Bred by the Tuareg, Fula and various other nomads of the Sahara and sub-Saharan Sahel in the countries of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and southern Algeria, the breed is used there as a guard dog and to hunt gazelle andhare at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
The austerity of the Sahel environment has ensured that only the most fit dogs survive and has accentuated the breed's ruggedness and independence.
Unlike some other sighthounds, the Azawakh is more of a pack hunter and they bump down the quarry with hindquarters when it has been tired out.
In role of a guard dog, if an Azawakh senses danger it will bark to alert the other members of the pack, and they will gather together as a pack under the lead of the alpha dog, then chase off or attack the predator.
The Sloughi, by comparison, is more of an independent lone hunter and has a high hunting instinct.
They are relatively uncommon in Europe and North America but there is a growing band of devotees.
Azawakhs have a range of temperaments from lap dog to quite fierce. Lifelong socialization and firm but gentle handling are critical.
Well socialised and trained, they can be good with other dogs, cats, children, and strangers. Azawakh may be registered with the FCI in the USA via the Federación Canófila de Puerto Rico (FCPR).
European FCI clubs and the AKC recognize the FCPR as an acceptable registry. The AKC currently recognizes Azawakh as a Foundation Stock Service breed and they are eligible to participate in AKC-sanctioned Companion & Performance events.
The breed will enter the AKC Miscellaneous Class on June 30, 2011. The American Azawakh Association (AAA). is the AKC Parent Club for the Azawakh. Azawakh may be registered with the UKC and ARBA.
The breed is not yet registered by CKC. Azawakh are eligible for ASFA and AKC lure coursing and NOFCA open field coursing events.
Morphology is very similar to that of the Middle Eastern and South Indian sight hounds, all swift, high-bred coursing hounds, although there are several obvious differences.
For example, a short, flat back combined with long legs place the hips higher than the withers. The Azawakh is almond eyed and thin.
It moves with a distinctly feline gait and can be found in a variety of colors as well as varying degrees of refinement, though format is basically constant.
Azawakhs are an incredibly sound coursing hound.
Serious coursing injuries are rare. The dogs heal very quickly from injury.
Azawakh have no known incidence of hip dysplasia. There is a small occurrence of adult-onset idiopathic epilepsy in the breed.
Wobbler disease, or cervical vertebral instability, does rarely occur. Some breeders believe this is largely a developmental problem where puppies grow too quickly due to a high-protein Western diet.
Azawakh need a fairly high level of exercise and should have regular runs off lead in large enclosed areas to run off steam. The dogs are very social and emotional. They need a master that provides firm but fair leadership.
Azawakh thrive on companionship of other Azawakh.
Unlike other sighthounds, the primary function of the Azawakh in its native land is that of protector. It develops an intense bond with his owner, yet can perform independently from its master.
With those they accept, Azawakh are gentle and extremely affectionate. With strangers many are reserved and prefer not to be touched, but are not inherently aggressive. Although raised to protect livestock, they do not have innate aggression toward canine nor human unless they are threatened.
Azawakh have high energy and tremendous endurance. They are excellent training companions for runners and are nearly impervious to heat.
They will happily run in weather over 100 degrees Fahrenheit that would kill a Greyhound. They often dig holes in the garden.
Many Azawakh dislike rain and cold weather.
Azawakh are pack oriented and form complex social hierarchies.
They have tremendous memories and are able to recognize each other after long periods of separation. They can often be found sleeping on top of each other for warmth and companionship.source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azawakh