The Afghan hound is a unique dog with a distinguished look and majestic presence. Elegant and beautiful, this breed sets itself apart from all canines, but it's not for everyone. Independent, headstrong, and intuitive, this pup requires an experienced owner who is ready to take on the behavioral challenges presented. But it's a worthwhile job for anyone eager to reap the rewards.
Having a legacy too long to trace, the Afghan hound, affectionately known as the Affie, is a storied animal from the Middle East. DNA shows the breed as one of the oldest from this area, though the exact origin is a mystery. Historic records prove these dogs were likely used for thousands of years to hunt small prey and corner big game. They did have different appearances, however. Depending on their regions, fur and stature varied. Today there's more of a uniform look to this canine.
Soldiers in British India first introduced these sighthounds to the world in the 1800s. By the 1900s, they were acclaimed show dogs in Europe, and their popularity reached America.
Standing over two feet tall and weighing 50-60 pounds, the curly-tailed Affie certainly makes an impression. These dogs feature a number of distinct physical characteristics geared toward their original hunting purposes. One asset is its wide hip structure, which allows for flawless turning when running at racehorse speeds. This sighthound has a face for the prowl. A slender, elongated snout is topped by scanning dark eyes. The 270-degree panoramic vision is an amazing attribute that allows this dog to see what others can't.
Likely the most defining feature, fur is what distinguishes an Affie from other breeds. It's actually more along the lines of silky human hair, so it requires a tremendous amount of attention. Regular bathing with shampoo and conditioner is necessary for a healthy and shiny coat. Even after a bath, your dog will have a distinct musky aroma, but this is natural for the breed.
This warm hair was designed for mountain life. Brushing it should be a routine activity done at least two or three times every week. And if you have a puppy, their fur will be fluffy and easy to maintain till maturity.
These sighthounds will demonstrate better behavior if you teach them from an early age. Be consistent, use positive reinforcement, respond with enthusiasm, and offer them a treat. Otherwise, the dog can become somewhat withdrawn. A comfortable Afghan will almost have a split personality: silly with owners and graceful with strangers. They favor having a mind of their own and can be aloof. But they're entirely devoted to their family.
An Afghan hound wants to go, go, go. Centuries of refined breeding gave this dog a high metabolism and muscles designed for sprinting. This is definitely a canine that needs more than a walk or two per day. Dog parks are an excellent way for Afghans to let loose and do what they do best. Whatever exercises you opt for, just remember that they were made to hunt prey, so they'll run off in an instant if not contained.
If you think you'll be able to train this dog, think again. They're quite independent and stubborn, so the best you'll be able to teach your hound is a few basic commands. This breed is geared toward speed and hunting, so coursing events and other sports are a natural fit. Plus, they'll indirectly get a better handle on obedience training this way.
A single dedicated owner or families with older children are best for this pup. Bred for hunting in packs, Affies are fine with docile and agreeable dogs but not good with other animals. They need plenty of space inside due to their size. These hounds have explosive speed, so a fenced-in yard is essential.
Compared to other dogs, this is a relatively healthy breed of hound. Just like any other animals, though, they're predisposed to certain conditions. These afflictions aren't guaranteed to happen, but they're something you should keep in the back of your mind.
Hip issues, allergies, eye problems, and a potentially fatal condition called chylothorax are all regular offenders. Hypothyroidism and heart conditions aren't out of the ordinary, either.
There's a fine line with weight control for this sighthound. They're thin enough that they can't tolerate standard anesthesia and require special treatment. But if you fatten them up simply to the point that you can't see their hip bones, they're considered overweight.
It's difficult to figure out a meal plan for these pooches, though they'll often take matters into their own paws. They're picky about their food and usually don't overeat. They have active metabolisms, so find a protein-rich food, especially if your hound is a sporting competitor.
If you're an experienced dog owner and are considering an Affie, be aware that costs can run over $1000. If you're looking for a show animal, prices will run significantly higher. Afghan rescues are a rewarding way to save money while adopting an animal in need. But you have to have the dedicated time and patience for this, as they're notoriously difficult to rehome. If you're interested in raising a puppy, go with a reputable breeder who can give you background and health information. Either way, be aware that a healthy dog averages a lifespan of 12-18 years.
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