In the United States, the Azawakh advanced to the Miscellaneous Group on 30th June, 2011 - and for the first time is qualified to compete in conformation in the American Kennel Club (AKC). It behooves new exhibitors to educate the judges at this early stage and set them in the correct direction. The AKC Azawakh breed standard is fundamentally the same as the current FCI standard - with the exception that in the U.S., we are “color blind” - and our breed standard indicates color is immaterial, whether it is the coat color or the eye color. I hope many AKC judges - all new at judging the Azawakh, take the time to study Dr. Vantu’s article below.
Dr. Cristian Vantu is a multi-group and Best In Show FCI judge. He has bred Azawakh under the kennel name of Insolens since 2002. More about Dr. Vantu here, or here. The article below may be viewed here more easily.
|Brno INTERCANIS 2008|
If you want to judge the Azawakh, first of all try to forget all the other breeds, as well as the shapes and proportions to which you are accustomed. You must also try to forget classic dog temperament and behavior, and be prepared to accept something different.
As judges we are used to refer to a common model which all dogs must fit, but in this case the model does not exist. To perceive the right type of Azawakh, you will have to devote time and broaden your aesthetic criteria.
I remember I was walking in town with one of my dogs, a very young girl saying to her mother "Mom, look, a little horse." I knew then, that without mental preconceptions, this is what our eye sees: a little horse. The similarity between the Azawakh and the Arabian horse, especially in gait, is obvious.
|Photo 1a/1b Similarities Between The Arabian Horse And The Azawakh|
A BRIEF HISTORY SUMMARY
The Azawakh is an African sighthound of afro-asian type which appeared in Europe towards 1970 and comes from the Nigerian middle basin, among others from the valley of the Azawakh. For hundreds of years he has been the companion of the nomads of the South-Sahara.
The first pair imported in 1968 into Europe was R'Eheouel and Reylane, by Gervais Coppé, then another pair (including Gao), was brought back by a Yugoslav diplomat from Mali to be delivered to Marshal Tito. This pair was at the origin of Mrs. Sekalec's lineage. Other dogs were imported later in France, and even today we import dogs of varying quality from Mali, Niger, Algeria and Burkina Faso. There is a lot of controversy between breeders and clubs because of the recent imports which brought not just new genes, beneficial to the genetic health of the breed, helping the European breeders to surmount the inbreeding crisis, but also new colors, not yet accepted by the standard. As judges we cannot have more than personal opinions about it. The French Breed Club is the only club authorized [by FCI] to change the [FCI] standard. Some of the dogs imported in the recent years are of excellent quality but not all of them. In the rush to introduce new genes, dogs of less quality have been used for breeding and the result can be seen in shows : overangulated hindquarters, tail set to high, short tail, long coat, too wide head, atypical expressions, atypical movement, and the worst : wrong type.
Particularly high in the leg and elegant, the Azawakh sighthound gives a general impression of great fineness. His bone structure and musculature are transparent beneath fine and lean tissues (skin). This sighthound presents itself as a racy dog whose body fits into a rectangle with its longer sides in vertical position.
- Length of body/height at the withers = 9 : 10. This ratio may be slightly superior in the bitches.
- Depth of chest/height at the withers = about 4 : 10.
- Length of muzzle/length of head = 1 : 2.
- Width of skull/length of head = 4 : 10.
This is a short, a very short, the shortest dog, and the body proportions are a very important point in the standard, specific to this breed. It is high on the legs, dry, an architectural beauty with gothic lines. An Azawakh in show condition must have almost zero fat tissue and at least 2,3 ribs should be visible. An Azawakh must be elegant. There is no other word to describe it better than "elegance"
|Photo 2: Proportions and Angles|
Quick, attentive, distant, reserved with strangers and may even be unapproachable, but he can be gentle and affectionate with those he is willing to accept.
The Azawakh is closer to the proud "domestic wolf"
HEAD: Long, fine, lean and chiseled, rather narrow, without excess.
Skull: It is almost flat, rather elongated. The width of the skull must definitely be inferior to half the length of the head. The directions of the axes of the skull and the muzzle are often slightly divergent towards the front. The superciliary arches and the frontal furrow are slightly marked. On the other hand, the occipital crest is clearly protruding and the occipital protuberance marked. Stop: Very slightly marked.
Nose: Nostrils well opened. The nose is either black or brown.
Muzzle: Long, straight, fine towards the front without exaggeration.
Jaws/Teeth: Jaws long and strong. Scissor bite.
