Afghan Hound

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Hound

Personality
Loyal and intelligent, yet sensitive

Life Expectancy
12-14 years

Average Height
Males 26-28”, Females 24-26”

Average Weight
44-66 lbs

Coat Color
Varies, but usually tan to brown

Coat Length/Texture
Very long and fine

Shedding Propensity
Average

Also known as Balkh Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barutzy Hound, Kabul Hound, Sage Baluchi, Tazi, Ogar Afgan

General Temperament

Afghan Hounds are typically described as regal and dignified dogs, with an intelligence beyond most other breeds. Along with this intelligence comes a tendency toward sensitivity, aloofness and independence, but they also long for affection and are devoted to their families. Some are shy and somewhat high-strung, and as such must be trained with a kind and patient hand, and that training must be very consistent (if not trained properly, they can be destructive and disobedient). They are very protective of their home and are suspicious of strangers, but not necessarily aggressive toward them. In fact, they rarely even bark.

Afghans are generally comfortable with adults and older children, but can be snappish with younger children when teased or roughhoused. They can do quite well with other animals as long as they are socialized around them, although they often view “intruder” animals as suspect.

Given their history as a hunting breed, Afghans generally aren’t recommended for owners in apartments or other small dwellings. They are relatively inactive indoors and do best with acreage where they have open space to gallop freely at least 30 minutes per day. They also need long daily walks, so owners with medical issues that may restrict exercise might do better with a different breed. An Afghan can live indoors or outdoors, although since it usually becomes very attached to it’s family, it would be happier sleeping indoors.

Breed History

The Afghan Hound is a sighthound and one of the most ancient of all dog breeds. Drawings of the breed appear on cave walls in Northern Afghanistan as well as on Egyptian papyruses created as long as 4,000 years ago (yes, you read that right), and until 1907, exporting them from Afghanistan was illegal. Originally bred to hunt large mountainous game such as snow leopards, deer and even wolves, they developed exceptional sight, speed and tracking skills. These qualities lend the breed toward modern work in herding.

Body Structure and Composition

The Afghan Hound is often described as an “Aristocratic” dog, given it’s graceful gait, regal stance, intense gaze and long, flowing fur that is particularly impressive when in motion. The muzzle is long with a slight prominence of the nasal bone giving a “Roman nose” effect. The occiptal bone in the top center of the skull is raised, and the ears are quite long and lay flat against the side of the face. The long neck leads down to a level back and mid-sized chest. The legs are straight and powerful and the hipbones are wider than most other breeds. The whiplike tail is long and slightly curved at the end and, unlike the rest of it’s body, is not bushy.

Medical Information

Compared to other breeds, relatively few medical issues plague Afghans. As is common with most of the large breed, Hip Dysplasia can be a problem for the Afghan Hound. This occurs when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the hip socket, causing loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms. Like other sight hounds, Afghans have relatively little body fat, which can make them unusually sensitive to anesthesia. As they age, many Afghans suffer from cataracts (opaque spots on the lens of the eye, causing partial or total loss of vision). Cancer is the most common cause of death among this breed.

Hypothyroidism, which causes underactivity of the thyroid gland, is also somewhat common in the Afghan Hound (this gland has a number of functions, but is most well known for regulating your dog’s metabolic rate). This can cause lethargy, weight gain, skin infection and hair loss, cold intolerance, chronic ear infections or severe behavioral changes. Hypothyroid dogs who receive proper treatment, including a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone, can have a normal life span and are able to maintain good health well into their golden years.

The most noticeable maintenance issue with this breed is its long and luxurious coat. Weekly baths are required to prevent matting. Contrary to conventional wisdom, regular brushing can actually cause the coat to become matted more easily, and special grooming tools are required. Equally important is the breed’s need for regular daily exercise.

Anecdotal Information

There has been much debate over the years of the origin of this breed. Some say they were originally bred for Egyptian royalty, although there is no concrete evidence to support this theory. The history of this breed may be much older than any of us realize, with some legends insisting that the breed was one of the animals rescued on Noah’s Ark.

Pablo Picasso was a big fan of this breed, and there is speculation that his untitled sculpture stands in Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop was inspired by his Afghan, named Kasbec.

An Afghan Hound called Snuppy was the first cloned dog.

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