Afghan Hound Temperament: Majestic, dignified and not for the faint-hearted
Are you thinking of getting a dog and are on the fence about what breed to get? Well, don't despair because this blog post is here to help!
In today's post, we'll be discussing the pros and cons of owning an Afghan Hound. Not really the usual dog you catch running around in the woodlands. If you ever had the unique joy of meeting one or being granted an audience, you'll be probably taken aback by their dramatically long coat and almost royal attitude. The Afghan Hounds temperament is pretty unique. So without further ado, let's jump right in!
History of the Afghan Hound
The Afghan Hound is one of the oldest breeds globally and is genetically similar to the Saluki. They are referred to as basal breeds. This means they have had the highest percentage influence over modern-day dog breeds and their genetics.
These are resistant dogs that are temperamentally often intelligent, active and independent. They have a pronounced prey drive. In Afghanistan, they have been known as a Tazi.
It is estimated that Afghan Hounds have been around for 8000 years, and as the name suggests, their origin is the high mountains and deserts in Afghanistan. They're sighthounds meaning they hunt with sight and speed rather than scent and endurance like other dog friends. Have you ever tried sneaking up on a sight hound? It's almost impossible! Whilst humans have a visual field of 180 degrees, sighthounds have an impressive 270-degrees. They were bred to hunt gazelle, deer or more minor game.
Sighthounds are also very fast, built to run and survive extreme conditions. An Afghan Hound should never be overweight, as it would be detrimental to their health.
These beautiful dogs were brought to England in the late 1800s for the first time and caught people's eye straight away. They were almost seen as dog aristocrats with their long, dignified necks, long coat, and all-knowingly expression. No wonder they started to become popular pets bred for their long silky fur. Back then, they were called Barukhzy Hounds. But unfortunately, the strain of this dog became extinct during the first world war when all breeding came to a sudden halt.
The modern Afghan Hound came from the known Ghazni strain from Kabul after the First World War and was imported into the UK.
The British Kennel Club recognises 22 colours of Afghan Hounds. Some of them are the following: Black, white, black and tan, blue, brindle, gold or cream. An outstanding feature is their prolonged neck which is long and strong with a proud head carriage. Their coat is also exceptional. In terms of the breed standard, the coat should develop naturally. We would require a whole blog post just to describe the grooming process of the Afghan Hound. It's hard work to keep the coat silky and shiny. Once the coat has been neglected, it will take a long time to re-grow it back to specific standards. Let's leave this to the pros!
The average weight is 56lbs which requires a sufficient amount of food to keep a healthy weight.
The average life span of an Afghan Hound is 10-12 years, although 15 is not unusual.
In Q2 2022, 11 Afghan Hounds were registered with the UK Kennel Club. If you're after one of these sought-after puppies, be prepared for a longer waiting list.
Source: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/2403/quarterly-breed-stats-hounds.pdf Updated March 2023
What is it like to live with an Afghan Hound?
At first glance, the Afghan Hound is nothing but impressive. He or She is like a king or queen looking down at their kingdom. But there is so much more than meets the eye with these ones. The Afghan Hound is definitely not for the uncommitted dog lover.
Let's begin with the fact that Afghan hounds are sighthounds. Regular exercise is essential to maintain good health. This dog is an athlete, after all, built to hunt in the deserts of Afghanistan. According to the BKC, they require at least 2 hours of exercise a day. They have an instinct to hunt, so if you have a garden make sure it's appropriately fenced. Recall should be trained, but bear in mind you cannot take the sighthound out of the Afghan Hound.
Sighthounds will have the instinct to chase after small animals, and you might end up searching for your dog in random woodlands or worse. Therefore, it is recommended to let your Afghan Hound roam free in a fenced area.
Early training and a certain firmness are crucial for a healthy relationship with your Afghan Hound. They can be independent characters at times and wary of strangers. Often described as aloof at first. You need to gain your Afghans Hound trust. Early socialisation is vital to having a socialised dog in the future. That said, they can be stubborn, so training is a challenge.
Like many dogs, they're susceptible to harsh corrections. Find out what makes your Afghan Hound happy and use this as positive reinforcement for training. It won't be easy as they are stubborn when training. Unfortunately, several articles put them down as being "dumb". That is not true. Afghan Hounds are highly intelligent; they just need motivation and a committed dog owner as they have a mind of their own. Once you form that bond, it will be a rewarding experience for both of you.
They're usually calm and true coach-potatoes at home if their exercise needs are met. If they trust you and have to build a relationship, they will love cuddles and lean into you. Afghan Hounds have a very balanced temperament with a calm nature and will suit people with a similar personality. They certainly can have a clownish side to them as well. Afghan Hounds are gentle and will be a loyal best friend to you. The bond you share will be one of a kind.
