Let’s Talk Breed Education!
BY DEB KIDWELL
I n the harsh desert environment, nature and the selective hand of man created the Azawakh, a race of hounds with exotic beauty uniquely adapted to serve as a guardian and hunter. An African Sighthound, the Azawakh originates from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Native to the Sahel region of the Sahara Desert, they are named for the Azawakh valley which lies between Mali and Niger. Azawakh means “land of the north.” The Azawakh is the only Sighthound indigenous to this region. Western cultures associate the hounds primarily with the nomadic Tuareg, but they are also bred and owned by other ethnic groups such as the Peulh, some clans of the Fulani, and the Bella. The Bella were the former slaves of the Tuaregs. The Hausa, a pas- toral ethnic group that make their living by trading and agricul- ture, also raise the hounds. The Tuareg are considered to raise the noblest hounds. In its purest form, the Azawakh is known as “idi n’illeli,” the “sight- hound of the free people.” The Azawakh, or idi, held an integral place in the Tuareg life and culture. The seasonal migration of the nomads increased the distribution of hounds and resulted in greater diversity within the gene pool. Such diversity strengthened the genetic health and the stability of the hound’s temperament. Selective breeding for conformation and markings, as practiced in the west, is unknown. There is typically one female per encamp- ment. Females are bred by the alpha male of the locale. The owner of the female usually culls the litter to two or three puppies shortly after birth. This helps prevent an insupportable increase in the population and ensures better nutrition for the surviving puppies. EUROPEAN ORIGINS The breed was first imported to Yugoslavia in the early 1970s by Dr. Pecar, a Yugoslavian diplomat stationed in Burkina Faso. Dr. Pecar received his male as a gift from the nomads, since the dogs could not be bought. He later bartered his services as a hunter, by killing a bull elephant that had been terrorizing the tribe, in exchange for a female Azawakh. The French military and civil servants also played a significant role in exporting the Azawakh to Europe. France is the patron country of the Azawakh under Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) rules and controls the standard for the breed. Originally, the Azawakh was considered a variety of Sloughi and was shown under its standard. From the beginning, most Sloughi breeders did not accept the Azawakh because of the extensive white markings and the difference in temperament. Thus, most breeders of the time did not mix the two breeds.
Dazol In Chenan Desert-bred bitch owned by Ursula Arnold.
When FCI recognized the Azawakh as a breed, the name went through several changes. First, it was called the Sloughi-Azawakh. The breed finally became the Azawakh in 1980. The first Azawakh FCI standard only allowed shades of red with white markings, since it was considered at the time that any Azawakh with brindle markings had been mixed with Sloughi. With increasing pressure from breeders and evidence from its Countries of Origin (COO), Azawakh with black brindling were finally allowed in the FCI standard in 1993. The breed developed in Europe along two lines, known as the Yugoslavian and the French lines. Yugoslavian Line – In the early 1970s, after Dr. Pecar obtained his two Azawakh, Vesna Sekalec ( Haris al Sahra ) began breed- ing them. Two Azawakh formed the foundation of the breed in Yugoslavia. Their names were Gao and Lara . Around 1975, a male was imported from Burkina Faso known as Darkoye Sidi , and he was incorporated into what had become known as the Yugoslavian line. Many breeders obtained their foundation Azawakh from Ms. Sekalec; therefore, the Haris al Sahra kennel name appears fre- quently in the pedigrees of most modern-day Azawakh. Dogs of the Yugoslavian line figured prominently in the foundation bloodlines of the Czech Republic and Russia.
