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Afgan Hound

Breed overview

  • Breed groupHound group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height26 to 28 inches (males), 24 to 26 inches (females)
  • Weight50 to 60 pounds
  • Coat length & textureLong, thick, silky coat
  • Coat colorAccepted coat colors include black, blue and cream, white, silver, and red. White markings on the head or collar are considered undesirable.   
  • Exercise needsHigh
  • IntelligenceHigh
  • BarkingOccasionally around strangers
  • Life span12 to 18 years
  • TemperamentLoyal, aloof, strong-willed, reserved
  • HypoallergenicYes
  • OriginAfghanistan

Afghan hound fun facts

  • Their roots are showing — Dogs from mountainous areas of Afghanistan have thick, dark coats and a heavier bone structure, while Afghan hounds from desert regions have lighter coats and a sleeker build.
  • One of nine basal dog breeds — Basal breeds are more closely related to ancient dogs than common contemporary breeds.
  • Afghan hounds are world-class runners — An average adult Afghan hound can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, nearly as fast as a thoroughbred racehorse.
Afghan hound running

Afghan hound temperament and characteristics

The Afghan hound is self-confident, independent, and can be very stubborn at times. They’re also beloved for their gentle dispositions and clownish personalities. Although they’re usually comfortable around people they know, Afghan hounds can be timid around strangers. So, it’s best to socialize your Afghan hound puppy as much as possible in the first few weeks of life. This breed has a tendency towards aloofness if they are not appropriately socialized. 

Family life with Afghan hounds

These dogs are generally good around older children, but their independent natures may be frustrating for young children. They get along well with cats they have been introduced to at a young age. However, they are not well-suited for homes with smaller pets because of their high prey drives. Finally, Afghan hounds have a low pain threshold relative to other dog breeds, so they must be handled with care.

Common Afghan hound health problems

Afghan hounds are a generally healthy breed. However, like all dogs, they are prone to certain medical conditions. When purchasing an Afghan hound puppy, only buy from a reputable breeder who will be able to inform you of any hereditary conditions seen in the parents. Some of the more common health concerns found in Afghan hounds include:

  • Laryngeal paralysis. This disease causes acute or chronic respiratory distress. Laryngeal paralysis is most commonly seen in elderly dogs and often requires corrective surgery to treat. 
  • Hip dysplasia. An inherited disease that causes the hip joints to form incorrectly. Hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis later in life.
  • Bloat. Gastric dilation volvulus is characterized by a buildup of gas that can cut off blood supply to the stomach. Gastric dilation volvulus can become fatal very quickly if left untreated.
  • Hypothyroidism. This condition develops when the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms include dry skin, hair loss, and weight gain.

Cost of caring for Afghan hounds

Afghan hounds are generally more expensive than other breeds, costing between $2,000-$2,500 per puppy. On top of this, you will also need to factor in costs for grooming, training, toys, food, health care, and unexpected emergenciesLaryngeal paralysis surgery, for example, can cost $2,000 or more. Hip dysplasia surgery can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 depending on the severity of the condition.

Pet insurance is a great way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and it’s the most beneficial when taken out early in your dog’s life. You can also take our additional wellness plans to reduce the cost of flea-worm treatments and annual vet check-ups. As an alternative, you can consider setting up a pet savings account, which is a great option if you are worried about your finances. 

Remember that pet insurance will not cover any pre-existing conditions. There may also be other exclusions. So, always make sure you read through the policy documents thoroughly.

History of the Afghan hound

The Afghan hound is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. They were first used by nomadic tribes across the Middle East, particularly in Afghanistan and India, to hunt gazelle and hare across mountainous terrain. Their powerful strength and incredible speed even saw them taking down snow leopards. However, experts doubt that these were their traditional quarries. 

Afghan hounds were first brought to England in the early 1900s by British soldiers and were bred as companion animals. At this time, they were commonly known as Barukhzy hounds. The breed first appeared in America in 1926 and was first registered with the American Kennel Club the following year.  The Afghan Hound Club of America was founded in 1938 following a significant rise in annual registrations for this breed. 

Since then, Afghan hounds have found much success in show rings, obedience circuits, and other dog sports across the world. Many owners also participate in lure coursing to satisfy their Afghans’ natural hunting instincts.

Afghan hound

Caring for your Afghan hound

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be both exciting and overwhelming. In those first few weeks, you will need to make your first trip to the vet, schedule your dog’s first vaccinations, and ensure your home is puppy-proofed. Furthermore, Afghan hounds are known to be high-maintenance so you must be prepared to put in the effort.

