Afghan Hounds are beautiful, regal dogs, combining strength and dignity with speed and power. However, they need a lot of grooming and exercise and should only be taken on by a dedicated and experienced dog owner.
Afghanistan recognizes two types;; the Ghazni, which is a temperamental mountain breed, and the Bell Murrey, which is larger and heavier plain land dog, named after the Englishman who brought the breed to Europe in 1888. The standard breed is based on the mountain type.
Along with Afghanistan, Afghan Hounds are also native to regions of China and Kashmir. It is an ancient breed predating 2000 BC, appearing in 4000 year-old cave paintings of northern Afghanistan and in Egyptian papyri. It remained purebred, with exportation strictly prohibited, and only eventually appeared in modern Europe as contraband.
Originally bred as a working dog rather than for its appearance, this hound was used as a hunter, herder and watchdog, able to hunt wolves and snow leopards as well as deer. It also has a talent for racing, sighting and tracking.
The most commonly known color is gold; however, these dogs come in various colors, including black.
Black Afghan Hounds can sometimes have white areas on the tail tip, chest or toes, and some have a blue tint to the skin. In some dogs it is very difficult to tell whether they are completely black or a mixture of black and brindle.
Other colors include black and tan, brindle, blue, cream, silver and domino.
Afghan Hounds have an average litter of eight puppies, but this can vary from as little as one, right up to fifteen. These puppies will grow to be around 25-34kg adults, living for up to fourteen years. Dogs tend to grow up to 74cm with bitches a little less at 69cm. Tall and slender with a silky topknot, the favored coat is usually dense on the back from shoulders to tail but long and silky on the flanks, hindquarters and chest. Ears and legs are covered with long hair, with feathering on the feet trimmed for practical reasons.
Afghan Hounds should carry their head high and proud, walking with supple movement that is accentuated by the flow of their coat.
Reputable breeders should be able to prove their dogs are purebred by providing a pedigree. Purebreds trace their ancestry back via the parent lineage, and to be registered with the Kennel Club, a dog must be descended from purebred, Kennel Club registered parents that have a pedigree of ancestors logged with the Kennel Club.
As with all dogs, it is possible to rescue an abandoned or unwanted Afghan Hound from rescue centres. Some of the reasons why the dog may have been abandoned are due to its high maintenance, so it is important to consider this before taking one on. Reputable organizations include Afghan Hound Rescue UK or the Afghan Hound Club of America Rescue.
Afghan Hounds make good pets, although they do better with older, more mature children who know to be gentle with animals.
The Afghan Hound temperament is sensitive, spirited and dignified. Their elegance and stance can make them appear aloof, but they are loyal and affectionate dogs. They need firm and calm handling as well as companionship, as they can pine if deprived of the correct leadership.
They prefer a gentle but strong "pack leader", and need clear guidelines otherwise they may become disobedient. They can also be difficult to house train.
They also need plenty of exercise in the form of a long daily walk; otherwise they will become highly strung.
Afghan Hounds have long, thick coats, which need regular attention. Owning one of these dogs takes dedication because it is not possible to dry brush them; doing so will damage the coat, so they need regular baths in order to be groomed.
A weekly bath and groom is advised, particularly if shown, but also if just a pet, as keeping to a weekly schedule will prevent the coat from becoming matted.
Breeders, owners and judges of specific breeds can join clubs that offer support and information. Such clubs include the Afghan Hound Club of America, which is a member of the American Kennel Club. UK clubs are split into regions, including the Western Afghan Hound Club, which has been running since 1968, and the Southern Afghan Hound Club, running since 1946.
Overall, Afghan Hounds make wonderful pets and companions, provided owners are willing to take the time and responsibility to offer them excellent care and leadership.