The Complete Guide to the Afghan Hound

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Distinguished by their thick, silky coat, Afghan hounds-also referred to as Tazi or Baluchi hounds, are said to be the world’s most glamorous dogs. With their noble-like stance and frou-frou hair-do, it’s no great wonder why!

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at this amazingly elegant breed. Where did Afghan dogs come from? How do you take care of them? Do they shed a lot? 

And, most importantly, are Afghan hounds the right dogs for you and your family? Let’s find out.

History of Afghan Hound Dog Breeds: One of the Oldest Dog Breeds Alive

Afghan Hound Dog

According to the American Kennel Club, the official registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States, the Afghan hound is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, breed of purebred dogs. 

The breed is so old that tribesmen hunters of Afghanistan call this hound “the dog of Noah’s Ark.” 

As the legend goes, when Noah’s ark sprung leaks too many to handle, he asked for the help of the ever-faithful Afghan hounds who were on board. Cleverly, they stopped the leaks by “plugging” the holes using their long noses and thus prevented the ark from sinking. 

There’s much speculation about the Afghan dog breed’s origin as it predates written history by a few thousand years. In fact, they date back to the pre-Christian era! 

What we do know is that for centuries, Afghan hounds were hunting companions and symbols of royal status by tribal chieftains and aristocrats.

Although no longer bred for hunting, these dogs are well-known throughout international dog competitions because of their poise and beauty. 

The Afghan Hound’s Climb to Popularity

Afghan hounds were brought to Western society in the early 1800s by army officers returning from British India, Afghanistan, and Persia. By the early 1900s, the breed was favored by the British gentry. But it wasn’t until the 1930s that their popularity took off.

1930s: How Stunning!

An Afghan hound by the name of Sirdar won “Best in Show” at Crufts, an international dog show held annually in the United Kingdom, in 1928 and 1930. Since then, the breed has become a highly desirable pet and show dog. 

1940s to 1950s: What a Star 

On November 26, 1945, an Afghan hound was featured on the cover of Life Magazine.

1960s to 1970s: Vogue-Worthy

Many notable awards have been given to the Afghan hound the following years thereafter. Since then, this breed was highly sought after by dog owners in the US and Australia in the 60s and 70s. 

1970s to Current: She’s Beauty, She’s Grace…

It was during the 1970s when Afghan hounds solidly became a figure of beauty and grace, alongside Poodles, in the world of dogs. No longer are they used for hunting. They do, however, occasionally partake in the sport of lure coursing.

Introduction to the Afghan Hound: Everything You Need to Know! 

afghan hound

At first glance, the Afghan hound looks like elegance personified. But there’s more to the breed than just looks. 

Afghan Hound Appearance 

The Afghan hound’s appearance is unlike any other. Their coat is dramatically long, thick, and silky. Their faces are thin and exotic, with muzzles slightly bent.

Many describe Afgan hounds to have an almost “regal” appearance to them, and they’re not exactly wrong. 

With the Afghan hound’s prominent hips, large paws, long, glossy hair, and a tail that ends in a “doughnut” bend, they certainly look more “royal” than many of us!  

Young Afghan Hound Pups

Surprisingly, Afghan pups don’t resemble the adults at all. They look quite similar to Golden Retriever pups, except slightly taller and fluffier. Compared to adult Afghans, puppy Afghans have “monkey whiskers” or fuzzy hair on their cheeks and saddles. 

Their short, fluffy coat begins to fall off when they turn the age of one, where it’s replaced by a glossy, steadily lengthening coat. 

Afghan Hound Coat Colors

Like other dog breeds, the Afghan hound comes in many coat colors. Some of which include: 

  • Black
  • Brindle
  • Cream
  • Blue
  • Domino
  • Red
  • White

The AKC Standard for Afghan hounds, as quoted directly by the website, is as follows: “All colors are permissible, but color or color combinations are pleasing; white markings, especially on the head, are undesirable.” 

“Undesirable” doesn’t mean those white markings on an Afghan look bad or ugly. I’ve seen numerous pictures of afghan hounds in an attempt to understand why white markings are considered undesirable, but I found nothing wrong with them appearance-wise. 

They’re as stunning as the rest of the colors, if not more!

Unfortunately, judges don’t share the same sentiment. In the US, Afghans with white markings are disqualified in contests. 

However, FCI countries (Fédération Cynologique International), which include Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and more, don’t share the same rule. All colors, pure or otherwise, are acceptable.

Afghan Hound Height and Weight

The average Afghan female hound stands tall at 25 to 30 inches and weighs about 45 to 55 pounds. 

Afghan male hounds measure at around 26 to 36 inches and weigh about 55 to 65 pounds.

