ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

This flaxen-haired, silky-coated beauty hails from Afghanistan. Underneath the magnificent coat of the Afghan hound there is a sinewy, muscled dog that is powerful and quick. Their body structure is built for a long day’s hunt with enormous paws that can maneuver across the rough terrain. Today, the Afghan hound is a very impressive sight in the dog show ring. This breed, however, is not the dog for the faint of heart; they are very strong-headed dogs, cute and playful as a puppy but solitary and aloof in adulthood.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityLow
Health and GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group: Hound in the USA, Sight Hound in the UK
Height: Generally 26” – 29,” can be 27” at the shoulders
Weight: Generally 44-60 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years

«Tazi» is the initial name given to this breed in Afghanistan, and from records and stories, we can trace their beginnings back to the pre-Christian era. These establish the breed’s origins long before most others and the Afghan holds the reputation of being one of the oldest known breeds to man.

As a hunting dog, the Afghan was used to hunt large prey in the desert and the mountains of Afghanistan. It has a reputation for running fast over great distances and boldly keeping ferocious predators (leopards for instance) at bay. Afghans are prized for their independence and their ability to think and function on their own.

However, the Afghan leads a much different life in this day and age. They may not be hunting big prey, but the blood of a hound still flows through their veins.  A puppy of this breed will seek out affection and love from its family; but, beware; don’t be taken in by the unadulterated admirations. As the puppy grows, he will become more independent. The Afghans are solitary by nature and will retreat to being a one person or one family dog if they are not socialized. By adulthood, he will shun many of your attempts at affection. He will become indifferent and aloof. His independent nature will assert itself, and he will become the master, doling out affection at his whim, not yours. You might begin to wonder if there are one or two feline genes in his blood.

Just as you despair he will never love you again, out pops his whimsical side. The troublemaker with a twinkle in his eye steals your socks and leads you on a merry game of chase.  The Afghan hound is a conundrum waiting to be solved. Aloof yet loving, independent and social, this dog will keep you guessing. When you least expect it, he will circle in for a snuggle.

Main Highlights

Afghan hounds are considered one of the most elegant breeds. When you first see them their height, the flowing silky coat, the narrow facial structure and the thin, fashionable appearance strike you. The Afghans are the fashion models of dogs and you can envision them strolling down a runway in the Milan spring shows.

  • One of their first appearances in the United States was in 1926 when Zeppo Marx of the Marx brothers brought the Afghan to America.
  • The Afghan gained immediate popularity in 1979 when Mattel released Barbie and her pet Afghan Hound, Beauty.
  • Afghans can be very playful and mischievous; they are intelligent, often learning to open doors and dressers and stealing the contents.
  • In 1940 the Afghan Hound Club of America was admitted to the AKC. They held their first breed specialty show that year.
Breed History

This dog comes from Afghanistan and its origins are a mystery. Some say that the Hound originated in the Middle East and was brought to Afghanistan by way of Persia. Once there, they developed their long flowing coat to protect them against the cold at high altitudes.

They were originally named «Tazi» and the breed is thought to date back to the pre-Christian eras. Recently, through DNA analysis, researchers have discovered that the Afghan hound is one of the most ancient breeds, dating back thousands of years.

In 1925 a British officer stationed near Kabul transported a few Afghan Hounds to England. From there, they traveled to America.  Since then their population has increased and thrived. In the 1980’s they became one of the most popular breeds on the dog show circuit and have now branched out into agility and obedience competitions.

Size

Afghan hound’s appearance is tall and regal. The males stand between 26 to 29 inches, and females reach 24-27 inches.  At this height, you would expect the Afghans to be a heavy dog, but the body under all that fur is slim and muscular. Most hounds weigh in between 44-60 lbs.

Personality and Character

They can be aloof and distant as mature dogs. However, they also have their silly side, which will join in games with the family. You should socialize Afghans early in life so they grow accustomed to being around people. They are not aggressive dogs, but they will be more comfortable if they are introduced to strangers slowly.  Also, they are drama queens; they have the reputation of being dramatic and taking everything to extremes. As curious animals they are prone to mischief, stealing food, and running off.

Don’t let your afghan off leash, without a fenced in yard. Due to their hunting instinct, one sight of potential prey and they will be off in a mad race. The Afghans are incredibly fast, agile and fantastic jumpers which is why installed fences must be high, at least 6 feet.

It is important for the Afghan to run every day. They are energetic, athletic and driven to the chase and they will need daily exercise to keep them calm and well behaved in the house.

They can be quiet and dignified at home, but don’t leave them unsupervised for extended periods of time.  They grow bored easily, and a bored dog is a destructive dog.  Even more, Afghans are intelligent dogs and will figure out how to get into places that are forbidden.

Training will be a challenge and you should start as soon as the puppy reaches 8-10 weeks. As a puppy, they will be receptive to obedience training while still seeking affection and approval.

A tip from the specialists: The Afghan’s neck is the most susceptible part of its body due to its length and delicacy. This also means that you will not be able to use the alpha technique of leash jerking. You could easily damage the bones and muscles as well as frighten the dog, and it will react defensively in the form of resistance. It will plant its legs, take a stance and refuse to move.

