Height: 24–29 inches
Weight: 45–60 pounds
Life Span: 11-13 years
Coloring: The Afghan Hound can be any color as long as the only markings are white and there is a black facial mask.
Area of Origin: Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Similar Breeds: Borzoi, Saluki, Irish Wolfhound, Taigan, Barakzay, Kurram Valley Hound, Persian Greyhound, Scottish Deerhound and Khalag Tazi
History and Origin:
Of all the dog breeds, the hounds are considered to be some of the oldest and the Afghan Hound might be one of the oldest hounds. Some claim the hieroglyphics of Egypt portray the sight hounds of which the Afghan is considered one of the oldest.
The Afghan Hound developed its characteristic thick silk coat in the winters and mountains of Afghanistan. Locally the Afghan Hound was known as the Tazu Spay or Sag-e Tazi. Other names for this breed include African Hound, Galanday Hound, Kabul Hound, Shalgar Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barutzy Hound and Balkh Hound.
In the midst of this speculation regarding the origination of the breed, genetic testing places them on the line closest to the wolf of all canine breeds. This means the Afghan is a descendent of the oldest of all types of canines. The dogs came to Great Britain in the 1920’s and were bred with a variety of longhaired sighthounds from Afghanistan and the surrounding cultures.
Even though the ancestry of the Afghan Hound is not verifiable and there is much speculation surrounding their origins, it is apparent that this breed is closely related to other breeds such as the Tasy breed of Russian near the Caspian Sea, the Barakzay and Kurram Valley Hound from the Kurram Valley, and the Taigan breed found in the Tian Shan mountain region on the boarder of Afghanistan and China.
There appears to be up to 13 different kinds of sighthounds in Afghanistan – considered the landrace of dogs. Once these dogs left Afghanistan and spread to Europe, they became a very important piece of the early dog shows and The (UK) Kennel Club.
In the 1800s many sighthounds were brought to England by armed forces coming back from British India. At that time British India also included Persia (Iran) and Afghanistan. Some were even called Persian Greyhounds.
In 1907 British Armed Forces Captain Bariff brought a sighthound called ZARDIN to England. Zardin quickly became the standard of the breed and inspired the first written standard for the breed in 1912. Following the World Wars one strain of longhaired sighthound was made from two – Mrs. Mary Amps’ kennel dogs in Kabul and Major and Mrs. G. Bell-Murray and Miss Jean C. Manson strainfrom Baluchistan.
Most of the United States Afghan Hounds came from the Ghazni line in England. Then Afghans from the US were exported to Australia in 1934. In 1939 the French formed the French breed club called FALAPA. The new standard written in 1948 for the Afghan Houndbreed everywhere in the world is still in use today.
Because the Afghan Hound is so spectacularly beautiful, they are sought after around the world as both show dogs and pets. Every English speaking kennel club in the world now recognizes the Afghan. In 1928 and 1938 an Afghan Hound won Best in Show at the Crufts dog show in England. In 1945 an Afghan was on the cover of Life Magazine and by the 1970’s they were the most popular dog in Australia. An Afghan Hound won Best in Show at the 1996 World Dog Show. The breed won Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in both 1957 and 1983.
Before it became a show dog and pet, the Afghan Hound was a hunting dog going after large prey in the mountains and the deserts of Afghanistan. The Afghan can run like the wind and his heavy coat kept him warm. They could corner and hold large leopards until the hunters arrived and they could hunt independently without any commands from humans. They are no longer used for hunting but are great at the sport of lure coursing. Devotees of the breed began the American Sighthound Field Association in 1972. Competitions are held regularly.
Personality and Temperament:
The Afghan Hound is considered to be dignified and aloof, clownish and happy, intelligent and able to think on its own. This beautiful dog has a temperament to match its flowing locks. As a sighthound the Afghan has a very strong prey drive, good reasoning skills and is highly competitive dog trials such as agility and lure chasing.
The breed is intelligent and independent. An Afghan puppy will appear affectionate, cute, and appealing like all puppies. Don’t count on this being your Afghan’s personality. As they grow and mature, they will become more aloof and independent. They will always be affectionate with their families but will act in many ways more like felines than canines.
Those who love the breed will tell you how faithful and loving they are. Others will tell you how independent they are. But with their high prey drive, heavy full coats and need to run, the Afghan is not for everyone. They tend to be a one-person or one-home dog. They are not likely to greet guests at the door or even be interested in them.
Because the Afghan is so independent and because of his larger size, it is believe they are more suited to be a companion animal for adults rather than children. The Afghan might even mistake small children for prey and attempt to chase them. This does not mean that a family with children should never have an Afghan Hound. Just be sure the fit between your family and your Afghan Hound is the right one.
