The Afghan is built along greyhound-like lines, enabling this dog to execute a double-suspension gallop and run down fleet game. The comparatively short back and steep pelvis helped the Afghan to leap great heights and to turn almost in place, essential attributes for coursing in rocky mountainous terrain. The large feet provided better foothold and were more resistant to injury on rough ground. The silky coat protected the dog from cold nights at high altitudes. The Afghan appears dignified and aloof, with an exotic expression and proud carriage. The gait shows great elasticity and spring, and the dog moves with head and tail high.
With roots dating to the Egyptian pharaohs, the Afghan Hound is an ancient breed derived from the group of Middle Eastern sighthounds. Despite such illustrious roots, most of the Afghan Hound’s development is the result of their use by nomadic tribes as coursing hounds capable of providing small animal meat for the pot. The dogs often hunted with the aid of falcons, which were trained to swoop at the quarry. Generations of hunting in the harsh mountainous terrain of Afghanistan produced a fast dog that also had a good deal of stamina, but most of all, had incredible leaping ability and nimbleness. The Afghan’s long coat provided protection from the cold climate. These dogs remained isolated for centuries, hidden in the impenetrable Afghanistan Mountains. The first Afghan Hound came to England in the early 1900s; at that time these dogs were called Persian Greyhounds or Barukhzy Hounds. They were a diverse lot so a standard of perfection—modeled on Zardin, a particularly striking dog—that described the more elegant, racy dog of today was created. Popularity grew slowly, with the dog appealing mostly to the glamour set. Popularity in the show ring was faster coming, with the Afghan quickly becoming one of the most competitive and glamorous dogs in the rings. In the 1970s the Afghan became a fad breed with the public, but has since dwindled in popularity.
Despite the glamorous reputation, the Afghan Hound’s heart lies in chasing down game over rugged terrain. While these dogs maintain regal bearings inside, Afghans need a daily chance to stretch their legs in a safe area. At times, they may have a reluctance to come when called. They will chase small animals outside, and will coexist peacefully inside. Though they can be gentle with children, the Afghan may not always be playful and interactive enough with them. Described by some as “catlike,” this breed is independent yet sensitive, and not overly demonstrative. They are reserved with strangers; some can be timid. They have a happy, clownish side.
The Afghan needs daily exertion, either in the form of a long walk followed by a short sprint, or preferably, a chance to run full speed in a safe enclosed area. This dog makes a a great family member, and needs a soft bed and outdoor access. Afghans are naturally thin and bony. The coat requires some commitment, especially when shedding the puppy coat; most adult coats need brushing or combing every two to three days. Weekly bathing helps prevent matting.