West African Dogs starring at show
A new participant is looking to be top dog at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
For the first time, the Sahelian Azawakh will be competing at the annual New York City event running February 8-11. It will be one of more than 200 breeds and varieties represented in the competition for which there is no cash prize.
“It’s all about honor, and prestige, and a trophy and being part of history,” says Gail Miller Bisher, Westminster Kennel Club Show national spokesperson.
The sighthound originating from West Africa is now recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and therefore eligible for Westminster. In order for a breed to become recognized by the AKC, “there must be a minimum number of dogs geographically distributed throughout the U.S., as well as an established breed club of responsible owners and breeders,” according to Samantha Seymour, AKC public relations manager.
Bisher says new breeds are recognized “almost every year.”
“These breeds – they may be very old breeds, actually, in other parts of the world, but they’re becoming more popular in the U.S., and so that’s the case with the Azawakh,” she says.
The Azawakh is a breed of dog from West Africa, named after Azawagh Valley. It is also used as a sighthound, they have been relegated to a secondary function of camp guardian due to the lack of game in the region. With ancient origins, it is raised throughout the Sahelian zone of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
This region includes the Azawagh Valle. While commonly associated with the nomadic Tuareg people, they are also bred and owned by other ethnic groups such as the Peulh, Bella, and Hausa. The Azawakah is more related to the Sloughi than it is to the