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Azawakhs are affectionate and loyal companion dogs. They tend to bond strongly with their people. But without proper socialization, Azawakhs can be territorial or shy.
The Azawakh started in the Azawakh Valley, the border region between Mali and Niger. Tuareg nomads who lived in that area owned this breed—which they called idii n' illeli ("sighthound of the free people").
During the day, Azawakhs worked as protectors of the camp and guarded the flock against intruders. They were also expert antelope and wild boar hunters. But as guns became more common, the Azawakh transitioned into the role of loyal and loving companion.
Athletic and elegant, the Azawakh has a fine bone structure and lean build. The outlines of this sighthound's ribs and hip bones are often visible through its skin.
Azawakhs have tight skin and a short coat that can be any color.
The Azawakh is a beautiful breed with a leggy, delicate physical appearance.
In some ways, the Azawakh appears to have opposing personalities. They are affectionate and gentle with their people, but they can also be stubborn and independent. And with strangers, they can be reserved, distant, or territorial.
Early socialization and training can teach them to get along with other animals and people. But keep in mind, their instinct to protect their people and territory is strong.
As sighthounds, Azawakhs tend to chase other animals. So, you should always keep yours on a leash or in a secure area when outside.
Azawakhs thrive on a high-quality diet formulated for their age and any health concerns. Some dogs may be prone to gaining weight as they age. So it's important to monitor how much your Azawakh eats and reduce portions if necessary.
Consider that the outline of your dog's hip bones and ribs may be visible through their coat. This isn't traditionally a sign of malnourishment in this breed. If you have any concerns, ask your veterinarian about appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
The Azawakh's short, fine coat requires little care. (In fact, bathing isn't typically required.) Use a soft bristle brush or grooming mitt on your dog once a week to remove loose or cast-off fur.
Trimming nails, cleaning ears, and brushing teeth should also be part of every dog's grooming routine, regardless of breed.
This active breed requires daily exercise to be healthy and happy. Azawakhs can make excellent running partners. But they also love daily play sessions in a (secure) yard. Because this breed is unlikely to run or exercise on its own, you'll need to be intentional about keeping your Azawakh active.
Azawakhs are smart, but they can also be stubborn and territorial. For this reason, it's critical to start socialization and training when your dog is young.
Positive training techniques work best with this breed. Azawakhs may become withdrawn or aggressive in response to harsh disciplinary methods.
Reviewed 26 July 2020 by Cindy Elston, DVM, MPH