1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a Afghan Hound ?
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
11. Caring for a Afghan Hound
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a Afghan Hound
Afghan Hounds are the glamour dogs of the canine world and over time have become one of the most recognised dogs on the planet. The breed first appeared in the UK early in the 1900s with an Afghan Hound named Zardin winning the dog show at Crystal Palace in 1907. Often referred to as the "King of Dogs", the Afghan Hound is a dignified and proud dog that boasts a noble air about them.
Native to Afghanistan and bred to hunt in a mountain environment, these sight hounds need a lot in the way of exercise and because of their high prey drive, it's a good idea to keep an Afghan on a strong lead or they might just chase off after a cat or other small animal they spot when out on a walk. With this said, over the years they have become a very popular choice as companion dogs and family pets.
The Afghan Hound is thought to be over 4000 years old, making it one of the most ancient breeds on the planet. Hounds, particularly sighthounds, have been kept for centuries living and working with people. Afghan Hounds are skilled hunters and they are large and brave enough to tackle all sorts of prey which includes deer, goats, wild mountain cats and even wolves.
The breed is thought to be closely related to the Saluki and the pedigree Afghans we see today are descendants of dogs that arrived in the UK in the twenties when King Amanullah offered them as gifts. However, the true origins of the Afghan Hound remains a bit of a mystery with a lot of speculation as to how the breed first came about. What is known about these elegant dogs is that once they arrived on British soil, they were an instant hit with dog fanciers all over the country with the first Afghan Hound being exhibited in 1907.
Many sight dogs had been bought to Britain in the 1800's by officers returning from areas of the British Empire and they went by many names including 'Persian Greyhounds' and Barukzy Hounds. However, when it comes to the long-haired Afghan Hound, two strains are thought to be the foundation dogs for the modern Afghan we see today.
The first group of Afghan Hounds were introduced to Scotland by Major and Mrs G Bell-Murray in 1920 and were named the "Bell-Murray" strain. Another group of dogs were bought over to England by Mrs Mary Amps in 1925 and these dogs boasted heavier coats than the dogs in Scotland. A breed standard was eventually established in 1948 which is the one that is still valid today.
Height at the withers: Males 68 - 74 cm, Females 63 - 69 cm
Average Weight: Males 20 - 27 kg, Females 20 - 27 kg
Afghan Hounds are quite unique looking dogs, they are elegant and dignified while at the same time they have a powerful and proud look about them which is enhanced by the fact these dogs carry their heads high.
An Afghan's head is long although never too narrow and they boast a very prominent occiput. Their forefaces are long with a strong and powerful looking jaw. Their muzzles are long and darker in colour than the rest of their bodies although dogs with lighter coats often have liver coloured noses which is acceptable under the breed standard.
Their eyes are typically dark in colour with a triangular shape that slants slightly at the edges which gives the Afghan their oriental look. Their ears are set low and back on a dog's head, they carry them close and they are covered in silky, long hair. An Afghan's neck is long and elegant while at the same time powerful looking especially as these dogs carry their heads so high.
Shoulders are set well back on their forequarters being well-muscled and powerful with long and well developed straight front legs. Their chest is deep and their rib cage well sprung. An Afghan's body is moderately long with a level back that dips to their backends. An Afghan's hip bones are prominent and set wide apart on powerful, well-muscled hindquarters. Their front feet are large with arched toes and their back feet are long but not as wide and their front paws.
An Afghan's tail is set low with a slight amount of feathering and has a ring on the end of it. When moving or excited, these dogs carry their tails high which adds to their proud look and appeal.
When it comes to their coat, an Afghan Hound boasts having luxurious hair that's soft to the touch and fine in texture covering a dog's entire body. Their thick coat was needed in their native Afghanistan because it protected them from the often harsh temperatures they were bred to hunt in.
There are many accepted coat colours for the Afghan Hound which includes the following:
The Afghan Hound is not the most intelligent of dogs on the planet being ranked 79 out of 79 breeds and they are not known to be the most obedient either. However, what they lack in intelligence, they more than make up for in their charming good looks and lovely temperaments. They are one of the sweetest natured dogs around, very rarely showing any sort of dominant or aggressive behaviours.
With this said, the Afghan's prey drive is embedded in their breeding and as such their urge to chase anything that moves is something that needs to be well understood if you are hoping to share your home with one of these dogs. The breed is known to be "aloof and independent" at times, but they are quite sensitive dogs by nature and boast a very affectionate side to their personalities. They can be real "clowns" at times too.
