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Afghan Hound Dog Breed Information & Characteristics

Afghan Hound

The Afghan Hound is a majestic sight with its long, flowing hair and piercing eyes. Known for their independence, intelligence, and loyalty, they are a very old dog breed, with a history dating back thousands of years. The Bedouin people of Afghanistan bred these dogs to hunt gazelle and other small game in the harsh terrain of the Afghan mountains. Afghan Hounds were not only used as war dogs by the Afghan army, but they were also often depicted in historical art and literature. Today, they are still popular pets, but also used in dog shows and other competitions.

If you are considering bringing an Afghan Hound into your home, be sure to do your research and find a reputable breeder. While they are wonderful dogs, they require a special kind of owner. They are not the best choice for apartment living, as they need plenty of space to run and play.

When considering an Afghan Hound, it’s advisable to prioritize adopting from rescue organizations or shelters to provide a loving home to a dog in need. However, if you decide to purchase an Afghan Hound puppy, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder. Conduct thorough research to ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices and prioritizes the well-being of their dogs. Reputable Afghan Hound breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs, conduct necessary health screenings, and provide a nurturing environment for the puppies. This active approach ensures that you bring home a healthy and happy pup while discouraging unethical breeding practices.

Quick Facts

  • Origin: Afghanistan
  • Size: Large – 24-28 inches tall, 50-60 pounds
  • Breed Group: Hound (Sporting Group in some registries)
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Coat: Long, silky, and flowing. Typically fawn, cream, red, brindle, black, or white. Temperament: Independent, dignified, graceful, loyal. Affectionate with family but reserved with strangers.
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate. Daily walks and playtime are important, but not as demanding as some other breeds.
  • Training: Requires experienced owners. Can be independent and aloof, needing patience and positive reinforcement. Early socialization crucial.
  • Health: Generally healthy but prone to some conditions like hip dysplasia, cataracts, and ear infections. Requires regular grooming due to long coat.
  • They are relatively rare dogs, with only about 2,000 registered in the United States each year.
  • Due to their sighthound heritage, Afghan Hounds excel in lure coursing, a sport that simulates the chase of live game using a mechanical lure. This allows them to showcase their natural instincts and athleticism.
  • In the Season 33 Episode 2 of “The Simpsons” entitled “Bart’s in Jail,” Homer hallucinates an Afghan Hound.

Afghan Hound Pictures

Afghan Hound Overview

The Afghan Hound was originally used for hunting large prey in both the deserts and in the mountains of Afghanistan. They needed an abundant, flowing coat for warmth. The Afghan was highly valued for their ability to run far and fast. They courageously held dangerous animals, such as leopards, at bay until a huntsman on horseback caught up.

The Afghan was also valued for their ability to think and hunt independently, without human direction. Today’s Afghan Hound isn’t hunting leopards, but this sighthound does retain the independent nature of a coursing hound.

An Afghan Hound puppy will eagerly seek affection from family members, just like puppies of any breed, but this puppyhood behavior can fool unsuspecting owners. Cute puppy antics diminish as the Afghan matures. A mature Afghan Hound does not lavish attention on anyone, and sometimes doesn’t even want hugs or caresses. The free-thinking, independent Afghan will decide for themself when they want affection, and it will be on their terms — not yours.

Independence and indifference aside, the Afghan Hound is tender when they wish to be and can be very amusing. Often referred to as a “clown” by their affectionate family, the Afghan Hound is known to be mischievous and stories abound of this breed’s ability to steal objects from under the very noses of family members, even going so far as to open dresser drawers and snatch clothes. With an ability to see far greater distances than humans and pivotal hip joints that enable them to cover ground quickly and easily clear obstacles, the Afghan is a natural for a sport called lure coursing.

In lure coursing, the hounds give chase to plastic bags that are used to create the effect of escaping game. This competition tests the dog’s ability to hunt by sight, and basic coursing instinct. In 1972, the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA) began, and continues to operate and oversee a program much loved by owners and dogs alike. Whether competing in a coursing event, or enjoying life as a playful family companion, the Afghan Hound is a one-of-a-kind breed.

