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 although Afghan Hounds are not as popular today as they once were.
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. They are part of a group of sight hounds which are known as "Eastern Greyhounds".
The ancestors of the Afghan Hounds we see today were brought over to the UK from Afghanistan. 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.
In Afghan's Islamic culture depicting animals in art is forbidden which means pictorial records of the Afghan Hound do not exist. The earliest hand drawn etching of a hound dates back to 1813 and it was done by a native soldier. The hound looks very much like a young Afghan Hound. They have always been highly prized for their legendary hunting skills. Few Afghan Hounds remain in Afghanistan although some can still be found in their native lands.
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.
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 with the ones that are acceptable for Kennel Club registration being as follows:
When an Afghan Hound moves they do so with great purpose and elegance always showing a lot of drive and covering lots of ground when they are on the move.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
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 must 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 not the best choice for first time dog owners because not only are they high maintenance on the grooming front but they need to socialised handled and trained by people who are familiar with their specific needs.
Afghans are sight hounds and even in a home environment they will chase anything that moves if they get the chance ignoring the "recall" command when they do. As such care must always be taken when they are around smaller animals and pets as well as where and when they can run off the lead. This is especially true if there is livestock and wildlife close by.
Afghans have a very playful and fun-loving side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are not the fastest when it comes to learning new things but they have a very clown-like attitude to playing interactive games.
Afghans are better suited to people who have secure back gardens a dog can roam in whenever possible so they can really express themselves as they should. As such they are not that well suited to living in an apartment mainly due to their size and their need to be out and about doing something.
Although Afghans form strong ties with their families they don't generally suffer from separation anxiety providing they are never left on their own for too long that is. No dog likes to be left to their own devices for extended periods of time which could lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Some Afghans like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings or when they want something.
Most Afghans love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said care should always be taken when walking an Afghan off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own. It is also very important to thoroughly dry off a dog's coat once they have been swimming to prevent moisture from getting trapped which could lead to an allergy flaring up.
Afghans are not natural watchdogs preferring to keep their distance when strangers are about. With this said they do let owners know when something they don't like is going on in their environment.
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 puppies like all puppies are incredibly cute and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in their new homes. However owners must start out as they mean to go on which means that as soon as a puppy is settled rules and boundaries must be laid down so that they understand what is expected of them. It also helps establish a "pecking" order and who is the alpha dog in a household. As such the first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
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 must be very careful when an Afghan is around any small animals and introductions must be made very carefully to make sure things stay calm and pets remain safe.
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:
Like a lot of other sight hounds Afghan Hounds are known to be very sensitive to anaesthetic which means that vets always take extra care when they must treat a dog for any condition that requires sedation.
It is worth noting that Afghan Hounds can suffer from skin allergies and other related problems if they are not groomed regularly and this includes eye problems developing because of the hair that can obscure their vision.
The COI for Afghan Hounds as set out by the Kennel Club is 7.7% which in short means there is a large gene pool to draw from but breeders should always take extra care when choosing their stud dogs and lines.
Afghan puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Like all other breeds an Afghan can gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some Afghans are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Afghan Hound breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions for the Afghan Hound.
Currently there are no veterinary DNA tests and veterinary screening schemes under the Assured Breeder scheme available for the Afghan Hound but breeders should have all stud dogs and puppies tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues.
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 puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Afghan puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned Afghan puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However if a dog ever needed to go into kennels their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Afghans need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically a dog's muzzle may start to go grey but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with an Afghan Hound in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet the amount of exercise they are given how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Afghans need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Afghans don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Afghan Hounds are extremely 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 suffering from a serious digestive problem.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide an Afghan Hound puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 13 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature an adult Afghan Hound must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide an adult Afghan Hound can be fed the following amounts every day:
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 male 3-year-old Afghan if you live in northern England would be £30.24 a month for basic cover and £50.23 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of January 2018). 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 this you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an 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 an 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 well-bred healthy pedigree Kennel Club registered Afghan Hound puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Over the years Afghan Hounds have always been a popular breed both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred healthy puppies can often command a lot of money. As such with Afghan Hounds there is specific advice questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows: