Afghan Hounds Information: Everything You Need To Know

Anyone who knows what an Afghan Hound is knows this breed’s signature trait: long, gorgeous hair. These media to large-sized dogs are related to the Greyhound, and their luxurious coats can come in various colors but are usually left naturally long and silky.

Afghan Hounds are intelligent, independent breeds with a temperament akin to cats. Training them can be challenging, but they reward their owners with dedicated loyalty and love for their pack.

If you’re considering getting an Afghan Hound, there are several things you should know about the breed before making your decision. First, these dogs can require a lot of work, so you want to be sure that this is the right breed for you.

Below, we’ll cover the history of the breed as well as the temperament you can expect from them. Then, we’ll go over their most common health concerns and touch on their appearance and grooming needs. We’ll also tell you what to anticipate in terms of training and exercise needs, so there are no surprises if you bring home an Afghan Hound.

Basic Information:

  • Group: Hound or sighthound dog breeds
  • Size: Medium dog breeds
  • Height: Males: 27 – 29 inches (68 – 74 cms); Females: 25 – 27 inches (63 – 69 cms)
  • Weight: 50 – 60 lbs (22 – 27 kg)
  • Exercise Needs: Medium
  • Energy Level: Average
  • Grooming Needs: High
  • Coat: Long & Fine
  • Color: Fawn; Gold; Brindle; White; Red; Cream; Blue; Gray; Tricolour
  • Litter size: 6 – 8 puppies
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Origin: Afghanistan
  • Other Names: Da Kochyano Spay; Sage Balochi; Ogar Afgan; Barakzai Hound; Eastern Greyhound; Persian Greyhound
  • Best Suited For: Families with kids; single seniors; houses with yards

History:

The Afghan Hound is a member of the sighthound family, first bred by the nomadic people of Afghanistan, northern India, Egypt, and Pakistan thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, thanks to significant wars and factions over the years from leaders such as Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, there is limited knowledge about this breed.

However, we know that the Afghan Hound breed presence predates written history and has developed into who they are today through the need to hunt across rugged mountainous or desert terrains.

These dogs were helpful hunters due to their panoramic vision, independent thinking, and speed that allowed them to see prey early on, find the right strategy to get them and run fast enough to surprise them. They often would hunt with support from falcons, who would swoop in to pick up the findings.

They were known for bringing down minor to large prey, including antelope and even leopards on occasion. While most scholars agree that Afghan Hounds were never made to hunt leopards specifically, there are ancient tales of Afghans killing leopards by biting around the neck and severing the spine with their strong jaws.

Afghan Hounds came from many different regions in the Middle East, and you can use the appearance of their coat to determine where they may have originated from.

For example, Afghans with thicker, darker coats have a history in the mountainous regions, keeping them warm and protected. Afghans with lighter coats, however, likely came from the desert regions due to their fur, which kept them cool in the heat and dry weather.

The Afghan Hound first left the Middle East in the 19th century to head to England with British soldiers who sought to bring them back home to breed due to their regal appearance. They were referred to as Barukhzy Hounds or Persian Greyhounds at this point.

However, the breed almost died out during WW1 when limited resources made it hard to keep and care for pets. They made it through, and the breed was recognized as the Afghan Hound by AKC in 1927. They quickly became popular show dogs and hit their peak popularity in the 1970s.

Temperament Afghan Hounds:

Temperament Of Afghan Hounds

Afghan Hounds present a unique temperament, known for their aristocratic personalities and reserved nature. They are aloof but happy dogs, and their owners know that they also have a playful, active side.

Because of this, an Afghan Hound owner needs to be willing to spend time exercising the dog, but not in the way you would for a working dog or retriever. They enjoy moderate exercise, but nothing too demanding.

They tend to be a bit standoffish with people, finding more friendliness toward other dogs. It should be noted, however, that their standoffishness should not be mistaken for aggression. They are just not overly affectionate, to strangers especially. They prefer intimate handling, like petting, to come mainly from their owners.

If you’re looking for a dog to run circles around you and jump like crazy upon your arrival back home, an Afghan Hound dog isn’t it. They’re not face-lickers, but they can become rather affectionate in their own right, showing love in ways similar to a cat. Afghan Hounds are some of the best dogs for cat people.

There’s a popular misconception that Afghan Hounds are also unintelligent. However, that belief often comes up when someone tries to tie training ability closely to intelligence. Afghan Hounds are more free-thinking than other dogs and can be less obedient than some dog owners might like.

Afghan Hounds can be difficult to train, but they’re not impossible to train. It’s essential to find what motivates them, never yell, and be consistent with training to see good results.

Health:

Health Of Afghan Hounds

Afghans are healthy dogs for the most part, but as a pure-bred breed, they are more prone to specific health concerns.

Get an Afghan Hound for a proper breeder. They should be able to share health clearances for the most common health conditions, including elbow and hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, thrombophilia, and good eye health.

Beyond those, the most common health problems for pure-bred Afghan Hounds include:

  • Allergies: Allergy symptoms in an Afghan Hound dog are similar to those of a person – eye/nose discharge, sneezing, itching, and lethargy.
  • Juvenile Cataracts: Cataracts are the leading cause of sight loss for dogs, defined as an opacity of the lens in the eye.
  • Cancer: Common canine cancer symptoms for this breed include swelling, bleeding from any orifice, sores that won’t heal, difficulty breathing, or trouble going to the bathroom.
  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is an under-active thyroid gland, leading to skin infections, ear infections, hair loss, and lethargy. Medication and diet can usually treat this.