The independent Afghan would rather be with other Afghan Hounds than with people. They tolerate others and can even be nice to children and other pets in the family but try not to expose them to very small pets that will appear as prey to them.
Exercise & Training:
The breed is a loyal and affectionate dog; a dignified, spirited and courageous dog yet they can seem very aloof. They will be very social if they are trained and socialized early in life. They are suspicious of anyone they do not know but they are never aggressive or hostile.
They need leadership but they need gentle leadership. They need a gentle pack leader even if that is a child. The Afghan Hound needs firm but gentle training. They need clear, concise instructions and consistency in their training. Housebreaking can be a challenge as well for this high strung breed, especially if they do acknowledge you as their leader.
They need consistency and both mental and physical stimulation in order to stay on an emotional even keel. They have a reputation for being slow and difficult to train if they are not on an even keel. Yet they are highly intelligent and it is their sense of independence that can cause problems if they sense they do not have a strong alpha human.
On the physical side, the breed needs serious exercise every day. This might be a long walk, a jog or training for a competition such as agility and lure chasing. While walking your Afghan Hound you must be the alpha and it must be clear to the dog that you are the alpha human.
If your Afghan is going to be out by himself you will need a secure, high fence that he cannot jump over. If he gets out you will not be able to catch him as he can outrun a stallion.
As a native of the mountainous, high altitude regions of Afghanistan and Iran, the Afghan Hound has a long, fine hair like that found on most animals native to these type of climates. Because of this they need grooming on a routine basis.
Don’t get an Afghan Hound unless you are capable of grooming her or can afford to pay for a professional groomer for him. They need bathed at least weekly followed by brushing. Don’t brush their coats while they are dry as you will damage the fine hair which tangles easily. Grooming is tedious and time consuming.
The Afghan Hound needs its teeth brushed daily or at least 3 times per week and trim their nails at least once a month preferably twice. With good grooming you will be able to keep an eye on the health and welfare of your dog.
Health and Wellness:
The average lifespan of the Afghan Hound is around 12-14 years. According to a survey conducted by the UK Kennel Club in 2004, the most common cause of death among Afghan Hounds is cancer with old age, coming in second. 31% die from cancer, 20% from old age, 10.5% from cardiac and 5% urology.
Afghan Hounds have a low tolerance for pain and react adversely to the slightest. This is not a stoic dog. Rather they are quite whiny for the slightest reason. The major health issues that the breed is susceptible to include hip dysplasia, cancer, arthritic conditions and and allergies, as it is with all of the sighthounds.
There are a few rare conditions that are specific to the breed. They have a tendency toward chylothorax, which is a rare condition that the thoracic ducks to leak, filling up the dog’s chest cavity. When purchasing a puppy make sure you buy from reputable breeder who does genetic testing for these issues.
The organizations you should see certifications from are Auburn University for thrombopathis, The Orthopedic Arthritis Foundation for dysplasia, hypothyroidism and von Willebrands. The Afghan Hound also is prone to allergies, and juvenile cataracts. Therefore you might also ask to see records from The Canine Eye Registration Foundation.
Your Afghan might also get cold depending on where you live and you might want to provide them with a coat if they are out in the snow very much.
Interesting Facts About the Afghan Hound
- The Afghan Hound is a sensitive and high strung breed. They don’t respond well to roughness and intense training. They respond well to gentle demands.
- The Afghan Hound has the distinction of being the first breed of dog to be cloned. In 2005 a Korean scientist cloned an Afghan Hound named Snuppy.
- The Afghan Hound is featured in many artistic endeavors including music videos, films, and television. They have appeared in an M83 video as well as pictures such as Balto, Krypto the Superdog, Lady and the Tramp II, 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians. They have been in commercials and ads.
- One of the first Afghan Hounds in the United States was brought here by Zeppo Marx of the famous Marx Brothers.
Organizations Dedicated to the Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound may be one of if not these oldest of all dogs on earth. Hyrocliphics show dogs looking very much like the Sight Dogs. The Afghan Hound is no longer used for hunting but is a standout in the show ring and athletic competitons. The breed has won Best in Show at the World Dog Show, Crufts and Westminster.
They are good companion animals in the right households. Their prey drive is still extremely high and they should not live with small animals and even small children. They are intelligent, dignified and loving companions. They are one of the smartest breeds and need both mental and physical exercise. They excel at lure chasing and agility as long as they know who the leader is.
In general they are beautiful and intense dogs that make great companions for the right people.