Exercise

Afghan hounds are highly energetic, requiring at least one to two hours of moderate exercise every day. They also need the option to run around, but it isn’t advisable to let your Afghan hound off the leash until they are fully trained. These dogs are hunters by nature, so they will easily be distracted by a roaming rabbit, cat, or squirrel.

Afghan hounds should ideally have access to plenty of outside space. They do best in homes where someone is around for most of the day because they require regular training. Due to the sensitive nature of this breed, Afghan hounds are best suited in quiet homes with older children. Afghan hounds are not your typical lap dogs. They often choose to do their own thing and only want attention on their terms. However, they still require plenty of mental stimulation because they’re prone to boredom. Bored Afghan hounds are prone to mischief and may even try to pry open cupboards with their long pointy snouts in search of something to do!

 

Afghan hound close up

Grooming

Afghan hounds boast a long, silky coat that requires grooming several times a week to maintain its glossy sheen. Weekly bathing is also recommended. This is particularly important during the coat change from puppy to adult, which occurs between one and two years of age. Towel and blow drying the coat will help to keep the hair straight, but be aware that excess heat can damage the coat over time.

The individual strands of an Afghan hound’s coat are fragile and can break easily. So, it’s best to use a pin brush that doesn’t tug at the hairs. You can also use a detangler spray or conditioner to loosen any matted hair. Make sure you brush down their long legs but be gentle when brushing their feet as Afghan hounds can be quite sensitive in this area. 

Afghan hounds have long-hanging ears that are well coated with hair. This makes them prone to developing ear infections. Make sure you clean your dog’s ears regularly and check they are dried thoroughly after a bath. Teeth brushing with a vet-approved toothpaste is also essential to prevent dental disease.

Diet and nutrition

The Afghan hound is a naturally slim breed that eats very little despite its large size. These dogs need a high-quality protein-rich diet that is moderate in fat and low in carbohydrates. However, every dog is an individual, so speak to your vet if you are unsure, particularly if your Afghan has an underlying health condition.

Afghan owners should refer to their vet for accurate food portioning. However, in general, Afghan puppies require 1-1.5 cups a day split into three to four meals. Older puppies and adults need 2-2.5 cups per day split into two separate meals. Afghan hounds are prone to obesity so keep a close eye on their weight. A simple test is to run your fingers alongside the spine. You should be able to just feel the ribs without having to press down. You should also book your dog for regular weight checkups at your local vet clinic.

Adding omega-3 fatty acid supplements to your dog’s diet may help them to maintain a healthy coat, heart, and brain.

Training your Afghan hound

Despite their high intelligence, Afghan hounds are notoriously difficult to train because they have a strong independent streak. They don’t react well to harsh corrections and will often outright refuse to obey. So, gentle but firm guidance is needed for this breed. 

Positive reinforcement is an excellent method for training an Afghan hound because it will increase their willingness to repeat the desired behavior. Bear in mind that Afghan hounds can take a while to house train. Sometimes, even six months or more. So, you must remain consistent. 

Socialization training is essential for your Afghan hound because they can be very wary of strangers. Training should begin in the puppy socialization period (3-12 weeks of age) and continue throughout their lives to prevent behavioral problems from developing.

Afghan hound on leash

Breeds similar to the Afghan hound

Not quite sure that an Afghan hound is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Saluki. These agile hunters have a gentle, independent nature. Just like Afghan hounds, Salukis are wary of strangers but they are incredibly loyal to their owners.  
  2. Borzoi. The graceful borzoi is a large, calm breed with a very agreeable temperament. However, they are known to have a stubborn streak.
  3. Greyhound. The majestic greyhound is the racehorse of the dog world. This  sleek, active breed is incredibly sweet-natured and intelligent. 

Frequently asked questions

Are Afghan dogs good pets?

Afghan dogs make wonderful, loyal companions for owners that have the time to devote to them. They are high maintenance on the grooming front and require constant training as puppies due to their independent natures. However, they are gentle-natured and are particularly loved for their clownish antics and dignified temperaments.   

What is the purpose of an Afghan dog?

Afghan hounds were originally used as hunting dogs by nomadic tribes  in the Middle East. Their impressive  speed and agility meant they could chase down gazelle, hares, and even leopards. Today, Afghan hounds are regularly entered into agility contests and obedience circuits across America, as well as being loved canine companions.   

Is an Afghan hound a Saluki?

Despite their similarities in appearance and temperament, Afghan hounds and Salukis are separate dog breeds. They are both classed as sighthounds and they are both considered to be ancient dog breeds. However, they have evolved distinct characteristics over time.

Are Afghan hounds affectionate?

Afghan hounds have a strong independent streak. So, they’re only really affectionate on their terms. They also tend to be very timid around strangers. Afghan hounds might not bound up to you when you walk through the door, but they do show affection in their distinguished ways.