They're generally good with children, but as with all breeds, don't leave them unattended as they won't suffer fools gladly. Especially if they haven't been socialised from a young age.
Grooming is a time-consuming matter. If you re-read the blog title, we said that the Afghan Hound is not for the faint-hearted dog lover. You must have the time to groom the Afghan Hounds coat. We assume that only true Afghan Hound lovers would opt for this breed anyway. Owners say that if they did miss a week of grooming, it took triple the time to groom the Hound the week after.
The long coat is the hallmark of this dog. Some coats tend to mat more than others (cotton coats), so the coat texture does vary from one Hound to the other. Then there is also a difference in coat texture if an Afghan has been spayed or neutered. An Afghan puppy also needs a different groom than an adult Afghan.
There is so much to consider that we recommend speaking with a knowledgeable breeder or specialised groomer to get all the correct details per stage.
We would recommend planning in 3 hours for an entire grooming session. For example, a Samoyed or Chinese Crested takes around 30min- 1 hour.
If you take your Afghan to the woodlands, be prepared to brush and pull twigs and grass out of the coat after every walk. This dog breed is not for you if you don't have the time.
Afghan Hound temperament in a nutshell
Grooming is a time-consuming activity
Training can be tough and requires positive reinforcement
The Afghan Hound is a loyal and calm dog with clownish inclines
They love and require a lot of exercise.
Balanced dogs with a dignified nature and a unique bond with their owner
Potential diseases in the Afghan Hound breed
There are some genetic predispositions in the Afghan Hound, as with many pure breeds that should be checked out regularly. However, buying an Afghan Hound puppy from a reputable breeder is always the first step to ensuring your pup has reduced risk. Also, we are not vets. These are simply some diseases to be aware of, and don't replace your research with a vet before buying a puppy.
Let's jump right in.
The Hound can be prone to different heart diseases. Regular checkups at the vet can ensure early detection.
Afghan Hounds often require anaesthesia when they have a vet appointment due to their nervousness. However, this increases the risks of other problems. Speak with your vet about different types of anaesthesia to reduce risk.
As with many sighthound breeds, thyroxine levels are physiologically low. To confirm hypothyroidism in a sighthound you need to do a full thyroid blood panel and support results with significant symptoms. Sighthounds can be prone to it but speak to your vet for an appropriate diagnosis.
On top of different thyroxine levels, sighthounds have different haematology values to other breeds - they can have high red blood cells (RBC), lower white blood cells (WBC), and low platelets (PLT), and high haemoglobin concentration. Those changes are also absolutely normal within the breed. It underlines again to look for a vet with special knowledge on Afghan Hounds. Afghan Hounds have also a high predisposition to cataracts, laryngeal paralysis (This contributes to the danger of anaesthetic due to increased risk of aspirational pneumonia), lung torsion and chylothorax.
Bones and joint problems can also be genetically predisposed (Hip and elbow dysplasia). Observe your dog thoroughly and speak with your vet if they change how they walk or lay down more than usual.
The more aware you are of these diseases, the higher the chances that you can prolong your dog's life if problems arise. Like your child, you should be aware of all required vaccinations, risks and even risks outside of your home. This blog post, for example, outlines all toxic spring plants that can be harmful to your pet.
Many dog owners are unaware of the danger in some pet toys and accessories that can worsen health issues when they innocently buy cheap products from the Far East. Avoid synthetic rubber play things like chew bones or tug o' war ropes from polyester; polyester collars could cause skin irritation and are not breathable like natural materials. Swap out those harmful materials with our eco-friendly pet products from hemp here at Hooman’s Friend. Breathable, eco-friendly and sustainable!
Do you remember the first Barbie dog? It was an Afghan Hound called Beauty, and it launched in 1979!
But there are also some other non-fiction famous Afghan Hound owners: Zeppo Marx and the very talented Salvador Dali. The last one is definitely what we would call a high calibre Afghan Hound lover.
If you want to learn more about other dog breeds, check out related articles or sign up for our newsletter here. This will also trigger a code for 15% off your first order of our eco-friendly pet products. We are working hard to add all dog breeds as soon as possible to have a whole extensive library!
"There is a lot of maintenance to keeping an Afghan. So unless you are willing to put in the time to maintain your dog, don't get one."
This article was written in cooperation with the Shah Foladi Kennel, a registered Afghan Hound breeder by the British Kennel Club.
Medium to Large
22kg - 27kg
20kg - 25kg
Demanding and frequent
Tendency to drool
Tendency to bark
Tendency to dig