The Azawakh as a breed does have several health issues that need to be addressed. The most common of these health concerns are hypothyroidism, seizures, and several autoimmune mediated diseases, such as a Myositis type disease, autoimmune thyroiditis and generalized Demodectic Mange. Cardiac problems, though not common, have occurred. Bloat, though rare, has been known to occur in some lines. Breeders are strongly encouraged to test for as many diseases as possible, making it possible to make an informed breeding decision when considering a litter. Common tests are thyroid screens, complete blood chemistry profiles, autoimmune function blood work, cardiac screening, eye examinations (CERF), X-rays for hip/elbow dysplasia (OFA, PennHip). Seizures are hard to test for and cause determination is not always possible. However, dogs exhibiting seizures should not be bred. Unfortunately, many dogs start seizure activity later in life after they have been bred many times and have already adversely impacted the gene pool of the breed.
The problem that breeders face in many cases is that because of the small gene pool, it is impossible to eliminate all dogs who carry a genetic disease from the breed program. But it makes sense to test for as many diseases as possible so as not to “double up” on the same disease in sire and dam. Pedigree research and disease tracking is an invaluable tool for Azawakh breeders. Some diseases can be tracked through an entire line from the original foundation dogs.
Nutrition is an important point to consider in a breed so close to its “roots”. Though not all breeders feel it important, many feel that the hounds should be fed a simple diet of whole foods, rather than kibble. This is a personal preference, of course. Many generations of dogs have been kibble raised and have done well. In medical treatment of the hound, natural, holistic methods work very well. The Azawakh is generally a healthy breed. They heal amazingly well from cuts and scrapes. Care should be given with the use of chemicals, harsh shampoos and the feeding of excessive protein. The Azawakh is a natural breed whose immune system is not conditioned to the use of most Western chemicals, therefore, judicious use of chemicals around the hound is advised. The Azawakh should be fed a diet with a fat content of 12-16% fat to maintain good weight and a healthy coat, a moderate level of protein (22-26% ) is advisable. Weight maintenance of Azawakhs is another important area to consider. They should be slim. In proper weight, some ribs, vertebrae, and the hip bones should be visible. It’s not to say they should be skeletal, but a fat sighthound is not a happy nor a healthy sighthound. Azawakhs are structured to be on the thin side. Overfeeding will adversely affect the joint structure of the hound, especially in puppies. Azawakh puppies should never be fat and roly poly. Keeping them slim as they are growing permits the joints and other body parts to grow properly, without additional stress and wear and tear. Slim pups are less prone to growth plate problems.