Afghan Hound Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Personality & Facts
White, black, brown, tan
Active individuals and families that don’t mind an independent dog
Aloof, dignified, intelligent, independent, adaptable, affectionate
Regal and dignified, the Afghan Hound is about as noble as dog breeds come. Their long, flowing coats are luscious and give this breed its trademark look. While that silky coat might be most commonly found today in fancy show rings, it actually harkens back to a time when they needed protection from the harsh, cold climate of the Afghanistan Mountains where the breed was isolated; hidden away from the world for centuries.
Though they’ve been around forever, no Afghan Hounds made their way to the western world until the early 1900s. Their popularity for dog shows grew quickly, though favor with the general public for this breed grew much slower. However, in the 1970s, their popularity exploded for a short time. It has since faded some, but they still remain a common sight in the competitive sphere.
Afghan Hounds bond closely with a single person, and sometimes, a whole family. They can be rather affectionate at times, but they’re also known for being very independent. Don’t expect your Afghan Hound to be the kind of constant companion a Lab might be. These dogs prefer to have some time alone in the backyard, running out their vast reserves of energy.
Afghan Hound Puppies – Before You Get One
The number one thing that you need to know about the Afghan Hound is that they’re incredibly high-maintenance. They have long coats that require constant attention. You’ll be investing time or money into your hound’s coat every day.
They’re also very energetic dogs that are going to need quite a bit of exercise. Moreover, you’ll need a sizable yard so that your hound can blow off steam and get adequate amounts of physical activity. Plus, it will help prevent the boredom that’s quick to set in for many intelligent dogs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these dogs are quite independent. They can be loving and affectionate, but they’re not the type of dogs to crawl up on your lap or cuddle with you on the couch. Instead, they’re more of the strong, silent partners who have your back but don’t ask for much of you.
Though Afghan Hounds are a pure breed, you can still find them in shelters all over. You might have to do a bit of digging, but if you can find one available for adoption, the reward will be well worth the work.
Adopting tends to cost much less than purchasing through a breeder. While Afghan Hound puppies can cost upwards of $1,000 through a breeder, adoption costs tend to hover right around $300.
Keep in mind, these prices are just for the puppy. They don’t include the other things you’ll need to purchase, such as a kennel, collar, leash, bowls, food, shots, deworming, etc. Don’t forget these costs because they can often sneak up on you and substantially add to the investment it takes to add a puppy to your family.
The Hidden Costs of Afghan Hounds
Afghan Hounds have some hidden costs above and beyond those of most breeds. This is mainly due to their long, luxuriant coat, which requires substantial upkeep.
It’s going to need daily grooming that can get quite tedious if you have to do it. We’re talking about a solid 30-60 minutes of grooming each day or more.
Most Afghan Hound owners take their dog to a professional for this grooming. But not all groomers are well-equipped to work with this specialized breed.
You can expect to pay as much as $65 each time you need to get your dog groomed, which will be very often. This is likely a major factor in the decline of the breed’s popularity.
3 Little-Known Facts About Afghan Hounds
1. They’re one of the oldest dog breeds.
Even though they weren’t introduced to the western world until the 1900s, the Afghan Hound is one of the oldest dog breeds. The breed was originally known as Tazi, and they predate our common calendar.
This breed originates in the mountainous desert region of Afghanistan, where the weather conditions are brutal and many of the animals are fierce and dangerous. But their story starts even earlier than this; even as far back as the ancient Egyptian pharaohs.
2. Hunters at heart, they’re mostly used for show today.
Because they have a distinctly noble appearance today with their elegant, long coats and agile movements, Afghan Hounds are incredibly popular as show dogs. They do well; excelling at shows, winning hearts and awards.
But despite their success in the show ring, this breed’s heart is in another place; the hunt. The drive to hunt down prey has never left this breed since the days they helped their nomadic tribes keep their bellies full.
3. They have a low pain tolerance.
Most dogs seem to have an incredibly high tolerance for pain, rarely showing signs of physical discomfort. However, the Afghan Hound is one breed that doesn’t display this superior pain tolerance. Instead, they seem to be big babies!
Afghan Hounds won’t hesitate to make their discomfort known. It’s somewhat surprising for a breed that hails from the harsh region of Afghanistan! But it’s true nonetheless.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Afghan Hound 🧠
Dignified and cautious, the Afghan Hound isn’t an automatically friendly dog. Don’t expect them to be outwardly affectionate with everyone. They can be affectionate with their closely-bonded family members, but expect them to be wary of strangers.
Though they do bond quite closely with one person or sometimes a whole family, this breed is also very independent. They’re not the type of dogs that need or want constant attention, which might actually be too much for them.
Bred to chase down animals and trap them until the hunter caught up, this breed’s independence is easy to understand. But it can make them difficult to deal with at times. It also means they’re not a great fit for families who want a loving, overly-affectionate dog.
