Showsight Presents The Azawakh

AZAWAKH INTERVIEW: ALIYA TAYLOR

of a beach. At a gallop, the Azawakh’s leaping gait is because of the ratio of the body; 9:10. It’s the most efficient movement at a gallop for traversing the terrain in the countries of origin, which are a mix of desert, rocky terrain, and grassland in some places where the breed is found. 9. What’s it like to live with an Azawakh? Does the breed bark, shed, need a lot of exercise? Living with this breed is understanding that it will not act like a Golden Retriever. They will not like everyone you invite into your home, includ- ing family that doesn’t visit often. They are a guard dog, first and foremost. They will bark at strangers, be avoidant, and will not appreciate random touch- ing. If you respect the boundaries of the Azawakh, and not force interaction with those whom it doesn’t know, you will have a stable companion. I tell guests to ignore the dog, and let it come to you. Eventu- ally, the inquisitive nature of the Azawakh will win out, and they may approach with a quick sniff. If you continue to ignore, they will see that as an invitation to investigate further. With calm movements and a calm voice, they will settle down—but will still be watchful of any strange company that stops by. With people they know, Azawakh are very friendly and affectionate. Mine rub on people they know like cats. They play bow and smile! They are moderate shedders, and simply keeping up with a three times a week brushing schedule will suffice with shedding hair. They also don’t have much of a smell. The only time I bathe my Azawakh fully is when they are attending a show and need to be “tip- top” or when they’ve gotten into something dirty or stinky. I do daily wipe-downs on my dogs and spot bathing. Exercise is normal with this breed. They don’t require a mandatory block of exercise; daily walks and time to free-run are ok. They love heat, and will walk and run without much effort in hot weather. They would be good for people who like to run, and hike. They will have their moments of “zoomies” but settle down for naps most of the day. I take mine out to a fenced-in park several times a week to blow off steam when the weather is good. In cold weather, a few of mine wear coats, but the majority take a coat as insulting and refuse to move! Since the coat of the Azawakh is so thin, just keep a watchful eye to make sure they don’t get too chilled. 10. For whom would you suggest the breed is best suited? Anyone who shouldn’t have one? I would suggest this breed to experienced dog owners who have intimate experience with Sight- hounds and guard dog-type breeds. They are not for the first-time dog owner unless extensive research is done on the temperament, and the Azawakh’s unique physiology. Some owners don’t understand the unique body structure of the breed, and attempt to feed it more. This is not good. A fat Sighthound of any breed will not be as healthy as one in correct weight. Since its format is so fine, extra weight may adversely affect its joints.

The very first Azawakh to leave Africa were originally imported to Europe, and they were almost all shades of red. Since the arrival of the Azawakh in the US, a breed standard for the AKC and UKC has been written to reflect the fact that the breed comes in any color and pattern, and all are able to be shown in conformation. Unfortunately, the FCI standard for the breed does not reflect this, and restricts the patterns and coat colors of the Azawakh. 8. The standard describes how the Azawakh walks, trots, and gallops. Why the detail on movement? The standard focuses so much on the gait because of the morphology of the breed. Because of its shape, the angles of the Azawakh are open. The length of the body is 90 percent of the height of the hound; and this can be slightly higher in females. Shoulders are long, lean, and muscular, and only slightly slanting when seen in profile. The scapulo-humeral angle is very open (about 130 degrees). The breed is, essentially, a standing rectangle. Taken from the standard: “The Aza- wakh’s movement is agile and light, without hackney action or pounding. He has particularly graceful, elastic movement at the walk. The trot gives the appearance of floating effortlessly over the ground. At the trot, the front foot should not extend past the end of the nose. The gallop is leaping. The movement is an essential point of the breed.” There is no TRAD (tremendous reach and drive). The closest com- parison that I can give as to the gait of an Azawakh at an easy trot is that of a Thoroughbred horse. The breed, when structured and moved correctly, should float with an easy fluidity; in my imagination, as water gently licking the shore

256 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021

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