Posts Tagged ‘azawakh’

The Bizarro World in the DC comics universe is a place where everything is the opposite.

The planet is cube-shaped, and its official name is “Htrae”– Earth spelled backwards.

Everything about it is supposed to be the opposite of the way things are on this planet.

A while I ago, I decided to determine the Bizarro version of the golden retriever would be.

To do this, I have considered what the characteristics of the golden retriever are:

  1. Western breed.  Goldens are derived from solely Western dogs.
  2. Recent origin. The yellow wavy-coated retriever strain was founded in the 1870’s. The breed as we know it today didn’t become standardized until the early twentieth century.
  3. Bred for trainability. Goldens have been selected to take direction from trainers and handlers at a very high level. They also excel at obedience trials and other more modern dog sports. They have performed as guide dogs for the blind and as assistance dogs for the mobility impaired. They have also been used as search-and-rescue dogs, where their trainability and good nose combine to make superior working animal.
  4. Friendly dog. Goldens tend to like everyone. They are usually not good watch dogs. They are often recommended as family pets, and they are often employed as therapy dogs. Goldens are usually great dogs to take out in public. Miley has attended several parties, including a wedding reception with no fuss or confusion.
  5. They like the cold weather. I have never known a golden that didn’t like the coldest days of the winter. When the first snow falls, that is a national holiday to a golden retriever. They have dense, thick coats that protect them from the coldest conditions. These dogs will swim even if there is ice in the water.

The closest I can come to the opposite of these traits is the azawakh, the dog in the photo above.

Take these five characteristic and see how they compare to the golden retriever.

  1. Non-Western Origin. Azawakh are native to the Western Sahel, transition region between the Sahara and the savannas regions.
  2. Rather ancient origin. Dogs of the azawakh type have likely been wandering around the Sahel for thousands of years.
  3. Bred to be a camp guardian and hunting dog. No one selectively bred these dogs to be trainable. They were meant to think for themselves to assess threats to people and livestock, and they were meant to think for themselves when hunting prey for people who had lived for centuries without firearms (because they weren’t invented yet).
  4. Bonds closely to just a few people.  Azawakh were the companions of the Touareg/Tamasheq nomads. If the dogs were so friendly, they’d likely wander off and be killed by a predator or die of starvation. Only those dogs that bonded very close to a few people were likely to survive, and it is likely that the dogs that were more closely bonded made better watch dogs. If a dog doesn’t trust everyone, it is very likely to bark if an intruder shows up.
  5. Hate cold weather. Because these dogs were developed in a land with extreme heat and because they don’t have a lot of body fat or coat, they are not well adapted to cold climates. Like many sighthounds, they detest winter.

So the Azawakh is the opposite of the golden retriever.

It is the bizarro golden retriever– or the closest thing I can come to it.


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    The Idi of the Sahel

    Azawakh in their natural habitat, guarding livestock and nomads.


    I think these people are Tuareg/Tamasheq peoples, who speak a Berber language.

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