Breed Group: Hound
Temperament and Behavior
Although the typical Afghan Hound, sometimes shortened to simply Afghan by their fanciers, can be aloof and dignified, he can also turn into a silly clown. With a tendency to be independent and aloof, their temperament is similar to that of a cat. Owners must earn an Afghan Hound’s affection. Although gentle with children, they may not be playful or engaging enough for them. They are reserved with strangers and some can be timid. They are peaceful, sensitive dogs that need a harmonious home. If there are tensions or excess stress in their environment, an Afghan Hound may develop neurotic behaviors. The breed has both a high need for exercise and high activity level outside. This combined with its hunting instincts will lead the Afghan Hound to quickly chase down any small animals when outside. The Afghan needs daily exercise in the form of a long walk and sprint or preferably, the opportunity to gallop in a safe, enclosed area. Opportunities to engage in lure coursing can provide an outlet to meet the Afghan Hound’s need to run. Inside, Afghans are relaxed and live peacefully with most other pets. Afghan Hounds make better than average watchdogs. They sound off when needed but not needlessly. However, do not count on an Afghan for any significant level of protection. As adults, Afghans tend to have on-again, off-again appetites and many are picky eaters.
Physical CharacteristicsAlthough the modern Afghan Hound does best in moderate temperatures, they are characterized by a long, silky coat that originally protected them from the cold in the mountainous area of their origin. Its high hip bones make it one of the most agile breeds as well as one of the best jumpers. Afghan Hounds have a proud carriage and natural grace. Its powerful stride seems effortless while its flowing hair provides style and flair. But in contrast to the grace and beauty of an adult, puppies look like they come from some other breed. They have short, broad muzzles and fluffy coats. As their muzzles, legs, and coats lengthen and they lose their puppy awkwardness, they are transformed into the elegant adults most people instantly recognize. However, their glamorous appearance comes at a cost. Grooming the Afghan Hound requires a significant investment of time and effort. Their long coat needs three or four hours of brushing or combing per week to prevent matting. A monthly bath and cream rinse also reduces the tendency of their fine hair to mat and keeps their coat looking its best. Shedding is moderately above average. The Afghan’s coat may be any color ranging from pale cream or gray to deep black; many have a black facial mask. Large dogs, the average male stands 27 inches at the top of the shoulder while females stand 25 inches. Males weigh around 60 pounds with females averaging 50 pounds.
Trainer's NotesAfghan Hounds can be difficult to train due to their independent nature which is sometimes mistaken as stubbornness. But, they simply lack the desire to please possessed by many other breeds. With this in mind, it is understandable they are usually slow to housebreak. Trainers need to be patient, consistent, and persuasive but always positive. With their tendency to be aloof, Afghan Hounds require an above average level of socialization. Without exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and situations at an early age to boost their confidence, they can become withdrawn or shy.
HealthGenerally healthy, the Afghan has slightly over a 5% incidence of hip dysplasia. Though a minor concern, they are among the top suffers from inherited cataracts. Hypothyroidism, and the autoimmune problem of Necrotizing Myelopathyare also rarely seen. Afghan Hounds also have the typical sighthounds' sensitivity to vaccines, anesthesia, and chemicals in their environment as a result of their relatively low levels of body fat. Be on the lookout for breeders so fearful of the effects of anesthesia on their dogs that they do not x-ray breeding stock to detect joint degeneration. Their average lifespan is 13-14 years.
PopularityThe Afghan Hound ranks 95th in popularity with about 700 American Kennel Club registrations each year.
Breed HistoryThe Afghan Hound is an ancient breed that traces their roots back to Middle Eastern sighthounds. The tall, slender, Greyhound-like build of the Afghan Hound was developed to allow it to navigate rocky, mountainous terrain in ancient Afghanistan. Generations of hunting in these harsh conditions produced a fast, nimble dog that also had good stamina and leaping ability. The breed did not migrate to Europe or American until after the turn of the 20th century. The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in the 1930s. Although originally bred as hunters, Afghans are now far-removed from their rugged Middle Eastern origins and are more likely to be seen making an aristocratic appearance in high society. Afghan Hounds are popular as show dogs and frequent participants in lure coursing events.
Additional InformationFamous Afghan Hound owners include Pablo Picasso and Gary Cooper. The National (US) Breed Club is the Afghan Hound Club of America.
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