Afghan Hound Personality 

Despite their appearance, Afghan dogs are, in fact, one of the most powerful dogs alive. 

If given a chance, they can tackle and catch deer, gazelles, and even leopards. With their seemingly lightning-fast speed, quick reflexes, and sharp senses, this breed stands alongside other ancient hunter dogs like BasenjisPoodles, and Bloodhounds.

The personality of Afghan hounds differs from Afghan to Afghan. Some are quiet and lazy. Some are dignified and downright standoffish. And some, hilariously clownish! 

Furthermore, because Afghan hounds were initially bred as hunters, they’re mostly strong-willed, independent, aloof, and self-confident. 

Last but not least, Afghan hounds are sensitive and high-spirited. As such, they don’t respond well to rough handling, so make sure to be gentle when handling them.

Many owners describe their Afghans as “cat-like.” Certainly, they aren’t your typical breed of dog! 

Afghan Hounds as Guard Dogs

Afghan Hounds aren’t aggressive dogs. They’re laid back and love to lounge around, especially in their own space.

Although fiercely brave, Afghan Hound owners say they’re timid, flighty, and wary of strangers. Unlike many other dog breeds, you’ll notice that the Afghan hound won’t eagerly greet the guests you have over. 

As a matter of fact, they might be completely indifferent to their presence and would rather keep to themselves. As a result, they aren’t the best watchdogs.

Afghan Hounds aren’t aggressive dogs. They’re laid back and love to lounge around, especially in their own space.

If there’s a burglar around, these dogs might just ignore them and continue sleeping.

Afghan Hound Lifespan

Afghan Hound Lifespan

Afghan hounds have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, which is a little more than the average dog’s life of 10 years. 

Caring for Afghan Hound Dogs

Not all dogs are taken care of the same way. To ensure your Afghan dog remains happy and healthy by your side, here are some tips when taking care of Afghan dogs. 

Grooming 

As to be expected, glooming is an essential part when caring for an Afghan dog. As follows is everything you need to know when grooming your Afghan hound: 

grooming Afghan hound

Coat Maintenance 

An Afghan hound’s thick, long coat needs to be brushed several hours per week to keep her hair free from tangles and mats. Because it’s so long, it can house debris like leaves and twigs, so remember always to brush their coats to keep it looking healthy and silky smooth. 

When brushing your Afghan hound, you need to be extremely careful. Their coats are like silk, which means they can break quite easily. Treat their coat like you’d normally treat your own hair. 

In fact, many who encounter Afghan hounds, including myself, say that their hair is a hundred times better than theirs!

Bathing your dog regularly is a must, too. It’s best to bathe them every one to two weeks, depending on how much their coat is properly maintained in-between baths. They must be washed with high-quality dog shampoo and conditioner

Trimming 

There’s not much trimming or scissoring involved when grooming an Afghan hound’s coat.

According to Donald A. Smith, former president of the Agency For Health Care (AHCA), in 1959, it’s best NOT to strip or trim your Afghan hound. 

If you must, however, absolutely don’t use automated tools like clipping machines. Cut or trim your Afghan hound’s coat manually using your hand for a more natural look. 

Personally, I recommend you visit a professional groomer instead, as they have more knowledge on how to trim and maintain your Afghan’s coat without damaging it. 

Nail Clipping and Oral Maintenance

Similar to all breeds, Afghan hounds should have their nails trimmed regularly. The same goes for brushing their teeth. 

Trim your Afghan hound’s nails weekly or at least every other week. If you believe they’re too long or hear them clicking, it’s time for a trim! 

As for brushing their teeth, do try to brush them at least twice a day. Understandably, many owners don’t have the time to sit and brush their pet’s teeth daily, so as long as you brush at least three times a week, your Afghan’s teeth will stay clean and healthy.

Training

Because Afghan hounds are independent thinkers, they can be a bit challenging to train. They don’t possess a strong desire to please, like Poodles and Golden Retrievers, and oftentimes can’t be bribed by food or treats. 

Thus, training can take a long time and requires patience. 

Potty-training Afghan puppies is a bit difficult as well, as they have poor bladder control. 

If your pup doesn’t learn quickly, don’t be discouraged. It may take up to six months for them to be fully potty-trained. 

Here are some tips to effectively train your Afghan hound: 

  1. If your pup isn’t 100% housebroken, it’s best to keep her in a crate or wire pen.
  2. As much as possible, keep your pup socialized so she’ll get used to being around people. 
  3. Focus on one task at a time, so your pup won’t be overwhelmed. 
  4. Use a kind approach. Punishment based correction methods to force your Afghan pup to compliance won’t work. 
  5. Patience is key!

