Afghan Hound

Table of Contents

afghan hound portrait
Step into the world of the Afghan Hound, a majestic dog breed that effortlessly turns heads with its elegant stride and luxurious coat! These regal canines are more than just a pretty face – they're intelligent, independent, and full of personality.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Afghan Hound is best suited for individuals and families who appreciate a dog with strong character, independence, and a touch of aristocracy. They thrive in environments where they can exercise their natural athleticism, making them ideal companions for active lifestyles.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEAfghan Hound
OTHER NAMESTāzī, Balkh Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barakzai Hound, Shalgar Hound, Kabul Hound, Galanday Hound, Koochee Dog, Sag-e Tāzī
ORIGINAfghanistan
BREED GROUPHound Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT25-27 inches
WEIGHT50-60 lbs
LIFESPAN12-18 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYLow
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYModerate
SHEDDING LEVELHigh
POPULARITY RANK117th
afghan hound on a park
Photo: 825545/Pixabay

Appearance

The Afghan Hound is a true embodiment of grace and elegance, with a striking appearance that sets it apart from other dog breeds. Standing tall and proud, these dogs typically measure between 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder for males, and 24 to 26 inches for females. Their body weight ranges from 50 to 60 pounds, with males generally being heavier than females.

The Afghan Hound’s body is long and slender, yet deceptively powerful. Beneath their luxurious coat lies a well-defined musculature, which is a testament to their agility and athleticism. The breed’s deep chest provides ample room for lung capacity, enabling them to excel in activities that require speed and endurance.

One of the most captivating features of the Afghan Hound is its head, which is long and refined, giving them an air of nobility. Their skull is slightly convex, with a prominent occiput, while their muzzle is narrow and tapers towards the nose.

The Afghan Hound’s large, almond-shaped eyes are dark in color and convey a piercing, almost mesmerizing gaze. Their ears are set low on the head and hang close to the cheeks, adorned with silky hair that adds to their regal appearance.

The Afghan Hound’s tail is another distinctive feature – it’s long and curved, with a ring at the end, which is often carried high when the dog is excited or on the move. This elegant tail is covered in a dense brush of hair, further enhancing the breed’s unique silhouette.

Perhaps the most iconic characteristic of the Afghan Hound is its magnificent coat. This breed boasts a thick, silky, and flowing coat that drapes gracefully over its body.

The coat can be found in various colors, including black, blue, cream, red, and silver, as well as brindle and various shades of these colors. It’s not uncommon to see Afghan Hounds with a darker facial mask, which adds contrast to their expressive features.

The Afghan Hound’s coat is not just for show – it served a practical purpose in their native Afghanistan, where the climate can be harsh and unforgiving. The long, dense hair provided insulation against both extreme cold and heat, while also protecting them from debris and injury during their high-speed pursuits.

Overall, the Afghan Hound’s appearance is a harmonious blend of elegance, power, and functionality, with each physical trait contributing to the breed’s unique charm and mystique.

afghan hound's face
Photo: Arve Kern/Unsplash

Temperament

The Afghan Hound is a dog breed that possesses a unique blend of traits that make it stand out among others. With its long, silky coat and elegant poise, this breed is a sight to behold. But their beauty isn’t just skin-deep; their personalities are equally captivating.

Afghan Hounds are often described as dignified and somewhat aloof. They carry themselves with an air of nobility, reflecting their aristocratic heritage. They aren’t the overly enthusiastic or effusive type; instead, they show a more subdued form of affection. Their loyalty runs deep, and once they’ve formed a bond with their human companions, it’s for life.

Despite their regal demeanor, Afghan Hounds have a playful side. They can be quite the clowns when they’re in the mood for fun, lighting up the room with their antics. Their sense of humor is subtle but charming, offering a delightful contrast to their otherwise composed nature.

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Afghan Hound’s personality is their sense of independence. These dogs are thinkers, often displaying a strong will and a mind of their own. This trait can sometimes come across as stubbornness, but it’s more about them being self-assured and confident.

Afghan Hounds are also known for their sensitivity. They may appear reserved, but they’re highly in tune with the emotions of their human companions. They don’t take well to harsh words or actions and respond best to a gentle, loving approach.

When it comes to strangers, Afghan Hounds tend to be reserved. They’re not typically aggressive or overly protective, but they do take their time warming up to new people. Once they feel comfortable, though, they can be quite sociable.

In a family setting, Afghan Hounds are known to be affectionate and loyal. They form strong bonds with their families, often showing a particular fondness for one member. Despite their independent nature, they still crave companionship and enjoy spending time with their loved ones.

