desert, after all.) The hardest thing you probably have to do is trim their nails regularly so that they can keep running fast and you have to start this while they are still puppies so they can get used to having their paws touched.

8. Azawakhs like to be around other Azawakhs.

Azawakhs playing. Author: Azawakh, PD image.

If you plan on keeping more than one Azawakh, you’re in the right state of mind. Azawakhs are originally kept in packs so they exhibit strong pack behavior. In packs, they are playful and affectionate towards each other, often sleeping together or even on top of each other. Also, they are even better guards, with one of them alerting the rest and all of them barking in unison against a threat before giving chase.

If you have other pets, proper socialization is required in order to make your Azawakh get along with them, especially if they are smaller. If you don’t, your family will become your Azawakh’s pack and it will become intensely loyal to you.

9. Azawakhs do not like cold weather.

Azawakh in a desert. Photo: Jörg Dahl, Berlin, Germany, GFDL.

Azawakhs are one of the most heat tolerant dogs. They originally lived in the desert, after all. If you live somewhere really warm, then, your Azawakh shouldn’t have any problems.

The opposite is true if you live somewhere cold. Azawakhs have little body fat and thin fur so they do not do well in cold places. They become inactive and may even get sickly. A coat and a cozy bed are necessary to keep them warm.

As mentioned previously, Azawakhs do not like water so rainy weather doesn’t sit well with them, either.

10. Azawakh hounds (unfortunately) love to dig.

Image credit: Pat028, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

If you have a yard, keep this in mind – Azawakhs have a strong inclination to dig. This is because they dig to keep themselves cool against the desert heat. They are also closely related to wild, primitive dogs and so like them, they tend to dig dens wherein to raise their young. Remember, too, that they may hunt rodents which disappear into the ground.

To curb this habit, give your Azawakh enough exercise, fence out burrowing animals and if your Azawakh is staying outdoors, give him or her a comfortable dog house.

Azawakh (dog breed HD slide show)


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  1. Hmm… I live in Norway, a country cold like hell. My wakh bitch will turn 15 next September and has never minded the cold nor the snow. She’ll do fine in temperatures as low as -10 C, with no clothing. Temperature in Sahel often drop below freezing, so her tolerance to cold does not surprise me. However, her tolerance to heet got worse after she turned 12. Now she can only manage 2-3 hours in the sun… Even being this old, she still jumps the over the back of the sofa… Get a wakh! 😉


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