Exercise

Afghan dogs should be walked at least twice a day. Allow them to run around and play in a fenced area as much as possible. Do keep in mind that Afghans aren’t the most obedient dogs, so always keep an eye on them so they won’t run away or get hurt.

Because Afghans are natural hunters, consider partaking in lure coursing. Trust me. Your pup will thank you.

Common Health Concerns Found in the Afghan Hound Dog Breed

Like all dog breeds, Afghans are prone to certain health conditions. Generally, they’re perfectly healthy dogs, but it’s always best to be aware of the common health problems they may be affected with, just in case. 

Health Concerns Found in the Afghan Hound Dog Breed

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia 

When an Afghan hound has either hip and/or elbow dysplasia, it means that her joint’s conformation is abnormal. 

Left untreated, she’ll most likely suffer from osteoarthritis and be in extreme pain when moving. She’ll have a reduced range of motion, as well. Elbow dysplasia can cause fractures within the joint.

Vets treat dysplasia with joint replacements or management of osteoarthritis. 

Symptoms of Hip and Elbow Dysplasia 

  • Unnatural limp on one or both front legs
  • “Paddling” gait
  • Decreased activity 
  • Lameness in the hind end 
  • Loss of thigh muscle mass
  • Difficulty or reluctance to rise, jump, run, or climb stairs

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, also called thyroiditis, is an autoimmune disease that destroys a dog’s thyroid gland. It’s what occurs when a dog doesn’t secrete enough of the thyroid hormones, which in turn slows her metabolism down. 

The good news is that hypothyroidism responds well to appropriate medication. Typically, your vet will prescribe thyroxine to replace the lost thyroid hormone. 

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Changes in coat and skin, like shedding, hair thinning, and hair loss
  • Obesity or weight gain without a change in appetite
  • Mental dullness
  • Exercise intolerance

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition that affects older Afghan dogs. It’s characterized by losing the normal function of the larynx.

According to veterinarians, “Coughing, especially after exercise or exertion, is probably the most frequently reported sign.”

Treatment, like that of hypothyroidism, often can be controlled with medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and sedatives. In severe cases, it may require a surgical procedure that involves arytenoid lateralization by tie-back.

Symptoms of Laryngeal Paralysis

  • Increased rasping noises when breathing in
  • Coughing 
  • Sudden collapse
  • Bark sounds different 
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced exercise tolerance

FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions by Afghan dog owners and soon-to-be owners! 

How many times per week should I bathe my Afghan hound? 

According to the Afghan Hound Club of America, an Afghan hound, like other breeds with “show coats,” needs to be bathed and groomed once or twice per week. 

However, if you don’t plan on bathing them weekly, I recommend you spend several hours per week brushing their coat to maintain its gloss and health.

Allow a professional groomer to bathe your dog at least twice a month.

Do Afghan hounds shed? 

Adult Afghan hounds are a low shedding dog breed. Because Afghan hounds only have one coat, as opposed to other breeds with both topcoat and undercoat, they don’t shed heavily. 

Afghan puppies, on the other hand, shed quite frequently. Their fur falls out at between 9 to 12 months to replace it with thicker, longer hair. Once the old coat falls out, and the new begins to grow, you’ll no longer need to be worried about shedding! 

Are Afghan hounds hypoallergenic? 

Indeed, they are! In fact, Afghan hounds are one of the world’s most hypoallergenic dogs and are preferred by any allergy sufferer.  

Are Afghan hounds smart? 

The Intelligence of Dogs, written by professor Stanley Coren in 1994, lists the Afghan hound as the 10th most “dumbest” dog. 

But frankly, I disagree.

Afghans are sighthounds, meaning they were bred to hunt. They have extraordinary speed, eyesight, and can hunt prey with precision. 

In my opinion, the only reason why Afghans were listed in the book is because they’re difficult to train. However, as I’ve mentioned before, this stems from the fact that Afghan hounds are stubborn and independent. That absolutely doesn’t mean they’re dumb! 

How are Aghan Hounds with children?

Aghan Hounds are gentle and patient with children! Despite that, they won’t go out of their way to play or interact with them. As they say, these dogs only “speak when spoken to.”

Conclusion: Are Afghan Hounds the Right Breed for You? 

Afghan Hound dog

Afghan hounds are great family dogs. They’re extremely loyal, funny, and a lot of fun to play with. 

If you’re looking for a dog that’s independent, calm, and gentle, consider getting yourself an Afghan dog. They’re great for people who have allergies, too! 

But remember, Afghan dogs are a high-maintenance breed. You need to take care of them to keep them happy and healthy. Plus, they can be a challenge to train. If that doesn’t deter you, you’ve found your new pup. 

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