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for an Afghan Hound takes into consideration both their physical needs and unique temperament. These dogs thrive in settings where they can express their natural athleticism, intelligence, and independence while also receiving the necessary love, attention, and care from their family.

Physical Environment

First and foremost, Afghan Hounds require ample space to move freely and comfortably. A large, securely fenced yard is highly desirable for these dogs, as it allows them to stretch their legs and indulge their need for speed and exercise.

However, they can adapt to living in smaller spaces like apartments or homes without a yard, provided that they receive daily outdoor exercise and mental stimulation. Regular walks, runs, or playtime at a nearby dog park will help keep them healthy and happy.

Climate Adaptability

In terms of climate adaptability, Afghan Hounds are quite versatile, thanks to their thick, luxurious coat. This dense coat provides insulation against both cold and hot temperatures, allowing them to cope well with various climates. However, it is essential to take some precautions to ensure their comfort and safety.

In colder climates, Afghan Hounds may enjoy romping in the snow, but it’s crucial to keep an eye out for signs of discomfort or hypothermia, especially during extreme weather conditions. Ensure they have a warm and dry place to rest indoors and consider providing a dog coat for added protection during winter walks.

In hot climates, it’s essential to protect Afghan Hounds from overheating. Provide plenty of shade and fresh water when outdoors, and avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day. Regular grooming is also crucial to maintaining their coat’s health and preventing matting, which can exacerbate heat-related issues.

Ideal Owner

Afghan Hounds are best suited for pet parents who understand and appreciate their unique traits and needs. This breed requires patient, consistent training and socialization to develop into well-behaved and well-rounded companions.

Owners should be prepared to invest time and effort into building a strong bond with their Afghan Hound, using positive reinforcement and reward-based training methods that respect the dog’s sensitivity and intelligence.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Afghan Hounds can generally coexist peacefully with other dogs if properly introduced and socialized. However, their strong prey drive may make them unsuitable for homes with smaller animals, such as cats or rodents, unless they have been raised together from a young age.

afghan hound on a field
Photo: Pierre Aden/Vecteezy

Grooming

The Afghan Hound’s luxurious coat is undoubtedly one of its most striking features, but this beauty comes with a significant commitment to grooming. Maintaining their long, silky hair requires regular care and attention to keep it healthy, tangle-free, and looking its best. In addition to coat maintenance, Afghan Hounds also need routine dental care, nail trims, and ear cleaning to ensure their overall well-being.

Coat Care

When it comes to coat care, expect to dedicate a considerable amount of time to brushing and grooming your Afghan Hound. Ideally, you should brush their coat at least every other day, if not daily, to prevent mats and tangles from forming. Using a pin brush or a slicker brush with long, rounded bristles can help gently detangle the hair without causing discomfort or damage.

Before brushing, it’s helpful to lightly mist the coat with water or a leave-in conditioner to minimize static and breakage. Start at the tips of the hair and work your way towards the roots, using gentle strokes and holding the hair close to the skin to avoid pulling. Pay particular attention to areas prone to matting, such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the neck.

Regular baths are also essential for keeping your Afghan Hound’s coat clean and fresh. Depending on your dog’s activity level and lifestyle, they may need a bath every two to four weeks. Use a mild, moisturizing dog shampoo and conditioner to maintain the coat’s natural oils and shine. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue, as this can cause irritation and make the coat appear dull.

After bathing, towel-dry your Afghan Hound and use a hairdryer on a low heat setting to dry their coat completely. This process can be time-consuming, but it’s essential to prevent dampness from leading to skin issues or unpleasant odors. While drying, use a brush or comb to gently detangle the hair and ensure it dries straight and smooth.

Dental Care

In addition to coat care, Afghan Hounds need regular dental care to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste. Regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian and providing dental chews or toys can also help keep their teeth clean and free from plaque and tartar.

Afghan Hounds’ nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks, depending on how quickly they grow and wear down. Use a pair of dog nail clippers or a grinder to trim the nails, being careful not to cut into the quick, which can cause pain and bleeding. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails yourself, consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer for guidance.

Ear Care

Lastly, don’t forget to check and clean your Afghan Hound’s ears regularly. Use a gentle ear cleaner and a soft cloth or cotton ball to remove any dirt or wax buildup. Be cautious not to insert anything deep into the ear canal as it can damage their ear

Additional Grooming Tips

It’s important to establish a grooming routine from an early age to help your Afghan Hound become comfortable with the process. Regular grooming sessions can also be an excellent opportunity to bond with your dog and monitor their overall health by checking for any skin issues, lumps, or other abnormalities.