French Line – The French line began with a total of seven foundation dogs. Pari- gi was the original importer and breeder in France. His earliest female was Toboro II and males were Aikar, Adignaz, Aourakh, and Targoui . He actively bred Azawakh from 1972-1978. Another male known as Takadamat contributed to the French foundation. Dr. Francois Roussel, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Aza- wakh in its countries of origin (Contribu- tions to the Study of the Sighthounds in the South-Sahara, 1975) , owned a bitch named Tahoura . In the early 1980s, other African imports were brought into France by the Coppé family. The Coppé dogs came from Mali. The males were known as C’Babasch and Ejeker ; and a brindled female was known as Tekewelt . Coppé bred the first litters of brindle Azawakh in Europe. In the late 1970s, the next generation of breeders started in Switzerland and Ger- many, with Ingrid Aigeldinger (Al Hara) and Anna and Ulrich Hochgesand (Aulad al Sahra), respectively. These two breed- ers were the main source for Azawakh for both Europe and the United States. Other desert-bred imports arrived during this time period. They were Mali, Dazol In Chenan, Yaris, Salome, and Akchi . Hochgesand and Aigeldinger bred Aza- wakh from both French and Yugoslavian bloodlines. The Aulad al Sahra breeding program mixed the two lines from the beginning. However, Aigeldinger kept the two lines separate, for the most part, until the late 1980s. Aigeldinger made these observations of the two lines during an interview in 1996. “The Yugoslavian line has good formats, full and correct dentition, soundness of legs and good angulation, good almond eye and well carried ears, interested racers (non-fighters), very sensitive, occasionally almost hysterical, not good car travelers. The French line has super quality in all respects, not nervous, good depth of bris- ket, flowing attractive movement, some- what long in back and accordingly slightly over-angulated behind. Good at lure coursing, but unsure on the race course. The French family stands on sound and strong legs.” In 1993, the idea to establish an orga- nization to protect the Azawakh in their African homelands was born during the first International Azawakh Expedition. This expedition was led by a group of Sighthound enthusiasts from Germany, Austria, the United States, and Mexico. The foundation, known as ABIS (Associa- tion Burkinabe Idi du Sahel), was founded
and the dog, and creating an expressive, flowing picture for the audience. The Aza- wakh’s light, graceful movement and will- ingness to please make this sport tailor- made for the breed.
to help the breed survive in its countries of origin (COO). Based in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, the goals of the foundation are the preservation and advancement of the pure-bred Sight- hounds of the nomads in the Sahel region. THE UNITED STATES The Azawakh made its debut in the United States in the mid-1980s. The first Azawakh that made her way to the US was Amusar’s Hamija , bred by Frau Witzig in Germany. Hamija ended up in rescue with Netboys of California. The Netboys later imported Izegar , a male from Aulad al Sahra, but the two dogs were never bred. The first Azawakh litter was whelped on October 31, 1987 by the late Gisela Cook- Schmidt (Reckendahl). Sired by Faysal Uschi of Silverdale , a dog of the Yugoslavian line, their dam was Al Hara’s Hiba , a female of the French line. Hiba’s second litter was sired by the desert-bred, Mali . These first American Azawakh were all red or fawn with white markings. The first brindles came to the US in 1989, with the first brin- dle litter whelped on November 27, 1990 by breeder, Deb Kidwell (Kel Simoon). The American Azawakh Association, Inc. (AAA) is the AKC parent club for the Azawakh in the US. The AAA was found- ed on February 7, 1988 with the goals of promoting the pure Azawakh and to guar- antee the breed a permanent future in the US. The AAA publishes a quarterly news- letter known as the Azawakh Aegis . The Azawakh is currently recognized to participate in all AKC Performance and Companion Events. The breed entered the AKC Miscellaneous Class on June 30, 2011. The Azawakh received full AKC recog- nition on January 1, 2019. Azawakh are also fully recognized by the American Sighthound Field Associa- tion (ASFA), the Large Greyhound Racing Association (LGRA), and the United Ken- nel Club (UKC). The American Azawakh Association has actively held specialty shows since 1990. Another sport for which the Azawakh shows a lot of promise is the emerging sport of Canine Freestyle. Canine Free- style is a choreographed performance with music, demonstrating the training and joyful relationship of a dog and handler team. Freestyle is an excellent discipline to highlight the conformation and move- ment of the dog. The drive and beauty of an elegant Azawakh moving to music can take one’s breath away. The emphasis is on matching the music to the dog’s gait, validating the bond between the handler
Participating in a Freestyle competition.
