Afghan Hound

Filed Under: Dogs, General Care

Looking for glamour? Want a dog with presence? Don’t mind spending several hours a week combing and brushing your pet? Then, the Afghan hound may be right for you.

The Afghan hound is one of the oldest breeds of sighthounds. A sighthound pursues prey by sight and speed, rather than by scent. Believed to have originated in Afghanistan or perhaps Egypt, this breed developed its thick, fine, and silky coat as protection against the cold mountain winds of the desert.

The Afghan hound is regal in appearance, long-legged with a delicately curved tail and a Roman nose. The Afghan has a luxurious silky coat, and it is far-sighted and lightning-fast. The breed is reported to have a high prey drive, which may prove detrimental to other household pets. The breed was originally developed to track game, particularly hares and gazelles, by coursing them.

Afghan hounds range from 24 to 29 inches in height at the withers. Females will typically weigh around 50 pounds, and the males, being slightly larger, may weigh up to 60 pounds.

This breed tends to be aloof with strangers and does not mind being the only 4-legged child in a family. In a family setting, they are typically quiet and well-mannered. Their bony joints need protection from hard surfaces, requiring a cushy bed.

The luxurious coat, one of the Afghan hound’s most enduring characteristics may also be the breed’s primary downside. Intensive grooming is necessary to deal with the coat. Twice weekly grooming is a must to avoid mats and a tangled hair coat. The coat should never be trimmed.

The Afghan hound may be stubborn, single-minded, and hard to train, which some individuals attribute to inferior intelligence. This breed reportedly does poorly in agility and obedience trials. These dogs are also sensitive to correction, and training methods may have to be adjusted to best deal with the temperament of this particular breed.

The Afghan hound has a median lifespan of approximately 12 years of age but may reach the age of 18 when taken care of. They are not historically prone to the orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia, that plague other large breeds of dogs, perhaps since they are so slight of frame.

This slightness of frame and lack of body fat are also responsible for this breed being more sensitive to anesthesia, especially thiopental, which is rarely used today.

The Afghan hound is one of the ten most commonly affected breeds by demodicosis. Demodicosis is an inherited form of the mange caused by a cigar-shaped mite that is transferred from mother to offspring shortly after whelping. The inability to control the mite population on the individual dog’s skin is actually the heritable trait. Demodicosis is also known as the “red mange.”

The Afghan is affected by several eye problems, including cataracts and corneal dystrophy. Both disorders are suspected to be inherited, although the exact gene responsible has not yet been identified. Breeders are advised to use caution when breeding affected animals.

Due to their deep chest, the Afghan hound has a higher frequency of bloat and torsion. Dogs should be fed more frequently than once daily or given kibble that is previously moistened to avoid possible problems.

The Afghan has a higher than normal incidence of cancer.

Allergies (atopy)
commonly affects the Afghan breed.

The Afghan hounds tend to be intolerant to pain and will make their displeasure known.

The Afghan is considered to be a sight hound and systolic blood pressure values of up to 180 may be considered normal when in other breeds, a comparable blood pressure is considered to be hypertensive at values of around 160.


Adamson, Eve. “Brush with Greatness.” Pet Product News. August 2008. Pp. 53-55.

Bonagura, John. “Circulations: Conversations with a Cardiologist.” Idexx Laboratories. Summer 2011. Pg. 1.

Bonagura, John. “Circulations: Conversations with a Cardiologist.” Idexx Laboratories. Summer 2011. Pg. 1.

Hofmeister, Erik, and Victoria Watson, et al. “Validity and Client use of information from the World Wide Web regarding Veterinary Anesthesia in Dogs. JAVMA, Vol 233, No. 12, December 15, 2008. Pp. 1860-1864.

Scott, Danny and William Miller et al. Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology. 5th Edition. W.B. Saunders Company. 1995. Pp 417-432.

Severin, Glenn. Severin’s Veterinary Ophthalmology Notes. Communications Inc. 3rd Edition. 1996. P. 214, 519-521.

Topics: breeds

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