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Afghan Hound Dog Breed: Personality and Care [2021 Guide]

 

The Afghan Hound is an ancient dog breed that has existed longer than humans have recorded history. As the Stone Age drew to a close, this beautiful canine was already roaming the hilly terrain of present-day Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Not many pooches have family trees stretching as far back as this one, and even fewer have such beautiful coats. This breed has been waiting 8,000 years to get to know you, so let’s get lost in the luscious locks of the Afghan Hound!

Afghan Hound Characteristics

The Afghan Hound is a tall and dignified breed that is renowned for its long, silky coat. Other characteristics include short hair on the back, high hipbones, and a small ring at the end of the tail.

Since the breed is part of the sighthound family, it has a wide, panoramic field of vision. This trait allows the breed to spot an unsuspecting animal from far away.

Afghans share a similar appearance with Taigans, who were bred on the border of China and Afghanistan. However, most Taigans lack the thick coat hair that causes Afghans to look like they were always destined for the show ring.

Afghan Hound Dog Size

Female Afghan Hounds typically reach a height of 25 inches and weigh around 44-60 pounds. Adult males generally stop growing at 27 inches and can also weigh up to 60 pounds. The Afghan Hound often looks bigger than it actually is since their hair grows thick and long.

Afghans have low levels of body fat, resulting in a sleek, trim figure. This slim profile didn’t just give them their regal appearance. It also allowed the Afghan Hound to be a great hunting dog. These sighthounds could run fast for long distances and turn on a dime.

Afghan Hound Dog Personality

Afghan Hounds are calm, quiet dogs. These independent thinkers may be introverted and aloof at times, but you’ll quickly find that there are few breeds more loyal than this one. When they’ve grown comfortable around a person or animal, Afghans are joyful, playful, and eager to show off their high level of athleticism.



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Being withdrawn means that Afghan Hounds don’t bark much, but it can also cause them to ignore anyone outside of their family. Learning how to socialize a dog is crucial when it comes to caring for an Afghan. Puppies should meet all kinds of people, and adult Afghan Hounds will benefit from a trip to the dog park every once in a while.

Afghan Hound Dog Exercise

Back in their early days, the Afghan Hound ran long distances in the harsh terrain of Afghanistan. If you check the bottom of their feet, you’ll find paw pads that are massive for their slim bodies. These thick pads acted as shock absorbers, and they are just one reason that your Afghan Hound is unlikely to get tired before you do.

How much exercise do dogs need every day? The amount varies among breeds, but to meet the physical needs of the hardy Afghan, you need to exercise them for roughly two hours every day. Walks are always recommended, but these canines also need the freedom to run at full speed. An enclosed area like a fenced yard or dog park is excellent for letting your Afghan off its leash.

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Afghan Hound Dog Training

A high level of energy is one of the defining characteristics of this breed, but so is its independent mindset. Training an Afghan to be welcoming to strangers is crucial for owners. This practice decreases dog social anxiety and the risk of canine depression.

The best place for dogs to meet each other is on neutral territory. When introducing dogs, try to find a park, trail, or another area that neither pet is familiar with. Keep both dogs on a leash, and have them walk in a single-file line. This will give the pets a chance to sniff each other’s coats and rear ends, which is how canines get to know new acquaintances.

Once your Afghan and the other pet seem comfortable with one another, let them walk side by side. If the dogs can walk this way without challenging each other, try letting them off the leash (if it is a safe, enclosed area). Your Afghan Hound may immediately run back to you, but don’t let their shyness end the play date. This breed should experience unfamiliar situations as much as possible to keep their social life healthy and their mind active.

When it comes to obedience training, you’ll find that the Afghan will learn most tricks quickly. The key is to keep training sessions short to prevent your dog from getting bored. We recommend using plenty of positive reinforcement such as treats and toys for when the dog performs well.

 

a brown afghan dog running in a grassy field

Afghan Hound Dog History

The Afghan Hound is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, dating back to roughly 6,000 BCE. It is hard to imagine what the day-to-day life of humans looked like 8,000 years ago. It’s even more challenging to picture Afghan Hounds running around at the end of the Stone Age, perhaps hunting with some early humans.