GENERAL CARE OF THE AZAWAKH
Grooming of their short coat is accom- plished easily with a zoom groom or hound glove. Frequent bathing is not necessary, as the breed has no doggy odor. They do, however, have sensitive skin, so the use of a mild, hypoallergenic, unscented shampoo is recommended. Exercise requirements with all Sight- hound breeds are a very important subject. The Azawakh must have adequate exercise and makes an excellent companion for the serious jogger or runner. The Azawakh is a very active dog; how- ever, they run and play in spurts, inter- spersed with long naps on the sofa. They should have a large yard where they can stretch their legs, but more importantly they need interaction with the owner or another dog to make them exercise. Left alone in the backyard with the expectation of self- exercise is generally not acceptable for this breed. A bored Azawakh will look for its own entertainment, not necessarily close to the house. They should receive at least half an hour a day of hard running and/or play- ing exercise. Finding a securely fenced ball field is perfect for play excursions. They typically need a lot of space around them and cannot tolerate end- less hours of crating. However, many love to pile on the couch. Scenes with ten or twelve Azawakh or other Sighthounds piled on a couch are pretty normal!
owners for Azawakh. With such treat- ment, dogs would become withdrawn, mistrustful, aggressive, and unpredictable. Properly socialized and trained, the Aza- wakh will live harmoniously within the family and community. Azawakh raised in kennel situations, with little socialization, are typically shy and distrustful. They are frequently pan- icky, frightened, and may freeze in a new situation. They may snap or bite. With a lot of time and patience, many Azawakh can learn to adjust to life as a house pet, though some never recover suf- ficiently to be a good pet. Well-socialized Azawakh can also be frightened, but will adjust more quickly to the new situa- tion, and they often watch and trust their
and heart to protect. When approached in their own territory, they may bark loudly and can be quite intimidating. The Aza- wakh “territory” may include the home, the car, or simply their owner’s body space. In situations where their duty as guardian isn’t necessary, their reactions may range from friendly to mildly curious—to arro- gantly indifferent. Although generally not outgoing, several in the US have found the opportunity to make social contributions as therapy dogs in nursing homes and reha- bilitation centers. The Azawakh seem to possess an uncanny combination of total loyalty and independence. Each new situation presents the potential for the struggle between the dog’s natural desire to please his owner and his prideful desire to do things his own way. A firm, fair hand is called for. A well-socialized Azawakh is affectionate, gentle, playful, subtle, and very loyal to its owner. Some Azawakh, having bonded with one particular person, do not change ownership easily. Azawakh are usually cautious with strangers. Typically, they observe for a while before approaching. One needs much patience and empathy, along with considerable time and per- sonal interaction, to raise this proud and independent breed. At the same time, rough and aggres- sive handling is not recommended for any dog. Therefore, people who cannot con- trol their tempers would not make good
Regular exercise and living as an inte- gral part of the family are prerequisites for a well-balanced Azawakh. Azawakh gener- ally love to travel and go to different places with their owner. The Azawakh is a hound of the des- ert. However, their delicate appearing physique can be misleading. Azawakh are strong and durable dogs, well-adjusted to living in the challenging conditions of the Sahel. They can live on small portions of food, though they always act hungry. They hate wet and cold weather. The breed should not be left outside for long periods of time in cold weather. Azawakh enjoy a quick race in the snow, but they need to come back in the house to warm up. This breed will become fat and lethargic or hyper and destructive without an outlet for their energy. Azawakh can be very reliable off-lead if taught a strong recall. This is a bonus for people who take pleasure in the company of Sighthounds, but may have difficulty enjoying them because they can- not be trusted off-lead. TEMPERAMENT When discussing the temperament of an Azawakh, consideration should be given to individual personalities and contribut- ing backgrounds, both genetic and envi- ronmental. However, there are several gen- eral characteristics common to the breed. Described in a Dog World article as a “war- rior class dog,” they have the intelligence
Approach with extreme caution!
