The Afghan hound may look like a prima donna, with its frou-frou hair “do” and its noble-like stance, but the breed could tackle a leopard if given the chance.
In fact, due to its lightening-fast speed and seemingly effortless agility, the Afghan hound was at one time used by the Afghan tribes to catch gazelles, deer and, yes, even leopards.
While the breed is no longer bred for hunting, it is well-known throughout international dog competitions and is highly regarded for its beauty and poise, often winning Best in Show.
The Afghan hound is of the oldest sight hound breeds. In fact, genetic testing traces the breed back to the wolf with very little genetic divergence, meaning the Afghan hound descended from some of the oldest-known dog breeds.
Speculation continues to swirl about the breed's specific origins. Clues point to a shared lineage with the ancient Russian Tasy breed, the Taigan breed from the Chinese border of Afghanistan, and the Kurram Valley Hound from India.
The Afghan hound was also referred to as the "Persian greyhound" by the English in the early 1900s.
Today's modern Afghan hound is a result of breeding a variety of long-hair sight hounds from the Afghanistan area during the 1920s.
Typical of most sight hounds, the Afghan hound is a happy, sometimes goofy dog during play, affectionate with its family but aloof around strangers.
Due to the breed's hunting background, this dog may consider smaller pets as prey, not as playmates, and therefore may not get along with other pets.
Afghan hounds are smart dogs seemingly with the ability to rationalize, which has made them well-suited as therapy dogs and agility course performers. They tend to be stubborn, so regimented obedience training is recommended, particularly if children are part of the dog's family.
Due to the Afghan hound's regal appearance, with its long nose and silky locks, the breed has affectionately been labeled as the "king of dogs" by canine aficionados.
The average Afghan hound stands tall at 24 to 36 inches and weighs 45-60 pounds, with a distinguishable thick, long silky coat featuring a ring curl at the tips.
Routine care is necessary to maintain the breed's long, finely-textured coat. The coat may come in a variety of colors, including black, black and tan, gold, cream or silver, brindle, blue, and domino -- a rare color easily identifiable by the appearance of a 'widows peak' at the point where the long silky top knot and face meet.
While these may be common medical conditions, your Afghan hound will not necessarily develop any of those listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.
- Cataracts: Disease of the lens of the eye resulting in loss of sight.
- Corneal dystrophy: Fluid buildup inside the eye causing pain and affecting vision.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy: Enlarged and weakened heart muscle resulting in inefficient pumping and heart failure.
- Hereditary myelopathy: Disease of the nervous system (brain and/or spinal cord) that affects muscle coordination progressing to paralysis.
- Sensitivity to anesthesia is an issue the Afghan hound shares with the rest of the sight hound group, as sight hounds have relatively low levels of body fat.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.