These ancient dogs have a long history, to say the least. They were refined in Afghanistan, but their exact origins remain a mystery. Most modern dog breeds emerged in the 19th century, and kennel clubs were not popular before then.

The breed was not well-known outside of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Asian kingdoms began using the dogs as hunting companions and status symbols. Even after people discovered their beauty and speed in the East, Afghan Hounds didn’t reach the West until the late 19th century.

By the early 1900s, the breed finally got the attention it deserves. Some of the first Afghan Hounds on American soil were imported from England by Zeppo Marx, the youngest of the Marx Brothers. These ancient hunting dogs that had survived for more than 8,000 years weren’t recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) until 1927.

After an impressive history of hunting alongside great Asian warlords and spending years expertly traversing the terrain of Afghanistan, you’d think this breed would be in high demand by the mid-20th century, right? Well, the United States didn’t truly notice the Afghan Hound until later.

In the 1980s, a company named Mattel released a toy dog named Beauty as an accessory for their famous Barbie doll. What long-haired, stunning breed would best complement the iconic look of Barbie? Of course, it had to be the Afghan Hound!

Afghan Hound Health Problems

Certain dog breeds have a higher tendency to develop health issues than others. Unfortunately, the Afghan Hound is one such breed. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common problems that face Afghan Hounds, and everything pet owners can do to spot, treat, or prevent these conditions.

Laryngeal Paralysis

This is a condition in which the muscles that control the dog’s larynx (also known as the voice box) stop working properly. Typically, these muscles are in charge of opening and closing the arytenoid cartilages while your pet exercises, eats, and breathes.

Of course, dogs only have one throat, so arytenoids act as a railroad switch of sorts. They make sure that food and liquids head towards the stomach, and air goes to the lungs. With laryngeal paralysis, however, this railroad switch is stuck in a neutral position.

Signs of laryngeal paralysis include changes in the tone of the dog’s bark, coughing, gagging, and vomiting. If your Afghan Hound has this condition, surgery may be able to correct it. Prevention includes limiting activity, maintaining healthy body weight, and avoiding high temperatures.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease that occurs when the dog’s heart grows abnormally large. When the heart reaches a particular size, it can no longer pump blood effectively. Symptoms include tiredness, leg swelling, and chest pain.

A male Afghan Hound is twice as likely to develop dilated cardiomyopathy than a female. The condition is more common in larger dog breeds. Treatment includes cardiac medication and the dilation of blood vessels within the heart to decrease its workload.

Central Diabetes Insipidus (CDI)

Afghan hounds are prone to both types of diabetes: Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus is the type of diabetes we typically think about. It is characterized by abnormal blood sugar regulation. Central diabetes insipidus (CDI), on the other hand, is due to a lack of the antidiuretic hormone (ADH).

Birth defects, brain trauma, and brain tumors can cause a deficiency of this hormone. Symptoms of CDI include frequent urination, clear urine, and dehydration.

Treatment involves synthetic ADH in the form of eye drops. The condition cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Untreated CDI can be extremely dangerous for your dog, so if you notice any of the symptoms, speak with your veterinarian immediately.

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland in our dogs has a direct effect on many different bodily functions. If the animal suffers from hypothyroidism, this means their thyroid is not producing enough hormones. This rare condition is caused by the thyroid shrinking or growing in size.

Hypothyroidism symptoms include a dull coat, excessive shedding, weight gain, lethargy, and sensitivity to cold temperatures. If you think your Afghan Hound is suffering from this disease, blood tests can determine whether they have hypothyroidism. In the meantime, there are some dog hair loss home remedies that may help your four-legged friend’s coat health, though you must consult a vet for the best treatment.

Like CDI treatment, a dog affected with hypothyroidism can take supplemental hormones to balance out their bodies.

Medial Canthal Pocket Syndrome

Medial canthal pocket syndrome is a condition that affects a dog’s eyes. Pets with this syndrome have an accumulation of micro-debris in their conjunctival fold. This “pocket” is at the base of the eye and it is what gives medial canthal pocket syndrome its name.

Due to their narrow heads, breeds like the Afghan Hound and Poodle are commonly affected by this syndrome. Symptoms include itchiness, redness, and swelling of the animal’s eyes. A common treatment for this condition is the routine flushing of debris and discharge from the pet’s conjunctival folds.

