Afghan hounds are among the most glamorous of breeds; their thick, silky coat and haughty expression gives them an elegant and aristocratic appearance. While they may be aloof towards strangers, they are extremely loyal and affectionate with those they know and trust.
Afghans are an ancient breed. Their genetic markers show that they are descended from the very earliest domesticated dogs. British army officers brought long-haired sight hounds back from British India and Persia. So-called Persian greyhounds were shown at the first Kennel Club shows. The Afghan hound we know today is descended from long-haired hounds brought to the UK in the early twentieth century from Afghanistan and Persia, where they had been bred for centuries as both hunting and guard dogs.
Appearance and Grooming
Afghan hounds have long, narrow muzzles, pendant ears and almond shaped eyes that give them an appearance of great dignity. They are tall dogs with high hips and long, curling tails. Accepted heights for the breed range from 24" to 28" at the shoulder. Afghans are lean in proportion to their height, and should weigh from between 45 to 65 pounds. They should not be allowed to become overweight as this puts stress on their hip joints.
The Afghan's striking coat comes in many colours, ranging from palest cream to black. All colours are accepted, but white markings around the face are frowned upon. The texture of the coat resembles that of human hair and is long, thick and silky. The fur covers the whole body except the face, and the unique topknot is a a most striking feature. An Afghan's coat needs daily grooming and regular bathing, trimming and stripping. Particular attention should be paid to the Afghan's long ears, as careful cleansing will help to prevent infections. It is well worth the effort to see the Afghan's coat at its magnificent best.
Personality and Training
Although Afghans appears aloof and aristocratic, they are playful dogs, and enjoy clowning around and playing the fool. They also love lounging around the house being pampered and waited upon!
Afghans are sight hounds and will chase almost anything that moves. Bred for hunting large prey such as leopards, they are fearless and intelligent. This can make them rather difficult to train. They need a good deal of room to exercise; a fenced garden is necessary as they are known to enjoy going off on solitary expeditions. A long daily walk is necessary for their health. Afghans have very strong personalities and their individualism becomes more marked as they grow older. It is not a good idea to keep the breed together with pets such as cats, rabbits or guinea pigs, but they can co-exist quite happily with other dogs.
As puppies, Afghans enjoy being cuddled and played with, but older dogs have a feline aspect to their personalities. Like cats, they will let you know when they want to play and when they would prefer to be left alone.
Afghans are generally a healthy breed and have an average lifespan of 12 - 13 years, which is rather above the average for a large dog. Potential health problems include cancers, allergies, cardiac problems, hip dysplasia and chylothorax, a rare condition in which chyle fluid enters the dog's chest cavity. In common with other breeds in the sight hound group, Afghans tend to be intolerant of anaesthesia, as they have low levels of body fat.