owner’s reaction to a given event. It is important not to “protect” the Azawakh puppy from different experiences. From the youngest age, it is essential that the dog is taken downtown, to your friend’s house, in a car, and to walk on leash and to come when called. Teaching the puppy to recognize that new and unfamiliar situ- ations do not present a threat is the best way to help the Azawakh feel at home in our stressful society. Puppy obedience and socialization classes are important for the social development of a young Azawakh. The raising of an Azawakh puppy, because of the intensity of the effort and commit- ment, can be very rewarding. Azawakh owners find that the strength of the bond created during this process often dramati- cally exceeds their previous experience with the love of “normal, civilized” dogs. Quick, attentive, distant, reserved with strangers and can even be aggressive, the Azawakh is gentle and affectionate with those he is willing to accept. However, it is a fault to be excessively timid, panicky or aggressive to the point of attack. This part of the standard is at odds with many breeders in the US and Europe who are trying to breed Azawakh that are more approachable, maybe even friendly, and less apt to be outwardly aggressive. In the Sahel, the hound prefers not to be touched,
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
regular kibble, the Azawakh should be fed a diet with a fat content of 16-20 percent fat, to maintain good weight and a healthy coat; a moderate level of protein (26-30 percent) is advisable. The breed also does well on the newer grain-free diets. Weight maintenance of Azawakh is another important area to consider. They should be slim. In proper weight, most ribs, ver- tebrae, and the hipbones should be visible. It’s not to say that they should be skeletal, but a fat Sighthound is neither a happy nor a healthy Sighthound. Azawakh are struc- tured to be on the thin side. Overfeeding will adversely affect the joint structure of the hound, especially in puppies. Azawakh puppies should never be fat and roly-poly. Keeping them slim as they are growing permits the joints and other body parts to grow properly, without additional stress and wear & tear. Slim pups are less prone to growth plate problems. In medical treat- ment of the hound, natural, holistic meth- ods work very well. The Azawakh is gener- ally a healthy breed. They heal amazingly well from cuts and scrapes. The Azawakh is a natural breed whose immune system is not conditioned to the use of most West- ern chemicals; therefore, judicious use of chemicals around the hound is advised.
et du Galgo (S.L.A.G.), which is the club governing the Sloughi and Azawakh in France, has further limited the “approved” white markings of the Azawakh. This trend has sharply divided the Azawakh fanciers and breeders in both the US and abroad. By limiting the markings on the hound, the standard is further narrowing the genetic pool from which breeders can draw if they wish to breed within the stan- dard as set forth by the club in France. Since the formation of the American Azawakh Association in 1988, it has been the belief of the members that the FCI standard should be amended to include all the colors and patterns found in the Sahel. This would allow breeders to uti- lize Sahelian-bred hounds to expand and enhance the breeding lines. It would also help to preserve the unique character and performance abilities of the Azawakh and help to balance the progressively more extreme type found so often in the show ring today. IN SUMMARY “As fast as wind, durable as a camel and beautiful as an Arab horse... these few words could briefly describe a charm- ing Azawakh.” (Eva-Maria Kramer). Aza- wakh are elegant, tall dogs of proud bear- ing. Lean and muscular of frame, their appearance should indicate swiftness when
running. He should be longer of leg than of body, which may seem extreme when compared with other Sighthounds. His neck is long and graceful, his head held high when alert. His tail is proudly car- ried above the line of the back. The breed has pendant ears that are raised to the side of the head in response to sounds. Their beautiful, darkly rimmed, almond-shaped eyes and ever-alert look capture the admi- ration of all who fall under the spell of the hound. The Azawakh’s movement is agile and light, without hackney action or pounding. He has particularly graceful, elastic move- ment at the walk, and at 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, and they cover ground in great strides. Moving with exaggerated reach and drive, as in the “flying trot,” is incorrect. The movement is an essential point of the breed. An over-angulated dog can have spec- tacular movement; but it is not the correct movement. This is a very common judging fault in Azawakh. A dog which shows all the characteristics of the standard, but has a heavy, pounding trot or hackney action, cannot be considered for the ribbons!
