Which dog would you consider to be elegance personified. For many it is the Afghan Hound. This is an ancient and unique dog breed which has an appearance that is quite unlike any other dog breeds. They sport a dramatic silky coat, an exotic face, and a thin, fashion-model-like build. This dog is described by Afghan enthusiasts as an aloof and comical dog. This dog originates in Afghanistan and its original name for the breed was Tazi. These dogs are thought to date back before the time of Christ and is considered to be one of the oldest breeds around.
Afghan Hound FAQs
- Do Afghan Hounds adapt well to apartment living?
- On a scale of 1 to 5 this dog rates a 3. For many people having a dog this size in and apartment would be too much. However, many people who have these dogs do live in apartments and report having no problems. As long as you are capable of giving these dogs their required amount of exercise on a daily basis they will do quite well in an apartment. (See List of Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living.)
- Are Afghan Hounds a good breed for novice dog owners?
- Generally speaking they are. You must remember, though, that each dog is an individual with their own attitudes and so forth. Before getting an Afghan Hound it is recommended that you take the time to go around to several registered breeders so that you may get a handle on the behaviors that you are willing to accept. (See List of Dogs That Are Good For Experienced Owners.)
- How sensitive are Afghan Hounds?
- In terms of reprimanding these dogs for bad behavior they do not tolerate a lot of discipline. On the good side, these dogs are usually quite well behaved in the first place. (See List of Dogs That Have A Low Sensitivity Level.)
- Do Afghan Hounds tolerate being left alone?
- If you are worried about separation anxiety you can rest easy. These dogs are capable of being left alone for the whole day while you are at work. If you are going away for an extended time you must have a dog sitter who will take care of your dog while you are gone. (See List of Dogs That Are Poorly Suited To Being Alone.)
- Do Afghan Hounds tolerate cold weather?
- If you've ever been to Afghanistan you will know that the nights can get quite cold. These dogs were mainly kept outside in their native country so their tolerance to cold is quite high. In very cold climates where the winters can get really cold it is recommended that the dogs have adequate shelter to keep them out of the cold and wind. It is not the recommendation of this site that you keep any dog outside at all. Domestication has caused many breeds of dogs to lose their tolerances and are therefore very vulnerable to extremes. (See List of Dogs That Are Poorly Suited To Cold Weather.)
- Do Afghan Hounds tolerate hot weather?
- The Afghan Hound can tolerate moderately hot weather due to where they originated from. However, in extremely hot weather it is best to keep this dog indoors in an air conditioned area. Also be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat as heat stroke can occur. (See List of Dogs That Are Poorly Suited for Hot Weather.)
- Are Afghan Hounds affectionate and friendly with the family?
- This dog is moderately affectionate with all members of the family. As with all dogs you should provide a place where the dog can retreat to if they need some alone time to unwind from too much interaction with the family. (See List of Dogs That Are Not Affectionate With Family.)
- Are Afghan Hounds kid friendly?
- These dogs can tolerate being around teenagers. Younger kids are another story. If you have young children then this dog is not for you. Young kids tend to poke and pull on a dog and the Afghan Hound is not one that will tolerate this kind of behavior. Remember that all dogs are individuals and how much they will tolerate greatly depends on their temperament. It is always best to keep a close eye on children and dogs to prevent any mishaps and bites. The best solution is to train these dogs on how to get along with kids. (See List of Kid Friendly Dogs and our List of Dogs That Are Not Kid Friendly.)
- Are Afghan Hounds friendly towards other dogs?
- Keep in mind that friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Dogs a pack animals which means that they like to lead or be led and are extremely territorial. Proper socialization with other dogs can go a long way in curbing their territorial and alpha instincts. However, when dogs are in close quarters it is always best to keep an eye on them to prevent fights. For the Afghan Hound, they tend to tolerate other dogs moderately well. Just keep in mind that breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills. (See List of Dogs That Are Not So Dog Friendly.)
- Are Afghan Hounds friendly toward strangers?
- These dogs, if properly socialized with many different people, tend to be friendly toward other people. They are usually more indifferent than anything else. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. (See List of Dogs That Are Shy.)
- Do Afghan Hounds shed a lot?
- Even though the Afghan Hound has a long and silky coat they are not big shedders. They do tend to shed at a moderate level during the two shedding seasons. Frequent brushings and grooming can help to reduce the amount of dog hair in the house by removing the dead and loose hair from the dog. (See List of Dogs That Shed Very Little.)
- Do Afghan Hounds drool a lot?
- On the drool scale these dogs rate a 5 out of 5. You will probably need a mop at feeding time and a towel for the rest of the times. If you are concerned about a dog drooling on the furniture then this dog is probably not the type you want to get. (See List of Dogs That Don't Drool Too Much.)
- Are Afghan Hounds easy to groom?
