Which breed of dog would you say has the most style and elegance? Take a look at the Afghan Hound; this dog must surely make your shortlist! A supermodel of the dog world, with flowing silky hair, a long-legged stature, and an aristocratic air. But are these beautiful dogs high-maintenance divas?
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The long coat of the Afghan Hound once had a very practical function; to provide warmth and protection from the harsh weather of the mountainous regions of Afghanistan. Closely related to the Saluki and originally used for hunting, Afghan Hounds were known as ‘Persian Greyhounds’ when they first came to the UK.
Looks and vital statistics
The Afghan Hound is a tall dog, standing at around 70cm in height. Underneath their long coat they are lean and athletic, and they have an impressive turn of speed. They live for an average lifespan of 11-14 years. You can expect to pay over £1000 for an Afghan Hound puppy. But don’t forget to factor in the essential additional costs of feeding, neutering, vaccination, worming and flea treatments, microchipping, and pet insurance.
According to Professor Stanley Coren, obedience is not a skill the Afghan Hound excels at. In fact, they ranked bottom of the list of intelligent dog breeds in his 1994 book, ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’. But in the Afghan Hound’s defence, these dogs were bred to hunt and think independently and are not as empty-headed as their reputation might suggest. With their independence comes a certain aloofness, and they don’t lavish attention on just anybody. Owners often describe them as ‘clownish’ as they can be mischievous. Stealing objects from right under your nose seems to be a common example of this playful side of their character. They can be good with children, but due to their sensitive nature, they will get on best with children if they have regularly encountered them during the crucial puppy socialisation period of between 3-12 weeks of age.
Unsurprisingly, this breed of dog requires a big commitment to brushing their coat and they are prone to matting. Only those who really enjoy grooming or who are willing to pay a professional groomer regularly should consider owning an Afghan Hound.
They are active dogs and require regular exercise, around two hours a day. They are escape artists, with their turn of speed and strong chase instinct making them hard to catch once they are on the loose! Consistent obedience training with positive reinforcement, and a secure garden with a high fence, is a must.
Health and hereditary disorders
All pedigree dogs are at higher risk for disease than the average Heinz-57 variety. This is because gene pools in pedigree dog populations tend to be smaller, which can result in the development of inherited disease. For this reason, it is usually more expensive to insure a pedigree dog, and Afghan Hounds are no exception.
Afghan Hounds can be prone to cancer and cataracts. Hypothyroidism is a condition also sometimes seen in this breed. As a large dog with a deep chest, they can also be prone to a condition known as ‘gastric dilatation volvulus’.
So, do Afghan Hounds make good pets?
Before getting too drawn in by their dazzling looks, you will need to get a clear idea of the commitment required to own an Afghan Hound. Talk to a breeder or owner to find out more about the breed before you take the plunge. You will need to devote hours of your day to grooming and exercise and be prepared that it won’t always be easy to get their attention.
There are many Afghan Hounds in need of adoption or fostering, so if you are serious about taking on an Afghan Hound, checking a breed rescue organisation is a good place to start. If you are thinking of going down the breeder route, it’s essential to look for a reputable breeder committed to producing healthy, well-socialised puppies. For the highest standards, the Kennel Club has a list of assured breeders. It’s highly recommended that when looking for a puppy, you use The Puppy Contract. This helpful resource has been created to help you make the right choice when it comes to buying a healthy and happy puppy.