Afghan Hounds need to be handled with a gentle, yet very firm hand right from the word go. They need to be well socialised from a young age and introduced to as many new situations, people and especially other animals to be truly confident, well-rounded dogs and even then you have to be very careful when they are around any small animals. It is never a good idea to let an Afghan off their leads in the park or when out on a walk in the countryside because being sight hounds that boast a very high prey drive, they will take off after anything they spot whether close by or in the distance, ignoring the "recall" command altogether.
Afghan Hounds are intelligent, but they are known to be quite highly strung which owners need to keep in mind when they start training a dog. Afghans can also be stubborn and headstrong at times and as such really do need an experienced handler and trainer who is familiar with the breed for them to grow up to be obedient, well-behaved dogs. Training an Afghan can prove challenging for these reasons which means an inexperienced owner might not be able to cope.
An Afghan's training cannot be rushed and they do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction. They do respond well to positive reinforcement, but as previously mentioned, their education needs to start early. These dogs are ultra-sensitive and it takes a lot of patience and understanding when training puppies and young dogs which includes house training them. Harsh correction would only result in making an already sensitive dog a lot more timid.
Afghan Hounds are generally very good around children. However, they are large dogs that love to play and act the "clown" which means they can easily knock a younger child over. As such, it's always a good idea to keep a close eye on any playtime with the kids to make sure nobody gets hurt or scared.
As previously mentioned, the Afghan is a sighthound and one that boasts an incredibly high prey drive. As such, any small animal and pet which includes cats are often seen as "fair game" to them. In short, you have to be very careful when an Afghan is around any small animals and introductions have to be made very carefully to make sure things stay calm and pets remain safe.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an Afghan Hound is between 11 to 13 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
As with many other pedigree dogs, the Afghan Hound is known to suffer from a few hereditary and acquired health disorders which includes the following:
Afghan Hounds also share a sensitivity to anaesthetic like so many other sight hounds. As such vets always take extra care when they have to treat a dog for any condition that requires sedation.
As with any other breed, Afghan Hounds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They really do benefit from being professionally groomed regularly too. Afghans need to be given regular daily exercise to make sure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Afghan Hounds are high maintenance in the grooming and bathing department. Their long coats need to be brushed on a daily basis to prevent any mats, knots and tangles from developing in their hair which is extremely fine and therefore more likely to get matted if not brushed regularly. If you don't have the time to brush your pet every day then choosing to share your home with an Afghan Hound would be a big mistake.
You also need to invest in a lot of grooming tools if you own an Afghan and this includes "drying suits" which help speed up the process of drying a dog once they've been bathed, remembering that these dogs need more frequent bathing than many other breeds.
These dogs also benefit from being professionally groomed on a regular basis to keep their coats and skin in top condition throughout the year. As with other breeds, Afghans tend to shed the most during the Spring and then again in the Autumn which is when more grooming is essential.
Afghan Hounds are high energy dogs and as such they need to be given a lot of exercise on a daily basis. Ideally, they need to be given a good two hours or more and this needs to be somewhere safe and secure where you can let them off their leads so they can really let off steam. You also need to bear in mind that gardens need to be ultra-secure because an Afghan is a nimble dog and one that can jump high fences when they want to. They are also extremely good at digging their way under a fence if the urge takes them.
On top of all the physical exercise these dogs need on a daily basis, they also need to be given a tremendous amount of mental stimulation in the form of interactive games, something these dogs genuinely need and enjoy to be truly happy, well-balanced dogs. The old adage of a "tired dog being a good dog" is never truer than when describing an Afghan Hound. If an Afghan is not given enough exercise, they will get bored very quickly which could lead to all sorts of unwanted and destructive behaviours around the house.
If you get an Afghan puppy from a breeder, they would provide you with a feeding schedule when you pick them up. It's really important to stick with the schedule and to feed a puppy the same food at the same time of the day they are used to otherwise they could end up having a tummy upset. Any different food needs to be introduced to a puppy's diet very gradually for the same reason.
A more mature, older Afghan Hound needs to be fed a good quality, well balanced diet and one that suits their ages. They are known to be fussy eaters which can make finding the sort of food a dog likes a little challenging at times, but perseverance and lots of "testing" usually pays off in the end. However, you should never resort to feeding an Afghan Hound lower quality food because they could end up with a digestive problem.
If you are looking to buy an Afghan Hound, you would need to pay anything from £400 to well over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3 year old Afghan if you live in northern England would be £28.39 a month for basic cover and £48.93 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of March 2016). It's worth bearing in mind that insurance companies take several things into account when calculating the cost of dog insurance and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age at the time the policy is taken out as well as their breed.
When it comes to food costs, you would need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry for your dog throughout their lives, making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £60 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Afghan which includes their initial vaccinations, boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which can quickly add up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Afghan would be between £80 - £120 a month depending on the level of insurance you opt to buy for your pet, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pure bred Afghan Hound puppy.
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