Since ancient times, Afghan Hounds have been famous for their elegant beauty. But the thick, flowing coat that is the breed’s crowning glory isn’t just for show—it served as protection from the harsh climate in mountainous regions where Afghans originally earned their keep. Beneath the glamorous exterior is a powerful, agile hound—standing as high as 27 inches at the shoulder—built for a long day’s hunt. Their huge paw pads act as shock absorbers on their homeland’s punishing terrain.
- Personality: A breed of charming contradictions: independent and aloof, but sweet and profoundly loyal; dignified, but with a silly streak
- Energy Level: Very Active; Bred for high-speed pursuit, Afghans need fenced-in running room and brisk walks
- Good with Children: Better with Supervision
- Good with other Dogs: With Supervision
- Shedding: Infrequent, Hypoallergenic
- Grooming: Weekly
- Trainability: Independent
- Height: 25-27 inches
- Weight: 50-60 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 12-18 years
- Barking Level: Barks When Necessary
Little is known for certain about the origin of the Afghan Hound. One theory maintains that the breed originated in the Middle East and found its way into Afghanistan via Persia. It was in Afghanistan that the breed developed its long coat for protection from the cold at high altitudes.
The native home of the breed is said to be in northeastern Afghanistan and a common belief there is that these hounds entered the ark with Noah. However, rock carvings in caves depict dogs that appear to be these hounds. The carvings were made by invaders from Asia under the command of Alexander the Great. As the breed developed in Afghanistan, two distinct types evolved. Hounds from the southern and western desert regions had a rangy build, were light in color and sparse in outer coat. The dogs from the northern regions were more compact in structure, darker in color and more heavily coated. These and other variations represented logical adaptations to the wide diversity of climate and terrain of the country.
In 1921, the breed made its first appearance in Europe – in Scotland. From Scotland, the breed was imported into England and Ireland. By 1938, the Afghan Hound had arrived in 7 European countries and the United States. The first to enter the United States (in terms of contributing to pedigree history) were Westmill Omar and Asra Of Ghazni, imported by the Marx brothers. The Marx brothers later transferred them to Q.A. Shaw Mckean, who likely was the driving force in establishing the breed on the East Coast as well as providing founding stock for other pioneering kennels across the country.
TRAINING AND TEMPERAMENT
The breed’s devotees swear by its faithfulness and endearing personality. But Afghans come with conditions: The grooming, the running, a high prey drive, and the challenge of training an independent hound. It’s a special breed for special people.
The Afghan Hound is an aristocrat, his whole appearance one of dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness or coarseness. He has a straight front, proudly carried head, eyes gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past. The striking characteristics of the breed-exotic, or “Eastern,” expression, long silky topknot, peculiar coat pattern, very prominent hipbones, large feet, and the impression of a somewhat exaggerated bend in the stifle due to profuse trouserings-stand out clearly, giving the Afghan Hound the appearance of what he is, a king of dogs, that has held true to tradition throughout the ages
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
Depending on the size of your dog as an adult you are going to want to feed them a formula that will cater to their unique digestive needs through the various phases of their life. Many dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large and giant breeds. The Afghan Hound is a large breed. What you feed your dog is an individual choice, but working with your veterinarian and/or breeder will be the best way to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Properly fed Afghan Hounds should have gleaming coats and clean teeth. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
COAT AND GROOMING
A young fuzzy puppy requires minimal grooming, but this will change drastically by the time he is nine months old. This magnificent coat will require frequent baths and thorough grooming. That long flowing coat requires regular attention and brushing to avoid tangles and matting. Keep an eye out for debris and parasites that can get tangled in the hair. Their nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowth and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris which can result in an infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.
Remember that your Afghan Hound is a sighthound who loves to run and chase things which you may not even see. They require a great deal of exercise. The best place to exercise an Afghan Hound is in a large fenced-in area, where they can run at a full gallop, stretch their legs and turn to do it all over again. If they don’t get enough exercise, they can become bored and destructive in your home. Your own yard should have a six foot fence because Afghan Hounds are also good jumpers. For your walks, a strong leash and a properly fitted slip or martingale collar is a must.
As veterinary medicine and its protocols are continually changing, it is suggested you seek a veterinarian who is familiar with sighthounds and their specific needs such as sensitivities with anesthesia. Ask your breeder and other sighthound owners for their recommendations and interview several. Asking questions and building a relationship with a vet before a need arises is the best approach. Afghan hounds may be affected by bloat, a digestive disorder of the stomach. Make sure to educate yourself about this potentially fatal condition by educating yourself on the symptoms of bloat. Call your veterinarian immediately if you see any symptoms.