- The Afghan Hound needs to be constantly groomed to keep its coat in tip-top shape. This will require two twenty-minute brushing sessions per day. You will also need to brush the coat more often during the seasonal shedding periods in the spring and fall. (See List of Dogs That Require More Grooming.)
- How is the general health of the Afghan Hound?
- Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. For the Afghan Hound their general health is considered to be average like most dogs. When buying one as a pup it is always a good idea to get the complete medical histories of both parents as well as all the certifications for the major health conditions of your pup from the breeder. (See List of Dogs That Are Prone To Health Problems.)
- Do Afghan Hounds gain weight easily?
- Some dogs gain weight easily. The Afghan Hound, on the other hand, does not gain weight at a rapid pace. As long as you give your dog plenty of exercise and keep the snacks down to a minimum your dog should not gain any weight at all with proper feeding.
- Are Afghan Hounds big dogs?
- Are Afghan Hounds easy to train?
- Trainability for the Afghan Hound is considered to be moderately low. You will need to have plenty of patience and time in order to train these dogs. In the end you will find that the effort put into training your dog was worth it. (See List of Dogs That Are A Challenge To Train.)
- Are Afghan Hounds intelligent dogs?
- Some dogs are plain dumb, some just play dumb, and some just can't wait to show off their intelligence. The Afghan Hound is moderately intelligent. They usually don't fall for the same trick twice. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue. (See List of Dogs That Have Low Intelligence.)
- Do Afghan Hounds have a potential for mouthiness (nipping, chewing, play-biting)?
- On a scale of 1 to 5 they rate a 3 in this area. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with barking or howling. This has to do with how they interact with others in a playful manner. Just like all dogs they can get a little carried away and overly excited when they play. That is usually when the nipping and play-biting come into play. As long as you keep control of the situation this will be kept to a minimum. Remember that these dogs were bred to hunt so they can be a bit mouthy at times.
- Do Afghan Hounds have a high tendency to bark or howl?
- Because of their hunting heritage these dogs have retained their tendency to bark and howl. If you have neighbors close by this dog may not be the breed for you. Also, some municipalities have by-laws that prohibit barking and howling. (See List of Dogs That Are Mostly Quiet.)
- Do Afghan Hounds have a high wanderlust potential?
- Wanderlust is the tendency for a dog to wander off and explore their territory or search for prey. Because of their hunting instincts the Afghan Hound is at the top of the list here. These dogs require a yard that has a very high fence to prevent them from jumping over it. Six feet is usually the recommended height here. Also, the fence should go below ground level by at least three feet to prevent them from digging under it. (See List of Dogs Less Prone to Wander.)
- Do Afghan Hounds have a high level of energy?
- These dogs are moderately active. They make excellent pets for families that are also moderately active. If you like to hike or go for long walks then the Afghan Hound can be a really great companion on these outings. (See List of Dogs That Have Low Energy.)
- What is the intensity level of the Afghan Hound?
- The Afghan Hound has a moderate level of intensity. They often have what is called "intensity spurts." What this means is that occasionally your dog will become so involved in doing something that nothing else matters. This may last up to an hour before he settles down and is back to doing his normal activities. (See List of Dogs That Are Low Intensity.)
- Do Afghan Hounds need a lot of exercise?
- All dogs require daily exercise. The amount of exercise depends on the type of dog. The Afghan Hound requires moderate exercise lasting at least twenty minutes twice a day. Usually a good vigorous walk will suffice. An even better choice is taking him to a dog park where he can run and play with other dogs. (See List of Dogs That Don't Need Tons of Exercise.)
- Are Afghan Hounds playful dogs?
- Some dogs love to play and some really love to play. The Afghan Hound loves to play. A good game to play is fetch when you take him to the dog park. Another is tossing a Frisbee. Even play fighting with your dog will make him happy and give him the exercise he needs to burn off any excess energy. (See List of Dogs That Are Not Playful.)
- Dog Breed Group: Hound Dogs
- Height: 2 feet to 2 feet, 4 inches (60.96 cm to 71.12 cm) tall at the shoulder
- Weight: 50 to 60 pounds (22.68 Kg to 27.22 Kg)
- Life Span: 10 to 12 years
About the Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound was originally used for hunting large prey in both the deserts and in the mountains of Afghanistan, where his abundant, flowing coat was needed for warmth. The Afghan was highly valued for his ability to run—fast and over great distances—courageously holding dangerous animals, such as leopards, at bay until his huntsman on horseback caught up. The Afghan was also valued for his 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 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 to be hugged or petted. The free-thinking, independent Afghan will decide for himself when he wants affection, and it will be on his terms—not yours.
Independence and indifference aside, the Afghan Hound is tender when he wishes to be and can be very amusing. Often referred to as a "clown" by his 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 him 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.
Highlights of the Afghan Hound
- Grooming is essential. Only those who really enjoy grooming, or are willing to pay a professional groomer to do it, should consider an Afghan Hound.