If you find that you’re unable to dedicate the necessary time and effort to grooming your Afghan Hound, consider seeking the help of a professional groomer who is experienced in handling this breed’s unique coat and grooming requirements.

Regular visits to a groomer can help maintain your dog’s coat in optimal condition while also giving you peace of mind knowing that they’re receiving the best possible care.

For more details, check out our article on how to groom an Afghan Hound.

three afghan hounds on a field
Photo: Garosha/Getty Images

Exercise

The Afghan Hound is a highly athletic breed with a strong need for regular exercise and mental stimulation. Their impressive speed, agility, and endurance, which were honed through centuries of hunting in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan, make them well-suited for various physical activities. Meeting their exercise needs is essential to maintaining their overall health and happiness.

Exercise Amount & Types

On average, Afghan Hounds require at least one hour of daily exercise, which can be divided into multiple sessions. This exercise should include a combination of activities that cater to their natural instincts and abilities, such as running, playing, and exploring.

Long walks or hikes, off-leash playtime in a securely fenced area, and engaging in interactive games like fetch or tug-of-war are all excellent ways to keep your Afghan Hound active and entertained.

When it comes to running, Afghan Hounds are natural sprinters, capable of reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. They may particularly enjoy participating in lure coursing events, where they can showcase their incredible speed and prey drive by chasing a mechanically operated lure across an open field.

These events provide a safe and controlled environment for your Afghan Hound to indulge their instincts while also offering an opportunity to socialize with other dogs and owners.

In addition to physical exercise, Afghan Hounds benefit from mental stimulation to keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and scent work are all excellent ways to engage your dog’s intellect and help satisfy their natural curiosity.

Dog Sports

Afghan Hounds are also well-suited for dog sports such as agility, obedience, and rally, which challenge both their physical prowess and intelligence. Participating in these activities can help strengthen the bond between you and your dog while providing an outlet for their energy and mental stimulation.

Exercise Precautions

It’s important to remember that Afghan Hounds are sensitive to heat, so plan your exercise sessions during the cooler parts of the day, especially in hot climates. Ensure they have access to plenty of fresh water and shade during outdoor activities, and monitor them closely for signs of overheating or fatigue.

Training

Training an Afghan Hound can be both a rewarding and challenging experience, as their unique temperament and intelligence require a thoughtful and patient approach. These dogs are known for their independent nature and strong-willed character, which may make them appear less trainable than other breeds.

However, with the right techniques and mindset, you can successfully train your Afghan Hound and help them develop into a well-behaved and well-rounded companion.

One of the most important aspects of training an Afghan Hound is to establish a strong bond and mutual trust with your dog. They tend to be more responsive to training when they feel a connection with their owner and are motivated by positive reinforcement. Using praise, treats, and affection as rewards for good behavior can go a long way in helping your Afghan Hound understand and follow your commands.

It’s crucial to begin training and socialization from an early age, ideally during puppyhood. Introducing your Afghan Hound to various people, animals, and environments will help them develop confidence and adaptability, making them more receptive to training and new experiences as they grow older.

Consistency and patience are key when training an Afghan Hound. They may not respond well to repetitive exercises or harsh training methods, so it’s essential to keep sessions engaging, fun, and tailored to their individual needs.

Be prepared for your Afghan Hound to test boundaries and exhibit a stubborn streak – staying calm and consistent in your approach will help reinforce desired behaviors over time.

Afghan Hounds can excel in various dog sports and activities, including agility, obedience, and rally. Participating in these activities can provide an excellent outlet for their energy and intelligence while also reinforcing their training and strengthening the bond between you and your dog.

When it comes to house training, Afghan Hounds can be slow to catch on and may require extra patience and consistency compared to other breeds. Establishing a regular routine and using positive reinforcement when your dog successfully eliminates outdoors can help speed up the process.

afghan hound with long feathering
Photo: ktatarka/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the overall health and well-being of your Afghan Hound. Providing them with the right nutrients and feeding schedule will help maintain their energy levels, support their growth and development, and contribute to a healthy, shiny coat.

What to Feed & How Much

When choosing a suitable food for your Afghan Hound, it’s crucial to look for high-quality options that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the minimum nutritional requirements necessary for your dog’s health.

There are various types of dog food available, including dry kibble, wet food, and raw diets. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to choose the one that best suits your dog’s specific needs and preferences.

