The aboriginal range of the Azawakh is the central Niger basin, a region which today is encompassed by regions of the relatively recently established west African Sahelian nations of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Historically predominantly the companion of the various nomadic tribes of this region such as the Tuareg and the Peulh, today the Azawakh are often also kept by some of the more settled tribes such as the Hausa, Germa and Songhai.
The FCI standard describes the Azawakh as a leggy hound bred for the hunt. Rangy and athletic, the height at the shoulder exceeds the length of the body with hipbones as high as or even higher than the withers. The combination of long legs, dry flat musculature and a skeletal structure which is clearly visible beneath thin skin and a very short coat, gives an overall impression of grace and powerful elegance.
The FCI Standard calls for basic coat colors ranging from light sand to dark red. Brindling (for example black or brown brindling against a solid base coat), with or without dark masks, are also frequent marking patterns. One should note however that in their homeland the Azawakh are to be found in diverse coat colors such as cream, blue, black, grizzle, and chocolate, and may be brindled, with such brindling to include grey or black brindling on a sable or sand base coat.
According to the FCI standard the Azawakh should have white markings on the four extremities, the chest and the tip of the tail. White facial blazes and spots on the back of the neck are not infrequent. The extent of the white markings can vary from a hair on the claw edge to extensive white markings up to the elbows. There also exist dogs which lack these white markings, and though they fall outside the criteria of the western standard, they are not atypical.
The Azawakh is a multipurpose sighthound bred for guarding livestock and the nomadic camps. They also serve as a companion for women and children and as a provider of meat. Like the Saluki and Sloughi, the hunting style of the Azawakh is to slam into prey and bring it to the ground, and after to await the arrival of their master/the hunter.
The Azawakh has a somewhat primitive nature and strong instincts. On the whole Azawakh can be quite dominant, often displaying a clear tendency towards extending territory. Conversely it is also sensitive and reserved, especially when confronted with unknown situations. It can be reserved with strangers, but around its owner and those familiar to its owner it is gentle, affectionate, and at times quite gregarious.
For the Azawakh to be able to cope with life in a big city, early and careful socialization must be introduced by the breeder or owner at a very early age. New owners must have the time and patience to be able to develop a close relationship with a young puppy. Children and other less dominant dog breeds do not present a problem if the Azawakh is raised with care and consistency and is introduced to new situations in a gentle manner
Many Azawakh, though not all, love to rush around and have a great need to run freely. This need can be satisfactorily met by allowing them to jog or run on a leash, maybe with a bike or when jogging, but also by participation in coursing or racing.
Compared to other breeds of sighthound, the Azawakh is extremely obedient. However, new owners may be in for a disappointment if 100% obedience and submission is expected from this breed. The Azawakh does not respond well to drilling or harsh discipline; they respond better to rather firm but fair treatment. Without doubt this is a breed for individualists who are able to appreciate the natural, alert intelligence of the Azawakh, this combined with the typical sensitivity and independence of a sighthound.
Abundant daily exercise with the possibility to meet and play with other sighthounds/dogs, along with a caring and consistent approach are requisite tools for raising a balanced, happy and relaxed Azawakh. Such a dog would surely enrich the life of their owner.
And surely there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing this elegant, muscular and proud sighthound in action, whether running, playing or hunting.