Dignified and independent, the Afghan Hound is a regal delight to its pet parents. It is lively and charming with loved ones, and a natural-born athlete: an energetic breed that needs lots of exercise to stay happy.
Many maintain that Afghan Hounds are the oldest extant purebred dogs. The exact historical beginnings of the Afghan may never be understood—since they predate written history by thousands of years—but what is known is that these regal and athletic dogs were treasured hunting companions and a symbol of status for aristocrats, royals, and tribal chiefs in Asia’s mountain kingdoms.
Despite its roots in ancient history, the Afghan Hound didn’t make it to Western society until the late 1800s, when English officers coming back to the British Empire brought the dogs with them. Once they arrived on the scene, the Afghan’s noble and loyal persona swiftly made it popular, and by the early 1900s it was the preferred breed for the British elite.
In the U.S. it still took a little while for the breed to catch on. The American Kennel Club registered the Afghan Hound in 1927, but it wasn’t until Zeppo Marx—of the Marx Brothers—began breeding a pair of Afghans he had brought back from England that the breed caught on in the States.
The Afghan Hound is a breed that exudes an aristocratic background. It is regal-looking and dignified, with a silky and flowing topknot, unique coat pattern, and prominent figures, like larger feet, protruding hip bones, and a curved tail.
The Afghan Hound has a thick, silky, and flowing coat that consists of fine fur, as well as feathered ears and feet. Although the Afghan can come in any color, any white markings—especially around the head—are not desirable for show.
It is easy to tell from just glancing at an Afghan Hound that they have a noble history. Their appearance of dignified aloofness is made prominent by their proudly carried head, curled tail, long silky topknot, prominent feet, protruding hip bones, and peculiar coat pattern.
Afghan Hounds are loyal and devoted to their people. They may become attached to their people and surroundings and don’t do well when left alone or when their situations or routines change.
This dignified breed is sometimes wary of strangers and children. But Afghans do well with both given the proper training and socialization. They can also be independent and stubborn, so you should approach training thoughtfully.
As sighthounds, Afghans have a natural instinct to chase. For this reason, they should always be kept on a leash or in a fenced area when outside. The higher the fence the better, since they are great at jumping.
This breed is active and requires a lot of daily exercise to stay healthy and happy.
Part of the traditional Afghan Hound physique includes protruding hip bones, so it’s worth noting this isn’t usually a sign of malnourishment. This is, however, an active breed, so it’s important to ensure they are getting the appropriate number of calories every day to stay healthy.
Afghan Hounds require a high-quality dog food that is age-appropriate—whether it’s commercially manufactured or homemade (with a veterinarian’s supervision and approval). It’s important to monitor the amount of food you give your dog. Reduce the portions or restrict calories if your pup gains weight.
Your veterinarian is always a good source to help provide you with appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
Your Afghan’s coat is a hallmark of its beauty, and proper care should be taken to ensure it stays healthy. Although it’s not necessary to care for your Afghan Hound in the same manner as a show dog, keep in mind that for optimal coat care, show dogs have coats that are bathed and groomed twice a week.
Afghans should be bathed prior to grooming, since brushing a dry coat can damage their hair, and it’s usually best to use a blow dryer (on a low setting) to completely dry your Afghan’s hair after a bath. When it is time to brush, use a large, oval pin brush, and a slicker for mats.
All dogs require regular dental care, including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings, and the Afghan Hound is no exception. Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for their overall long-term health.
Regal though they are, the Afghan Hound is a very active breed that requires a lot of daily exercise to expend their energy and to remain happy and healthy. With their strong prey drive and excellent athletic abilities (they are fast runners and can jump very high), it’s important to always keep this dog on a leash or in a secure, high-fenced area when outside.
The Afghan Hound has a personality that could go either way when it comes to training. They are independent and stubborn at times, but they are also loyal and eager to please with the people they love. Remember that no matter what level of training you introduce your Afghan Hound to, their instinct to hunt is strong, and they will likely always require a leash when playing outside in an unsecure area.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Annette Louviere, DVM