- The Afghan's natural hunting instinct prompts him to chase prey (the neighbor's cat, your son's rabbit, the third grade class hamster, etc.).
- The Afghan Hound can be challenging to train due to his independent nature. Training can take a long time and requires patience. House training can be difficult. This breed can continue having accidents in the house up to about six months of age.
- The Afghan Hound has a low pain tolerance. A minor wound is more bothersome to this breed than to other breeds, and this dog can sometimes seem whiny or babyish.
- Afghan Hounds are sensitive and high-spirited and do not respond well to rough handling--so be gentle.
- Although this particular breed is usually good and even loving with children, it is best if the puppy grows up with the children he'll live with and the children are mature enough to understand the importance of being considerate of this dog's sensitive nature.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
History of the Afghan Hound
As mentioned earlier, the Afghan Hound comes from Afghanistan, where the original name for the breed was Tazi. It has always been believed that this breed dates back to the pre-Christian era. Recent DNA testing has 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 girls. 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 its independent nature, has branched out into obedience competition.
Personality of the Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is considered to be a one-person or one-family dog. He will not eagerly greet your guests. He may bark once or twice at a stranger. Because of this this breed of dog is not a good watchdog. He will probably go back to sleep while the burglar robs your house.
Because of their independent thinking they are a challenge to train. Food does not motivate him and he has no need or desire to please his master. He does, however, make an excellent show dog which is why many people have a desire to own one. They are known for making a fool of their handlers while in a show which is why they are often called clown dogs. These dogs will show off any dog by outperforming them when they decide to do so.
These dogs do not tolerate any kind of rough handling. They will become withdrawn and antagonistic is handled roughly. They must be handles gently with kindness and patience. Just be aware that there will be times when your dog absolutely refuses to cooperate with you and prefers to do his own thing.
Health of the Afghan Hound
With all of the advances in veterinary medicine today these dogs are generally healthy, but like all dogs, they're prone to certain health conditions. This does not mean that all Afghans will get any or all of these diseases. It's important, however, to be aware of them if you're considering this breed of dog.
As always it is best to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder who will show you all of the necessary health clearances from both parents of the pup. These clearances provide proof that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Afghans, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
The conditions that this breed of dog is susceptible to are:
- 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 opening in the body, and difficulty with breathing or elimination. Treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, surgery, and medications.
- Juvenile 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.
Care of the Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound prefers to be indoors with the family. In the house they are laid back and calm. Being a naturally active dog they need daily exercise which can include a leash walk and a free-run in a fenced-in area.
Your yard at home needs to have high, secure fencing if you plan on keeping your hound in a yard. The Afghan is an adept escape artist and once loose, is truly hard to catch. (Remember, he can outrun horses!) Consistent obedience training is necessary and positive reinforcement methods work best.
Feeding Your Afghan Hound
The recommended daily amount of food for this breed of dog is between 2 and 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food per day. This should be divided into two meals and not given in one sitting.
Keep in mind that how much your dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. All dogs are individuals and they don't all need the same amount of food as the next dog of the same breed. The more active your dog is, the more they will eat. Also, the quality of the food you buy makes a great difference---the better the food, the further it will go towards nourishing you dog and the less you'll waste. And you should never let any uneaten food stand out until the next meal. These dogs drool when they eat and the wet food will go bad quite fast.
Keep your Afghan in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.
Coat Color and Grooming
To keep the Afghan coat in tip-top condition they must be properly groomed. Their coat is very fine in texture as well as thick and silky. The hair on the head is a long, silky topknot. The entire body is abundantly covered in hair (even the ears and feet) with the exception of the hair on the back which is short and close from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. The back hair tends to be 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 owners 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 owners can learn to manage the coat if they are willing to work hard.
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 his head or scratches at his ear.
Brush your Afghan's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. 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 Irish Setter enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.
Begin accustoming your Afghan to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently--dogs are touchy about their feet--and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
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.
Other Pets and Children
This dog's independent nature and large size make him best suited as an adult companion. They are not interested in following or playing with children. These dogs can easily become startled by a child's quick movements and noise level. However, with proper socialization the Afghan Hound can learn to adjust to life in a family with children. Even loving and wanting to be with them.
These dogs tend to want to be with other members of their own breed. The Afghan Hound will tolerate other breeds of dogs often to the point of being indifferent toward them. The hunter instinct of the Afghan Hound will lead him to chase small animals, especially if they run away from him.
Afghan Hound Rescue Groups
Because people don't fully realize what goes in to caring for this breed of dog many of them end up in shelters and rescue groups in desperate need of adoption and or fostering. Below are just two of the many rescue groups around North America. Contact them if you wish to adopt or foster an Afghan Hound.
There are many breed associations around the world including North America. If you wish to buy a puppy and need to find a local breeder you should contact the American Kennel Club (or its Canadian counterpart) and they will lead you to a registered breeder.
Afghan Hound Puppies
Afghan Hound Puppies