Afghan Hounds - Breed information
Known as the “King of Dogs,” the Afghan Hound is an ancient sighthound with an aristocratic, aloof bearing. Majestic, elegant, and noble are just some of the words used to describe a dog that is also sweet, loyal, and affectionate, although at times also strong-willed and stubborn.
In deference to his ancient origins, the Afghan Hound is also known as the Tazi (his Persian name), the Balkh Hound, the Baluchi Hound, the Barotzy Hound, or the Kabul Hound.
Afghan Hounds are typically 24 to 29 inches (61 to 73 centimeters) in height, and weigh between 45 pounds and 64 pounds (20 to 27 kilograms).
History of Breed
Afghan Hounds are an ancient breed native to Sinai. They have been pictured in the caves of Northern Afghanistan dating back more than 4,000 years, and have been mentioned in Egyptian papyruses. Their breeding was kept pure, and exportation of the breed was prohibited. It was only as recently as the early 1900’s that Afghan Hounds arrived in Europe as contraband.
A fast and agile breed, the Afghan was bred to be a shepherd and a hunter. Pursuing game by sight and full of bravery, the Afghan will hunt or herd deer, wild goats, snow leopards, wolves, foxes, and gazelles.
Today, the dogs have become highly popular in Europe and America, although they are rarely used as hunting dogs anymore. They have become frequent participants as show dogs and in lure coursing events. Their talents also include hunting, tracking, herding, sighting, and watchdogging.
Color and Coat
The Afghan Hound is characterized by its long, thick, silky coat of nearly any color, and most will have a black facial mask. Any white markings, particularly on the head, are undesirable.
Features that distinguish the mature Afghan include a long topknot and shorter-haired saddle on the back.
Personality and Temperament
The Afghan Hound is sweet natured, and makes a loyal, affectionate pet with a low level of dominance. He is wary of strangers and will warn of them yet won’t behave aggressively towards them. He makes an excellent watchdog, yet lacks the aggressive tendency to make him a good guard dog.
Despite his aloofness and independence, the Afghan needs attention in order to be happy. If left alone for too long he will become sad. Due to his sensitive nature, the Afghan must be trained with kindness. The Afghan tends to be somewhat independent and strong-willed, so obedience training can be a trying experience. Housebreaking can be difficult, and the owner of an Afghan should not be surprised if the dog chooses to ignore his commands.
The Afghan Hound’s sweet disposition and need for affection makes him a good choice as a family pet, although he is better suited to families with older, gentle children.
Energetic and agile, the Afghan requires at least 30 minutes of free galloping each day, in addition to frequent walks. He can be fairly active indoors, and therefore may not be the ideal pet for those living in apartments. He does better if he has a yard or acreage to run and play in, but prefers to sleep indoors.
The Afghan Hound should appear aristocratic, dignified, and aloof, with no appearance of coarseness or plainness. He should have a straight front, proudly carried head, and his eyes should be gazing into the distance.
The striking characteristics of this breed include the exotic or “Eastern” expression, long silky topknot, peculiar coat pattern, large feet, and very prominent hipbones.
His head should be refined with a slight Roman nose, with long jaws that meet evenly. Ears are long, the leather of which nearly reaches the dog’s nose. Eyes are dark and almond-shaped, almost triangular. The nose is black and of good size.
The back should appear practically level from the shoulder to the loin, with no arch or curve. Hipbones should be pronounced, with a tail that is not too highly set and curled at the end. The tail should not arch over the dog’s back, nor should it appear bushy.
The coat is long and silky with highly feathered feet. In the mature Afghan, the hair in the area of the saddle should be short and close. Afghans should be shown in their natural state and should not be trimmed.
Typical Health Concerns
Afghan Hounds have a low pain tolerance, so even the slightest ailment can cause this dog a great deal of discomfort and stress.
Generally healthy, the most common ailments found to afflict Afghans are allergies, cancer, and sensitivity to anesthesia.
The coat of the Afghan requires a great deal of care. Show dogs should receive a bath once a week. Although this is not necessary for dogs that do not show, it helps prevent the coat from matting and makes grooming easier.
Brushing should not occur between baths because it can break the silky hair shafts and encourage matting. At bath time, a pinbrush can be used to carefully untangle the hair. Between baths, the hair can be carefully separated by hand.
Country of Origin
The Afghan Hound was originally bred in Afghanistan.
Average Life Span
The average life expectancy of the Afghan Hound is 11 – 13 years, which is similar to that of other breeds of their size.