Eyes: Almond shaped, quite large. Their color is dark or amber. Eyelids pigmented.
Ears: Set quite high. They are fine, always drooping and flat, quite wide at the base, close to the skull, never a «rose ear». Their shape is that of a triangle with a slightly rounded tip. Their base raises when the hound is attentive.
NECK: Good reach of neck which is long, fine and muscular, slightly arched. The skin is fine and does not form a dewlap.
Like everything about this dog, its expression is unique and difficult to describe in words. The best exercise is to look at the pictures attached to this material and become familiar with the expression of the head.
|Photo 4-5-6: Correct Head Profiles and Expressions|
Even though the standard does not mention any penalty for missing teeth, in my opinion the absence of PM1 or PM2 cannot be a disqualifying fault, but it does not mean that this dog may have no teeth. The judge should associate the absence of a tooth with the well being of the dog and the breed, and penalize accordingly. A scissor bite is the correct bite mentioned in the standard. The prognathism of the upper or lower jaw is an eliminating fault and the level bite is accepted as long as it is not mentioned as a fault.
|Photo 7: Over coiled tail set too high, poor top line and croup.|
Photo 8: Well set and carried tail, correct croup.
Topline: Nearly straight, horizontal or slightly rising towards the hips.
Withers: Quite prominent.
Loin: Short, lean and often slightly arched.
Hip bones: Distinctly protruding and always placed at an equal or superior height to the height of the withers.
Croup: Oblique without accentuated slant. Forechest: Not very wide.
Chest: Well developed in length, deep but without reaching elbow level. It is not very wide but must have enough space for the heart, so, the sternal region of the chest must not abruptly become narrow.
Ribs: Long, visible, slightly and evenly curved down to the sternum. Underline : The sternal arch is accentuated and joined without abruptness to the belly which is tucked up very high below the lumbar arch.
The withers are protruding like the hip bones, which must at the same level or higher than the withers. The hip bones placed below the withers must be considered a serious fault. In a dog with less subcutaneous tissue, the loin is sometimes more arched than usual and this should not be penalized so long as in movement the dog retains a good, straight top line.
The croup does not have an accentuated slant but is definitely oblique, and more often the fault is too horizontal a croup rather than one which is too steep.
Tail: Set low, long, thin, lean and tapered. Is covered with the same type of hair as that of the body and has a white brush at its extremity. Is carried hanging with the tip slightly raised, but when the dog is excited, it can be carried above the horizontal.
|Photo 9: Too Pronounced Angulations / Photo 10: Correct Angulations / Photo 11: Straight Angulations|
Seen as a whole: Long, fine, almost entirely vertical; legs perfectly well-set.
Shoulders: Long, lean and muscular and only slightly slanting seen in profile. The scapulo-humeral angle is very open (about 130°).
Forefeet: Rounded shape, with fine and tightly closed toes; the pads are pigmented.
Seen as a whole: Long and lean; legs perfectly vertical.
Thighs: Long with prominent and lean muscles. The coxo-femoral angle is very open (about 130°).
Stifle : The femoro-tibial angle is very open (about 145°).
Hock : Hock joint and hock are straight and lean, without dewclaws.
Hind feet : Round shaped. Pads are pigmented.
The Azawakh has front angulation which is as open as its rear angulation but it should never have totally straight hocks. The metatarsus should be vertical, but in dogs that have a little longer second thigh, the angle between the metatarsal bone with the second thigh is less than 145. Obviously the metatarsal is not more vertical. This should not be considered a major fault if it does not affect the general appearance and the gait. Hocks that are too straight or have too much angulation that affect the distinctive type of Azawakh movement are not desired and should be penalized.
The front legs should be perfectly straight, but more often are turned outward about 5-10 degrees, which should not be considered a serious fault. The hind legs are perfectly straight.
GAIT / MOVEMENT: Always very supple (lissom) and with particularly high action at the trot and the walk. The gallop is bouncy. The Azawakh gives a great impression of lightness, even elasticity. The movement is an essential point of the breed.
Photos 3-5-6-12: Vantu and Sipos / insolens - Romania
Photos 1 / b, 13: Susannah Thyni / ZounAdu-Sweden
Photos 14, 15: Corine Lundqvist / de Garde-Epée - France
Photo 2: A.u.U. Hochgesand / Aulad al Sahra's - Germany
Photo 4: David Moore / Idiiyat-es-Sahel - USA
This English translation by Mimi Cary Drake is ©