Breed: Afghan Hound
Temperament: Alert, active and aloof.
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Recommended for: energetic owners
Regarded as an ancient breed, the Afghan type is certainly of very distant origins. In days gone past, sleek, lithe pariah dogs assisted desert nomads in hunting. These early dogs became the base on which the Afghan was built.
Used as a sight hound to chase down game, the Afghan was different from other early hounds of Northern Africa in that it developed a long coat to protect from the extreme weather conditions which were more common in the much cooler Afghani region.
Introduced to the Western World at the turn of the twentieth century, the Afghan Hound became popular in the 1920s and again were very trendy during the 1970s.
Often described as a dog of regal and majestic stature. The Afghan is most noticeably distinguished by its silky, flowing coat. This fine, single coat is long all over apart from the top knot, or brow, and over the ‘saddle’ area on the back.
It may appear in all colours ranging from solids, brindles, black and tan, or black-masked golds and black-masked silvers. These types are a fawn, cream or blond colour apart from the face, which may be gold or silver.
Height ranges from 62-74cm (24-29′) and weight from 25-30kg (55-66lb), the males are usually at the upper end of the scale.
The Afghan displays classic ‘gazehound’ or sight hound conformation – long legged, light boned, and deep chest to increase lung capacity, and a long back with wide, flexible vertebrae to allow for maximum propulsion at a gallop. The lean physique, with a high muscle to fat ratio made the type not only more powerful over the ground but also allows for a more efficient consumer of food. Traditionally, there was no benefit in owning dogs to chase down food for the camp if those very same dogs required substantial feeding too.
Temperament and trainability
Most sight hounds of various breeding have a similar temperament – aloof, independent and very active. Afghans are particularly active in the mornings and evenings. The Afghan’s temperament has been known to range from shy to sociable to aggressive. The breed’s popularity in the 70s lead to indiscriminate breeding and consequently, as occurs with many popularly-bred dogs, aggressive tendencies evolved. An eventual and unavoidable decline in popularity lead to only the more dedicated breeders remaining and has since allowed for the more responsible breeders to make the Afghan a more sociable animal again.
Regardless, the pedigree Afghan is still a breed of fairly recent domestic origins and it should not be forgotten that it is a dog long-bred to catch and kill other animals. Hunting instincts are still very strong and an Afghan can make for a fiercesome sight when agitated. They do make for good watchdogs and can be vocal at feeding time.
The Afghan Hound is popularly regard as the most unintelligent of breeds. The Afghan’s independence and aloofness is most apparent during training. Breeders say that basic commands are still no problem however more advanced obedience and exercises such as fetch and retrieve are not the breed’s forte. The breed was never developed to retrieve and as such should not be expected to do so.
Health and lifespan
Breeders say that reports of incidence of hip dysplasia and juvenile cataracts do not amount to substantial problems within the breed, but regardless, professional, responsible breeders do test for these conditions. Ask to see certification that the puppie’s parents are free of these conditions before purchase.
Breeders have also reported some incidence of undershot and overshot jaws. This can affect a dog’s ability to eat. Examine the pup’s mouth before purchase.
Afghans enjoy a reasonably long lifespan, around 12-15 years.
Maintenance and cost
The amount of grooming can depend on whether the dog is for show or just a pet. Show dogs are bathed and groomed once weekly – about three hours per dog. Pets may be clipped off and bathed once monthly. At least a once weekly groom is essential, about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the condition of the coat. More regular grooming will keep the coat in good order and free of knots and matting. Afghans display a seasonal moult every six months.
Afghan Hounds are small, economical eaters. A small bowl combining dried and fresh food once daily is sufficient.
Pets cost around $300. A good quality show dog will set you back about $1000.
Space and exercise
Responsible owners really can’t get away with less than a coupe of miles walking morning and night. And although the breed does like indoors living, breeders recommend at least an average sized yard. Afghan’s are now even being seen at agility club events.
Afghans appeal to an amazing array of people. Their stylish stature has captured the imagination of all walks of life. They are very energetic and don’t really suit a town house or an owner who doesn’t have time to spare for exercise. Breeders say that they are fine with children, and not as boisterous as other large breeds. Best suited for owners prepared to groom and exercise their dogs regularly.
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190
Phone: (08) 8349 4797
Canine Control Council of Queensland
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864
Tasmanian Canine Association
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)