A DISCUSSION OF THE AZAWAKH STANDARD THE COLOR AND MARKING CONTROVERSY
Currently, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the World Canine Organization standard of the Azawakh, allows only the coat colors of sand to red, with and without black brindling. White markings are required on all four extremi- ties, the tip of the tail, and the chest. A blaze on the face is allowed. Any devia- tion from the above standard is a major or eliminating fault. This standard, however, does not reflect the reality regarding colors and markings of the hounds in the Sahel. The coat colors accepted by the FCI standard are indeed the dominant colors; however, a smaller portion of the Azawakh popula- tion displays different coat colors and pat- terns. Additionally, more extensive white markings than described in the standard are very common. Although the AAA doesn’t recognize the FCI Standard for the breed because of its color limitations, the dogs can be shown in any FCI recognized country under FCI rules which allow only sand to dark red and black brindle, with all other colors dis- qualified. In the past few years, the French Club du Sloughi, des Levriers d’Afrique
ALIYA TAYLOR AZAWAKH INTERVIEW
1. Where do you live? What is your occupa- tion? How many years in dogs? I am a resident of Philadelphia. I have lived here for most of my childhood and adult life. I am a retired police officer. I was a police officer for the City of Philadelphia for 18 years before getting injured by an on- duty incident, and a stroke that followed. I have always had a love for animals, and used to bring home injured wildlife to care for. I wanted to be a veterinarian as a child, but life happens and I didn’t get to real- ize that dream. I have been into dogs ever since I was a little girl, with my first dog being a Schnauzer; so for over 25-30 years. I showed him in small shows, and learned to hand-strip him myself at 13 from a book I’d read. My next dog, well into adulthood, was a Boston Terrier, which I bred once and had spayed after her whelping of the litter, due to complications. She had two puppies that went to the family. My next dog, many years later, was a Standard Poodle that I got, unfortunately, from a backyard breeder. I showed in UKC events until he died of Addison’s. I learned from that experience that a reputable breeder is the only way to go when looking for a purebred animal. I got hooked on Sighthounds with my first one, a Borzoi, which I showed limitedly in AKC events. He was my heart dog who introduced me to Sighthounds. He lived a long life for a Borzoi, passing away at 9 years old. 2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Yes! I am a creative soul by heart. I have always been creative, and I have made Afri- can-inspired jewelry for myself and for oth- ers. And in just the last three years, I have created an online business called Mother Of Hounds. I make custom Sighthound collars and leashes, mostly in African print textiles. My store is on Etsy, called Moth- erOfHoundsDesign. I am in the process of building a website.
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Kel Imajaghan Kennel The Past
TOUMOUR WA N ’ TAFOUK CM & R I SE & SH I NE OF HUNGAR I AN D I AMONDS
UKC CH TOUMOUR WA N’TAFOUK CM
RISE & SHINE OF HUNGARIAN DIAMONDS
KEL I MAJAGHAN AUHA I NAH CM The Present
TERA AYUR ES SAHEL & KEL IMAJAGHAN AUHAINAH CM
BISS INGENUE IDANSE BOLLINGER
KEL I MAJAGHAN WAHEED & KEL I MAJAGHAN Q I TMEER
KEL SIMOON UMOYA N’ IMAJAGHAN
KEL IMAJAGHAN WAHEED
KEL IMAJAGHAN QITMEER INGENUE IDANSE BOLLINGER X KEL IMAJAGHAN AUHAINAH CM
K E L I MA J AG H A N K E N N E L • A L I YA TAY LO R
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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
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
AZAWAKH INTERVIEW: ALIYA TAYLOR
I also co-own another bitch from a litter from two years ago, named Kel Imajaghan Jedediah, who has attained her Championship. 12. Is there a funny story you can share about your experiences with the Azawakh? It’s a kinda funny story, I suppose. It was when I showed my dog, Bahir, for the first time in a big show, which happened to be the National Dog Show in 2019. He had only limited showing experience—and I asked a lot from him that day. We were the first to introduce the Azawakh at the National Dog Show. I was nervous, but I tried to keep my cool in the ring. Bahir, being an Azawakh, young and true to his nature, decided that he wanted to hide in the folds of the dress I had on. We were on national television, and I had to pick up his back end and straighten him out so that the judge could examine him. (He was just a year old that Thursday!) We got over the momentary snag, and we showed beautifully in the ring. We both survived! I was very proud of him that day. He’s now an “old hat” at showing and enjoys his time in the ring with his AKC registered handler and good friend, Bekki Pina. Another story was when I was walking a few of my Azawakh in Fairmount Park. A woman was driving past and yelled out her win- dow something that I couldn t make out. She looped back around and parked her vehicle on the curb, and asked me if I were royalty because I looked like a princess walking those exotic dogs! Since I am a practicing Muslim, I wear the traditional headscarf called a hijab. I also had on a loose pink and black dress. She said we looked like something out of a high-end magazine, and she asked about the breed. It was refreshing to talk with someone who didn’t com- ment on how skinny the dogs were, and instead, just focused on their beauty. Mash'Allah.
