The Afghan Hound, also known as the Afghan Greyhound or simply the Afghan, is today usually referred to by breeders and fanciers as the “Affie.” Earlier names include the Balkh Greyhound, Baluchi Hound, Barukzie Hound, Barukhzy Greyhound and Kabuli Hound, among others. This is an ancient breed categorized in the Hound Group by the American Kennel Club. Afghans are elegant, aristocratic dogs that exude dignity and aloofness.
They have a narrow, chiseled muzzle and a unique topknot of silky hair set between lengthy ears. With prominent hipbones and a spectacular thick, flowing coat, there is something exotic about this breed. They are prized as flashy show dogs and also excel in lure coursing. Above all, Afghan Hounds are known as beloved companions, with highly individualized personalities. They can be independent thinkers, with a strong prey drive.
Afghan Hound Dog Breed Quick Facts
Afghan Hound - History and Health
The Afghan Hound was not discovered by the western world until the early 1800’s. The breed’s history before that time is somewhat unclear, although it is thought that the Afghan Hound is a descendant of the Saluki, from what at that time was Persia. It is known that Afghans were originally developed for chasing prey in the mountainous regions of its native Afghanistan (and neighboring India and Pakistan). Secondarily, Afghans did double duty as guardians for nomadic tribes and their livestock.
However, they were primarily used as coursing hounds, to sight and follow mountain deer, plains antelope, foxes and hares, or whatever other animal prospered in a particular locality. Human hunters who followed behind on horseback would make the kill. Afghan Hounds were also used to bring to bay predators such as wolves, jackals, wild dogs and even snow leopards, and to flush fowl such as quail and partridge. They were prized not only for their great speed, but also for their unparalleled ability to traverse irregular and potentially hazardous terrain with stability and sure-footedness. Afghans developed extreme agility, quickness and stamina, and retain those traits today.
No one knows how old this breed truly is, but today’s Afghan Hounds are descended from a group brought to Scotland from Baluchistan, which today is a part of Pakistan, in the 1920’s. Thereafter, a number of these dogs were exported to the United States. The American Kennel Club opened its Hound Group registry to them in 1926, with the first American-bred Afghan Hound being registered in 1927. The parent club for this breed was not founded until 1937, reorganized in 1938, and then was admitted to AKC membership in 1940 as the Afghan Hound Club of America.
Overall the the Afghan Hound is a healthy dog breed, and has an average life span of 12 to 13 years. This is slightly higher than the median lifespan of purebred dogs (10 to 13 years), but equal to most breeds similar in size. Potential hereditary defects and disorders commonly found, but not necessarily found, in the Maltese are as follows:
- Allergies: Overreaction by the immune system to an allergen, which is any substance capable of inducing a reaction in that particular animal
- Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus): An extremely serious medical condition where a dog’s stomach becomes filled with gas that cannot escape.
- Cancer (Various forms): Defined as any malignant, cellular tumor.
- Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Primary disease of heart tissue that is characterized by cardiac enlargement
- Demodicosis Mange
- Hip Dysplasia: Involves abnormal development and/or degeneration of the coxofemoral (hip) joint
- Degenerative Myelopathy: progressively degenerative disease of the spinal cord which causes hind limb weakness and eventual paralysis
Afghan Hound - Temperament & Personality
Tall, lean and noble, the Afghan Hound is often called “The Aristocrat” of the dog world. Though Afghans appear aloof, they are actually quite playful and clownish. They love running (galloping, really) through yards and playing with their family, but also enjoy quietly lounging around the house, being catered to like a true Aristocrat.
Afghan Hounds require a lot of exercise. Long and lean, they need plenty of time a day to run and jump. Long walks are also beneficial to their health and muscle tone. This tall animal should not be kept in an apartment, as this space is simply too confining.
A fenced in yard is important when living with an Afghan. They are very independent dogs, and can take off in search of their own adventure (and not return) if allowed to roam.
Afghans are notoriously difficult to train. They are stubborn and independent, and like a true aristocrat, don't like being told what to do. Positive reinforcement, treats, and lots of patience are required when working with this breed.
Afghan Hounds, originally called the “Tazi,” originated in Afghanistan and is one of the oldest dog breeds. Their purpose was to track large game, including leopards, and hold the animal at bay until the hunting party could catch up. They were valued by hunters for their fearlessness and independent thinking abilities, and these traits can easily frustrate the modern Afghan trainer.
Afghans are sight hounds, and excel on lure courses, where dogs chase a plastic, mechanical lure around a track, across a field, or through and obstacle course.
Afghans are playful puppies, but as they mature, become very independent. While they may have loved cuddling and romping as a puppy, the adult Afghan will decide when he wants to be touched. They are not aggressive, but much like a house cat, will let you know when they prefer to be left alone and when they prefer to be doted upon.
Because of their hunting roots, Afghan Hounds are likely to chase after other animals, including small pets. If socialized to live with other dogs, they can coexist peacefully, but cats or rabbits should not live with Afghan Hounds.
Afghan Hound - Appearance & Grooming
Afghan Hounds are “The Aristocrat” of the dog world, carrying themselves with dignity and poise at all times. They are tall and lean, with long, narrow heads, high hipbones, long curling tails and a silky topknot that are unique to the breed. Their long, flowing hair covers their entire body, except for the face, and is truly a sight to behold when properly groomed. Afghans have almond-shaped eyes, which the AKC states, “gaze into the distance as if in memory of ages past." This breed comes in just about any color of the canine rainbow, so dark colored Afghans are just as common as light colored Afghans.
Size and Weight
Afghan hounds are a tall breed, with the acceptable height ranging from 24-28 inches at shoulder. Though tall, they are lean animals ranging in weight from 45 pounds at the lightest to 65 pounds at the heaviest end of the spectrum. Afghans should never be overweight, which can put extra strain on their high hipbones.
Coat and Color
This breed comes in all colors, and most patterns of light and dark coat color are acceptable, though the AKC standard frowns upon white markings, especially around the face.
The long, fine hair of the Afghan hound is shiny and silky to the touch. Though it is fine, Afghans have a thick covering of fur and many describe the texture as very similar to human hair.
Properly grooming an Afghan Hound requires a great deal of time and effort. The Afghan's fine coat is similar in texture to human hair, and tangles very easily, making daily brushing a must. Baths should also be conducted frequently, and trimming and stripping of the coat is required several times a year. Many owners find that hiring a professional groomer is the best way to properly maintain the Afghan Hound's coat.
Afghan Hounds have pendant ears, meaning their ears hang, which can lead to ear infections. Regular, weekly ear cleanings with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-recommended cleanser can keep infections at bay.