The Azawakh is an exotic, elegant and extraordinarily rare African sighthound. It is long, lean and leggy, built for speed. At first glance, Azawakhs seem skinny and, to some, may look under-nourished. Don’t be fooled. These are powerful animals with exceptional strength, stamina, eyesight and hunting instincts. In profile, they resemble other sighthounds, such as Salukis, Whippets and Greyhounds, except that they are a bit taller than they are long, which is unusual. Azawakhs have large, darkly-rimmed almond-shaped eyes, long slender muzzles and extremely narrow physiques. Their triangular ears should lie flat against their cheeks. Their chests are deep but should not reach below their elbows. Azawakhs are extremely graceful and have a spectacular, seemingly effortless gait. They can cover ground with bursts of speed up to 40 miles per hour. This is the cheetah of the dog world, both in terms of speed and cat-like agility.
Size and Weight
Mature male Azawakhs range from 25 to 29 inches at the withers and weigh between 44 and 55 pounds. Females typically stand 23 to 27 inches tall and weigh 33 to 44 pounds. These are tall dogs that are light for their height. It is a serious fault for Azawakhs to deviate more than one inch from these height standards. When they are fully grown and in correct weight, 3 to 5 ribs should be plainly visible. This does not reflect malnourishment; rather, it indicates that the dog is at the right weight for its build. In the show ring, an overweight Azawakh will still look skinny to people not familiar with the breed, but it will be seriously faulted by the judge.
Coat and Color
The Azawakh's coat is soft, short and fine. Its stomach is usually hairless or only sparsely-coated. They come in a range of colors, the most common of which are various shades of brown, ranging from light tan to deep chocolate. They also come in gray, white, black, brindle, cream, sand, grizzle, parti-color, red and blue fawn. White markings and black masks are common. White usually appears on the legs, chest and tip of the tail. Although the American Kennel Club standard for this breed does not exclude any coat colors or markings, other breed registries have more stringent requirements. For example, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) only allows Azawakhs of certain colors, including fawn, brindle and red, to compete in its events. The United Kennel Club (UKC) disqualifies any Azawakh that has a long or harsh coat. Of course, companion Azawakhs don’t need to meet any coat or color requirements, other than the preferences of their owners.
Because of its short coat, the Azawakh is easy to groom. The breed isn’t a heavy-shedder. A good brushing or wipe-down with a damp cloth about once a week usually is all that is necessary to keep the Azawakh’s coat in good shape. Another option is a “hound glove,” which is used to groom many smooth-coated breeds. One side of the glove is covered with rubber bristles, while the other contains a sticker brush. Frequent bathing is not necessary, because Azawakhs don’t have a doggy odor. However, they do have thin, sensitive skin. When they are given a bath, a gentle, unscented shampoo should be use. Clipping the nails once every few weeks, starting from puppyhood, is usually sufficient.