It’s been a trend as of late to have dogs as “service dogs.” The Azawakh is not suited for this kind of work because of its aloof and avoidant character. There are a few individuals that are service animals, but it’s not the norm for the breed; I do not recommend it. 11. Do you show your dogs in Conformation? Performance or Companion events? I do show my dogs in Conformation. Since COVID, shows have been few and far between. I was stricken with COVID in the very beginning of the pandemic, so no shows for that time. I am finally starting back up with conformation myself, and have attended some lure coursing events to get my younger dogs keen for the lure. In the meanwhile, I have hired a handler to show my newest show prospect that I got from Finland. The import’s name is Bahir, (Ingenue Idanse Bollinger) and I expect great things from him! He is also the sire of the litter I have on the ground now out of a bitch I bred from my first litter over five years ago. Her name is Kel Imajaghan Auhainah, and she was the second dog I showed to its CM (Certificate of Merit) in the Miscellaneous Class, before full recognition by the AKC. These puppies will be the future of Kel Imajaghan. I am looking to improve on height, so I am opti- mistic that this breeding has done that for my line. I have also shown my first Azawakh to his CM, and another female I have at my home who was the dam of my first litter. I also have a little bitch whom I co-bred with a friend and co-owner, Deb Kidwell. Deb’s been in the breed since the 1980s and she has a wealth of information that I go to time and time again. Our bitch’s name is (Umoya) Kel Simoon Umoya n'Imajaghan. I just got her AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy certification, which is a step towards the Canine Good Citizen certificate. I plan on doing lots of activities with her in the future, like Rally and Obedience as well as Conformation.
258 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021
AZAWAKH JOINS THE PACK AS NEWEST AKC-RECOGNIZED BREED Date: January 2, 2019
New York —The American Kennel Club (AKC®), the world’s larg- est purebred dog registry and leading advocate for dogs, announced today that the Azawakh (pro- nounced Oz-a-wok) has gained full AKC recogni- tion. This new addition to the AKC registry became eligible to compete in its group on January 1, 2019. “We’re excited to have the Azawakh join the AKC family,” said AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo. “This won- derful breed has been around for thousands of
years, and we’re happy to introduce it to dog lovers in this country. As with any breed, it’s important to do research and find the right one to fit your lifestyle.” An ancient hunting sighthound from West Africa, the Azawakh joins the Hound Group. The breed originated as a guardian, hunter, and companion to nomads. They would hunt hare, antelope, and wild boar, and are tough, durable, and very fast. The Aza- wakh is leggy and elegant- looking, with a short,
fine coat that needs occa- sional brushing. They are relatively calm dogs indoors but have tremen- dous energy and endur- ance outside and must have regular exercise. Azawakhs bond strongly with their owners and are affectionate, playful companions. They can be aloof towards strangers. To become an AKC recognized breed there must be a minimum num- ber of dogs geographi- cally distributed through- out the U.S., as well as an established breed club of responsible owners and breeders. Breeds work- ing towards full recog- nition are recorded in AKC’s Foundation Stock Service® (FSS®). Addi- tional information on the process can be found at akc.org.
Photo courtesy AKC
MEDIA CONTACT: JESSICA D’AMATO American Kennel Club 212-696-8346 Jessica.Damato@akc.org
Photo courtesy AKC
176 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ANUARY 2019
SHOWSIGHT WELCOMES THE AZAWAKH
T all and elegant, the Azawakh is a West African sighthound who originates from the countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. The Azawakh has a short, fine coat which may come in any color or color combinations: red, clear sand to fawn, brindled, parti-color (which may be predominantly white), blue, black and brown. The head may have a black mask and there may be white markings on the legs, bib and at the tip of tail. There are no color or marking disqualifications in the breed. Befitting its heritage, the Azawakh excels as a companion, guardian and a lure courser in the United States. OFFICIAL STANDARD OF THE AZAWAKH General Appearance : The Aza- wakh is an African sighthound of Afro- Asiatic type, which appeared in Europe towards 1970 and, comes from the Nigerien middle basin, among others, from the Valley of the Azawakh. For hundreds of years, he has been the com- panion of the nomads of the southern Sahara. Particularly leggy and elegant, the Azawakh gives a general impres- sion of great fineness. His bone struc- ture and musculature are transparent beneath fine and lean skin. This sight- hound presents itself as a rangy dog whose body fits into a