Still, Afghan Hounds make great companions if you have the right expectations. They’re known for being very loyal and are also quite intelligent. They can learn quickly, but their independence means that they need some motivation.
Because of this independent streak, your Afghan Hound might be slow to come when called, showing reluctance to follow your command. This type of behavior has led many to refer to this breed as “cat-like” since they seem to display behaviors more similar to a cat than most dogs.
The Afghan Hound’s low tolerance for pain means you’ll want to take extra care when playing with your Afghan Hound or performing routine maintenance. Things that might not phase other dogs could cause your Afghan Hound to throw a fit.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡
Afghan Hounds can make good family pets but they don’t always. It just depends on the family and their expectations.
This breed does get along well with children. But because they’re very independent, they won’t always want to be playful and definitely not on the child’s clock. Most kids want a dog they can play with any time they desire and that’s not going to be the Afghan Hound.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t be playful. Indeed, they can be clownish and sometimes downright comical! But they’ll only want to play when they want to, not when you or the kids or anyone else wants them to.
Also, keep in mind that it’s very likely your Afghan Hound will only bond strongly with one member of the household. While they do sometimes bond closely with an entire family, most of the time, Afghan Hounds tend to form their closest bond with just a single family member. This doesn’t have to lead to trouble, but it can occasionally lead to jealousy when the dog makes its choice of person clear.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽
Of course, kids and other people aren’t always the only members of a family. What about other pets?
You might guess from the Afghan Hound’s history as a hunter that they have a strong prey drive and you’d be correct. But it mostly tends to manifest itself when the dog is outdoors. With proper socializing, most Afghan Hounds can learn to get along with other family pets.
But you’ll definitely want to use some caution and socialization is key. You’ll need to start early and make sure to continue introducing your hound to plenty of other animals and people regularly. Until you’re absolutely certain that your hound is safe with other pets, you shouldn’t leave it alone with smaller animals.
Things to Know When Owning an Afghan Hound:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Because Afghan Hounds are such energetic animals with boundless endurance, they tend to eat quite a bit. You’re more likely to experience underfeeding problems with this breed than overfeeding issues as you’ll more commonly see with other breeds.
Afghan Hounds have a unique body structure that causes their hip bones to stick out. If you weren’t familiar with the breed you might mistake this as a sign that your hound is underweight.
This breed is slender and lean, built somewhat similarly to a greyhound under all that long hair.
Due to those high energy levels, this breed tends to do well with quality commercial dog food for high-energy breeds. Also, be sure to match the food to your dog’s age, so puppy food for young dogs, senior food for older dogs, etc.
When it comes to physical activity, Afghan Hounds are pretty high maintenance. They have excessive levels of energy and endurance naturally, meant for helping them chase down prey on long hunts. Since they’re not often chasing down cheetahs anymore, all of that energy needs another outlet.
You can expect to devote at least an hour each day to your hound’s exercise needs. That hour can be split up into several sessions across the day, but at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day is necessary to keep your Afghan Hound healthy and happy.
Several short, brisk walks of about 15-20 minutes should suffice. Alternatively, you can take your hound jogging, hiking, or just play fetch in the backyard. But keep in mind, these dogs can be rather independent, so they might not have any interest in playing fetch.
Aside from the structured exercise time you provide for your hound each day, it’s going to require plenty of space to release the remainder of its energy solo. This means that yards are preferred when owning one of these canines. They need space to stretch their legs and roam.
Their independent streak will also benefit from having some yard space to explore. It will give them the opportunity to entertain and exercise themselves as much as they see fit each day. In the end, this will ensure that you have a much happier dog that’s more likely to listen and obey.
There’s no doubt that the Afghan Hound is a highly-intelligent dog. They’re capable of learning commands and can do well with obedience training but it’s going to take a firm hand a lot of patience.
Remember, this breed is known for its independent streak. This is bred into them. When they were chasing down prey with their human hunting companions in the mountains of Afghanistan, they needed to be able to make quick decisions on their own; for their safety as well as the success of the hunt.
This independence still persists today and it often shows itself during training. Afghan Hounds are perfectly capable of learning any commands, it’s getting them to want to that’s the hard part. If your hound isn’t interested in what you’re requesting, then they’re unlikely to do it.
You’re going to need a lot of positive reinforcement to train one of these hounds. It will help to incentivize them and give them a reason to continue training when they might find it boring. At the same time, you’ll have to be firm and show the dog who’s in charge. It’s a fine line to walk.
Because of all this, Afghan hounds are best trained by someone with previous experience. If you’ve never trained a dog before, starting with an Afghan Hound is akin to jumping into the deep end of a pool the first time you go swimming.
All of that aside, if you can create a positive and fun training environment for your Afghan Hound, you should be able to train them to perform any commands you wish. The intelligence is definitely there, you just have to create the desire.
