AZAWAKH INTERVIEW: ALIYA TAYLOR
Sighthounds to have this distinction.) Due to war and food inse- curities in the area, they are becoming rare. I love them because of their aloof nature—an almost wild, catlike demeanor—and their absolute devotion to their “people.” They bond very closely to those whom they choose to accept. They are like living art, and I am honored to live with them. 5. What about the breed’s unique body/height proportion of 9/10? The unique body proportions of 9:10 are a result of evolution. In the area of West Africa where they are from, almost all the ani- mals have that same body ratio; taller than long (camels, goats, and cattle in the region). My unscientific observation is that it’s an adaptation to the heat of the region. Long legs, to keep the internal organs cool, help the animal to travel long distances at a trot with their nomadic owners. 6. Can you describe the Azawakh’s “ impression of great fineness?” The “impression of great fineness” comes from the body mor- phology of the Azawakh. Since it is a desert-dwelling animal, an abundance of fat would not be beneficial for the dog’s staying cool and being able to carry out its function. A leggy and elegant breed, the Azawakh’s bone structure and musculature are “transparent” beneath the skin and tissue. The breed has flat musculature like their human equivalent, the marathon runner. 7. The AKC standard reads, “Color and markings are immaterial.” Care to elaborate? Color and markings are immaterial: In the countries of origin, the Azawakh comes in an array of colors and patterns. No pat- tern is favored over another. As long as the dog can do its job, and function, color is immaterial to the people who keep them. Color does not “make” a dog. Some colors are more uncommon than oth- ers, however. Some Azawakh puppies, just imported to the US, are very dark. At least two that I know of look black, but are actually, genetically, a dark brindle. The others are black and white. Black is a recessive in the breed.
3. Can you talk about your introduction to the Azawakh? My introduction to the Azawakh was one that was in the stars. I had a book in my teenage years called Dog Breeds of the World . It had almost every dog listed in it, including the Azawakh. It intrigued me that the Hound—back then they were calling it the Tuareg Sloughi—was from West Africa, particularly from the area where my ancestors are from. I have Hausa lineage, but it’s from the northern part of Nigeria where my people are from. The Hausa kept Azawakh as well. Years later, into my adulthood, I met the breeder of my first Azawakh, David Moore, on Facebook. That was the first time I saw Azawakh outside of a book—and real people had them. I was excited to finally find someone I could get one from. (My first Azawakh’s name is Toumour wa n'Tafouk, which means “Toumour who comes from the sun” in the Tamasheq lan- guage of the Tuareg people.) That was also when I decided on a kennel name, should I decide to breed one day. I chose the name “Kel Imajaghan” to honor the people who keep the Azawakh, the Tuareg. The name means “of the proud and free.” The Imajaghan were the elite warrior class of the Tuareg/Tamasheq who were charged with protection of the village. 4. The Azawakh is a genuine canine original. What makes the breed so intriguing? The Azawakh breed is a genuine canine original. The Azawakh is an African Sighthound that originated in the countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. They are raised in the Sahel region of the Sahara Desert, and they are named after the Azawagh Valley. The Azawagh is mainly made up of Sahelian and Saharan flatlands, and has a population that is predominantly Tuareg, with some Arabic- speaking, Bouzou, and Wodaabe minorities, and a recent influx of Hausa and Zarma. They are still used, to a certain extent, to func- tion as a guard dog first and foremost. They are used to hunt, but it’s a secondary function of the breed. They are also very reliable off-lead if they are trained early in puppyhood. (They are the only
254 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021
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