Appearance:

White Afghan Hound

Afghan Hounds have a gorgeous, striking appearance, thanks to their long, silky coats. They have large paws, sturdy hips, a donut-bent tail, an arched neck, and bent knees. The face of an Afghan Hound is long and narrow, with a somewhat convex snout and long ears.

All of this together creates an aristocratic, regal appearance that gives the dog its distinct profile. Covering up every inch of the dog’s body beyond its muzzle is long, silky, flowing, straight hair. Specifically, the hair on the chest, crown, and legs is long and fine. The hair on the face and top of the back is shorter and glossier to not distract from their vision.

Afghans come in many different coat colors, each with their nod to the dog’s origins, whether the mountainous regions or the desert. Some of the most common colors include red, blue, cream, brindle, white, domino, gray, black, and black/tan.

Within these color ranges, the coats often display different hues. For example, the red or white coated Afghan Hounds often have a black mask (face).

Looking at an Afghan Hound puppy, you would likely not tell what breed it is, as they look very different. These puppies have a layer of fuzzy hair on their backs and faces with a short, fluffy coat. It will eventually fall out when they hit about a year old, leading to the growth of a long, shiny coat.

When an Afghan is in motion, like at shows or even on the run, they have an elegant appearance due to their long, graceful strides, steady pace, and luscious locks.

Grooming:

Since they come with such an impressive mane, you can expect an equally impressive grooming regimen that must be maintained to keep this breed looking nice. Their grooming needs are specific to this particular breed, and while they might seem high-maintenance at first, their grooming can find its way into your everyday routine without much thought.

Once the dog becomes an adult, you should brush its long coat daily to avoid matting. Skipping brushing can cause more of a headache for you than for them. Prepare to plan several hours each week brushing through their coat to remove knots, mats, or debris.

You will also need to wash them about once a week. In addition to dog shampoo, they should also be treated with a conditioning treatment to keep their hair soft and shiny.

The Afghan hounds shed very minimally. Many even consider them hypo-allergenic, so they are an excellent choice for anyone with pet allergies.

To minimize allergies even more and to keep the grooming routine less extensive, you can bring them to a groomer and ask for a puppy cut, which will keep their hair short and more manageable. While you might think the dog prefers their long hair, it can be more of a nuisance for them in certain climates so they may be grateful for the trim.

Just like all other breeds, they should also get their teeth brushed regularly and have their nails trimmed as needed.

Training:

Between grooming and training, training is always taking more time and can be much more challenging. Afghan Hounds are independent thinkers, which can make obedience less natural to them. They prefer to do things in their way, on their own time.

To start training an Afghan, begin as early as you can. Ideally, you will have gotten the puppy from a registered and trusted breeder who has already socialized the dogs. Then, it would be best if you had plenty of time and even more patience in your training practice with the dog.

Just as much as Afghans are free thinkers, they’re also sensitive dogs who can get scared easily. When training, avoid yelling, even if you’re getting frustrated. They can get overwhelmed by the volume and the tone and can be hard on themselves. Instead, use positive reinforcement to keep them going even if they get discouraged.

Afghan training is a demanding practice, so they may not be the best dog if you’re a first-time dog owner. However, if you’ve done your research and know what you’re getting yourself into, there’s no reason why you can’t get an Afghan Hound as your first dog. Local breed groups online may be able to offer additional help and support.

Exercise:

Afghans need daily exercise, as all dogs do, but they don’t need as much as a Labrador retriever or working dog, like a Blue Heeler.

They need the opportunity to run around a bit, whether on a walk or off-leash in an open space, to get their energy out and exercise their muscular bodies, but they are not overly active dogs.

Once they get their daily exercise, they usually prefer to lounge on the couch with their owners for the day.

Afghans have a natural hunting drive, so some owners use lure coursing to replicate the hunting process and tap into these instincts. Lure coursing involves having a dog chase a lure around a large course, simulating the real action engaged in hunting down live prey.

It incorporates the unpredictability, agility, and concentration needed to successfully hunt prey and gives them a safe outlet to do so. It’s also a great way to maintain their mental focus, sportsmanship, and metabolic health.

Beyond lure coursing, daily walks, and off-leash playtime in a fenced-in area, Afghan Hounds, prefer to be inside, lounging around the house.

Keep in mind that if you have a fenced-in yard, your fence should be at least six feet high, as Afghan Hounds are known for their incredible jumping abilities and can easily become escape artists. They are incredibly fast, so you don’t want to have to track them down.

Is An Afghan Hound for You?

Afghan Hounds are breathtaking, glamorous dogs with strong, capable bodies and loyal, calm temperaments. Though they do have high-maintenance grooming requirements and often present challenges in training, they make great family pets and will be the definition of loyal.

They are sweet dogs who prefer the company of their owners or other pets over strangers, but they may not be the best option for first-time dog owners who cannot meet their unique needs.

Ensure you have a good understanding of their temperament and care requirements and make the best decision for you, your family, and your future best friend.