The amount of food you should feed your Afghan Hound depends on several factors, such as their age, weight, activity level, and overall health. Generally, puppies require more frequent meals to support their rapid growth and development, while adult dogs can be fed twice a day.

It’s essential to consult the feeding guidelines provided by the food manufacturer or your veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion size for your dog.

As your Afghan Hound grows and their activity level changes, you may need to adjust their daily food intake accordingly. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and related health issues, while underfeeding can result in malnutrition and poor growth. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help monitor your dog’s weight and overall health, allowing you to make any necessary adjustments to their diet.

Treats & Water

When it comes to treats, moderation is key. While treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding good behavior, they should not make up more than 10% of your Afghan Hound’s daily caloric intake. Choose healthy treat options such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables, and avoid high-fat or sugar-laden options.

Hydration is another critical aspect of your Afghan Hound’s diet. Ensure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times, and monitor their water intake, especially during hot weather or after exercise. Dehydration can lead to serious health issues, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your dog’s water consumption.

Health

The Afghan Hound is generally a healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 18 years. However, like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health issues. Providing a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations can help maintain their overall well-being and prevent potential health problems.

Here are common health issues associated with Afghan Hounds:

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint does not develop correctly, leading to arthritis and pain over time. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing joint supplements can help manage this condition, but severe cases may require surgical intervention.

Cataracts: Afghan Hounds can be prone to developing cataracts, which are cloudy formations in the lens of the eye that can affect vision. Regular eye exams by a veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist can help detect cataracts early, and surgical removal may be an option for more severe cases.

Allergies: Like many breeds, Afghan Hounds can suffer from various allergies, including food, environmental, and contact allergies. Identifying the allergen and eliminating it from your dog’s environment or diet is crucial in managing their symptoms. Consult with your veterinarian for appropriate allergy testing and treatment options.

Heart Issues: Afghan Hounds may be at risk for heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease where the heart becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently. Regular veterinary check-ups and monitoring for signs of heart issues, such as lethargy, coughing, or difficulty breathing, can help detect and manage these conditions early.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion): This life-threatening condition occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. Large, deep-chested breeds like the Afghan Hound are more prone to bloat. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding exercise immediately before or after eating can help reduce the risk of bloat. Be aware of the symptoms, such as a swollen abdomen, restlessness, and excessive drooling, and seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect your dog is experiencing bloat.

To keep your Afghan Hound healthy, provide a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs, schedule regular veterinary check-ups, and ensure they receive all necessary vaccinations. By staying proactive in monitoring and addressing potential health issues, you can contribute to a long, happy, and healthy life for your Afghan Hound.

afghan hound on a field
Photo: Ralph_Fotos/Pixabay

History

The Afghan Hound is an ancient breed with a rich and fascinating history, dating back thousands of years. Believed to have originated in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, the Afghan Hound’s lineage can be traced back to the Saluki and other sighthounds that were bred for their speed, agility, and hunting prowess.

Early Afghan Hounds were primarily used for hunting large game such as deer, gazelles, and even leopards, relying on their keen eyesight, incredible speed, and endurance to track and capture their prey.

The Afghan Hound’s unique appearance is also a testament to its historical roots. Their luxurious, flowing coat provided much-needed protection against the harsh climates of the Afghan mountains, while their long, slender limbs and powerful hindquarters allowed them to navigate the rugged terrain with ease.

The breed’s distinctive facial features, such as the prominent nose and large, almond-shaped eyes, are not only striking but also functional, enhancing their ability to detect movement and scent over vast distances.

The Afghan Hound first came to the attention of the Western world during the late 19th century when British military personnel stationed in Afghanistan and India encountered the breed. They were quickly captivated by the Afghan Hound’s beauty and elegance, and some officers brought the dogs back to England as pets and hunting companions.

Their popularity in Europe grew steadily, and by the early 20th century, Afghan Hounds had become highly sought-after show dogs and companions for the European elite.

In the United States, the Afghan Hound first gained recognition in the 1920s, and the breed was officially registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1926. The first Afghan Hound to be registered with the AKC was Zardin, a dog imported from the United Kingdom by Zeppo Marx, one of the famous Marx Brothers.

The breed’s popularity continued to grow throughout the 20th century, with Afghan Hounds becoming a symbol of luxury and sophistication in American popular culture.

The Afghan Hound has also made its mark on the world of dog sports and competition. Their natural speed, agility, and grace make them well-suited for various activities, such as lure coursing, obedience, and agility trials.

