Exciting Whelp at Idiiyat-es-Sahel

October 17, 2008

Tirout has whelped 5 pups at Idiyyat-es-Sahel. The puppies are sired by Tigidit Fasiqqi. I’m tremendously excited about this litter first because Tirout and Fasiqqi are great dogs to be around and beautiful, but also because they represent an injection of new blood from the Sahel that is essential for the survival of healthy Azawakh.

Tirout was imported from the Sahel by the Association Bukinabe Idi du Sahel (ABIS) 2007 expedition. Fasiqqi is the son of a dog collected in a previous expedition. They are also unusual in Western breeding because they carry recessive color combination genes which have been eliminated in the West by a combination of selective breeding and the random chance that the original foundation dogs were a particular color combination. While color is superficial, it is visually striking. Two of the puppies are particolored. They are mostly white.

Tirout's particolor whelps

Tirout's particolor puppies

I hope that these pups find wonderful owners who will breed them to carry their lines forward into the general Azawakh population. It is critical that breeders continue to embrace desert bred dogs into the Azawakh breeding population because the Azawakh gene pool in the West is founded upon a handful of dogs imported in the 1970s. Without the efforts of ABIS and like-minded breeders, the dogs will become hopelessly inbred. In Europe, the dog show scene exerts a powerful and unnatural selection pressure. Not only are champions preferred for breeding but dog owners must request permission to breed a dog. Permission to breed requires a minimum of something like three “very good” ratings at shows. If permission to breed is not granted, then the offspring of that dog cannot be entered into the registry.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Azawakh gene pool in the West became increasingly restricted. In aggregate, the inbreeding coefficients were steadily increasing while the ancestral loss coefficients were declining. The inbreeding coefficient is a rough measure of the genetic sameness of a dogs ancestors. The ancestral loss coefficient is a measure of the number of distinct ancestors relative to the whole population. Rising inbreeding coefficient tends to indicate increasing sameness. Falling ancestral loss coefficient indicates that breeding lines are being eliminated from the gene pool.

genetic loss

Inbreeding coefficient (IK) vs. ancestral loss coefficient (AVK) in Azawakh bred in France.

This graph shows an alarming bottle-necking trend which can only end very badly for the dogs. Consider the Basenji, which is closely related to the Azawakh. Contemporary Western Basenji have a very high incidence of a number of serious genetic ailments including digestive disorders, hip displasia, progressive retinopathy (blindness) and Fanconi’s syndrome (kidney failure). They also no longer look very much like hounds in the Congo. Breeders must out-cross back to desert bred dogs or there is no doubt in my mind the Azawakh will suffer a similar fate.

These whelps are part of the key to maintaining Azawakh as a viable, healthy breed. I am very excited about these puppies.

Congratulations, Daoud.

One Response to “Exciting Whelp at Idiiyat-es-Sahel”

  1. Thank you Brian….good synopsis of a complicated issue…and some good news, the particolored male puppy has been placed in a home where he will be used for breeding, Insh’Allah. I will retain the female puppy.

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