Originating from the Sahel region of Africa, the Azawakh (pronounced "AH-zah-wahk"), also known as the Tuareg Sloughi, is a rare sighthound breed that was used as both a hunter and guardian dog. They were named after the Azawakh Valley from which they are from. These agile dogs were bred by Tuareg nomads of the Sahara to guard property and hunt gazelles and hares in packs. It is thought that the breed shares the same ancestry with the Saluki and Sloughi due to having similar appearances. Surprisingly, these long-legged hounds can reach a speed of up to 40 miles per hour. Worldwide, there are a few thousand Azawakh, but only about 300 of these dogs live in North America.
Azawakhs are built for speed and their bony appearance attests to that ability. They were bred to adapt to the rugged climate of both the Sahara and Sub-Saharan regions due to their short, fine coat and body-type. This breed has a lean physique with a body that is taller than it is long, a unique feature that draws the attention of many. They have large almond-shaped eyes, triangular-shaped ears that droop down, and a large muzzle that is half of the breed's head length with a nose color that matches the coat. The Azawakh has a long, thin tail with a white brush on the tip which is raised when relaxed or carried in a "sickle-shape" when excited.
While the Azawakh is known to be very attentive since they were bred to be both guard and hunting dogs, they tend to have an aloof personality towards strangers and are not a compatible breed for everyone. Watchful and protective, they will alert their families of strangers and unfamiliar noises around their territory by letting out their loud, intimidating bark. The breed's responses to strangers can vary from being reserved to openly hostile, but they tend to be affectionate and gentle to those they accept. Proper obedience training and extensive socialization should begin at an early age to avoid unwanted dominance behaviors as an adult. Similar to many hound-type breeds, Azawakhs are independent, strong-willed, and respond better to reward-based positive reinforcement from a consistent and firm owner. They are better suited for families with older children since they are not a "playmate" kind of dog and can be intolerant of rambunctious toddlers pulling on their ears and tail. Considered fairly active, the Azawakh requires at least half an hour of exercise to remain out of trouble, making them a great walking or running partner. Not only does this breed do well with guarding and hunting, but they can also be loyal towards their families and will be fiercely protective of the ones they love.