An independent, strong-willed dog, the Afghan can be downright standoffish, but also quiet and clownish when the mood strikes.
The Afghan hound is a high-maintenance dog for a number of reasons ranging from grooming to exercise needs.
Male: 23-27 kg.
Female: 23-27 kg.
Height at Withers:
Male: 68 cm.
Female: 63 cm.
Dolichocephalic (long face), floppy ears (naturally)
Energy Level: Average
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years.
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Bark: Low
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: Low
Coursing and hunting
Colours: Any colour except spotted
Overall Grooming Needs: High
AKC Classification: Hound
UKC Classification: Sighthounds and Pariahs
Prevalence: Moderate numbers
The male Afghan hound stands about 70cm tall, the female may be slightly shorter. Afghans generally weigh between 23 to 27kgs.
The Afghan has a regal appearance owing to their proud carriage and long, silky coat. Their strong, arched neck, prominent hips, large paws, seemingly exaggerated bend at the knees and a tail ending in a doughnut bend, give the breed a distinctive profile. The Afghan hound's head and muzzle are long, narrow and refined, with a slightly convex bend of the muzzle. The ears are long and covered with even longer hair. The head crown, forequarters, chest, flanks, hindquarters and legs are thickly covered with long, fine, silky hair; the coat on the face and back (or saddle) is short and glossy. The most common coat colours are black, black-and-tan, red, cream, blue, brindle, domino or white. The Afghan hound can have a wide range of hues as well, the creams and reds often, but not always, have black masks. Afghan pups do not resemble the long-haired adults. They have fuzzy hair on their cheeks (called monkey whiskers) and over their saddles. The short, fluffy, puppy coat begins to autumn out at about one year of age, giving way to the glossy, steadily lengthening adult coat. In motion, the Afghan hound has a striking appearance, owing to their elastic, powerful stride, smooth pace and sweeping locks.
True to their origins as a hunter bred to think on their feet, the Afghan hound is strong-willed, independent, aloof and self-confident. A study in contradictions, the Afghan hound has been described as fiercely brave but possibly timid, flighty but sometimes quiet and lazy, dignified but clownish. The Afghan persona ranges from loving to downright standoffish, and these dogs can be quite wary of strangers. If not properly socialised, the Afghan is prone to developing a feral disposition.
The Afghan hound is a "high maintenance" dog for a number of reasons. Though highly intelligent, Afghans can be difficult to train because they are stubborn. They are highly sensitive to harsh correction, which often elicits a refusal to obey. They respond best to gentle guidance and firm discipline. Regular grooming is key to maintaining the Afghan's coat. Afghans require weekly baths and brushing to remove dead hair and to prevent tangling and matting to which they are prone. Adult Afghans shed in the spring and autumn, and after illnesses; unspayed bitches shed their coats after every season.
Though they can make fine apartment dogs and true "couch potatoes," Afghans require plenty of exercise to ward off boredom and destructive behaviours such as chewing. At minimum, Afghans should be walked a mile or two daily, and a fenced-in garden for running is essential. The breed is notorious for ignoring pleas to come and death by car is an all too common tragedy. Afghans should never be allowed to roam unsupervised, as their predatory drive can render them a threat to neighbourhood pets. With proper training and vigilance on the part of the owner, Afghans can be compatible with both children and other pets.
Afghans are extremely thin under their thick coats, and they eat far less than their size might suggest. A high quality dog food can help keep the skin and coat healthy. Ear stockings (called snoods) may be used to prevent soiling of the long ears when they eat.
An ancient member of the sighthound family, the Afghan hound was first bred thousands of years ago by nomadic people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. Much of the breed's history has been lost as warlike factions led by leaders like Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great overran the region. The breed was developed and has been shaped by the need to course game across mountainous terrain.
An extremely skilled hunter, the Afghan was used to bring down both large and small game, including antelopes and perhaps even leopards. Although many present day experts doubt that leopards were the Afghan's traditional prey, eyewitness accounts tell of lone Afghans killing leopards by seizing them by the neck and severing the spines in their jaws.
Afghans made their first pilgrimage out of the Middle East with British soldiers, who brought them back to England in the 19th century. The Afghan hound was recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1926. It became known for their glamour and reached their greatest popularity in the 1970s. Afghans are now kept as house pets and show dogs rather than hunters, although some adventurous owners take them lure-coursing to simulate a hunt. Their flowing tresses and noble attitude render Afghans perennial winners in the show ring.