The Azawakh Dog: Exploring the Breed’s Unique Characteristics

The Azawakh is a sleek sighthound native to West Africa. With its elegant build and regal appearance, it has captivated the hearts of dog enthusiasts around the world.

In this article, we will explore the history, physical traits, temperament, and health of this fascinating breed. Read to learn if an Azawakh is the right dog for your lifestyle.

A Brief History of the Azawakh Breed

Origins in West Africa

The Azawakh can be traced back to the ancient civilization of the arid Sahel and Sahara regions of West Africa. The Tuareg nomads considered this dog a family member and called it “idii n’ illeli,” which in translation means “sighthound of the free people.”

The Azawakh was primarily used for protection and hunting hare, antelope, and wild boar. Legend has it that the Azawakh was a gift from Allah to the nomads.

The breed’s long legs and lean build allowed for traveling great distances across the desert terrain, hence being ideal for a nomadic lifestyle. The Azawakh dogs were also loyal to their owner through thick and thin.

The Role of the Azawakh in Nomadic Tribes

The Azawakh played an important role in the lives of the nomadic tribes that bred and raised them. They were excellent hunting companions and served as guardians of the tribe and their possessions. Azawakhs were trained to protect livestock from predators.

The Azawakh helped nomads with transportation. The breed’s speed and endurance made them ideal for carrying small loads across the desert. For example, they were often used to transport water and other supplies between camps.

Introduction to the Western World

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Azawakh breed was introduced to the Western world. They were brought to France and Germany, where they were recognized by international kennel clubs.

Today, the Azawakh is still primarily a breed found in its native West Africa, but their popularity is growing around the world. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 2019.

Physical Characteristics of the Azawakh

Size and Build

The Azawakh is a sleek and elegant sighthound. It is impressively fast and agile due to its lean, muscular build and long, slender legs. Males stand 25 to 29 inches tall and weigh 44 to 55 pounds. Females are between 23.5 and 27.5 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh 33 to 44 pounds. 

Despite its slender build, the Azawakh is surprisingly strong and athletic. It has a regal appearance that is sure to turn heads. The body is balanced and well-proportioned with a graceful and elegant silhouette.

Coat and Colors

The Azawakh dog has a short, fine coat that lies close to its skin. It comes in a variety of colors, including shades of red, brown, blue, fawn, brindle, cream, and black, with or without markings.

The coat helps to protect them from the hot sun and other harsh elements of the West African climate. Despite the protective role, the coat is soft and silky to the touch. Plus, it is easy to maintain.

Unique Features

One of the most unique features of the Azawakh breed is the narrow head and long, pointed ears. These features give a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other sighthounds.

The eyes are almond-shaped and can range in color from amber to dark brown, adding to the striking appearance. The tail is long, sleek, and powerful.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Azawakh breed’s personality is described by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as independent, loyal, and deeply affectionate.

Loyalty and Affection

The Azawakh dog forms strong bonds with its human family. It is gentle and affectionate on one hand and fiercely protective on the other. This canine will go to great lengths to protect the owner no matter the circumstances.

However, because of the strong attachment to people, breed members are prone to separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. It is essential to provide them with ample attention and care to prevent such issues.

Independence and Intelligence

The Azawakh is an intelligent breed that can be independent and willful at times. They are highly intelligent and require training and socialization from an early age to prevent behavioral issues. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods.

Their independent nature can make them challenging to train, but with patience and consistency, they can learn to be obedient and well-behaved. It is vital to establish yourself as the pack leader to ensure that they follow your commands.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Azawakh is a high-energy breed that requires ample exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. They enjoy walks, runs, and outdoor activities. They have a natural inclination to run, and it is essential to provide them with a safe and secure area to be active.

Failure to provide adequate exercise can result in destructive behavior and other health issues. The breed is prone to obesity. It is recommended to provide them with at least an hour of exercise every day to keep them happy and healthy.

Health and Lifespan of the Azawakh

Common Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, the Azawakh is susceptible to certain health issues. Some of the more common issues include:

  • Hypothyroidism: Endocrine disease in which the thyroid gland fails to produce thyroid hormones causing appetite changes, lethargy, and skin issues  
  • Bloat: Bloat or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a potentially life-threatening condition in which the stomach bloats, and twists on itself 
  • Epilepsy: A neurological issue, often of unknown origin, in which the brain misfires electrical impulses causing seizure episodes 
  • Masticatory Myositis: Painful infection on the muscles involved in chewing that results in an inability to drink water and eater food 

It’s important to work with a reputable breeder who performs health screenings on their breeding dogs to minimize the risk of passing on genetic health issues.

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

To ensure the health and well-being of your Azawakh, it’s important to schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian. This includes vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental care, and other preventative measures to keep your dog healthy and happy.

Expected Lifespan

The Azawakh dog has a lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. With proper care and attention, members of the breed can live long and healthy lives.


The Azawakh is a unique and fascinating breed that has captured the hearts of dog lovers around the world. From their ancient origins in West Africa to their regal appearance and loyal temperament, the Azawakh is a breed that stands out from the pack.

If you are considering adding an Azawakh to your family, be sure to get your puppy from a reputable breeder and provide it with the love, attention, and exercise it needs to thrive.

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