Again With the Color Standards for Azawakh

December 1, 2008

Previously, I wrote about the color rules in the FCI standard for the Azawakh breed. The FCI or Fédération Cynologique Internationale is the governing body for purebred dog standards throughout Europe and most countries. At a high level, the way this works is the main body sets standards and policies in Belgium and then member kennel clubs in each country administer a registry. The big exception is the USA and England which have their own kennel clubs which set their own breed standards. I don’t know this definitively, but I’m guessing that since the Kennel Club (KC) and American Kennel Club (AKC) were founded in the 1890s by a number of uptight pretentious men they had very little interest in taking orders from a wholly separate set of uptight European pretentious men who only got around to organizing themselves in the 20th century.

The point I’m getting at here is that the AKC and KC can have totally different rules and standards for a breed than the FCI. In fact, they don’t even have to recognize the same breeds as the FCI.

Take Azawakh, for example.

The FCI recognizes Azawakh as an official breed with a rigid standard. The AKC recognizes Azawakh as a rare (foundation stock) breed which cannot even be shown in regular dog shows. The status as a foundation stock breed means that things like the registry and conformation standard for the Azawakh are in flux with the AKC and considered fungible. Some things have already been changed relative to the FCI standard: colors, for example.

The standard proposed by the American Azawakh Association for use by the AKC is the same as the FCI standard except where colors are concerned.

FCI Standard

Color: Fawn with flecking limited to the extremities. All shades are admitted from clear sand to dark red. The head may or may not have a black mask and the list is very inconsistent. The coat includes a white bib and a white brush at the tip of the tail. Each of the four limbs must have compulsorily a white “stocking”, at least in the shape of tracing on the foot. Black brindles are allowed.

Eliminating faults:

Absence of any white marking at the extremity of one or more limbs.
Light eyes; ie. bird of prey eyes.

Proposed AKC Standard

Color: Fawn, clear sand to dark fawn, brindle, white, black, grey, blue, grizzle, parti-color, and all shades of brown to include chocolate. The head may or may not have a black mask. There may be white markings on the legs, bib and at the tip of tail.

Eliminating faults:

Absence of any white marking at the extremity of one or more limbs.
Light eyes; ie. bird of prey eyes.

The standard proposed for the AKC is much better that the FCI one. Since it now includes everything but the kitchen sink, is it even meaningful or is it just a complicated tangle of words that nobody can possibly remember? Also, there are combinations of acceptable colors that would guarantee the eliminating fault of “light eyes”, such as homozygous blue dilution with homozygous liver (dd + bb). The light eye prohibition seems to be baseless.

Field studies conducted by ABIS have found that there Kel Tamasheq do not systematically select for particular colors. It seems to me that we should adopt the same lack of criteria. After all, the dogs are much more theirs than ours. 

Color is a distraction that shouldn’t be driving the selection of Azawakh. I propose a straightforward and easy to remembe simplification that would make color a non-issue.

Straightforward Standard

Color: Any color combination is acceptable.

Eliminating faults:

Absence of any white marking at the extremity of one or more limbs.
Light eyes; ie. bird of prey eyes.


7 Responses to “Again With the Color Standards for Azawakh”

  1. […] Vote Again With the Color Standards for Azawakh […]

  2. akilah Says:

    The treatment of white is very tricky. The draft as you proposed suggests solid white is going permitted? Albinism can become a problem. But then, white on the muzzle – as described the proposed language excludes white on the muzzle? Why even bother to mention mask or no mask?

    Your previous suggestion (which you have since deleted), simply, that the color standard includes all colors, is less self contradictory and presents the open criteria for colors that is more consistent with the existing conditions of the aidi in the Sahel. There should be a disqualification for albinism, which carries other genetic defects with it (visual impairment for example).

    Always ready to bite controversy in the butt regards,

  3. Brian Reiter Says:

    There are solid white Azawakh in the Sahel. I’ve seen a few examples.

    I have a picture of one bred by Ayad ag Intangoum, called Boum. Boum looks to me like he actually has the Platinum (Ivory) allele of the C locus, c(P). That allele causes extreme dilution of red phaemlelanin pigment. He isn’t an albino.

    I guess I don’t know how likely albinism is to develop. Is it a real problem to be worth the complexity of including in a standard? How do people differentiate white from albino? Do you just put in Albino as an eliminating fault or do you put in all the symptoms of albinism?

    I’d also note that there are requirements elswhere in the standard for a black or brown nose and pigmented eyelids. Those requirements may effectively eliminate albino animals which would have white nose and eyelids since their bodies cannot produce any pigments.

    What did I delete?

  4. akilah Says:

    The bigger question is: why bother to chase AKC and be part of that dying commercial enterprise following the wake of IBM, read this:

    Retournez aux moutons: Below are excerpts from UKC’s Color and DQ paragraphs. The DQs are generic, found in almost all breeds, except for the eye color and coat length references. It covers albinism in a very straightforward manner, and eliminates the need to mention eye rim color, nose color, etc. The absence of “some” pigment in eye rims and nose is not albinism. Phenotypes expressing more white will sometimes also present random lack of pigmentation on eye rims and/or nose, and that should not be grounds for a DQ, IMO.

    Albinism is actually a genetic defect, an inability to synthesize melanin. It is an autosomal recessive trait and is rare unless some breeder comes along and decides to select breedings based primarily on white, or some such other superficial criteria (unfortunately it happens all too often, witness the German Shepherd breed and kennels “specializing in [undesirable] white GSDs).

    UKC Azawakh standard as revised 5/1/2008:


    The Azawakh comes in varying colors, to include cream to dark red, white, chocolate, brindle, black, grizzle, and parti-color. White markings and dark facial masks are allowed.


    Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Overshot or undershot bite. Yellow (bird of prey) eyes. Albinism. Harsh or long coat. Over or under the prescribed height by more than one inch.

  5. akilah Says:

    Brian Says:

    I couldn’t find it, but you wrote:


    That’s long enough a color description for me!

  6. akilah Says:

    Brian Says: What did I delete?

    This is what I couldn’t find, that you wrote:
    Re-Rewrite Redux
    Color: Any combination of colors is acceptable.

    Plenty descriptive enough for me.

    KISS regards,

  7. Brian Reiter Says:

    I think you are looking for this comment:

    Which, BTW, is the same as the “Straightforward Standard” I proposed in this post.

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