Prevention for medial canthal pocket syndrome involves regular bathing. Be sure to take extra care around the face, using a moist washcloth for the dog’s eyes and ears. If you find any buildup or discharge, finish cleaning the area as best you can before contacting a veterinarian.

Cataracts

Cataracts is the same in dogs as it is in humans. This condition results in vision loss due to cloudiness that develops in the animal’s eyes. Symptoms include bumping into things, lack of recognition, and fear of dark rooms. Once the cloud forms in one or both eyes, cataracts are hard to mistake.

This condition can be caused by many preexisting health conditions, the most common being diabetes. Roughly 75% of all diabetic dogs develop cataracts within a year of being diagnosed with diabetes. Glaucoma, trauma, and eye inflammation can also cause cataracts.

Treatment depends on which stage the animal’s cataracts are in. Early stages can be medicated with anti-inflammatory eye drops or even surgically removed. In some cases, the surgeon can insert artificial lenses into the animal’s eye, almost entirely restoring vision.

Unfortunately, cataracts that have gone untreated for a long time are not likely to be removable.

a large white dog laying down in the grass

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is a condition that steadily wears away at a dog’s eyes, eventually leading to complete blindness. This disease is inherited, so the main prevention method for pet owners is to purchase a dog from a reputable breeder. Responsible breeders use DNA tests to determine if a dog will pass the PRA gene to its offspring.

If your Afghan develops PRA, symptoms are similar to cataracts. Vision loss is the most notable sign. If your dog is suddenly afraid of the dark, or they are unable to recognize family members that they’ve known for years, cataracts or PRA could be responsible.

A cloudy disk around the iris is the tell-tale sign of cataracts. A dog with cataracts cannot form images with their eyes, but they can still distinguish light from dark. A dog with a case of fully-developed PRA is entirely blind. While surgeries exist for cataracts, there is currently no cure for PRA.

Chylothorax

Chylothorax refers to a buildup of chyle in the dog’s thorax. Chyle is a substance that resembles milk, and it consists of lymph and emulsified fats. Symptoms of chylothorax are breathing difficulties, a non-productive cough, lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Chylothorax is an idiopathic condition, which means it has no known cause. The best treatment method is to keep an eye on your Afghan and try to spot chylothorax signs as early as possible.

Surgery may be able to cure a pet with chylothorax, so if you notice your dog showing any symptoms, take them to a veterinarian immediately.

How to Care for an Afghan Hound

The Afghan Hound’s regal appearance isn’t all for show. Although these dogs have a healthy energy level, they also lounge with a grace that suits their long, aristocratic history. You may find that these dogs are independent thinkers, and their stubbornness occasionally makes it hard to get Afghans to do something they don’t want to do.

If your Afghan is lounging when it should be getting some exercise, or if it only wants to run when you ask it to sit, patience is vital. These dogs might need repeated commands before listening, but it is crucial to positively redirect behavior rather than punish it.

Keep exercise fun and engaging, and stick to a routine. This method will teach your furry friend when it’s time to run and when it’s time to kick up their paws and relax.

Every breed has its own nutritional and physical needs, but good mental health is also crucial for both puppies and adult dogs. If you plan to own this breed, you must know how to socialize a nervous dog. Afghans tend to be withdrawn and quiet. They need good training from the time they are puppies to get along well with strangers and other pets.

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Nutrition and Feeding for Afghan Hounds

Every dog has its own nutritional needs. However, a general guideline for feeding your Afghan Hound is to give them 3% of their body weight in food daily. So, if the average adult for this breed is 60 pounds, they would need 1.8 pounds of high-quality dry dog food daily.

While the 3% rule is an excellent first step, discuss a good dietary plan with your veterinarian. Due to the Afghan’s combination of low body fat and intense activity levels, it may be tricky to find the right dog food. We recommend organic dog food since it tends to contain more beneficial ingredients.

The best way to care for your Afghan Hound’s long, silky coat is with regular grooming, but some ingredients can give their hair that extra shine. Egg, chia seed, almond, and coconut, and CBD oil for dogs are all ingredients that will provide your pooch with the vitamins and minerals necessary for a brilliant coat.

