Is it a greyhound? Is it a whippet? Nope! The newest dog to show at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club dog show is the Azawakh, a sighthound breed originating in West Africa.
This slender and elegant dog was originally used to hunt small game in packs, which sets them apart from their closest relative, the Sloughi, who are lone hunters.
Because of their pack affinity, Azawakhs are also more vocal than most of their sight-hound cousins and can be guardians of the home.
Welcome to Westminster
The slim and elegant build of the Azawakh can throw some dog lovers off — the breed standard calls for 3 to 5 ribs to be showing. But it’s just part of who they are — speed demons whose hunting strategy is to tire out their prey. The top speed for an Azawakh is about 40 mph.
Meet this rare breed
Azawakhs tend to be a one-person dog who is devoted to their favorite person, loves their close family, and can be shy or wary of strangers. Lots of socialization and exposure to new environments during development will help an Azawakh grow up to be a calm and confident adult.
Behind the scenes with the Azawakh
Azawakhs excel at events where their speed is an asset, like lure coursing and agility. Like many dogs with prey drive and speed to burn, an Azawakh needs regular exercise to remain a happy camper. And a happy and relaxed Azawakh loves a burrow and a snuggle more than anything.
With a very low population in the United States, the Azawakh was only recently promoted to the Hound Group from the Foundation Stock listing in 2018.
Want to know what the next niche breed will be to make it to the big time? Check out the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service listings to learn more about breeds in development in the US.