How is the Azawakh's coat colour perceived in the Touareg tribes?
Robert Citerneschi (Morag of Harris affix) - Published in the magazine "Vos Chiens" # 42 dated June 1988
English Translation by Susan Bamford
The breed standard (307b) specifies the following in the paragraph on colour: " The coat varies from sand-white to brown, passing through all shades of fawn, the mask may be blackened. The coat allows a slight white blaze on the head and carries a white bib and a white tip to the tail. Four white socks are very desirable. Traces of white are compulsory on each of the four feet.
FAULTS: brindle stripes, absence of white marks on each of the four feet and of trace of black in at least one nail, except for sand-white coats.
ELIMINATING: An absence of white sock may exceptionally be accepted on a hound possessing a perfect conformation".
Excellent work produced by Mrs Ursula Arnold, supported by the writings of Mr. Lhote, together with a conversation that we were able to have with Mr. Coppé, French owner-importer of several Azawakhs having lived for some time in Mali; enables us to give a list of coat varieties frequently encountered among the Touareg. These coats are not often mentioned by the standard and some are even considered to be a fault.
The following coat colours are encountered and mentioned by the Touareg:
- Pale fawn through to mahogany
- Pale sand
- All shades of brown, even chocolate
- Piebald with markings ranging from pale to dark brown
- Sand with black or grey brindling
All these colours can be accompanied by a mask. Representatives of all these coat varieties have greater or lesser amounts of white markings and, often, a white blaze on the head. The Touaregs name their dog in line with its coat colour; in Tamacheq a first letter "T" indicates the feminine as follows:
Sand: AHOURA for the male, TAHOURA for the female.
With white marks: AZERAF
With white collar: AGHRI
To the question: What is the most sought after colour? The nomads invariably reply by quoting the colour of their own dog. There does not seem to be any colour selection. Selection is made rather on a morphological type with a notion of family. We think that the relative rarity of brindle dogs means that they are preferred. When a brindle pup appears in a litter, it will be among those left alive.
We hope that this information, checked many times, will make it possible to change the Azawakh standard, in fact by limiting coat colour in this arbitrary and unjustified manner we run the risk of depriving ourselves of progeny from some exceptional dogs. The low number of individuals in our base does not allow us to do this, especially where it involves the nomads' favourite colour.
A wider base would enable us to have a higher level of production with more varied starting points and, subsequently, a better selection in terms of morphology and temperament, we can only hope that all varieties of the Azawakh's coat colour will be rapidly recognised, knowing that brindle dogs have already been imported from Mali into France and also Germany.