Afghan hounds are medium-sized dogs known for their dignified, glamorous appearance. Their long, silky hair comes in all colors, and the breed stands 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder. Afghans are tall and slender, with narrow heads and fine-textured coats. Their ears hang low and their eyes are almond-shaped and dark. Afghans typically weigh 50 to 60 pounds and live up to 14 years.
Because of their size and energy level, they need room to run and play.
The breed is aloof, intelligent, and sometimes silly. They are gentle with children and make great companion animals, though some are timid around unfamiliar people. Because of their size and energy level, they need room to run and play. The breed is better suited for homes with large, fenced yards than for apartment dwelling. They are generally healthy but require a lot of grooming and coat maintenance.
Afghan hounds are sometimes referred to as aristocrats due to their dignified, royal appearance and their aloof nature. Their unique beauty makes them great show dogs.
Afghan hounds are rarely fearful or aggressive, but they are sometimes shy and reserved, especially around unfamiliar people. The breed has a tendency to be bossy and mischievous, and Afghans are known for their great sense of humor. They can also be drama queens. The dogs are intelligent and independent thinkers and they need lots of love attention, but often on their terms. These personality traits are why the breed is sometimes referred to as "cat-like."
Afghans get along with children and with cats they were raised with. However, they will treat unfamiliar cats as prey to be chased and captured. Afghans are not especially protective dogs, but they will form strong bonds with preferred family members.
Their easy-going attitude and silly nature make them fun companion animals, and Afghans do well in most households, provided they get sufficient attention and exercise.
The Afghan breed is generally healthy but prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, thyroiditis, juvenile cataracts, and laryngeal paralysis. They are also at greater risk for von Willebrand disease and other bleeding disorders. If acquiring your Afghan hound from a breeder, ask for evidence that both parents were verified free of juvenile cataracts and have had a hip evaluation of fair to excellent before purchase.
The most important factor in maintaining good health in Afghans is to undergo regular, routine veterinary examinations. Most diseases common in Afghans are treatable if caught early. Early diagnosis and treatment also improve overall prognosis and quality of life.
Frequent activity is an essential part of Afghan hound care and health. These dogs were bred to run and require time and space to run and play every day. They also need a quiet place to rest afterward.
Regular veterinary checkups, frequent and safe exercise, vaccinations, and a nutritional diet help ensure Afghan hounds live a full life of 12 to 14 years.
The same traits that make Afghans great companions also make them frustrating to train. The breed learns quickly but often won't respond to commands, and their intelligence makes them stubborn and difficult to deal with. Positive reinforcement may be of benefit during training. Or maybe not.
Fortunately, Afghan hounds don't generally have any serious behavioral problems. They do like to steal food, however, and will chase all small animals they encounter outside, even those living in the house next door. This behavior is very difficult to stop, as Afghan hounds were bred to hunt, chase, and catch, so it's better to keep them secured inside a fenced yard or on a leash when outdoors. Because they can jump very high, any fence expected to hold them needs to be very high, as well.
Afghan hounds need a lot of exercise, including vigorous daily exertion. If they are unable to engage in walking, sprinting, and playing every day, they will make their displeasure and restlessness known.
Afghans have beautiful, long, silky hair that has a fine texture. It does not requiring trimming or clipping, but it does require frequent brushing and combing. At a minimum, Afghan hound hair must be brushed three times every week to remove tangles and prevent mats. Bathing may be necessary to remove dirt and debris from the long coat, and Afghans who spend a significant amount of time outdoors may need frequent baths. For these dogs, a professional dog blow dryer is an essential grooming tool.
Afghans shed moderately, but regular brushing can reduce the amount of hair the ends up on furniture and clothing. Nails need trimming once or twice monthly, and Afghan ears need regular cleaning and drying to prevent infection. It may be beneficial to put the ears in a snood at mealtime to keep them out of food. Routine dental care and toothbrushing is important to prevent dental disease and to keep the breath smelling good. Dental treats help remove tartar between cleanings.
Because Afghans require considerable grooming, they should only enter homes where one or more human caretakers has the patience and time to devote to hours of brushing and combing every week. Grooming should be seen as a rewarding, bonding experience, and not turned into a chore. Afghans who are resistant to grooming or fail to cooperate during bathing may need to see a professional groomer.
Although it's not known exactly how long the Afghan hound has existed, Westerners discovered the breed in Afghanistan in the 19th century. The breed evolved into two distinct types of dog, with one developing in the northern region and the other developing in the southern and western desert regions.
In the 1920s, a group of desert-type Afghan hounds was brought to Scotland. In 1925, some mountain-type Afghans were sent to England. That same decade, the dogs were important to the United States from England.
Afghan hounds are natural hunters and were used to guard livestock and hunt fast-moving game, such as antelope, hares, deer, and jackals. Today, they work primarily as show dogs, though the breed maintains its impressive hunting skills.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Afghan hound in 1926.