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The luxuriously coated Afghan Hound was bred to live high in the cold mountains of Afghanistan. This tall, slender and graceful sighthound has a particularly noble look about it, making it worthy of its title 'King of Dogs'.
As a breed, the Afghan Hound is thought to be over 4000 years old, making it one of 14 of the ancient breeds of dog. Hounds, particularly sighthounds, have been kept for centuries living and working with humans to aid the hunting and capture of quarry, in the case of Afghan Hounds, they were specialist hare and deer hunters, but were large and brave enough to tackle larger, more troublesome animals such as mountain goats and even mountain wild cats.
As the name suggests, the roots of this dog can be traced back to Afghanistan but ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls have also been found containing pictures of an Afghan looking type dog.
The Afghan Hound was first bought to Britain in the 1800's when returning overseas officers from areas of the British Empire bought them back with them as pets and were colloquially known as 'Persian Greyhounds' One dog in particular, named Zardin, was brought back to England in 1907 from India by a Captain Bariff and became the early ideal of breed type for the first breed standard in 1912. The arrival of the First World War put a temporary stop to the ongoing breeding programme.
When breeding recommenced, two strains of Afghan Hound appeared. In the 1920's a group of these dogs were taken to Scotland by a Major and Mrs. G. Bell-Murray and Miss Jean C. Manson. The offspring produced by these dogs was called the Bell-Murray strain.
The second strain was a group of dogs from a kennel in Kabul owned by Mrs. Mary Amps, which she took to England in 1925. This strain were the more heavily coated mountain type.
Both strain of dog grew in popularity and were exported to Europe, America and Australia with both the strains being mixed into the modern Afghan Hound breed, leading to a breed new standard being written in 1948, which is still used today
Average height to withers: Males and females are both tall and can grow up to 29 inches in height, with males usually being taller than females.
Average weight: Of a slender build, both males and females weigh between 20-27 kg.
You cannot mistake this dog for any other breed of dog as there are no others quite like it!
The first thing you notice about an Afghan Hound is its beautifully silky and long coat. This is fine and heavily feathered in all areas with the exception of the tail which may be a little sparser. The coat can be any colour, but white markings are discouraged. There is sometimes a black 'mask' on the dogs face which when it runs down the muzzle and side of the cheeks is known as a 'Mandarin'.
The ears lie flat to the head almost blending in with the long topknot of hair and the eyes are always dark, and almond shaped with a black nose. The head is slender and tapers into a graceful, but strong, neck. The withers are at the same height as the hindquarters with the front legs being straight and long. The tail of an Afghan Hound is raised when the dog is in action and has a characteristic 'ring' at the end of it.
Not renowned for its intelligence in relation to obedience, what this breed lacks in this area it makes up for in charm, loyalty, courage and affection. This dog certainly is one of the sweetest dogs you may come across with people of all ages as they're not very dominant by nature, however due to its hunting heritage it may not always be a suitable dog to own around smaller household pets as the hunt - prey drive is still quite strong.
To get the best out of this breed, the owner must take the time to socialise it with other animals and ensure that it is taken on long walks or runs at least twice daily as it is quite a high energy animal. It will respond well to gentle training methods and can do quite well at canine sports such as agility. It has a natural merriment about it and loves to play, sometimes in a quite exuberant and 'clownish' manner and due to its larger size could easily knock down a smaller person or child, although this is not something it would do with aggression in mind.
The owner of this dog is well rewarded for their efforts with one of the most amiable of companions as well as one of the most spectacular.
The average life span of an Afghan Hound is around 12 years old and it is considered to be quite a healthy breed, with some cancers being cited as its main reason for death.
As with many larger breeds of dog Hip Dysplasia can be an issue and the owner must take note of that fact that the long coat can cause issues in hot weather. Heatstroke can affect any dog, but is always a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is little time before serious damage - or even death - can occur. Dogs cannot sweat through skin like humans can, and release excess heat through panting, their nose and their pads of their feet. If the dog is unable to do this, the internal body temperature will rise and at 106 degrees, irreparable damage will occur to the dog's organs and internal systems.
Signs of heat stroke include increased internal temperature of over 104 degrees, hard and laboured panting, gums which are visibly red, lethargy, disorientation leading to loss of consciousness or collapsing. If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you must take immediate action. First, move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away and begin cooling your dog by placing cool, wet rags or washcloths on the body - especially the foot pads and around the head, taking care not to use ice cold water. It is also advisable to sponge your dogs mouth or offer cool water but do not allow to gulp water. You must at this point seek immediate veterinary attention, even if your dog appears to be better.
As you would suspect, this breed is one which requires a considerable input on the owner's part with regards to grooming. Including cleaning the ears, which being long require attention to ensure they are clean, dry and free from debris, the grooming process could take several hours per week if you want to keep that show stopping coat in good condition. Many Afghan Hound owners will be armed with an assortment of different brushes and towelling 'drying' suits which help speed up the drying process. The owner must also take into account the amount of time that needs to be taken up walking this energetic dog.