8 Facts About the Azawakh

iStock.com/animalinfo
iStock.com/animalinfo

As of January 1, the Azawakh—one of the most expensive dog breeds in the world, according to The Dog Digest—has gained full recognition within the American Kennel Club (AKC), making it eligible for competition in the organization's dog shows. Here’s what you should know about the breed.

1. The Azawakh is leggy.

These pups are tall and lean—so much so that, according to the AKC, a dog’s “bone structure and musculature can plainly be seen beneath his skin.” Males can stand nearly 2.5 feet tall and weigh up to 55 pounds, while females can grow to 2.25 feet tall and weigh up to 44 pounds. They live 12 to 15 years.

2. The Azawakh is an ancient breed from West Africa.

The sighthound, used for hunting, hails from the Sahel region, which includes Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger (and the Azawakh Valley). “This wonderful breed has been around for thousands of years, and we’re happy to introduce it to dog lovers in this country,” AKC executive secretary Gina DiNardo said in a press release.

3. The breed made its U.S. debut in the 1980s.

According to the American Azawakh Association (AAA), the breed made its way to Europe first, in the 1970s. The first litter was born in the states on October 31, 1987; all the pups were red or fawn and had white markings.

4. Its name is pronounced Oz-a-wok.

It’s also known as the Tuareg Sloughi. The Tuareg nomads—who are among several tribes that traditionally own this breed—call it idii n’ illeli, which means “sighthound of the free people.”

5. It has a short, fine coat.

Unlike with other breeds, no color combinations or markings will disqualify the Azawakh from competition. According to the AKC, its coat “may come in any color or color combinations: red, clear sand to fawn, brindled, parti-color (which may be predominantly white), blue, black, and brown. The head may have a black mask and there may be white markings on the legs, bib, and at the tip of tail.” Its short coat means it’s easy to groom; according to the AKC, it needs just a brush once a week. You probably won’t even need to bathe it if it gets muddy; just wait for the mud to dry, then brush it off.

6. It’s a very active breed.

In Africa, these speedy dogs chase down fleet-footed prey like hares and gazelles—so they need a lot of exercise. According to the AAA, “The Azawakh is always on the alert for moving objects; even a leaf in the wind will trigger a chase.”

They’re a good pooch for runners and need at least 30 minutes of playing with another dog or owner every day. The other dog or owner is key, though: Left on its own, the Azawakh won’t exercise.

7. They’re loyal to their owners, but can be standoffish with strangers.

These smart, independent dogs are have a strong bond with their owners. They’re also protective: In addition to hunting, they’re used in Africa to protect encampments and herds of animals. The AAA notes that “when approached on their own turf, they are vocally intimidating. In situations where their duty as guardian isn’t necessary, their reactions may range from friendly, to mildly curious, to arrogantly indifferent. … A well socialized Azawakh is affectionate, gentle, playful, subtle, and very loyal to its owner … Azawakhs are usually cautious with strangers. They typically observe for a while before approaching.”

8. It’s part of the AKC’s hound group.

Also in that group are the greyhound, the saluki, the beagle, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback, among others.

Want to Give a Retired Police or Military Dog a Forever Home? Mission K9 Rescue Can Help

Mission K9 Rescue
Mission K9 Rescue

Over the course of their careers, working dogs perform lifesaving duties while assisting members of the police force and military. These dogs receive a lot of appreciation while they're on the job, but as they enter retirement, they're often forgotten in animal shelters. An organization called Mission K9 Rescue is dedicated to placing these dogs in loving forever homes after they've served the United States.

"Our mission is to give K9 veterans—and other working dogs who have served our country—safe, peaceful, and loving homes upon retirement from service," K9 co-founder and president Kristen Maurer tells Mental Floss. "There are so many animal-loving patriots in America, and most don't realize that many of these brave, selfless dogs often remain overseas much longer than needed when they are no longer able to work. Some do not receive adequate care. We bring awareness of their plight to the public, and we work tirelessly to rescue, reunite, re-home, rehabilitate, and repair these dogs so they can live out the rest of their days in a safe and comfortable environment."

Many retired dogs are abandoned in kennels—both in the U.S. and abroad—but for some, the situation is even more severe. According to Mission K9 Rescue, working dogs are sometimes euthanized en masse when they can no longer do their jobs. The organization aims not only to remove these dogs from harm's way, but to find them forever families that are a perfect fit for them.

After rescuing dogs from both the U.S. and overseas, Mission K9 Rescue matches them with new owners. If the dog has a past handler who is interested in adopting them permanently, reuniting the pair is a priority. For all other cases, the organization goes through a rigorous process to find dogs a brand-new home.

Mission K9 also specializes in rehabilitating dogs who have suffered either mental trauma or physical injuries in their work. Just like humans, canines can develop PTSD from working in stressful, high-pressure situations. After they're rescued, animals are given as much time as they need to decompress and reintegrate into society before they're adopted. On top of the mental demands, being a working dog causes physical strain, and Mission K9 provides medical care to dogs with injuries and other issues.

Anyone can apply to adopt a retired working dog from Mission K9 Rescue. If you're interested in bringing one into your home, you can fill out the application on the group's website.

German shepherd in a bed at home.
Mission K9 Rescue

Two dogs in the backseat of a car.
Mission K9 Rescue

Dog and owner in front of home.
Mission K9 Rescue

Some Fish Eggs Can Hatch After Being Pooped Out by Swans

iStock/olaser
iStock/olaser

A question that’s often baffled scientists is how certain species of fish can sometimes appear—and even proliferate—in isolated bodies of water not previously known to harbor them. A new study has demonstrated that the most unlikely explanation might actually be correct: It’s possible they fell from the sky.

Specifically, from the rear end of a swan.

A study in the journal Ecology by researchers at the Unisinos University in Brazil found that killifish eggs can, in rare cases, survive being swallowed by swans, enduring a journey through their digestive tracts before being excreted out. This kind of fecal public transportation system explains how killifish can pop up in ponds, flood waters, and other water bodies that would seem an unlikely place for species to suddenly appear.

After discovering that some plants could survive being ingested and then flourish in swan poop, researchers took notice of a killifish egg present in a frozen fecal sample. They set about mixing two species of killifish eggs into the food supply of coscoroba swans living in a zoo. After waiting a day, they collected the poop and dug in looking for the eggs.

Of the 650 eggs they estimated to have been ingested by the swans, about five were left intact. Of those, three continued to develop. Two died of a fungal infection, but one survived, enduring 30 hours in the gut and hatching 49 days after being excreted.

Because killifish eggs have a thick outer membrane, or chorion, they stand a chance of coming through the digestive tract of an animal intact. Not all of what a swan ingests will be absorbed; their stomachs are built to extract nutrients quickly and get rid of the whatever's left so the birds can eat again. In rare cases, that can mean an egg that can go on to prosper.

Not all fish eggs are so durable, and not all fish are quite like the killifish. Dubbed the "most extreme" fish on Earth by the BBC, killifish have adapted to popping up in strange environments where water may eventually dry up. They typically live for a year and deposit eggs that can survive in soil, delaying their development until conditions—say, not being inside a swan—are optimal. One species, the mangrove killifish, can even breathe through its skin. When water recedes, they can survive on land for over two months, waddling on their bellies or using their tails to "jump" and eat insects. A fish that can survive on dry land probably doesn't sweat having to live in poop.

The researchers plan to study carp eggs next to see if they, too, can go through a lot of crap to get to where they’re going.

[h/t The New York Times]

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