Their unique appearance and elegant gait have also led to success in the show ring, with Afghan Hounds consistently earning top honors at prestigious events like the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and Crufts.

In addition to their success in the show ring and sporting events, Afghan Hounds have also made appearances in various forms of popular culture. The breed has been featured in numerous films, television shows, and books, often portrayed as a symbol of elegance and refinement.

One notable example is Barbie’s pet Afghan Hound, Beauty, introduced in the 1980s as part of Mattel’s line of Barbie dolls and accessories.

Today, the Afghan Hound continues to captivate dog enthusiasts worldwide with its striking appearance, regal demeanor, and fascinating history. While no longer primarily used for hunting, the breed’s athletic abilities, intelligence, and unique temperament make it a versatile and engaging companion for those willing to invest the time and effort into understanding and caring for this remarkable breed.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Afghan Hound in the United States is the Afghan Hound Club of America (AHCA). Founded in 1940, the AHCA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the unique qualities of the Afghan Hound breed.

The club organizes various events, including specialty shows, lure coursing trials, and educational seminars, to foster a community of Afghan Hound enthusiasts and provide valuable resources for owners and breeders. The AHCA’s website can be accessed here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities.

Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Afghan Hound’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

afghan hound walking
Photo: Garosha/Getty Images

Acquiring

When considering acquiring an Afghan Hound, it’s essential to prepare for the responsibility of owning this unique breed. Research the breed’s temperament, exercise needs, grooming requirements, and potential health concerns to ensure you can provide a suitable environment for your new companion.

Rescuing an Afghan Hound rather than buying is a rewarding way to offer a loving home to a dog in need. The American Kennel Club and the Afghan Hound Club of America (AHCA) can help connect you with rescue organizations and available dogs. By adopting through a rescue, you’ll not only save a life but also benefit from the support and expertise of the rescue organization.

Before bringing your Afghan Hound home, prepare your living space by creating a comfortable and secure environment. Ensure you have essential supplies such as a crate, bed, food and water bowls, toys, grooming tools, and a leash and collar. Remember that patience, love, and consistency are crucial when introducing your new Afghan Hound into your family and home.

FAQs

Why are Afghan Hounds expensive?

Afghan Hounds are expensive due to their unique appearance, breed rarity, and the costs associated with responsible breeding practices. High-quality breeders invest in health testing, proper care, and socialization to ensure the well-being of the puppies, which adds to the overall cost.

Are Afghan Hounds good family dogs?

While Afghan Hounds can be loving and loyal companions, they may not be the ideal choice for every family. They have a strong independent streak and can be reserved with strangers. However, with proper socialization and training, they can become affectionate and adaptable members of the family.

Are Afghan Hounds rare?

Afghan Hounds are not extremely rare, but they are less common compared to other breeds. Their unique appearance and specific care requirements contribute to their lower popularity. However, dedicated breed enthusiasts continue to preserve and promote this ancient breed.

Do Afghan Hounds require a lot of grooming?

Yes, Afghan Hounds have a long, silky coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its beauty and prevent matting. Regular brushing, bathing, and occasional professional grooming are necessary to keep their coat in optimal condition.

How much exercise do Afghan Hounds need?

Afghan Hounds are athletic dogs that require at least an hour of daily exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Daily walks, play sessions, and opportunities to run in a securely fenced area are essential for keeping them happy and healthy.

Are Afghan Hounds easy to train?

Afghan Hounds can be challenging to train due to their independent nature and strong prey drive. However, they are intelligent dogs that respond well to positive reinforcement and consistency. Patience and persistence are key when training an Afghan Hound.

Can Afghan Hounds live in apartments?

While Afghan Hounds can adapt to apartment living, they still require regular exercise and outdoor access to burn off energy. As long as their exercise needs are met, they can be content in an apartment setting. However, potential owners should be mindful of the breed’s size and grooming requirements when considering apartment living.

Fun Facts

  • The Afghan Hound is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. Their origins can be traced back thousands of years to pre-Christian times, with their ancestors hailing from the mountainous regions of Afghanistan. They were bred for their unique ability to navigate tough terrains while hunting.
  • One physical characteristic that sets Afghan Hounds apart from most other breeds is their hip placement. Their hips are set unusually high, which was an adaptation for speed and agility in the rocky mountains of their homeland.
  • With their glamorous looks, Afghan Hounds have made a name for themselves in Hollywood. They’ve graced the big screen and television in various roles, adding a touch of elegance and mystery to many productions.

Table of Contents