An Afghan Hound is one of the most elegant and royal dog breeds in the world. Also called the King of Sight Hounds, this majestic breed is also considered one of the oldest breeds in the World. As its name suggests, an Afghan Hound hails from the mountainous region of Afghanistan where it was originally named Tazi Spay and its origin is believed to date back to the pre- Christian era. Legend has it that an Afghan Hound was one the dogs that was rescued in Noah’s Arc. Paintings and murals of AFghan Hounds have been found in ancient Afghan Caves which depict them hunting in the ancient times. Aristocratically beautiful, Afghan Hounds were originally used as hunting dogs in the desert and mountainous region of Afghanistan where they could run and cover great distances and hold off their prey till their handler would catch up. Today, Afghan Hounds are in the league of luxurious pets especially in the US and Europe. If you are planning to get an Afghan Hound as a pet, you would need to be certain of the physical and temperamental attributes of this royal breed.History
It is believed that the origin of an Afghan Hound dates back to pre christian era as there are cave paintings in Afghanistan as old as 4000 years which depict their presence. In addition to this, there are paintings of Afghan Hounds in 6th Century BC Greek tapestries as well. As per records, an English officer stationed in Kabul Afghanistan first documented and transported Afghan Hounds to England in 1925 and later to the United States of America. The American Kennel Club recognised the breed in 1926 and an official application for membership by the Afghan Hound Club was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1940. Zeppo Marx was one of the first people to bring an Afghan Hound to the States. However, their popularity really grew when Mattel Toys introduced an Afghan Hound as a pet for Barbie, one of the most popular and sought after toy figure of countless American girls.Unique Aspects
Afghan Hounds or Tazi are sight hounds and hunt by the sight and speed instead of sound and endurance. Since they are a part of the sighthound family, they are blessed with a vision angle of 270 degrees unlike other dogs who may only have a vision angle of 180 degrees. The main reason for this advantage is the dolichocephalic skull that a Afghan Hound has, which helps them to achieve this vision, it is three times in length when compared to its width which aids them in chasing their prey without losing out of its sight. Afghan Hounds are a beautiful dog breed and are commonly referred to as the runway supermodels of the canine world. Blessed with long lustrous coats and elegant build, Afghan Hounds have made their way to print, Television and online media for various luxury products. Afghan Hounds were bred to hunt deer, gazelle and leopard and hence can run really fast, often clocking speeds at 40 miles per hour, which is almost equivalent to the speed of a racing horse. One of the most unique aspects of an Afghan Hound is that they are hypersensitive to pain and injury. As a result, owners of Afghan Hounds have to be careful with the surroundings that they Afghan Hound plays in as the smallest of injury can bring a lot of pain to them. There are many owners who will vouch for their amusing tactics and commonly refer to them as clowns and will love to share the stories of their mischievousness and their ability to steal objects right under your nose.
This majestic looking breed was worth saving even for Noah that is the reason he got them in the ark to save them from the 40 days of flood. The regal appearance of this breed caught the fancy of famous artist Pablo Picasso as well when he made his untitled sculpture with inspiration from his pet. These supermodels have been featured in various movies as well.
The Afghan Hound is known for its lustrous and long hair, which almost touches the floor. This is one of the prime reasons they are such a success in various Dog Shows across the world. This lustrous coat has made them appear in various movies as well. Such as Balto, Lady and the Tramp, The Star, Go to Mars, Hound of Baskervilles and Whiskey and Soda. They have been included in various Budweiser commercials as well.
Celebrity Afghan Hound owners
One of the most famous celebrity owners include the famous renaissance artist Pablo Picasso, Stevie Nicks, comedian Zeppo Marx as well as Indira Gandhi. You will be surprised to know that Snuppy the first dog to be cloned was an Afghan Hound.
Impeccable grooming of an Afghan Hound is the only way one can maintain its long and lustrous silky coat and give the dog an aura of mystique. The fur of the hound is very fine in texture, similar to that of humans, and requires regular brushing and frequent baths to remain so, else it may become tangled or matted and give an unkempt look. The head has top knot of long and silky hair on the head; leaving the back of this pet the entire body is completely covered with hair. For many new owners, grooming and maintaining an Afghan Hound might be difficult as it is tedious and time consuming. It will be advisable to hire the services of professional pet groomers. Owners will also have to ensure that the nails of the Hound are trimmed at least once or twice a month especially if they are not being worn out naturally. The grooming regime for your pet must start from an early age as this will ensure that he is not temperamental with someone touching his feet, mouth or ear at a later stage. While grooming also check the skin for sores or rashes as the long fur can harbour infections if not taken care of.
