Depending on who you ask, the Afghan hound may just be the oldest dog breed on the planet!
These are amazingly regal and dignified dogs.
Their distinctive look being created by their long, thin muzzles and huge almond-shaped eyes.
They have long been admired by artists, photographers, sculptors, and even comedians—most notably the famous Marx brothers.
But the Afghan probably got its biggest publicity boost when the toy maker Mattel came out with a Barbie doll that had a pet dog—an Afghan.
But what kind of family pet does this beautiful breed make?
Does her nature match her gorgeous outward appearance?
And just how much work does that fur coat really cost?
Where Does the Afghan Hound Come From?
The Afghan hound comes from the region of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
However, canine biologists are not precisely sure where the first Afghans were born and bred.
Today, the Afghan hound is a staple on the show circuit, in many canine sports, in artist studios, and in caring homes around the world.
What Were Afghan Hounds Bred For?
Afghan hounds were bred to serve as sight hounds, using their intensely keen panoramic vision to spot and pursue prey.
Interestingly, in some dog clubs today Afghan hounds are classified as “sight hounds” and in other clubs they are classified as “hounds.”
In the earliest times, it is thought that Afghan hounds were a dog breed reserved for royalty.
Only nobility, from tribal chieftains to monarchs, were able to keep these highly intelligent, resilient, and resourceful dogs for use on the hunt.
When the Afghan hound first arrived in Britain, it created quite a stir in the show ring.
But then World War I began and people’s attention focused elsewhere.
After the war ended, two different Afghan breeding lines developed: the Ghazi hounds and the Bell-Murray hounds.
It was these hounds who made their way to the United States and the rest, as they say, is history.
A Tidbit of Afghan Hound Trivia
Snuppy was cloned from a single cell extracted from the ear of an Afghan hound.
Today, Snuppy lives at Seoul University as a much-loved mascot.
He has also fathered his own litter of puppies using the old-fashioned method…no cloning required.
What Does the Afghan Hound Dog Look Like?
The Afghan hound has a distinctively regal, noble, and graceful appearance.
This is a dog that can readily turn heads.
The Afghan’s long, silky ears give the effect of a dog wearing a human hair wig.
If there was a “supermodel” of the canine world, the Afghan would likely be a top pick!
The Afghan hound can display single solid colored coats or bi-colored coats. Black, blue, cream, red, silver, and white are staple coat colors.
According to the Afghan hound breed standard, popular standard color patterns include black and silver, black and tan, and blue and cream.
Markings can take the form of a black mask, brindle pattern, brindle black mask, brindle domino, or domino.
Afghan Hound Weight and Height
The average adult weight of an Afghan hound is between 50 and 60 pounds.
An adult Afghan typically stands 25 to 27 inches tall from paw to shoulder.
About the Afghan Hound Long Coat
A long-haired Afghan hound in full coat splendor is a sight to behold.
These dogs truly can look like “walking carpets,” with their long, flowing hair.
It is so humanlike in texture and appearance, if not location!
Short hair only occurs in two places: the face and the saddle (the portion of the back body that extends out over the tail area).
In all other places, the hair is long.
Some Afghan hounds will grow a beard called a “mandarin” beneath their chin, but not all Afghans will have this as adults.
Interestingly, canine biologists have discovered that the gene responsible for generating the long adult coat is one found only in the Afghan hound.
No other dog breed has it!
How Do You Groom an Afghan Hound Dog?
Just looking at all that hair, you can already expect that grooming an Afghan hound may be a time-consuming task.
And you wouldn’t be wrong.
Grooming duties won’t really kick in until your Afghan puppy begins to grow in the long adult coat.
As puppies, the Afghan coat is short and fluffy.
But then you may find your free time increasingly consumed with bathing, combing, brushing, and grooming your Afghan’s tangle-prone coat.
Grooming and Clipping
Some owners elect to clip the coat quite closely on the body and legs, leaving only the topknot, ears, tail and hocks longer.
While this is a more convenient haircut, it is not permissible if you want to show your dog.
Either way, you will find your Afghan Hound needs frequent hair trims just like you do.
Afghan hounds destined for the show ring can require daily grooming as well as other special accessories to protect the long coat.
It is not uncommon to see show Afghans wearing snoods around the ears and neck, booties.
Even full bodysuits to keep that long coat tangle-free and clean before a show event!
Does the Afghan Hound Shed?
This is the one that surprises most new Afghan owners.
Despite the long, silky coat, the Afghan hound really doesn’t shed all that much.
While the coat is thick, it is just one layer, so you don’t have any undercoat shedding to worry about.
The time period when you are likely to experience the most Afghan shedding is during the transition from the puppy coat to the adult coat.
Afghan Hound Temperament
The Afghan Hound temperament is often described as aloof and regal.
However, these dogs can also be quite playful.
It’s just that, in order to see the Afghan’s silly, playful side, it usually takes owning an Afghan for yourself.
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These dogs have been bred for centuries to think for themselves and to hunt and survive independent of human assistance.
So this is not the dog breed to get if you want 100 percent obedience.
Especially if your sighthound has spotted something pursuit-worthy, such as a fleeing squirrel!
Afghans are sometimes described as “cat-like dogs” because they keep their own counsel.
For example, you may want to pet your Afghan but your dog may not be in the mood to be petted.