Training an Afghan will take patience, control, love, and positive reinforcement, along with an abundance of time; lots of time. Their independent nature is difficult to control, and it may take a variety of methods and some coaxing to get them to respond. Training an Afghan is not for an inexperienced owner. If you are new to the breed, seek a reputable trainer to guide you through the process.

Health and Potential Problems

Every breed of dog has risks from genetic health problems and the Afghan is no different. If you are purchasing your puppy from a breeder, they should give you an open, honest idea of what you could expect.

In this breed, you will most likely run across hip and elbow dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, and thyroid problems that cause the body to attack its thyroid and destroy it. They can also suffer from laryngeal paralysis, and von Willebrand disease which is a bleeding condition. The Afghan can also be plagued by allergies and cancer.

Reputable breeders screen the dogs and only breed the healthiest and best-looking adults. They should be able to provide you with documents of health screenings for hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease, thrombophilia, and a certification saying that the eyes are healthy.

Care Features

Afghan hounds prefer to be kept inside with their family. Yes, their coat can protect them from the elements, but it will also mat and snarl if the dog is left out in adverse conditions. They are calm and obedient in the house but need daily exercise outside either on a walk or running free in a fenced yard.

Make sure the fence is tall!! Your hound is a daring escape artist and will be out of the yard and down the street before you know it. Once loose it will be impossible to catch — the Afghan can run faster than a horse!

Feeding Schedule

The recommended amount of food for this size dog is 2 – 2 ½ cups of grain-free, high-quality food divided into two meals.

The activity level of your dog will dictate the quantity of food it gets each day.  If exercise consists of a couple of walks, you may want to cut back on the food. If they run and play on a consistent basis, they may need more food to sustain them. A good quality diet will also keep their coat shinier and tangle free.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Afghan’s coat is an elegant flowing curtain of fur but to keep it looking long and silky takes daily care. If you are an owner who enjoys grooming your dog, then the Afghan will provide plenty of busy work. Daily brushing and bathing the dog at least once a week will maintain the Afghan’s silky appearance.  Even more, a trip to a professional groomer will run you into triple digits if you want a quality groomer.

However, you should know that, if their coat is left uncared for, you will end up with a matted dog in pain that is no longer the aristocratic pooch with which you fell in love.

Speaking of colors, Afghans can come in a variety of colors including black, black and silver, black and tan, blue, blue and cream, cream, red, silver, and white. They constantly shed, so expect an accumulation of dog hair in the house.

Not all Afghan hounds are show dogs, but it is still essential to bathe, comb, and brush them on a regular basis. Start this practice when they are young, so they are used to the routine as they grow.

You will need a good shampoo and a quality cream rinse, a standing hair dryer, and a table for grooming (I sit on the floor to groom my dogs, so this may be optional for you as well). After bathing the dog you will need a good large pin or a rotating pin brush (the pins rotate as you pull through the hair), and a slicker for bad mats and fluffing the fur if they are puppies. When you groom the dog, do a thorough check for bugs, bites, skin irritations or any sign of skin infection. Examining their skin is a challenging task with the afghan’s long fur, but it will be even more important. The long coat can hide a wealth of problems.

Moving on to the ears, you should know that all breeds with hanging ears are in danger of ear infections. That’s why it is recommended to check their ears once a week and wipe them with a damp cotton ball. If you see them scratching their ears, shaking their head excessively or if the inside of their ear is red and has a foul odor, you will need to make a vet appointment.

Trim your dog’s nails once or twice a month if he doesn’t wear them off naturally.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

As sight hounds, their hunting instincts and prey drive may entice them to hunt and kill smaller animals so they may not fit into a house with cats and smaller dogs unless raised with them from puppy stage. Of course, every dog has its unique personality.

If you choose to rescue or adopt an older dog, take the time to introduce other pets and keep them under close supervision until you are sure they will coexist peacefully.

The Afghan hound can be an essence of elegance in your house or a misbehaved, strong willed thorn in your side. Remember, with an Afghan hound, to start training early with an abundance of treats and praise. Keep him socialized as he grows, so he doesn’t turn into a solitary, shy dog that refuses to interact with anyone. If you like the challenge of an independent dog, this sleek, beautiful creature can be your loving companion and the envy of all the other dogs.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Andrew Miller

    Dogs of this breed look very stately and proud on the street. You can be sure that you will attract everyone’s attention. But grooming takes a lot of time and money, as you will need to buy special shampoos and combs.

    • Afghan Hounds are like supermodels in the dog world. Indeed, their requirement for grooming is not a walk in the park, but it is oh so worth it for this so majestic breed.

  • Marco Medina

    The Afghan Hound Dog is an ancient breed. According to legend, he was among the animals which Noah took into his ark. It is believed that the modern breed results from the crossing of an ancient Afghan Hound Dog with Saluki.

  • Afghan Hounds are one of the ancient breeds, and yes that legend about Noah is famous around the world.

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