The Afghan Hound, also known as the Afghan Greyhound or simply the Afghan, is today usually referred to by breeders and fanciers as the "Affie." Earlier names include the Balkh Greyhound, Baluchi Hound, Barukzie Hound, Barukhzy Greyhound and Kabuli Hound, among others. This is an ancient breed categorized in the Hound Group by the American Kennel Club. Afghans are elegant, aristocratic dogs that exude dignity and aloofness. They have a narrow, chiseled muzzle and a unique topknot of silky hair set between lengthy ears. With prominent hipbones and a spectacular thick, flowing coat, there is something exotic about this breed. They are prized as flashy show dogs and also excel in lure coursing. Above all, Afghan Hounds are known as beloved companions, with highly individualized personalities. They can be independent thinkers, with a strong prey drive.
The Afghan Hound was not discovered by the western world until the early 1800's. The breed's history before that time is somewhat unclear, although it is thought that the Afghan Hound is a descendant of the Saluki, from what at that time was Persia. It is known that Afghans were originally developed for chasing prey in the mountainous regions of its native Afghanistan (and neighboring India and Pakistan). Secondarily, Afghans did double duty as guardians for nomadic tribes and their livestock. However, they were primarily used as coursing hounds, to sight and follow mountain deer, plains antelope, foxes and hares, or whatever other animal prospered in a particular locality. Human hunters who followed behind on horseback would make the kill. Afghan Hounds were also used to bring to bay predators such as wolves, jackals, wild dogs and even snow leopards, and to flush fowl such as quail and partridge. They were prized not only for their great speed, but also for their unparalleled ability to traverse irregular and potentially hazardous terrain with stability and sure-footedness. Afghans developed extreme agility, quickness and stamina, and retain those traits today.
No one knows how old this breed truly is, but today's Afghan Hounds are descended from a group brought to Scotland from Baluchistan, which today is a part of Pakistan, in the 1920's. Thereafter, a number of these dogs were exported to the United States. The American Kennel Club opened its Hound Group registry to them in 1926, with the first American-bred Afghan Hound being registered in 1927. The parent club for this breed was not founded until 1937, reorganized in 1938, and then was admitted to AKC membership in 1940 as the Afghan Hound Club of America.
Overall the the Afghan Hound is a healthy dog breed, and has an average life span of 12 to 13 years. This is slightly higher than the median lifespan of purebred dogs (10 to 13 years), but equal to most breeds similar in size. Potential hereditary defects and disorders commonly found, but not necessarily found, in the Maltese are as follows:
Allergies: Overreaction by the immune system to an allergen, which is any substance capable of inducing a reaction in that particular animal
Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus): An extremely serious medical condition where a dog's stomach becomes filled with gas that cannot escape.
Cancer (Various forms): Defined as any malignant, cellular tumor.
Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts
Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Primary disease of heart tissue that is characterized by cardiac enlargement
Hip Dysplasia: Involves abnormal development and/or degeneration of the coxofemoral (hip) joint
Degenerative Myelopathy: progressively degenerative disease of the spinal cord which causes hind limb weakness and eventual paralysis
The Afghan Hound dog breed has a temperament and personality that is sensitive, sometimes shy, aloof, and aristocratic. While this breed is very graceful, they are also known to enjoy a few moments of frolicking play.
Tall, lean and noble, the Afghan Hound is often called "The Aristocrat" of the dog world. Though Afghans appear aloof, they are actually quite playful and clownish. They love running (galloping, really) through yards and playing with their family, but also enjoy quietly lounging around the house, being catered to like a true Aristocrat.
Afghan Hounds require a lot of exercise. Long and lean, they need plenty of time a day to run and jump. Long walks are also beneficial to their health and muscle tone. This tall animal should not be kept in an apartment, as this space is simply too confining.
A fenced in yard is important when living with an Afghan. They are very independent dogs, and can take off in search of their own adventure (and not return) if allowed to roam.
Afghans are notoriously difficult to train. They are stubborn and independent, and like a true aristocrat, don't like being told what to do. Positive reinforcement, treats, and lots of patience are required when working with this breed.
Afghan Hounds, originally called the "Tazi," originated in Afghanistan and is one of the oldest dog breeds. Their purpose was to track large game, including leopards, and hold the animal at bay until the hunting party could catch up. They were valued by hunters for their fearlessness and independent thinking abilities, and these traits can easily frustrate the modern Afghan trainer.
Afghans are sight hounds, and excel on lure courses, where dogs chase a plastic, mechanical lure around a track, across a field, or through and obstacle course.
Afghans are playful puppies, but as they mature, become very independent. While they may have loved cuddling and romping as a puppy, the adult Afghan will decide when he wants to be touched. They are not aggressive, but much like a house cat, will let you know when they prefer to be left alone and when they prefer to be doted upon.
