No longer a breed apart: American Kennel Club recognizes Azawakh

By Allen Cone   |   Updated Jan. 3, 2019 at 3:10 AM
The Azawakh, a long-legged, smooth-coated dog often confused for a Greyoung or a Whippet, has been reocognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club. Photo by Azawakh/Wikimedia Commons

Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The American Kennel Club has added the Azawakh, a long-legged, smooth-coated dog often confused for a greyhound or a Whippet, as its 193rd recognized breed.

The AKC announced the addition Wednesday, meaning the breed can now compete in many shows in 2019, but must wait until 2020 to compete in the top dog Westminster Kennel Club show.

The last breed recognized was the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje last year.

The Azawakh, which is pronounced AH-ZA-WAHK, is part of the hound group that originated in West Africa and was introduced in the United States in the mid-1980s. In 2011, it was placed into the AKC's Miscellaneous Class.

The breed is named after Azawagh Valley, major sub-Saharan inland basin in West Africa.

The American Azawakh Association secretary Deb Kidwell estimates there are between 400 and 500 Azawakhs nationwide with 100 reigstered with the AKC.

"And with AKC recognizing our breed for full-fledged, all-breed competition, interest has taken off to the point where it's a bit scary," said Kidwell, of Sweetwater, Tenn.

The breed ranges from 23½ to 29 inches tall and weighs between 35 and 55 pounds. Its colors include sand to dark red, brindle, white, black gray, blue grizzle, parti-colored and brown.

Kidwell said she usually is asked: "Is that a rescue Greyhound or a Whippet?"

"Usually I will answer it's called an Azawakh, a type of African greyhound. That usually satisfies them. And there are always those who say 'Your dog must have been sick because it's so skinny.' I try to be patient at that point. I really do."

Kayley Page, a trainer from North Bend, Wash., is a proud owner of the breed.

"This is a gorgeous, loyal breed with strong guarding tendencies," she said. "I love seeing new people in the breed, but you definitely need to do your research before bringing one home. It's a breed that will bond to you like few others, but it requires lifelong, intense, positive socialization and confidence building."

Page said the Azawakh need plenty of psychological and physical stimuli.

"If I don't work him mentally at least once a day he gets into trouble around the house," Page said. "Running him will only slightly mitigate this. Most Azawakhs are like other sighthounds, a solid run every day and they're happy."

Last month, Whiskey the Whippet was crowned the winner of the National Dog Show in Philadelphia. The Whippet, a medium-sized dog, originated in England, where the breed descended from greyhounds and was first registered by the American Kennel Club in 1888.

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