But then later, when you are busy doing something else, your Afghan may decide she is ready to be petted.
Then she will allow you to pet her.
Afghan Hound Characteristics
Overall, owners and breeders say that Afghan hounds are typically gentle, loving, sweet-natured.
And calm, unless they are on the hunt.
You should never let your Afghan off-leash, unless he has a great recall.
The Afghan will bond closely with one person or with one family.
They will tend to be standoffish with strangers or guests, which is something to be aware of if you entertain a lot.
Also, the Afghan’s sighthound lineage means this is not the best dog to choose if you have other small pets in the house!
How Long do Afghan Hounds Live?
The Afghan hound can live anywhere from 12 to 18 years.
You can have a major influence over your Afghan’s life expectancy.
Specifically, feeding the right diet and only dog-safe treats.
Giving your active hound lots of daily exercise and play time will help too.
And making sure you take your dog for preventative wellness checkups at the vet.
Afghan Hound Health Problems
The Afghan hound is a very lean dog overall.
Their long hair coat can make this dog look much bigger than their actual body size.
Afghans don’t have a lot of body fat, which means keeping a regular feeding schedule is very important.
Their leanness can also make them unusually sensitive to medications, including anesthetic.
Make sure your vet is aware and knowledgeable about how to treat sighthounds before treating your Afghan.
The deep chest cavity of the Afghan means this is a dog breed that is very susceptible to a life-threatening condition called bloat.
Bloat, or gastric torsion, happens when the stomach twists.
It can be fatal quickly if left untreated.
Using a slow-feeder bowl at mealtimes and not feeding your dog just before or after intense exercise can be helpful preventative measures.
Make sure that any breeder you choose to work with to get an Afghan puppy has done all the required pre-screening health tests on the parent dogs.
Afghan Hound Health Testing
The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) currently recommends that breeding stock (parent dogs) be health tested.
Ask for proof of tests for hip dysplasia, eye issues and autoimmune thyroiditis.
Any breeder you work with should be able to show proof that parent dogs have been tested for each of these issues.
Training and Socializing An Afghan Hound
Afghan hounds have evolved to navigate sometimes rigorous terrain at top speed while chasing small prey using their keen eyesight as a guide.
This has made them quite independent.
This is a breed trait and is not something you can “train” your dog to do or not do.
As well, to see an Afghan hound running at full tilt is an impressive sight.
Your Afghan can literally go from zero to 40, achieving maximum running speeds of 40 mph.
That’s just five miles slower than the fastest dog on the planet, the Greyhound!
Endurance running is another breed trait, which means the Afghan could easily run down a cheetah or other large cat.
If you plan to keep your Afghan hound as a pet dog, you will need to make time to give your pup lots and lots of exercise.
And this can then translate into lots of brushing and grooming to remove debris, mats and tangles afterwards.
Of course, Afghan owners say this dog is well worth the effort, but it is just something new owners need to be aware of going in.
Afghan hounds excel at lure sports, tracking, racing, jumping and other canine sports.
Afghan hound racing sports can give your active hound a great regular outlet for all that pent-up speed!
Afghans are typically easy to housetrain and learn basic commands quickly.
Is the Afghan Hound a Good Family Dog?
the Afghan hound makes a very loving family dog and is known to be good with small children.
Despite their aloof-appearing demeanor with people they don’t know well.
But it is important to teach children not to pull at or hang on the long coat, which could cause injury to your dog’s sensitive skin.
The Afghan doesn’t tolerate being left alone for extended periods of time however.
This is definitely a dog breed for an active family that wants to include their hound in plenty of outdoor excursions!
How Do I pick Out An Afghan Hound Puppy?
The best way to pick out an Afghan puppy is to start by choosing a reputable, health-first breeder that routinely health-tests all parent dogs.
Choose a friendly, outgoing puppy with clear eyes and ears, and healthy skin and coat.
Make sure the puppy is willing to be held and shows a playful personality.
How Much Is The Afghan Hound Price?
Afghan hound breeders generally charge around $1,000—at the time of the writing of this article—for a puppy.
This price can fluctuate depending on a number of factors.
Including supply and demand, puppy coat color, gender, size, pet versus show quality, and other factors.
Should I Get An Afghan Hound?
The Afghan hound is not going to be the right pet dog for every person or family.
But for an active, outdoorsy family with a keen interest in spending lots of time with a pup, the Afghan can make a wonderful pet dog.
- Tyler, A. “Health Testing & CHIC.” Afghan Hound Club of America, 2018.
- Evans, S. “Hemangiosarcoma: The Silent Killer.” Afghan Hound Pedigrees. 2004.
- Couto, C.G, DVM. “Are Sighthounds Really Dogs?” Couto Veterinary Consultants. 2014.
- Kullarand et al. “Health Testing Results.” Al Khabara Kennel. 2018.
- Rhodes, S. “Afghan: The Breed.” The Afghan Hound Association UK. 2018.
- Cremin et al. “Afghan Hound History.” United Kennel Club UK. 2018.
- Dierks et al. “Allelic heterogeneity of FGF5 mutations causes the long-hair phenotype in dogs.” Animal Genetics. 2013.
- Jung Kim, M. et al. “Birth of clones of the world’s first cloned dog.” Scientific Reports/Nature. 2017.