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Afghan Hound Highlights

  • Regal Appearance: The Afghan Hound is renowned for its regal and elegant appearance, characterized by a long, flowing coat, a distinctive topknot, and a dignified posture.
  • Sighthound Prowess: As a sighthound, Afghan Hounds have exceptional vision and speed, historically making them skilled hunters capable of chasing and catching game by sight rather than scent.
  • Independent Nature: Afghan Hounds are known for their independent and somewhat aloof nature. While they can be reserved around strangers, they often form strong bonds with their families.
  • Long, Luxurious Coat: One of the breed’s defining features is its luxurious, silky coat that requires regular grooming. The coat comes in various colors, contributing to the Afghan Hound’s striking and majestic appearance.
  • Intelligence: Afghan Hounds are intelligent dogs, but their independent nature may sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness. Positive reinforcement training methods are usually effective with these graceful hounds.
  • Athleticism: With a strong and agile build, Afghan Hounds are athletic dogs that thrive on regular exercise. They enjoy activities such as running and playing, making them well-suited for families with an active lifestyle.
  • Gentle Temperament: Despite their regal appearance, Afghan Hounds are often described as gentle and good-natured. They can coexist well with children and other pets when properly socialized.
  • Historical Significance: The Afghan Hound has a rich history, dating back to ancient times, and has been associated with various cultures and regions, including its origins in Afghanistan.

Afghan Hound History

The Afghan Hound comes from Afghanistan, where the original name for the breed was Tazi. The breed has long been thought to date back to the pre-Christian era. DNA researchers have recently discovered that the Afghan Hound is one of the most ancient dog breeds and dates back thousands of years.

The first documentation of a Western Afghan breeder is that of an English officer stationed near Kabul. Afghan Hounds from his Ghazni Kennel were transported to England in 1925, and then made their way to America. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1926 and the Afghan Hound Club of America was admitted for membership with the AKC in 1940.

Zeppo Marx of the Marx Brothers was one of the first to bring Afghan Hounds to America. In the late 1970s, the hound’s popularity soared when Barbie, who is responsible for more than 80 percent of Mattel’s profits, and Beauty, her pet Afghan Hound, found their way into the homes and hearts of countless American doll enthusiasts. During this same decade, the development of lure coursing competitions added to the breed’s appeal. In the 1980s, the Afghan became a popular AKC show ring star and, in spite of their independent nature, has branched out into obedience competition.

Afghan Hound Size

Males are 27 inches (plus or minus one inch) and about 60 pounds. Females are 25 inches (plus or minus one inch) and about 50 pounds.

Afghan Hound Personality

The Afghan Hound is typically a one-person or one-family dog. Do not look for this hound to eagerly greet your guests. More likely, he will offend them by being indifferent to their presence. While some hounds may bark once or twice when a stranger enters the home, this breed is not known to be a good watchdog. The independent thinking of the Afghan makes them a challenge to train. This hound is generally not motivated by food and does not possess as strong a desire to please as many other breeds (like the Golden Retriever).

Though the Afghan makes a stunning presentation in the show ring, more than one professional handler has been embarrassed in the ring by a refusal to cooperate. Even so, this breed is known for outperforming other breeds when the decision to do so is their own. Rough handling can cause this dog to become withdrawn or mildly antagonistic. Gentle handling, kindness, and patience work best with this breed, along with an understanding that there will be times when the dog simply will not cooperate.

Afghan Hound Health

Afghans are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Afghans will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

  • Allergies: Symptoms in the Afghan are the same as in people: sneezing, eye and nasal discharge, itching, hair loss, and lethargy. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
  • Cancer: Symptoms that may indicate canine cancer include abnormal swelling of a sore or bump, sores that do not heal, bleeding from any body opening, and difficulty with breathing or elimination. Treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, surgery, and medications.
  • Cataracts: The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) defines cataracts as a “partial or complete opacity of the lens,” and warns this is the leading cause of vision loss in dogs. Depending on the severity, cataracts may sometimes be removed surgically.
  • Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland. Symptoms include chronic ear infections, bacterial infections of the skin, hair loss, lethargy, and depression. This condition is most commonly treated with medication and diet.

