Azawakh are not Odorless

November 21, 2008

I’ve read in a number of places that Azawakh do not have a “doggy odor”. This strikes me as marketing hype. The implication is that the dogs are odor-free and that’s not true.

They have a smell but it is very different from the Labrador retriever dog smell that a lot of people are familiar with. The labrador smell is primarily caused by natural oxidation of the heavy oils in their coat. Basically, those dogs smell rancid.

Back to Azawakh.

Their basic smell is a kind of musk, somewhat horse-like. I find it a reasonably pleasant and earthy smell. My wife and daughters definitely do not always agree. If the dogs start to have a strong offensive odor it is invariably because of something they encountered outdoors and I’m sometimes obliged to give the dogs a bath.

Depending on the personality of  dog, bathing ranges from easy to a battle royal. I don’t recommend bathing Azawakh any more often than you need to to have peace in your house. They have sensitive skin that isn’t very oily (hence the absence of the Labrador smell) and the shampoo will tend to dry them out and make their skin itchy and flaky.

I’ve had the best luck with detergent-free shampoos that also contain a source of fat, like Shea butter, lanolin and/or emu oil (from the flightless ostrich-like bird). These shampoos are obscenely expensive, which is another good disincentive for over-bathing.

Shea Pet shampoos contain fair trade Shea butter which is purchased from women’s cooperatives in Uganda. I got this stuff at a doggy day care around the corner from my house. Kenic (Glo-Marr) in Kentucky makes Kalaya Emu Oil Pet Shampoo. A friend recommended it to me and it works well, without unfortunate side-effects. The Kalaya stuff is less expensive than the Shea Pet stuff, but harder (for me) to find. I called around to all the local stores but finally bought a bottle on-line.

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