Go to content Go to menu

Character and Education


Other people much more experienced than I have written about the character and education of the Azawakh. Articles on this topic in the English, German and French languages may be found, among others, at the Tombouktou´s kennel website: http://www.tombouktous-azawakhs.de/index1e.html  or De Garde Epee kennel website: http://www.azawakh.fr/ .

And what is my point of view?

“Everybody has an Azawakh s/he deserves“. (Werner Röder, Germany, the of Silverdale kennel, one of the founders of ABIS, an organisation focused on the preservation of the Azawakh both in and out of Africa)

And I say: “Finally, you will always get what you ask for... “


Once I mentioned to my colleague, who spent a part of her childhood in Mali, that I had an Azawakh, the hound of the Touaregs. She reacted:  “Oh, I can remember those dogs. They were very thin and when somebody thirty meters far from them lifted abruptly a hand, they escaped, frightened… You know, the Touaregs´ life is hard… there is not much time and space for tenderness there...“

The Azawakh is a less-domesticated breed of a sighthound, with the breeding of which man has interfered only minimally. It belongs among so-called primitive (natural) breeds. Everything in the Azawakh, from its appearance to its character, has been shaped by environmental conditions to an absolute perfection so that it could survive in its region of origin. Natural breeds in general come to this world perfect, perfectly equipped for survival in the locality they come from. In the case of such dogs, natural selection is really the best breeding program ever. If a man transfers such breeds from their homeland to our civilisation, animals find themselves in a world which is strange to them, and if they are not genetically “deformed” by an incorrect breeding program, they continue expressing their original characteristics and reactions which, from our angle of view of deeply-rooted stereotypes, may appear to be quite different from what they really are.


In many dog-related events and meetings, people judge the character of the Azawakh as “shy, aggressive, ill-balanced, etc.“ without even thinking that what they can see is rather a reflection of the relationship of the owner and the dog, and not the real character of the dog with which it was born. It is possible to work on every dog, to educate it so that life with such an animal could be calm and nice. It is possible to educate dogs of every character, from the timid up to the dominant ones – and this does not mean that the former are better than the latter. In terms of behaviour, there are only few extreme cases in fact, which, in vast majority, tend to be results of an inappropriate approach towards the dog. More exactly it should be said that there are dogs, which are easier or more difficult to educate, and good or bad owners. Only few people have the courage to admit that they themselves have caused behavioural problems of their dogs because they have not managed to educate the dog properly. It is easier to blame everything on the dog, and maybe sometimes on the breeder, claiming that “this dog does not behave as I expected… it’s the dog’s fault… this dog has a bad character… it is afraid of everything (as if the poor dog could be blamed for not knowing the human world!)… this dog is impossible to educate… it behaves incorrectly on purpose… “

In the case of the Azawakh, such sayings may be even based on certain articles and statements of the breed “specialists“. When a dog becomes aggressive or too shy, the root cause of such behaviour is usually the lack of trust between the dog and its owner. The dog feels unsafe due to the fact that its owner is not a proper Alfa personality of the pack - or, better said, a good guide and partner of the dog in the man´s world, and in some cases, such behaviour may appear in consequence of a traumatic experience. In its region of origin, the Azawakh has to rely on itself, it must react to what happens around so that the dog could survive. For such a reason, the Azawakh tends to be rather independent, it learns through experience and reacts with an extreme sensitivity to every subtle change in the life of the pack. The Azawakh, as well as every dog, needs to feel the support of its pack (which means, in our world, the dog’s owner and other dogs in the pack), a support of a functional organisation with its rules firmly set. It is just and only the owner of the dog who should set such rules of conduct in the pack and abide by them. If not, the dog has to find out by itself how to survive and behave in a human world which is very far from the natural habitat of the dog – in such a moment, behavioural problems become evident.


Nothing should be taken for granted in one’s life. In my opinion, if anybody wishes to spend a part of her/his life with any natural breed,  s/he has to work very hard to be able to see and understand things which have never come to her/his mind when s/he used to be an owner of a breed purposefully bred by man. The vast majority of such “cultural“ breeds are born with inherent love and trust towards people, and it is only up to the owner what s/he will do with such a gift. However, in the case of the majority of the Azawakhs, the owner must earn the love, trust and obedience of the dog through an appropriate approach towards the Azawakh. The Azawakh is usually able to “read“ very well one’s mind and soul. If any person has hidden negative feelings towards the dog, the dog will feel it easily; if there is no mutual trust, behavioural problems begin, starting from expressions of fear, physical contact avoidance, and destructive behaviour, up to aggression. If anything like this happens, the owner, first of all, must try to find faults with her/himself, never with the dog.

As I say – if there is anything wrong with the behaviour of my dog, it’s always me to be blamed for that! It’s me who has to change – if my approach towards the dog changes, my dog’s behaviour will change as well.

The Azawakh really is not a breed suitable for just anybody. A person of a superficial nature who is not willing to learn and change, who is not willing or able to work on the dog’s education and socialisation and who expects that everything will happen and be resolved just by itself, should never opt for having an Azawakh. If the physical beauty of the Azawakh is the only reason for having or breeding it, it is better to consider having another breed, as the Azawakh is much more than only an elegant hound which may help its owner to achieve fame in the show ring. The Azawakh is a sensitive, intelligent dog, a perfect companion, which deserves to be treated properly. The Azawakh should not become a tool for achieving any man’s ambitions, often petty and lacking deep sense. The Azawakh, it is a way of life, manner of thinking, feeling. The interior of the Azawakh is even more beautiful than its exterior. The Azawakh may be fragile and harsh, absolutely loyal and independent, and such characteristics will prevail or will be in equilibrium according to the capacity of the dog’s owner to communicate and work with the dog.


For me, life with my Azawakhs is a never-ending lecture on the Nature, on people, on myself. I love to watch my dogs, to read in their eyes, in their body language, to learn to perceive the world from their perspective. Each of my dogs is very different, each of them requires a different approach. However, thanks to them, I have been able to enter a beautiful rich world, which used to be almost hidden from me in the past.



Add comment

Overview of comments

Thank you for this beautiful article

( Boaz Migdan, 2018-09-28 09:41)

You have inspired me, and made my wish to live with an Azawakh as strong as ever