Because of their hunting roots, Afghan Hounds are likely to chase after other animals, including small pets. If socialized to live with other dogs, they can coexist peacefully, but cats or rabbits should not live with Afghan Hounds.
The Afghan Hound is an aristocrat, his whole appearance one of dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness or coarseness. He has a straight front, proudly carried head, eyes gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past. The striking characteristics of the breed-exotic, or "Eastern," expression, long silky topknot, peculiar coat pattern, very prominent hipbones, large feet, and the impression of a somewhat exaggerated bend in the stifle due to profuse trouserings-stand out clearly, giving the Afghan Hound the appearance of what he is, a king of dogs, that has held true to tradition throughout the ages.
The head is of good length, showing much refinement, the skull evenly balanced with the foreface. There is a slight prominence of the nasal bone structure causing a slightly Roman appearance, the center line running up over the foreface with little or no stop, falling away in front of the eyes so there is an absolutely clear outlook with no interference; the underjaw showing great strength, the jaws long and punishing; the mouth level, meaning that the teeth from the upper jaw and lower jaw match evenly, neither overshot nor undershot. This is a difficult mouth to breed. A scissors bite is even more punishing and can be more easily bred into a dog than a level mouth, and a dog having a scissors bite, where the lower teeth slip inside and rest against the teeth of the upper jaw, should not be penalized. The occipital bone is very prominent. The head is surmounted by a topknot of long silky hair. Ears--The ears are long, set approximately on level with outer corners of the eyes, the leather of the ear reaching nearly to the end of the dog's nose, and covered with long silky hair. Eyes--The eyes are almond-shaped (almost triangular), never full or bulgy, and are dark in color. Nose--Nose is of good size, black in color. Faults--Coarseness; snipiness; overshot or undershot; eyes round or bulgy or light in color; exaggerated Roman nose; head not surmounted with topknot.
The neck is of good length, strong and arched, running in a curve to the shoulders which are long and sloping and well laid back. Faults--Neck too short or too thick; a ewe neck; a goose neck; a neck lacking in substance.
The back line appearing practically level from the shoulders to the loin. Strong and powerful loin and slightly arched, falling away toward the stern, with the hipbones very pronounced; well ribbed and tucked up in flanks. The height at the shoulders equals the distance from the chest to the buttocks; the brisket well let down, and of medium width. Faults--Roach back, swayback, goose rump, slack loin; lack of prominence of hipbones; too much width of brisket, causing interference with elbows.
Tail set not too high on the body, having a ring, or a curve on the end; should never be curled over, or rest on the back, or be carried sideways; and should never be bushy.
Forelegs are straight and strong with great length between elbow and pastern; elbows well held in; forefeet large in both length and width; toes well arched; feet covered with long thick hair; fine in texture; pasterns long and straight; pads of feet unusually large and well down on the ground. Shoulders have plenty of angulation so that the legs are well set underneath the dog. Too much straightness of shoulder causes the dog to break down in the pasterns, and this is a serious fault. All four feet of the Afghan Hound are in line with the body, turning neither in nor out. The hind feet are broad and of good length; the toes arched, and covered with long thick hair; hindquarters powerful and well muscled, with great length between hip and hock; hocks are well let down; good angulation of both stifle and hock; slightly bowed from hock to crotch. Faults--Front or back feet thrown outward or inward; pads of feet not thick enough; or feet too small; or any other evidence of weakness in feet; weak or broken down pasterns; too straight in stifle; too long in hock.
Hindquarters, flanks, ribs, forequarters, and legs well covered with thick, silky hair, very fine in texture; ears and all four feet well feathered; from in front of the shoulders; and also backwards from the shoulders along the saddle from the flanks and the ribs upwards, the hair is short and close, forming a smooth back in mature dogs - this is a traditional characteristic of the Afghan Hound. The Afghan Hound should be shown in its natural state; the coat is not clipped or trimmed; the head is surmounted (in the full sense of the word) with a topknot of long, silky hair - that is also an outstanding characteristic of the Afghan Hound. Showing of short hair on cuffs on either front or back legs is permissible. Fault--Lack of shorthaired saddle in mature dogs.
Dogs, 27 inches, plus or minus one inch; bitches, 25 inches, plus or minus one inch.
Dogs, about 60 pounds; bitches, about 50 pounds.
All colors are permissible, but color or color combinations are pleasing; white markings, especially on the head, are undesirable.
When running free, the Afghan Hound moves at a gallop, showing great elasticity and spring in his smooth, powerful stride. When on a loose lead, the Afghan can trot at a fast pace; stepping along, he has the appearance of placing the hind feet directly in the foot prints of the front feet, both thrown straight ahead. Moving with head and tail high, the whole appearance of the Afghan Hound is one of great style and beauty.
Aloof and dignified, yet gay. Faults--Sharpness or shyness.
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Sources: American Kennel Club