The Azawakh, the dog of free men

Unique, exotic and unknown swith the three adjectives that define the Azawakh, the African greyhound that accompanies the nomadic tribes of the Sahara Desert since time immemorial. And when we say immemorial, we do it with all the use of the word, since this breed has the honor of being considered by experts as one of the oldest known to man.

Despite its long history, his path in the West has only just begun. The African Greyhound is not yet widespread outside its countries of origin and wherever it goes it generates admiration thanks to its powerful figure and independent attitude.


It may happen that, imbued with our Western vision, we think that the Azawakh is a newly created race, but we would be very far from the truth. This greyhound made its appearance in Europe in the early 1970s, but the race accumulates thousands of years of history behind it. Such is its antiquity that it has the honor of be considered by experts as one of the older dog breeds.

This statement is not only supported by the archaeological findings of the paintings spread throughout the Sahara Desert, but has also discovered a genetic peculiarity. A strange allele, the GPIb, has been discovered in the chromosomes of the Azawakh, which is only present in foxes, jackals, the Eurasian wolf and in a few other canine breeds such as the Shar-Pei, Chow-Chow and Pekingese, thus proving that it evolved much earlier than other races present in the region.

The Azawakh descends from the dogs that lived in the Sahara when it was an orchard. At the beginning of the desertification process, the peoples that inhabited it were forced to emigrate to find kinder lands in which to live, taking their animals with them. One of these areas was the Azawakh Valley, from which it receives its name, an arid region between the Sahara and the Sahel, which runs between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

In high regard for nomadic tribes who accompanies, like the Tuareg, are regarded as one more member of the family and they live together under the same roof. Unlike the evolution of other canine breeds in Europe, which specialized in a single task that gave rise to the breed, the Azawakh is a more versatile dog and while it is used for hunting, it also performs guardianship and defense of the settlements in front of strangers and wild animals like jackals, hyenas, and even lions.

As we have referred to above, the breed was discovered for the western world in the 70s, when came to Yugoslavia from Burkina Faso hand in hand with diplomat Dr. Pecar, as a gift from the nomadic tribes. In the beginning, the race was confused with the Sloughis and the specimens used to register in the canine clubs as such, until in 1980 the International Canine Federation established its standard of race, recognizing it as an independent race under the patronage of France.

From then on, the development of the sighthound began outside of Africa through dog shows and the work of breeders., who imported new specimens from their countries of origin to enrich and shape the breed, at the same time as they lost strength as a hunting dog and guard among nomadic tribes given the increase in the use of firearms.

Currently, the Azawakh remains one of the most unknown and mysterious sighthounds to the West, where continues to conform as a race, following a radically different path from that of its origin, where there is a greater variety thanks to the criteria of the different nomadic tribes to which it belongs.


The official standard of the azawakh was established by the International Cynological Federation in 2001. Classified in group 10 section 2 as short-haired sighthounds, their physical characteristics are:

  1. Hope of lifetime: between 10 and 12 years.
  2. Size: big.
  3. Height: between 60 and 74 cm.
  4. Weight: between 15 and 25 kg.
  5. Complexion: slim and slender.
  6. Extremities: long and thin.
  7. Eyes: almond and dark or amber. The eye contour is pigmented black or very dark brown.
  8. Ears: triangular with a rounded tip, broad at the base and resting on the cheeks.
  9. Snout: long and pointed, with a black or dark brown nose.
  10. Jaws: strong with scissor bite.
  11. Neck: long, strong, muscular and arched.
  12. Line: long and thin, with the tip raised when relaxed. It is common for the color of the tip to differ from the rest of the coat with a white spot.
  13. Hair: short and thin all over the body, except on the stomach, where it does not have.
  14. Coat colors: beige, variegated (beige with black exclusively), accepting all shades from light earth color to mahogany. White spots on the coat are only allowed on the chest and limbs, and may have a black mask on the muzzle.

The azawakh is a dog that has adapted perfectly to high temperatures. They are so thin and with such fine skin that their muscles can be admired with the naked eye, but this does not detract from their capacity or power. Their genetic selection has made them one with the desert, being able to running long distances in conditions that other greyhound breeds would not withstand to hunt hares, wild boars and even antelopes.


The Azawakh are a unique combination of loyalty and independence. They are affectionate, kind and playful with their family, with a tendency to create a special bond with a certain member, without giving up the freedom to act in your own way.

Although they are attentive to their family, they tend to be fearful of strangers as it happens in other breeds of greyhounds, so do not neglect their socialization during its development, both with humans, and with other animals and situations.

They are dogs of great intelligence, but given your emotional sensitivity and independence, you should opt for a polite education in which the welfare of the animal is prioritized and progress is made through mutual trust. Traditional teaching methods based on fear and punishment create serious behavior problems, such as fear and aggression.

Their genetic selection has provided them with a highly developed hunting instinct, which is activated by the movement of other animals in open spaces. Even so, and unlike other sister races, if they have been well educated they can go loose without fear of escaping after possible prey. And contrary to what you might think, these hunters they are very calm as adults and they enjoy long family naps on the couch.


The Azawakh can be affected by a series of pathologies more frequent in their racial group:

  1. Dental disease
  2. Bacterial and viral infections.
  3. Obesity.
  4. Hypersensitivity to chemical compounds.
  5. Epilepsy.
  6. Gastric dilation.
  7. Canine demodicosis.
  8. Hypothyroidism
  9. Hemophilia.


The azawakh it is not a dog of great care. His short hair requires minimal maintenance, being enough a basic hygiene and more brushing during shedding periods to help renew the coat.

If your hair doesn't need a lot of attention, your teeth and nails take a little more time. This breed has trendscause to accumulate tartar, which can lead to various dental, coronary, liver and joint diseases. To avoid ills and have a healthy dog, it is advisable to accustom our dog to cleaning his teeth from a puppy. With respect to the ones, should be maintained with a suitable length to avoid fissures, breaks or plantar deformations derived from excessive growth.

Given your very low percentage of body fat, It is not a friendly breed of the cold or rainy climates, so it is highly recommended that they be provided with the necessary coat. So, when temperatures drop, keep it warm by using blankets, stoves, coats, fleeces, and raincoats.

As with other dogs, it must visit the vet regularly for your vaccination, deworming and health checks. You should also maintain a stable routine of daily walks and feeding, suitable for its large size.


Are you one of the lucky ones to share your couch with an Azawakh? Well, don't wait any longer to share your experience with us. Go ahead and leave us a comment telling us your story. We can't wait to meet her!

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