Afghan Hounds are a strong and healthy breed but you have to remember when getting a puppy home that almost every breed has a chance of developing genetic disorders and they can also contract any of the common ailments. For Afghan Hounds, one has to be careful about their susceptibility to developing hip dysplasia / elbow dysplasia and hypothyroidism. One of the most common ailments that may inflict the Afghan Hound is allergy to various food or environmental factors. Incase your hound has an allergy he / she may show symptoms similar to humans - sneezing, eye / nasal discharge, itching, hair loss and lethargy. You may want to seek medical help for the same. The biggest health problem that dogs with pendant or hanging ears face is ear infections. While grooming, you will have to regularly check the ears for infection. Symptoms may include foul smell from the ears or redness or flaky skin in the ear flaps. When your hound has an ear infection, you may notice that he / she may constantly shake the head ot try to scratch the ears. Frequent cleaning can help avoid ear infections. Afghan Hounds are highly susceptible to cancer. Symptoms of cancer may include abnormal swelling of a sore / bump that does not heal, difficulty in breathing and abnormal bleeding. Medical help will have to be taken and based on severity treatment in form of chemotherapy, surgery or medications may be advised by the vet. The long fur of the hounds also make them prone of developing eye infections and cataracts which may lead to loss of vision. If your hound is unable to see properly and is bumping into walls or furniture, seek medical help. Cataracts can be surgically removed. Hypothyroidism is an another ailment that Afghan Hounds are highly prone to. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs may include chronic ear infection, bacterial infections, dull fur or excessive shedding, lethargy and depression. You will have to seek veterinary help and care would have to be taken especially in terms of medication and diet.
Afghan Hound is a very intelligent breed but do not mistake this for trainability. Known to be one person or one family dogs, they do not make very good watch dogs. Their independent thinking and proud persona makes it one of the tougher breeds to train. One would have to show high levels of perseverance and keep a gentle hand while training - show or house training an Afghan Hound. One of the reasons that it is difficult to train an Afghan Hound is its lack of interest in food and having a proud personality. Unlike Labrador or Golden Retrievers, Afghan Hounds do not believe in the concept of pleasing people. One would have to be careful while handling an Afghan Hound. Rough handling can make the dog aloof and uncooperative. Owners of Afghan Hounds will have to be mentally prepared that their pooch has to be handled with care and patience because it is a proud breed and that there will be times when the hound will behave on its own accord.Environment
The Afghan Hound is a headstrong and independent breed, their large size makes them perfect for all adult companionship. This is not the breed to follow you around the house and will not be too enthusiastic to play with children. Afghan Hound will need early socialization with family members and especially if you have any other pets around. Afghan Hounds do not fare well in apartment or cramped places and require bigger houses, especially ones with yards or gardens. Another thing that owners will have to be careful is providing a comfortable and hurdle free environment for this breed. With their low threshold for pain, smallest of injuries can be quite painful for the hound. Afghan Hounds need a lot of exercise and running to maintain their health, In case you are unable to provide ample exercise especially long runs or walks to your hound, it will be advisable to hire a dog walker to make sure that there is not a single lazy day for your pooch.Temperament
Afghan Hounds are sensitive, dignified and loyal in nature but at times may be aloof and not prefer socialising with other pets or people. They are cautious around people they do not know and will be extremely protective of their family. They are a family dog but their large size can become an issue with inexperienced owners especially with small children. At times they might not take the teasing of the younger children well. Afghan Hounds enjoy the company of their own breed really well but can be social to other pets in the house too.
Just like all other puppies, Afghan Hound puppies do not resemble their adult forms for quite a while. As they grow up, their coats gradually become long and lustrous and they develop the characteristics of an Afghan Hound. An Afghan puppy does not look anything like its adult counterpart. The coat grows later and becomes all lustrous and soft as time passes by. This large breed dog grows quickly so keep in mind when you bring this sighthound home. If you are planning to get one home then remember that these puppies are a bundle of energy and they love to play. Afghans are intelligent but stubborn so they will require a gentle and careful hand while training .Procreation
Afghan Hounds are generally a healthy breed and even their breeding does not have many complications attached. However, as their tolerance to pain is very low, it can be a hindrance to their breeding. An average male and female Afghan Hound attains sexual maturity anywhere between six to nine months of age. A dog takes around 18 months to reach his or her full height and structure. It is advisable to breed your dogs after at least two years of age. If you are a first timer at breeding then taking a vets help is advisable. An Afghan Hound may have a litter of 5 - 8 puppies, though the colour of their coat may vary.
Afghan Hounds are a tall and proud breed standing at over 24 - 29 inches and weighing anywhere between 22 - 34 kgs. Since they are from mountainous region, Afghan Hounds have beautiful long and lustrous coat which may be dark brown / light brown / gold / brindle in colour with a short undercoat. With a long, narrow refined head and powerful jaws, the head of an Afghan Hound is quite prominent. Blessed with beautiful almond shape eyes and a long and strong neck Afghan Hounds have ears that lie flat to the head. The most prominent feature of an Afghan Hound are its long and strong legs and hipbones. The tail of a Afghan Hound is thin and has a ring or a curl at the tip, though it does not fall on the back of the dog.