The Azawakh is an ancient breed that originated in the Sahel region of Africa, specifically in countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. For centuries, the nomadic Tuareg people have used these dogs as hunters, companions, and guardians, valued for their speed, agility, and alertness. The breed is considered a part of the sight hound group, which are breeds known for their exceptional vision and high-speed chase ability. Azawakhs were introduced to Europe in the late 1970s and to North America in the 1980s.
Though generally healthy, the Azawakh can suffer from seizures, hypothyroidism, and spondylosis (a spinal condition). They may also be prone to a condition called masticatory myositis that causes severe pain when an affected dog tries to open its mouth. Though rare, some instances of hip dysplasia may occur, as well as bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can come on suddenly, so it’s important to know the warning signs and get an affected dog immediate veterinary care. Like many breeds, the Azawakh may be affected by progressive rod-cone degeneration, hyperuricosuria, and degenerative myelopathy. Genetic screening for these and other conditions can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs. As a Sighthound breed, they are known to be more sensitive to barbiturate anesthetics. Thiopental, or any other thiobarbiturate, should not be used on these dogs.
Azawakhs are known for their deep loyalty and affection towards their owners. They are protective and can be reserved around strangers, but are generally not aggressive without provocation. They are intelligent and independent, which can sometimes be mistaken for aloofness or stubbornness. As sighthounds, they have a high prey drive and may chase smaller animals. Despite their energy, they are also known to be calm and quiet indoors.
Their slim build and short coat make them sensitive to cold weather, and they may require extra care in such climates. Regular exercise is a must for this athletic breed, and they appreciate the opportunity to run in a safe, enclosed area. They are known to excel in dog sports such as lure coursing and agility.
They have been known to be the companions of the nomads of the South Sahara for hundreds of years.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed in 2019.