Is the Afghan Hound the right breed of dog for you?The oriental expression of the Afghan Hound reveals its true origins: the mountainous and plains regions of Afghanistan and surrounding areas.
This is a noble looking dog that has a long history. There is speculation that it is among the first of the sighthounds, which as a group form the earliest known strain of domesticated dogs, dating back well over 4000 years .
Dignified and aloof are two adjectives that have been used to describe the Afghan, and that suggests something of the aristocrat about this breed. Their speed and agility was highly regarded amongst their original owners. As too was their stamina, and ability to pursue a variety of game across the rugged and mountainous regions of their origins. The local tribesmen eventually bestowed on this remarkable dog the same status as their prized horses and hawks.
But, the Afghan was more than a coursing hound. He displayed a talent for herding and guarding the flocks of nomadic shepherds, for racing and tracking, and much later as companion and family member to generations of dog lovers throughout the world.
Their emigration from the desert and mountain regions of the East, to the Western Hemisphere began in the 1800's. British army officers returning to the homeland began to exhibit them as Persian Greyhounds in the fledgling dog shows of that period. As their popularity grew, two distinct strains emerged to form the nucleus of the modern Afghan Hound.
One was less heavily coated, and in the 1920's took up residence in Scotland, to become known as the Bell-Murray strain. Whilst the denser coated Ghazni strain, established a few years later in England, went on to form the foundation stone of the early American Afghan kennels.
The modern Afghan Hound stands 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs in at a typical 50-60lbs. Admission to the American Kennel Club came in 1940, and the breed was classified as a member of the Hound Group. This is a strikingly unique breed of dog, with a regal expression, prominent hipbones, surprisingly large paws, and a not always seen, but emblematic of the breed, ring at the end of the tail.
Like Joseph, the coat can come in any colour. Many have a distinctive black facial mask, and the eastern flavour of the breed comes to the fore, in some individuals, with a type of moustache that Fu Manchu would have been proud of; these dogs are referred to as "mandarins". The beautifully long, and silky coat of the Afghan has its downside in that it requires a great deal of work to keep in good shape.
The Afghan is a relatively healthy breed, with none of the genetic concerns that afflicts several others. In common with most sighthounds there is a known intolerance towards anaesthetics. Feeding presents few problems, just a healthy, regular canine diet.
This isn't an apartment dog. They've a reputation as a bit of a couch potato, much like the Greyhound, but they need regular and brisk, on and off the lead exercise. You also need to remember, in common with all sighthounds, that small animals, including cats, can be looked upon as prey. They're is also a tendency in some individuals to be intolerant of other dogs.
Consequently, you need to train your Afghan from day one. They're not the easiest of dogs to train, exhibiting an independent attitude, and sometimes a stubbornness to obey commands. But, they're a happy and playful breed within their own domestic setting, but they can be aloof with strangers.
The Afghan isn't a widely popular breed, and that is how it should be. It isn't a first time owner dog. Any prospective owner who has little experience of grooming, or isn't willing to put in the work required to keep her fabulous coat in tip top condition, should think again about owning an Afghan.
However if you want a dog that's a stunner to look at, that moves with the grace and poise of a ballerina, and makes a loyal and amiable companion; then perhaps the Afghan Hound is the right breed of dog for you.