Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound

Slobodan Stojkovic / Getty Images

The Afghan Hound, known for its long, silky coat, is a breed of dog popular for its show-worthy qualities. Afghan Hounds are considered one of nine ancient or “basal” breeds, meaning their DNA is more closely related to the dogs of ancient history than common contemporary breeds. Though the breed originated in Afghanistan (where the breed name was Tazi), most of today’s Afghan Hounds are thought to have originated in early 20th century Great Britain.

In addition to their striking appearance, Afghan Hounds are known for their independence and self-confidence, as well as their sweet and humorous nature around humans they’re comfortable with.

Breed Overview

  • GroupHound (AKC)
  • Size:
    • Weight: about 50 to 60 pounds
    • Height: 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder
  • Coat: Long, thick, and fine
  • Color: The Afghan Hound’s coat can be any color or combination of colors, including brindle and domino.
  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Afghan Hound

Affection LevelMedium
Exercise NeedsHigh
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkLow
Amount of SheddingMedium

History of the Afghan Hound

The Afghan Hound, considered by some to be the oldest of all purebred dogs, originated in Afghanistan. It’s hard to pin down exactly when the Afghan Hound first appeared, as its presence predates written history; however one of the first published descriptions of the breed appeared in a drawing by English soldier Thomas Duer Broughton when he was in India in 1809.

Afghan Hounds can be traced back to several regions in Afghanistan, with distinct differences in their coat and color depending on where they are from. Afghan Hounds from mountainous areas have thick and dark coats while those from the desert have coats that are lighter in color and volume. For centuries, they have served as hunting companions for humans, who rely on them for their speed, quick and independent thinking, and panoramic vision—common traits of all Sighthounds.

Today’s Afghan Hound’s are primarily the result of breeding efforts made by the English in the 1920s. The breed had become a mainstay of British soldiers and noblemen in the early 1900s but almost died out during World War I, when resources shifted and it became difficult to breed and care for companion animals. In the mid-1920s, British military officers began bringing Afghan Hounds to the West, and in 1927, the breed was registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC). By the 1980s, Afghan Hounds in America had become mainstays of the show-dog and obedience circuits.

Afghan Hound Care

Due to their long coats, grooming is an essential part of an Afghan Hound’s care. Its fine and silky coat must be brushed regularly to prevent mats and tangles, though baths are only required as necessary. Brushing the Afghan Hound’s coat multiple times per week ensures it maintains its silky texture and also helps reduce the amount of shedding.

Aside from frequent brushings, Afghan Hound grooming requirements are relatively basic. Nails should be trimmed as needed and proper dental care provided on a regular basis. Long hair around their ears means that Afghan Hounds are often prone to ear infections, so ears must be kept clean and checked regularly for signs of irritation or infection.

Many Afghan Hound owners tie the hair on their dog’s head up in a top knot to prevent it from getting into their food or trapping bacteria around their ears.

Afghan Hounds need daily exercise, but they are often happy to settle in on the couch with their humans after they’ve had a chance to run around. Daily walks or runs are encouraged, as are activities that make use of the Afghan Hound’s natural hunting drive, such as lure coursing. It is also recommended that the Afghan Hound have a chance to run off-leash in an enclosed area once or twice a week.

Although they are known for their smarts, Afghan Hounds can be aloof and stubborn when it comes to training. Unless the goal is to train for shows, obedience, or sport, most Afghan Hound owners find it sufficient to stick to the basics of household training.

Keep in mind that because their hunting drive is one of their strongest features, even the best trained Afghan Hound may still refuse to listen to “stay” or “come” if they are on the pursuit of prey.

Common Health Problems

Like all purebred dogs, Afghan Hounds are prone to specific health problems, though that doesn’t mean that all dogs of the breed will experience them. A responsible breeder will be open and honest about any known health conditions affecting the line a puppy is bred from, and will also provide health clearances showing that a puppy’s parents do not suffer from one of the health problems common to the breed. These include:

Diet and Nutrition

Like all dogs, Afghan Hounds do best on a diet of high-quality, protein-heavy food. Adult Afghan Hounds should eat about two to two and a half cups of dry food a day divided into two meals, though dry food can be supplemented in part or entirely by wet food. Afghan Hound puppies, seniors, and those experiencing injury or illness have different nutrition needs, so it’s important to get clear directions from a qualified vet when determining their diet. Limit food and increase exercise for adult Afghan Hounds who are overweight.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Think the Afghan Hound might be the perfect dog for you? Be sure to do your research to get a full idea of what life with an Afghan Hound is like. You can find additional information by reaching out to reputable Afghan Hound breeders or Afghan Hound rescue groups.

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All dogs are unique, but you can tell a lot about what you might be able to expect about a dog’s personality from their breed. For more information, check out all of our other dog breed profiles.