rectangle with its longer sides in a vertical position. Faults—Heavy general appearance. Size, Weight, Proportion: Height at withers—Males 25 to 29 inches, females 23 to 27 inches. Serious Fault— Size deviating more than an inch from the norms of the standard. Weight— Males 44 to 55 pounds, females 33 to 44 pounds; in correct weight a mini- mum of three to five ribs and hip bones should be visible. Body Proportion— Length of body/height at withers—9:10. Length of body is 90 percent height of hound. This ratio may be slightly higher in bitches. Head: Eyes—Almond shaped, quite large. Their color is in keeping with the coat color. Eye rims are pigment- ed. Ear—Set quite high. They are fine, always drooping and flat, quite wide at the base, close to the skull, never a rose ear. Their shape is that of a tri- angle with a slightly rounded tip. Their
base rises when the hound is attentive. Skull—The skull is almost flat, rather elongated. The width of the skull must definitely be inferior to half the length of the head. The width of the skull is 40 percent the length of the head. The superciliary arches and the frontal fur- row are slightly marked. The occipital protuberance is clearly pronounced. Stop—Very slight. Faults—Wide back skull, prominent stop, rose ear. Muz- zle—Long, straight, fine, lean and chis- eled, rather narrow, without excess. Length of muzzle/length of head equals 1:2. Length of back skull is 50 percent length of head. Planes—Parallel, how- ever sometimes the line of the skull and the bridge of the muzzle are slightly divergent. Nose—Nostrils well opened. The nose color is in keeping with the coat color. Lips and Jaw—Lips are fine and tight. Jaw is long and strong. Cheeks are flat. Bite—A scissor bite is preferable; a level bite is allowed. Seri- ous Fault—An overshot or undershot jaw. Teeth—Full dentition; the teeth are healthy and strong. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck—Good reach of neck which is long, fine and muscular, slightly arched. The skin is fine and does not form a dewlap. Topline—Nearly straight, horizontal or rising toward the hips. Withers are quite prominent. Body—Length of body/height at withers—9:10. Length of body is 90 percent height of hound. This ratio may be slightly higher in bitches. Fault—Body too long. Ches— Depth of chest is 40 percent of height at withers. Well developed in length, deep but without reaching elbow level. It is not very wide, but must have enough space for the heart, so the sternal region of the chest must not abruptly become narrow. Forechest is not very wide. Ribs—Long, visible, slightly and evenly curved down to the sternum. Underline—The chest is curved like a keel consisting of dry muscle and vis- ible skeleton. The brisket is well defined with the underline rising very high into the lumbar arch without interruption. Back—Nearly straight, horizontal or rising toward the hips. Hipbones are distinctly protruding and always placed at an equal or superior height to the height at the withers. Serious Fault— Hip bones placed lower than withers.
Loin—The lumbar section is usually flat (horizontal), but a slight curve is com- mon. Croup—Oblique without accen- tuated slant. Tail—The tail is set low, thin, lean, and tapered. Length should reach the hock. It is covered with the same type of hair as that of the body. It is carried hanging with the tip raised or when the hound is excited, it can be carried in a sickle, ring, or saber above the horizontal. Forequarters: Forequarters are seen as a whole: long, fine, almost entirely vertical. Shoulders—Long, lean and muscular and only slightly slanting seen in profile. The scapulo- humeral angle is very open (about 130 degrees). Dewclaws—may or may not be removed. Feet—Rounded shape, with fine and tightly closed toes. Pads may be pigmented. Hindquarters: Hindquarters are seen as a whole: long and lean; legs perfectly vertical. Thighs—Long and prominent with lean muscles. The coxo-femoral angle is very open (about 130 degrees). Stifle—The femoro-tibial angle is very open (about 140 degrees). Hock—Hock joint and hock are straight and lean. Dewclaws – may or may not be removed. Feet—round shaped, with fine and tightly closed toes. Pads may be pigmented. Skin and Coat: Skin—Fine, tight over the whole body. Hair—Short, fine, down to none on the belly. Color—Col- or and markings are immaterial. Serious Fault—Harsh or semi-long coat. Coat not identical to the standard. Gait: The Azawakh’s movement is agile and light, without hackney action or pounding. He has particularly grace- ful, 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 leap- ing. The movement is an essential point of the breed. Fault—To move with exag- gerated reach and drive or heaviness. Character and Temperament: Quick, attentive, distant, reserved with strangers, but he can be gentle and affectionate with those he is willing to accept. Fault —Excessively timid, hys- terical or aggressive character. Approved February 8, 2018 Effective May 1, 2018
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