A blog about preservationist breeding of Azawakh, one of the world's last remaining canine landraces...
a very rough sketch...
...showing the degeneration [in biologic-speak "the evolutionary decline or loss of a function, characteristic, or structure in an organism or a species"] of the rear legs of an Azawakh (and well, in my opinion any dog, since the "architecture" of the worst case example is flawed and therefore unsound; there is nothing below the hips to support the weight of the rear part of the dog. I believe such flawed structure might lead to hip dysplasia, a condition not found in Azawakh....yet, al hamdullilah). You will notice that in the "good structure" the dog is what we in the west would call "sickle-hocked". This is a typical structural element of dogs with good rear legs and it typical of all archetypal dogs in the Sahel. This structure is typically lost in the "west"...especially since the "standard" (Daoud...don't get started!) calls for straight hocks.
I want to start talking about the archetypal characteristics of the haanshee. Considering the state of breeding in the west I think it is crucial that someone (it could be anyone!) get this started....
Posted by azawakh place at Monday, August 04, 2008
Labels: Azawakh, Tuareg, Africa azawakh, burkina faso, desert, dogs, images, mali, niger, peul, sahel, tuareg
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The irony is that the Sloughi standard calls for the hock to be "well bent".
Note that in the left-most sketch none of the bones are aligned so that they must take a direct vertical force. The tension of the muscles and tendons holds the body up. It's like the suspension in an off-road motorcycle.
Also, when the dog leans forward to start walking, he doesn't have pull his leg forward and lift it. He just has to lift it and arrest his fall forward by putting it back down. Probably related to the archetypal spring-walk of the Azawakh.
This is a discussion I could go for days on! Besides actively breeding for over-angulation (obsession with sweeping side gait seems to drive this, can't the dog just trot normally?) I firmly believe that stacking a puppy repeatedly from a young age, teaching it to habitually stand in an exaggerated position and teaching it to move in the highly extended show ring trot actually changes it's physiology.
Brian, I find the Azawakh movement very interesting. I also have Afghans and they are also supposed to have a springy movement (I call it 'boing') but visually and kinetically it's very different. The Azawakh movement is very effortless, almost like the dog is levitating or the spring comes from the feet, at least it is in our small sample of one mostly grown Azawakh, while the Afghan is a very powerful springing movement due to the more exaggerated bend of stifle. All the sighthounds in their natural state (country of origin dogs) seem to have less angulation in general that Western show dogs, to the point that a 'normal' dog is considered incorrect, or not 'show quality' whatever that means.
My understanding is that a "show quality" greyhound cannot run very fast. The whole situation is turned on its head. The original point of the dog show was to show off functional dogs. The breed standards were intended to capture the points that made the dogs functional. Unfortunately, they are full of mistakes and the most important functional aspects can't be seen.
For example, the Azawakh standard(s) says, "Eyes: Almond shaped, quite large. Their color is dark or amber. Eyelids are pigmented." It has nothing to say about whether the dog can see, is nearsighted or farsighted or how it tracks game and threats visually. That would be too hard to judge in a show ring.
(I adapted this from the Functional Saluki by Dan Belkin, PhD. It is a good read if you haven't read it.)
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