Dog Breeds Blog
Sighthounds are among the oldest recognisable types of dogs, and genetic testing has placed the Afghan Hound breed among those with the least genetic divergence from the wolf on some markers. This is taken to mean that such dogs are descended from the oldest dog types, not that the breeds tested had in antiquity their exact modern form. Today's modern purebred breed of Afghan Hound descends from dogs brought in the 1920s to Great Britain, and are a blending of types and varieties of long haired sighthounds from across Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. Some had been kept as hunting dogs, others as guardians.
Although demonstrably ancient, verifiable written or visual records that tie today's Afghan Hound breed to specific Afghan owners or places is absent, even though there is much speculation about possible connections with the ancient world among fanciers and in non-scientific breed books and breed websites. Connections with other types and breeds from the same area may provide clues to the history. A name for a desert coursing Afghan hound, Tazi (sag-e-tazi), suggests a shared ancestry with the very similar Tasy breed from the Caspian Sea area of Russia and Turkmenistan. Other types or breeds of similar appearance are the Taigan from the mountainous Tian Shan region on the Chinese border of Afghanistan, and the Barakzay, or Kurram Valley Hound. There are at least 13 types known in Afghanistan and some are being developed (through breeding and recordkeeping) into modern purebred breeds. As the lives of the peoples with whom these dogs developed change in the modern world, often these landrace types of dogs lose their use and disappear; there may have been many more types of longhaired sighthound in the past.
Once out of Afghanistan, and Persia, the history of the Afghan Hound breed becomes an important part of the history of the very earliest dog shows and The Kennel Club (UK). Various sighthounds were brought to England in the 1800s by army officers returning from British India (which at the time included), Afghanistan, and Persia, and were exhibited at dog shows, which were then just becoming popular, under various names, such as Barukzy hounds. They were also called "Persian Greyhounds" by the English, in reference to their own indigenous sighthound.
One dog in particular, Zardin, was brought in 1907 from India by Captain Bariff and became the early ideal of breed type for what was still called the Persian Greyhound. Zardin was the basis of the writing of the first breed standard in 1912, but breeding of the dogs was stopped by World War I.
Out of the longhaired sighthound types known in Afghanistan, two main strains make up the modern Afghan Hound breed. The first were a group of hounds brought to Scotland from Baluchistan by Major and Mrs. G. Bell-Murray and Miss Jean C. Manson in 1920, and are called the Bell-Murray strain. These dogs were of the lowland or steppe type, also called kalagh, and are less heavily coated. The second strain was a group of dogs from a kennel in Kabul owned by Mrs. Mary Amps, which she shipped to England in 1925. She and her husband came to Kabul after the Afghan war in 1919, and the foundation sire of her kennel (named Ghazni) in Kabul was a dog that closely resembled Zardin. Her Ghazni strain were the more heavily coated mountain type. Most of the Afghans in the United States were developed from the Ghazni strain from England. The first Afghans in Australia were imported from the United States in 1934, also of the Ghazni strain. The French breed club was formed in 1939 (FALAPA). The mountain and steppe strains became mixed into the modern Afghan Hound breed, and a new standard was written in 1948, which is still used today.
The spectacular beauty of Afghan Hound dogs caused them to become highly desirable showdogs and pets, and they are recognised by all of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world. One of the Amps Ghazni, Sirdar, won BIS at Crufts in 1928 and 1930. An Afghan hound was featured on the cover of Life Magazine, November 26, 1945. "Afghan Hounds were the most popular in Australia in the 1970s…and won most of the major shows". An Afghan Hound won BIS (Best in Show) at the 1996 World Dog Show in Budapest. Afghan hounds were BIS at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1957 and again in 1983. That win also marked the most recent win at Westminster for breeder-owner-handler, Chris Terrell.
The Afghan Hound breed is no longer used for hunting, although it can be seen in the sport of lure coursing.
The Afghan Hound is considered an aristocratic sighthound. Tall and slender with a long, narrow, refined head, silky topknot and powerful jaws, the back part of the head and skull are quite prominent. The muzzle is slightly convex and the nose is black. The Afghan has little or no stop, which is the transition area from backskull to muzzle. The teeth should meet in a level or scissors bite. The dark eyes are almond shaped. The ears lie flat to the head. The neck is long and strong. The height at the withers should be almost level and the abdomen well tucked up. The hipbones are quite prominent. The front legs are strong and straight and the feet are large and covered with long hair. The tail has a curl or ring at the tip, but is not carried over the back. The long, rich, silky coat is most often the color of sand with a darker face and ear fringes, though all colors are permitted. White markings, however, are discouraged.
Courageous, dignified, spirited, very sweet, loyal, affectionate and sensitive, with a low dominance level, the Afghan can be somewhat aloof, but socialize well. They must be trained kindly yet in a calm and firm manner. The Afghan has been described as "a king of dogs"—noble, majestic and elegant. They tend to be suspicious of those they do not know, but not hostile. Although tough, they will pine if they are deprived of proper gentle leadership. They will do best with older, considerate children who understand how to be a gentle pack leader. Amenable to training and discipline, they can be disobedient if an owner does not give the dog clear guidelines and consistency with what is expected of their dog. This breed can be difficult to housebreak. It can also be timid and high-strung if it does not receive enough mental and physical exercise.
Height: Males 27 - 29 inches (68.58 - 73.66 cm); slightly less for females.
Weight: 50 – 64 lb. (22 – 34 kg)
Weight: 50 – 64 lb. (22 – 34 kg)
The Afghan Hound is not recommended for apartment life. They are relatively inactive indoors and do best with acreage. This breed can live in or outdoors, although it would be happier sleeping indoors.
The Afghan Hound needs to be taken on a long daily walk or jog. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog's mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. Teach them to enter and exit door and gateways after the humans. They will also enjoy running free in an open, fenced, safe area.
About 14 years
The long, thick coat demands a great deal of attention. Bathe the dog when necessary. Do not brush in between baths in order to keep coat long and shiny. Brushing a dry coat will damage the coat and even make it more easily matted. Weekly baths are not as important if your Afghan is a pet and will not be shown, but doing so will make the coat less matted and will save you time in the end. Many wear snoods indoors to protect their ears from food bowls. Some owners like to use a special air-cushioned brush called a pinbrush. This breed is an average shedder.