It is also important to find dog food that is suitable for your pet’s age. Puppy food is geared towards the nutritional needs of growing dogs. This means that kibble designed for puppies has more nutrients and calories per bite than chow made for adults.

Many dog breeds do just fine with their dog bowls set right on the ground, but the Afghan is taller than most canines. Dogs should not have to stretch their necks into any uncomfortable positions to eat. Luckily, there’s a good method for selecting the right bowl height.

To find the perfect size, you’ll want to measure your Afghan Hound from its paws to the top of its shoulders as it stands. Subtract 5 inches, and this should be the perfect bowl height. Since Afghans typically stand 27 inches tall, a good bowl would be about 22 inches off the ground.

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Coat Color And Grooming

The defining feature of the Afghan Hound is its long, silky coat. The beautiful appearance is what has made this breed a show ring favorite. However, some Afghans that were bred in hotter regions have a short coat. There are several different types of this breed, so some may not have the long hair that these dogs are commonly associated with.

The coat of an Afghan Hound can come in any color. White markings can appear on the legs, back, and head. However, over the years, the breed standard has grown to discourage these marks. Many Afghan Hounds have a black facial mask as well, similar to that of a pug.

With a great coat comes great grooming responsibility. To preserve the noble appearance of the Afghan Hound, you must brush and bathe them regularly. First, use a pin, rake, or slicker brush to break up any tangled, matted, or loose hair. The best type of brush for your particular pet depends on the thickness of their coat.

Due to their long hair, Afghan Hounds require daily brushing. If the dog participates in shows, you should bathe them twice a week. Afghan Hounds that don’t compete won’t need as much grooming as show dogs, but they still need the care and attention that this breed’s long coat demands. If your pet does not hit the stage, bathe them once or twice a month.

Although their ear hair is nearly as long as the rest of their coat, don’t use a brush around the dog’s face. Instead, feel for mats with your fingers. If your Afghan Hound cannot seem to eat without getting these hairs in its mouth, consider buying a snood to hold its ears back.

a pair of well-groomed dogs standing together in the woods with shawls on their necks

Children And Other Pets

If you have a family or other pets, you may be wondering how the Afghan Hound behaves around children and smaller dog breeds. Due to these canines’ independent nature, it might take a little extra work to get them to socialize. However, if you start from the time they are a puppy and take things slow, your Afghan Hound will be a loyal addition to any family.

The Afghan Hound has a high prey drive, which means it is more likely to chase small animals. Take particular care when introducing your dog to other pets for the first time, just in case this instinct kicks in.

The first time your Afghan Hound meets the rest of the family, try to keep the dog in a single, closed room. Let one pet or person into the room at a time to avoid overwhelming this shy breed.

Children should only meet your pet if they know how to properly handle a dog. Keep your voice low to soothe the animals, and a leash on the Afghan so that you can end things if they go south.

Rescue Groups

With such a long history, the Afghan Hound seems to be the ultimate survivor. Over the years, groups of people formed to rescue and care for these dogs. Perhaps the most notable of these groups is the Afghan Hound Club of America’s National Rescue Program.

Petfinder is another fantastic resource for prospective pet owners. Since this breed can come in any color, the Afghan Hound has many different coats. Luckily, Petfinder allows you to search by coat color and hair length. More interested in a puppy? Their website also lets you filter your search by age.

A rescue group will often operate locally and pull Afghan Hounds scheduled to be put down from nearby shelters. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has over 450 Rescue Network groups across the United States.

Breed Organizations

The AKC is the largest kennel club in the world, but it can’t oversee every single one of its 195 recognized breeds. This is why they appoint Parent Clubs, which focus on preserving and caring for one particular breed. The official AKC Parent Club for this breed is the Afghan Hound Club of America, founded in 1937.

More About This Dog Breed

The Afghan Hound is one of the oldest, most unique, and most beautiful dog breeds in the world. Ever since they stepped into the global spotlight in the early 1900s, this hound has stunned dog lovers. Blending the composure of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with the athleticism of a Collie, Afghans are sure to impress. If this breed made it 8,000 years before the AKC existed, the Afghan Hound is surely not going anywhere for another 8,000 years!



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