Showsight Presents The Azawakh

THE AZAWAKH

the house, this can cause conflict within the pack. No one can predict the individual per- sonalities of all dogs in any breed. There are some situations which should be avoided with guardian and Sighthound dogs of any breed. Children playing together will some- times quarrel, and it is natural for a guard dog to protect “his” children from their playmates. Also, children can abuse dogs without realizing it, and an Azawakh (or any other dog) might want to defend itself. Chase or prey behavior is another situ- ation that can be a problem. Children or other pets running away from the hound can activate the prey drive instinct. The hound may try to “take down” the child from behind as they would while hunting. A good rule of thumb is to never leave the Azawakh with children while unsuper- vised by an attentive adult. There are indi- vidual dogs of all breeds that do not like children. The Azawakh, as a breed, with care given to the situations mentioned, should fit well into the family structure. HEALTH & NUTRITION The Azawakh as a breed does have some health challenges. The most common of these health concerns are hypothyroidism, seizures, and several autoimmune-medi- ated diseases, such as a muscle wasting condition, autoimmune thyroiditis, and generalized demodectic mange. Cardiac problems and bloat, though not common, have occurred in some individuals. Breed- ers are strongly encouraged to test for as many maladies as possible, making it pos- sible to make informed breeding decisions when considering a litter. Common tests are thyroid screens, complete blood chem- istry (CBC) profiles, autoimmune function blood work, cardiac screening, eye exami- nations (CERF), and x-rays for hip/elbow dysplasia (OFA, PennHip). Seizures are

but is not aggressive. More accurately, they are avoidant. Unprovoked aggression towards a family member or guest would not be tolerated. Much discussion has been given to the guardian nature of the Azawakh, but here we must remember that this is a Sight- hound. Azawakh have retained all their instincts, and when several live together, they establish hierarchies with subtle behavioral rituals. Intentions and moods are expressed by a repertoire of postures, expressions, and sounds. Azawakh are resourceful and driven hunters. Because comparatively few generations have been removed from the need to hunt daily for personal survival, the hunting instinct is very strong in this breed. As a rule, they seem to accept other dogs, though sometimes grudgingly, as protected members of their own pack. Their keen vision, speed, and stamina spe- cializes them for chasing down their prey in open spaces. The Azawakh is always on the alert for moving objects; even a leaf in the wind or a butterfly will trigger a chase. Azawakh usually play by chasing one another. Their play can be very rough! Azawakh can develop great friendships with cats and small dogs, but may mistake them for game outside, particularly if the pet runs away. Some cats attack dogs and can inflict serious damage to a dog’s eyes and face with their claws. Similar cau- tion is required with Azawakh and indoor birds. The beak of large parrots can turn into a dangerous weapon and, alterna- tively, the teeth of an Azawakh can hurt the bird! Another point to mention is that the Azawakh is a very dominant breed. With- in a household pack, the breed will almost always aspire to the alpha dog position. If there is an existing dominant dog in

hard to test for, and cause determination is not always possible. However, dogs exhib- iting seizures should not be bred. Unfor- tunately, many dogs start seizure activity later in life after they have been bred many times and have already adversely impacted the gene pool of the breed. As advances in DNA profiling occur, new tests are emerg- ing all the time. As new tests become avail- able, it’s essential that breeders take advan- tage of new research. The problem that breeders face, in many cases, because of the small gene pool, is that it is impossible to eliminate all dogs that carry a genetic disease from the breed- ing program. However, it makes sense to test for as many diseases as possible so as not to “double up” on the same disease process in sire and dam. Pedigree research and disease tracking is an invaluable tool for Azawakh breeders. Some health prob- lems can be tracked through an entire line from the original foundation dogs.

A Six-Month-Old Pup in Good Weight

Nutrition is an important point to consider in a breed so close to its “roots.” Though not all breeders feel it is impor- tant, many feel that the hounds should be fed a simple diet of whole foods, rather than kibble. This is a personal preference. Many generations of dogs have been kib- ble-raised and have done well. If feeding

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