Afghan Hound Care

Afghan Hounds prefer being inside with family. They’re laid back and calm in the house but are naturally active dogs and need daily exercise, which ideally includes a long walk or run. High, secure fencing is a must if you plan on keeping your hound in a yard. The Afghan dog is an adept escape artist and once loose, is truly hard to catch. (Remember, they can outrun horses!) Consistent obedience training is necessary and positive reinforcement methods work best.

Afghan Hound Feeding

Recommended daily amount: 2 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Keep your Afghan dog in good shape by measuring his food and feeding them twice a day rather than free-feeding.

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How much your adult dog eats depends on their size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. A highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.

The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference; the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog.

If you’re unsure whether your dog is overweight, give them the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at them. You should be able to see a waist. Then, place your hands on their back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see their ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, they need less food and more exercise.

Afghan Hound Coat Color And Grooming

Properly groomed, the Afghan dog coat is spectacular. It is very fine in texture, similar to human hair, and thick and silky. On the head is a long, silky topknot. With the exception of the back, the entire body is abundantly covered in hair, even the ears and feet. The hair is short and close along the back and smooth in mature dogs.

All solid colors are allowed by the American Kennel Club breed standard (standardized guidelines for the breed), with certain color combinations considered the most pleasing. Grooming is a must for the Afghan. Because the coat is fine, it has a tendency to tangle easily. Regular, even daily, brushing and combing is necessary, as is frequent bathing. Many parents elect to hire a professional groomer to keep the coat in good condition because grooming the Afghan is so time-consuming and difficult. It is certainly not a job for beginners, though parents can learn to manage the coat if they are willing to work hard.

Begin accustoming your Afghan to being brushed and examined when they’re a puppy. Handle their paws frequently (dogs are touchy about their feet) and look inside their mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and handling when they’re an adult.

All breeds with pendant (or hanging) ears tend to have issues with ear infections. Check your Afghan’s ears weekly and wipe them out with a cotton ball moistened with a cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Never stick cotton swabs or anything else into the ear canal or you might damage it. Your Afghan may have an ear infection if the inside of the ear smells bad, looks red, or seems tender, or he frequently shakes their head or scratches at their ear.

Brush your Afghan’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and bacteria. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the feet in good condition and prevent your legs from getting scratched when your dog enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

Afghan Hound Children And Other Pets

Dogsbreed.org share the Afghan’s independent nature and large size make them best suited as an adult companion. The Afghan is not likely to want to follow around and play with children. In fact, a child’s quick movements and noise level can startle the Afghan. With proper socialization, though, the Afghan can adjust to life in a family with children and be loving with them. The Afghan tends to most enjoy the company of their own kind, meaning other Afghan Hounds. The Afghan will tolerate, even be indifferent, to other pets in a household. Not surprisingly, the Afghan’s hunter’s instinct leads them to chase small animals, especially if they run away.

Afghan Hound Rescue Groups

People often adopt Afghans without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Afghans in need of adoption and or fostering. The Afghan Hound Rescue of Southern California is a good place to start if you are interested in rescuing or fostering an Afghan Hound.

Afghan Hound Breed Organizations

Finding a reputable dog breeder is one of the most important decisions you will make when bringing a new dog into your life. Reputable breeders are committed to breeding healthy, well-socialized puppies that will make great companions. They will screen their breeding stock for health problems, socialize their puppies from a young age, and provide you with lifetime support.

On the other hand, backyard breeders are more interested in making a profit than in producing healthy, well-adjusted dogs. They may not screen their breeding stock for health problems, and they may not socialize their puppies properly. As a result, puppies from backyard breeders are more likely to have both health and behavioral issues.

Alva Thomas
Alva Thomas
Alva Thomas expert in training and caring for pet dog breeds. Whether he spending quality time with her own furry companions or contributing to websites such as Dogsbreed.org and Animalpet.com, dedicated to our canine.

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