It's the easy choice to breed the two dogs you have together. AI can be daunting. Finding a good match can involve approaching many different people and potentially being shot down. It also can be more expensive. However, it's not remotely a given that your bitch is going to be the right match for your dog (or vice versa). This is still something I am considering with Amalu. While I am planning on pairing her with Anubi, I want to make sure it's a good match before I do so and she still has maturing to do before I make that decision concretely.
I got lucky when I brought Amidi home. Certainly I had looked for lines that didn't share too many common ancestors, had good diversity, and nice moderation. However, when I picked Ami, I knew so much less than I do now. And she has grown into such a lovely match for Anubi and I could never have truly predicted that.
That all being said, what am I looking for from this pairing?
Anubi has lovely overall type. You look at him and his general appearance screams Azawakh. He has a beautiful head and expression with correct proportions and close to parallel planes. He has a good front - correct angulation, straight legs, though he is overall narrow. His ear set is excellent but his ear leather is so thin it is prone to tearing. He has a nice underline, though I'd like a high tuck and he's ever so slightly long coupled (long in the body) which makes him a touch longer than desirable. He has more angulation in the rear (substantially) than the front and more than the breed standard calls for. This gives him good drive from the rear and makes him fast, but not balanced at the trot. He has tight feet which don't have great circulation and without measures to toughen his pads he is prone to tearing them at the start of the coursing season. He has enough substance to trial and remain sound, which he has proven again and again in trials, but at 45lbs and 29" he is very light boned, which worries me as to the sustainability of that level of refinement in a breeding program. All of these impressions have been confirmed by multiple breeders I trust within the breed.
His temperament is absolutely my absolute ideal for the breed. He isn't overly friendly but he is steady and confident. He went through a bad and prolonged teenage fear period, which I suspect might translate to his puppies, but only time will tell. He is fantastically neutral and appropriate with other dogs - he'll tell a dog off when they deserve it but won't over react. Up until 2 years of age Anubi had a need to work that is substantially higher than most individuals of the breed. If he wasn't worked (trained, hiked, trialed, showed, etc) after a few days he would begin to pace. After a few more days he would start getting destructive to the house. In an average home that was not actively participating in sports, I suspect he would have been problematic. At over 3 years old now, that insatiable drive to work has settled but he still needs to be very mentally active to be happy.
Health tests and Embark panel look good. His hips came back as Good rather than Excellent (slightly atypical from the few results I've seen) but I am not at all worried about hips in the breed. I tested them for peace of mind since we play so many high impact sports. He is red sable (A locus- ayay) and does not carry brindle (determined by pedigree). He has minimal white markings (S locus- SS).
Amidi is everything I'd hoped for in moderation. She has very moderate substance. Her movement is very evocative of breed type and I wish more in the breed moved like her. She has a solid topline, which more level than rising, but still perfectly correct. She is shorter coupled and bodied than so many Azawakh these days and it gives her the correct 9:10 length to height proportion that is so iconic of the breed and I love her underline and high tuck. She has correct angulation in the front, he chest is widening every heat cycle though she still will occasionally stand east-west. She has a better rear than most of the dogs I've seen in the breed (so so very many Azawakh are over angulated in the rear in my experience) and moves very nicely balanced at a trot. Her tail is a touch shorter than ideal, but nothing that affects function. She has a good moderate head. She has more under-eye fill than I'd prefer, her head planes are a touch more divergent than I'd like, and her ear set is high and pitched forward, but much of that is that I'm being picky. Ami's skin is loose than I'd like, which I suspect is the biggest contributing factor as to why she's slower than Anubi. At about 6-7 months, her cartilage (ears, tail, toes) started going a bit soft and it never fully firmed back up. Since it didn't start as a young puppy I wonder if this is epigenetic (the environment (I think the food she was on during that time frame that didn't suit her at all) turned on a gene that caused the cartilage to loosen. This is strictly speculation, but this isn't anything I've observed in her parents or litter mates, so it is my hope. The looseness of the cartilage does cause her feet to go flat at times, and I will be watching for arthritis as she ages.
Ami's temperament is lively and bubbly. She is my girl who is always go, go, go. She loves meeting new strangers and will bound up to them and jump on them and give them kisses. She very much reminds me of her half-sister Gem. Her tail is always wagging and she has been the easiest dog to train. Her natural handler focus is fantastic, which has meant obstacle focus has been slower to come in learning agility. She loves shaping and the opportunity to think through a problem. There are times her problem-solving abilities have left me stunned. She is still an Azawakh and will guard the house and (particularly) the car from strangers but she warms up very quickly. She is dog selective. While I routinely have boarding dogs that she is accepting of, she doesn't appreciate them in her face and takes a few days/multiple introductions to warm up to new dogs when compared to humans. She will not react to a dog without reason or ever start a disagreement, but she will react loudly if she perceives herself wronged. I can run her in racing and coursing and flyball with other dogs and I can use her as a neutral dog or demo dog when I'm doing training work with other dogs. With her pack she is lovely and submissive and never starts a disagreement. While I would prefer less dramatics from her in regard to dogs, I feel her dog selectivity to stranger dogs is within reason for the breed.
Ami's health tests and Embark looked good. Her hips came back Excellent, which was a small relief since I do worry slightly about her joint laxity. She is red sable (A locus- ayay) and can only produce red sable. She carries one copy of the gene for extensive markings (S locus, she is Ssp), which means her white will express as larger white markings than a dog that did not have an S copy of the gene.
Anubi x Amidi pairing:
10 (incomplete) generation pedigree COI: 7.04%
Estimated Embark genetic pedigree COI: 7%
Embark COR: 12%
COI- Coefficient of Incest, COR- Coefficient of Relatedness
Puppies will be red sable (ayay) and may have the chance of have more extensive white markings (though no chance of parti-color).
From this pairing I would like to see more open rears which will lead to more balanced dogs. I am hoping for moderate substance. I have hopes that I will end up with slightly better general proportions like Ami. I would like to see Anubi's nice, tight skin improve upon Amidi's loose skin and it would be nice if Anubi's overly tight feet met Amidi's overly loose ones somewhere in the middle. The chances are in that case though that I will get a mix of both types of feet. Both have nice heads and it would be lovely it Ami's thicker ear leather mixed with Anubi's correct ear set.
Temperament wise I think this will be a drivey litter with excellent handler focus and the desire to work all day (which is perhaps less than ideal for a first time breeding in a breed that isn't renowned for their sports capacity). I expect the puppies will be quite steady in public and I'd like to see Anubi improve on Amidi's dog sociability. Judging by how Amidi's mother happy and goofy personality bred true in the vast majority of her puppies, I expect that these puppies will be friendlier than most Azawakh.
Who knows what the future will hold. Those are my hopes for the litter and while it's possible I'll get the worst parts of both dogs, I'm starting from very nice temperament and structure and even in that case the puppies would still be nice, functional dogs.
Ideal home for puppies from this pairing:
The average puppy in this litter is likely going to have a higher need to be mentally stimulated than the average individual in the breed. Ami is reasonably high energy with excellent handler focus for the breed and Anu has work ethic and stamina for days. When combined I suspect I will get good sport prospects. Both Anubi and Amidi love and excel at lure coursing and racing and I expect the puppies to be keen for the lure.
While I suspect there will be lower energy, lower work ethic puppies in this litter, if you are strictly looking for a chill pet to be taken on walks daily and occasional hikes or off leash runs on the weekends, you will be more likely to find a good fit in one of my other planned future pairings. I do already have quite a few good candidates for the more laidback individuals in the litter.