The Afghan Hound is an ancient canine variety whose origin dates as far back as to the pre-Christian times. Being a true embodiment of elegance and aristocratic beauty, this dog also has very charming personality, which makes it a great companion animal. One has to take into account that its gorgeous coat needs a great deal of dedication to its grooming.
Despite its antique origin the Western canine fanciers got to know about the Afghan Hound only in the beginning of the XIX century. Until this time its history largely remains under the veil of mystery but it’s believed that this breed descends from the Saluki and was developed on the territory of now none-existent Persia. It’s an established fact that the dog was initially bred for tracing prey in the highlands of its native Afghanistan (and nearby Pakistan and India). The secondary task of this dog was guarding homesteads and livestock of its nomadic masters.
Nonetheless the Afghan Hound was chiefly utilised as a coursing hound, which was equally proficient at tracking down prey by sight and scent. The range of its possible quarry was very diverse and included mammals (deer, antelope), feathered game (quail, partridge) and multiple predators (fox, wolf and jackal). This breed was treasured not only for its unsurpassed agility but also for its excellent talent to operate for hours and hours on an uneven and potentially dangerous terrain firmly and untiringly. Its trademark features were exceptional stamina, dexterity and robustness and it still remains a proficient hunting dog.
The breeding of the Afghan Hound in the Western World began in 1925 when an English military servant who stationed near Kabul brought several of these dogs to his homeland. During the same decade it also found its way to America. Zeppo Marx of the Marx Brothers was one of the first dog lovers who began promoting the breed in the U.S. It received recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1926.
The lure coursing competitions experienced the upsurge of popularity in the 70s of XX century and the Afghan Hound became a true star of such contests. In Afghanistan, the modern-day breed members primarily play their original role of a versatile hunter although in the West it’s kept almost exclusively for companionship.
The Afghan Hound is well-known for its majestic appearance and gentle but noble individuality. It becomes fiercely staunch to its masters and develops strong affection to its entire family. The breed possesses very sensitive nature and keenly feels each and every disagreement between its favourite people. That’s why it suits best for quiet and peaceful households. Most of these dogs are dependable around kids although some of them are prone to take offence at the slightest demonstration of disrespect. On the whole this breed gets along much better with older children who don’t invade in its private space too often.
Strange people are treated by the Afghan Hound with great suspiciousness and wariness. Early and correct socialisation is the only effective way to make its specimen more predictable around unknown people. However this dog is much more predisposed to acquire issues with shyness and nervousness than with aggressiveness. Alert and highly sensitive, it can be tasked with the duties of a watcher. But because of its friendly and calm nature the breed won’t make a good guard dog.
The Afghan Hound likes mixing with its counterparts and usually doesn’t try to assert its dominative status in the group of other canines. However it gives preference for the company of owners and can be successfully kept as an only dog. As an excellent hunting dog it treats all moving small objects as potential prey so it must be always supervised around stray cats and even small dogs. Bear in mind timely socialisation will benefit in reducing this inherent hospitability but it’s incapable of eliminating it entirely.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· cardiac problems;
· urologic problems;
· canine hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· ear infections
· eye problems;
· von Willebrand's disease.
It takes time and patience to properly groom the long and thick coat of the Afghan Hound. The hair of this dog is very susceptible to tangling and matting. Regular brushing will prevent these problems but make sure to moisten its fur before performing this procedure.
If you plan to show your pet it also needs to be bathed at least once a week. The Afghan Hound that doesn’t participate in dog shows requires less frequent bathing.
In general one should expect to spend several hours a week on grooming this dog or just reconsider your decision about its adoption. The Afghan Hound sheds average amount of hair but because of their length they will be quite noticeable on your carpets, furniture and clothing.
The training of the Afghan Hound isn’t an easy job to do. The main reason of all training difficulties is a stubborn and self-dependent character of this dog. Of course it’s capable of learning tricks and commands but you should be prepared to invest lots of efforts in order to accomplish this task.
This dog reacts extremely negatively to any form of exact discipline so it must be coaxed into obeying your commands. Reward its success with its favourite treats and gentle words and you will achieve reasonably good results in training your Afghan Hound. Housebreaking of this dog also becomes quite a challenge for its owners.
The Afghan Hound is an outstanding and indefatigable runner so it needs a sizeable amount of physical stimulation on a daily basis. Long and energetic walk is an absolute must for this breed although its favourite type of exercise is playing and running unrestrainedly in a safely fenced territory.
This dog remains relatively active indoors and loves amusing its owners by its mischievous pranks. But if it doesn’t receive sufficient opportunities to stretch its legs freely in a spacious yard it will quickly fall into the habits of chewing your shoes and furniture and barking without any obvious reason.