What sets an Afghan Hound apart from other dogs? His beautiful looks and charisma which give him a regal aristocratic appearance complemented with heart and temper of gold. While standing still, an Afghan is a cynosure of the eyes and when he moves, his stride is so powerful and effortless, he simply takes your breath away! His flowing hair provide unmatched flair and style.
History down the lane
Afghan Hounds belong to the sighthound family, which includes fast, greyhound-like coursing dogs. This ancient breed has been mentioned several times in the Egyptian scriptures as well as pictured in caves of Northern Afghanistan more than 4,000 years ago. They were used as hunter dogs for many centuries, hunting deers, wild goats and even wolves and snow leopards. They were also used by shepherds as herders and watchdogs. Today, they are bred as show dogs and for lure coursing. True to their mountain heritage, the Afghan Hound is tough and agile, capable of climbing rocks. They are also known as Balkh Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barutzy Hound, Kabul Hound and Tazi.
These dashing dogs have a personality of their own. They are tall and slender, with a long and narrow head. The most prominent character of an Afghan Hound is that the head is surmounted with a topknot of long, silky hair. Their almond-shaped eyes are very enchanting and seem to gaze into a distance. Their ears lie flat to the head, the nose is black and their neck is long and slender. Their long and silky coat covers the entire body, except on the face and back, where it is short and glossy. The coat has a fine texture and is thick. Their tail is not set too high on the body and has a ring or a curve on the end. The height of Afghan Hounds is between 27 to 29 inches and they weigh around 26-34 kg. “Afghans can be found in all colours,” says Nagraj Shetty of Agrani Kennels, Chennai.
An Afghan Hound is a pleasure to have as a pet as he is very sweet and affectionate. He is also sensitive. Even though they are wary of strangers but they are not inhospitable to them. However, they need a lot of attention and become unhappy when they don’t get their share of attention. They are very dignified and can be stubborn or manipulative at times. “They have a mind of their own and love to choose their own friends,” says Nagraj. They are well spirited and training and discipline is all that is required to keep your Afghan Hound amenable.
Rearing an Afghan kid
Simply bond with your pet and show him your love by playing, grooming or just petting him. Socialisation is very important for an Afghan puppy to develop his social skills. They need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds, otherwise they become shy and suspicious.
Sharing life with Afghans
They are well-suited for cold, wet and windy climates. However, they are not recommended for apartment life and for families with small children. An Afghan puppy romps and jumps with great vigour and they have the temptation to chase and nip running children. They do not like loud voices and quick movement. Since they are very sensitive, any family problem can make them sick. Thus, they need a peaceful and harmonious home.
Pretty up the tresses
It is very interesting to note that Afghan Hound pups do not resemble their long-coated adults as they are born smooth-coated and it’s only after one year of age that the adult coat begins to lengthen and fall out. As they reach three years of age, their coat is fully developed. Right from puppyhood, he should be daily brushed to make him accustomed to grooming. The most striking characteristic of Afghan is his long flowing coat and a properly cared coat brings elegance and flair to him. A special air-cushioned or pain brush should be used for grooming. The long thick coat of the Afghan Hound require daily brush-outs to remove dead hair and keep his beautiful coat tangle-and mat-free. Slicker brushes can be used for removing tangles from the skin. Brushing or combing the coat from the outside into the skin can further twist hair into developing mat. Before bathing, brush him thoroughly to remove any mats using your fingers, specially behind the ears and armpits. An Afghan Hound is an average shedder.
These active dogs need long daily walks or free run in open space. “Minimum 30 minutes of free galloping will keep your Afghan fit and fine,” says Nagraj. When he is inactive indoors, he should not be left unsupervised as he may get bored and become destructive. They love agility tricks and are the best jumpers.
Healthy but vulnerable
Although Afghan Hounds are generally healthy, but they have a low pain tolerance and hence, even minor injuries can be very painful for them. (With inputs from Nagraj Shetty of Agrani Kennels.)