If you thought these hounds were high-maintenance when we talked about exercise, then you’ll likely be overwhelmed at how much upkeep is required for their coat!
That long, flowing, luxurious coat is easily the most distinguishable and iconic part of the Afghan Hound. Few other canines possess such an elegant and long coat. It reaches down to their feet, cascading off their backs and necks like a long, flowing gown. In some cases, it can almost make them look like cousin It from the Addams Family!
But it doesn’t take much imagination to picture how easy it is to tangle up such a coat. In fact, keeping it untangled and free of knots and debris seems like a daunting task even from the outside. But the reality might be even worse than you’re picturing.
Afghan Hounds require daily grooming. We’re not talking about five minutes of light brushing either. Keeping your hound’s coat clean, untangled, and looking great can almost become a full-time job. That might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much.
Expect to spend at least 30-60 minutes brushing and grooming your Afghan Hound every day to keep their coat in healthy condition. And this coat isn’t like other dogs’ coats; it’s going to require some special care.
Unlike many other dog breeds, Afghan Hounds require regular bathing. You’ll need to use shampoo and conditioner if you want to keep that hair looking and feeling healthy.
Because of the special care required and the major investment of time it takes to upkeep these dogs, most owners will take their hound to a professional groomer; one that understands the specific needs of Afghan Hounds.
Of course, that’s quite an expense, especially if it’s necessary every day. Grooming costs can vary, but it could cost as much as $65 each day just to keep your hound’s coat in proper condition.
For many people, this massive investment of either time or money is going to be too much to handle. If you want to add one of these elegant canines to your life, be certain that you’ve got the time and resources to handle such a major investment.
Health and Conditions ❤️
One of the biggest problems facing most pure dog breeds is the plethora of health concerns they’re susceptible to. But the Afghan Hound was bred and raised in some rough conditions in the harsh and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Because of this, they grew into a hardy and resilient breed that isn’t at risk for too many health concerns.
Still, there are a few conditions that are worth keeping an eye out for so that you can catch any early markers in case your hound does end up with an unfortunate health issue.
- Cataracts: These are cloudy, opaque areas that appear in a dog’s eye. They can range from mild to severe, with symptoms that range from barely noticeable to complete loss of vision in the affected eye. Luckily, they can be removed surgically if caught early.
- Hip Dysplasia: This very common problem is most prevalent in dogs over 45 pounds. It’s a malformation of the hip joint. Because of this, the femur doesn’t fit properly inside the hip socket. This causes them to rub on each other, which can cause pain, limit movement, and reduce your dog’s quality of life. Luckily, there are ways to treat and mitigate the issue to help your dog live a meaningful life with hip dysplasia.
- Hypothyroidism: The thyroid is a gland that produces thyroxine, a hormone that controls metabolism. When a dog has hypothyroidism, their thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroxine, so their metabolism isn’t properly regulated. Symptoms can include hair loss, flaky skin, weight gain, and an intolerance to cold.
- Cancer: You might be surprised to find out that cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over 10 years old. While it’s not a common problem for Afghan Hounds, it does show up in the breed on occasion. Just like in humans, there are several forms that can affect dogs. Symptoms are also similar to humans, such as lumps, bumps, swelling, bleeding, wounds that won’t heal, etc.
- Bloat: Afghan Hounds are deep-chested dogs, and like other similar breeds, they’re susceptible to bloat. Bloat can come on rapidly and suddenly with no obvious cause. Your dog’s stomach will fill with gas, food, or fluid and expand, putting pressure on nearby organs. The stomach can even twist on itself making the situation worse. Bloat can be deadly if not treated immediately.
Male vs Female
Like with many breeds, male Afghan Hounds are generally a bit larger than females. Males tend to stand 25-27 inches tall while females top out at about 25 inches. The males also weigh a bit more, though the difference is only a few pounds.
Temperamentally, it might be difficult to tell males from females. They seem to display the same cautious aloofness and independence, though males might be a bit more apt to show their independent side.
Adaptable and regal, the Afghan Hound is an interesting breed of dog. They have the looks of a show dog with a coat to match. But underneath lies the heart of a hunter; an athletic dog that has the courage to chase down and trap cheetahs.
They’re not the most loving of canines, but they do bond strongly with a single person or family who they will be affectionate with, just not all the time.
If you’re considering adding one of the noble-looking dogs to your family, make sure you take the massive time and monetary investment they require into account. You’ll be spending several hours a day maintaining your hound between exercise and grooming. And if you take your dog to a professional, expect to be shelling out quite a bit of cash to keep your pup looking great.
But if you can deal with the high levels of maintenance necessary for keeping one of these elegant dogs, then you’ll find that the Afghan Hound makes an incredible life partner and companion. Just make sure you have the right expectations going in.
Featured Image Credit: Anna Tronova, Shutterstock