A new breed will be vying for top honors at this year's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. For the first time, the Azawakh will be one of 204 breeds competing in the vaunted canine competition. A sight hound is a breed that's known for hunting using sight and speed, rather than scent.
The Azawakh (pronounced "Azawalk") is a West African sight hound that is newly recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC notes that the dog is "so lean and rangy that his bone structure and musculature can plainly be seen beneath his skin."
The Azawakh's ultrafine, short coat comes in a rainbow of patterns and colors from red to fawn, black to brown. They are known for their speed and keen vision.
"The overall look of this leggy hound is one of elegance and fineness, but don't be fooled," says the AKC. "This is a tough, durable hunter who's been chasing gazelle across the scorching sands of the Sahara for more than a thousand years."
The Azawakh comes from the West African countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. This includes the Azawagh Valley, for which the breed is named.
There are usually new breeds that enter the ring each year. In 2019, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje and Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen were the latest additions to the big show.
In December, the AKC also recognized two other breeds: the Barbet, a water dog from France, and the Dogo Argentino, a large hunting breed. These new breeds aren't able to compete in the Westminster show until 2021, reports USA Today.
The 144th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be held at Madison Square Garden in New York City from Sunday, Feb. 9 through Tuesday, Feb. 11. More than 2,630 dogs from 49 states and 19 other countries are expected to compete.