Acquired: Breeder (hobby breeder)
Training: Attended conferences / shows, Books, Friends
Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted September 17, 2012
The Azawakh is a a traditional breed of hound from the eastern region of West Africa that looks like a lanky greyhound. Though found worldwide today, this is a native West African breed with a long ancestry. Traditionally, in Nigeria, dogs are either used as guardians or raised for meat. The Azawakh is a sight-hound descended originally from the breeds of India (which arrived in Africa over 8 0000 years ago) and they were bred as guardians for flocks and for royal compounds. This is classed as a native African breed.
Being good guardians they are used by the nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes of the Sahel region (Tuareg and Fulani mainly) as guardians for their flocks, as hunting dogs and as camp guards at night. Their long, leggy, natures means that they have a loping gait that is very energy efficient meaning that they can easily keep up with the tribe as it moves.
These dogs are much prized and are hardly ever sold. Rather they are given as gifts to honoured guests and are used as guardians for the compounds of village and tribal leaders. My father in law has several of these dogs.
They are incredibly affectionate and loyal to those who they know or to whom they have been introduced and they play well with other dogs and other animals. They do bark quite a lot and this is their main warning. In the compound you will see that they are always on the look out and as soon as someone they do not know comes along they bark a warning. Indeed, they are known for being intensely suspicious of the unfamiliar and the unknown.
Azawakhs also have semi-domesticated African bush dog heritage in their genetics as well as some jackal ancestry early in the breed's history, though their appearance was fixed thousands of years ago. This is a large and very active dog, so you will need plenty of feed for them and you will need to exercise them regularly and hard. If there are more than one together they delight in digging games and chase games. This behaviour may well be part of their early ancestry as pack hunting dogs.
They are excellent and very fast runners and can run even in the extremes of mid-day heat. Indeed, they enjoy hot conditions but dislike the cold and rain. They are very social and have complex hierarchies and should really not be kept singly. In West Africa they tend to sleep on top of one another at night to preserve heat.
Though they are naturally suspicious of anything new and unusual and will bark a warning, they are not naturally aggressive to humans unless they have been trained to be so. Unusually for dogs in West Africa, the Azawakh are treated as members of the family and are even given names. They are very affectionate to those whom they know and treat humans as part of their pack. However, they are very stand-offish to anyone they have not encountered before and do not like to be touched by strangers, shying away from them instead.