Origin and Brief History
Descendant of one of the oldest breeds of canine, Afghan hounds are, of course, named for their country of origin. Originally discovered in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, these aristocratic looking dogs hunted utilizing sight and speed to capture very fast prey. In addition to hunting, Afghans were used by shepherds as watch dogs and herders. They were brought to Western Europe and the US in the early 1900’s and, due to their regal appearances, became better known as show dogs and pets for the wealthy.
Specification of Breed
Male Afghan Hounds stand twenty-seven to thirty inches tall with females slightly smaller. They weigh in at fifty to sixty five pounds as adults. These “sight hounds” – named for their reliance on sight and speed rather than scent when hunting – are slender, tall canines with a narrow head structure and strong elongated necks. They tend to have long silky coats of hair that drape down the sides of their bodies. They have a lifespan of twelve to fourteen years, in line with other breeds of their size.
Afghans are known to display a dignified spirit but can also be playful and fun with exceptional loyalty to their owners. They are good with older children but don’t generally respond well to rougher handling. They can be a challenge to train and respond best to firm but gentle guidance. They can also become temperamental if they are not getting enough exercise. Often thought of as the “King” of dogs, their general disposition is seen as noble and regal, even perhaps a little aloof and “stuck up.” This very behavior is sought after and appreciated by discriminating owners. They have a strong prey drive and as such, do not work well with smaller animals. That said, they do socialize well and make excellent family pets.
Afghans have very long coats that require proactive grooming. In addition to regular baths, they should be brushed while the hair is wet to maintain consistent look and avoid matting. The breed does shed at an “average” rate.
The Afghan hound is not well suited for living in apartments or confined spaces. As a large breed that craves exercise, they are happiest with large yards and lots of activities. They need to be walked on a regular basis as lack of this structured exercise can lead to behavior issues. They generally live for at least 14 years, so, like any canine pet, new owners should make sure they have the right environment for the animal and the ability to make a very long term commitment.
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