Called a "warrior class dog," the Azawakh (pronounced oz-a-wok") is an intelligent breed that is gentle, playful, and unwaveringly loyal, yet with an independent streak. Standing 23.5–29 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 33–55 pounds, these medium-sized dogs love nothing more than their family. If you're a runner, the Azawakh is the perfect running buddy and will happily nap with you afterwards. But if you live in a wet or cold climate, the Azawakh may not be the right breed for you.
She has a slender frame with a rectangular body shape. Her narrow head "is carried loftily atop a slender, gracefully arched neck," and her "big, dark and almond-shaped eyes appear quite expressive" with her tail "proudly carried above the line of the back," according to the American Azawakh Association (AAA).
The Azawakh seems to contradict herself—she's loyal and wants to please her owner, yet at the same time is independent and wants to do things her own way. She's also a working dog, and that desire for a job runs deep.
"The Azawakh is truly a working dog in a sighthound body," says Susan Schmid, secretary of the American Azawakh Association. "They have been bred to be livestock guard dogs for the nomadic tribes of the Sahel region [in Africa] and continue with this temperament."
When your Azawakh puppy is well-socialized, she is affectionate, gentle, playful, and always loyal to her owner. She tends to form a particularly close bond with one human, and when she finds herself in an unusual situation, the Azawakh often watches and trusts her owner's reactions as to how she herself should react.
The Azawakh is a highly alert breed and can be startled by—and give chase to—anything from a passing squirrel to a leaf in the wind. Emily Wilson, DVM, expert veterinarian with Fuzzy, says the Azawakh has a strong prey drive and her long legs mean she can run extremely fast. Because of this, always keep your pup in a fenced-in area or safely on a leash.
The Azawakh likes to have room to move. If you're a runner, she'll happily join you for marathon training. Or, if you have a fenced-in backyard, she's more than happy to play with you to stretch her legs. She's not a dog that will entertain herself, either—you'll need to toss a ball or get another four-legged friend for her to play with. If your Azawakh becomes bored, she'll find ways to entertain herself—and you might not like them.
At the same time, Schmid says, an Azawakh can live happily in smaller quarters, as long as her exercise needs are met.
"They can be great apartment dogs, with a lot of walking and some time to run," she says. If you have a fenced-in dog park nearby, that may be the perfect solution. And after a playful outing (they only need about 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity), the Azawakh is quite content to cuddle up on the couch or in her dog bed for a good nap.
But take note: If you live in a wet or cold climate, you may want to steer away from bringing an Azawakh into your home. These dogs thrive in warm climates, and their short fur can't stand up to the snow.
"They don't like swimming and can barely stand the rain," Schmid says. "However, they will go for long walks in a drizzle."
Grooming an Azawakh really couldn't be easier. According to the AAA, grooming her short coat is as easy as running a hound glove over her, and frequent bathing isn't necessary because she doesn't have any "doggy odor." She does have sensitive skin, however, so when you do bathe her it's recommended you use a mild, hypoallergenic, unscented shampoo.
As with all dogs, consistent and positive reinforcement training throughout an Azawakh's life will ensure that she is polite and well-behaved—especially because she has a tendency to be wary around strangers.
"Azawakh need an owner that is firm and willing to expose the dog to new experiences," Schmid says. "They can be aloof to strangers but warm up with time."
If the two of you would like to take your training and bonding further, agility courses are challenging and rewarding for Azawakhs in that they work the mind and body. Not only that, but agility is a fun activity you can do with your dog to strengthen your bond.
Azawakh have a lifespan of 12–15 years, and the breed does have a few environmental and health concerns to be aware of.
The Azawakh's lineage goes back to the arid regions of Africa's south Sahara and Sahel, encompassing the border region of Mali and Niger. There, according to the AAA, they were bred by the Tuareg and other tribes of the region to hunt hare, antelope, and wild boar—and to be companions to their humans.
In the early 1970s, the breed made its way to Yugoslavia, and they arrived in the U.S. in the mid-1980s. The Azawakh was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2019.
- The breed is named for the Azawakh Valley, and Azawakh means "land of the north" in the Djerma language.
- The Azawakh is also known as the Tuareg Sloughi.