The Afghan Greyhound dog breed is thought to be the oldest existing dog breed in the world. Its area of origin is present-day Afghanistan and its origins are said to date back to around 2000 B.C., but there is an ancient legend that even Noah’s Ark contained two examples of this breed. However, some of its images have even been found in graffiti dating back to 2000 B.C. in what is now northern Afghanistan.
Initially, this dog was used for hunting gazelles and other large mammals in North East Africa and in the Caucasian areas. In fact, the Afghan Greyhound, like all other Greyhounds, was categorised as a hunting dog.
Although its origins lie in Afghanistan, some scholars think it originated in the Sinai region. This is because images of it have been found in some papyri of the ancient Egyptians.
They arrived in Europe in the late 19th century, brought by British soldiers returning from the Anglo-Afghan wars. And it is also said that they were smuggled out because the Afghans had no intention of letting specimens leave their country. and indeed those who exported such dogs were punished with the death penalty. The Afghan Greyhound was considered too important and beautiful to give up even a few specimens.
In Afghanistan, this dog was very useful to man as a guard and protection dog, but especially in hunting activities, when it was unleashed behind prey that it followed with tenacity and speed.
At the beginning of the 20th century, some English dog experts crossed different varieties of Afghan Greyhounds: Desert Greyhounds and Mountain Greyhounds. These crosses gave rise to the modern breed of Afghan Greyhounds. In other countries, this breed only became known much later. In modern breeding, it is selected for the purpose for which it is used; for example, more attention is paid to the appearance of the coat, trying to make it more voluminous, if the specimen is intended for beauty shows. There are therefore several genetic strains today that may differ from the breed standard in certain details.
It is widespread all over the world, although not in large numbers, but where it is present most strongly is in the Arabian peninsula where it is known by the name “tazi” meaning “Arabian”. Another of its talents is running; in fact, today it competes in amateur running races. He is very fast and can reach up to 60 kilometres per hour. It is also very popular for its agility activities.
Character of the Afghan Hound dog breed
The Afghan Hound has a very special character. With his owners he is sweet and affectionate, and one of his characteristics is undoubtedly his calmness, especially at home, where he can also adapt to living in a flat, as long as he is given sufficient time and space for his movement, although his ideal home should at least have a garden, where he can run and be free whenever he needs to. But he is also a proud and stubborn dog, which does not make him very easy to train.
It cannot bear to be ignored; it attaches itself deeply to its owner and loves being in company and in the family, where it is also suitable for children, with whom it can play for hours without getting tired. At home, however, he does not like living with other pets, neither dogs nor cats.
Speaking of training, this will not be at all easy; in fact, it is not suitable for those who have no experience in dealing with this breed. In fact, it is a dog that attaches itself very much to its owner, but it requires patience and perseverance from him, and its upbringing, above all, must always be friendly. It has a sensitive soul and tends to disobey more when mortified or scolded harshly.
By his nature, he ignores all forms of hierarchy and the master must be a trusted companion to be recognised as such. If he obeys, it is because he considers it beneficial behaviour and not because he is asked to do so. So this dog does not consider its master a leader, but a companion to be trusted and shared with.
He is an excellent watchdog, he does not bark much, but he is very careful about his territory and his family. His predatory instinct is very strong in him, so it is a good idea to keep him almost always on a leash, as he hardly ever reacts to calls when he has targeted prey.
The Afghan Greyhound is also known to have a prodigious memory, thanks to which even after years he can remember who has treated him well or badly in the past.
Appearance of the Afghan Hound dog breed
The Afghan Hound is a large and very elegant dog. A male at the withers measures 63 to 74 centimetres, depending on whether it is male or female. The weight is between 26 and 34 kilograms. Its body is slender and very tall, in fact its structure is light and graceful, which gives it an unmistakable class. The legs of the Afghan Greyhound are slender, the neck is strong, the structure very slender, the tail is medium-sized and ring-shaped, being rounded.
The head and muzzle are pronounced, the skull is long and slightly narrow. The eyes are slightly slanted upwards; the ears are low and close to the head, and have the splendid long hair that makes its coat its main distinguishing mark. Its long tapering muzzle ends in an elegant black truffle tending to grey.
Its coat is silky and long, very similar to human hair. It is usually left as it is, and sways with extreme finesse with every movement of the dog. The coat has no undercoat and in puppies is short and fluffy. Around the first year of age, puppies moult and their hair grows back like that of their parents. This is the only moulting that this breed does throughout its life.
The coat colours have various shades, but only in single colours and never in patches. The best known is the black Afghan Hound, but one can also find golden blond, fawn, or cream with a dark mask. There is also a very rare and sought-after variety, called the Oyster, which is characterised by having a silver-grey coat on its back, the rest of its hair white, its ears shaded from ivory to hazel and its muzzle light.
Care and health of the Afghan Hound dog breed
The Afghan Hound is a robust and strong dog breed that has a life expectancy of around 12 years. No particular genetic diseases are found. It may, however, like many other dog breeds, suffer from hip dysplasia, laryngeal paralysis and cataract and corneal disorders. It is particularly sensitive to anaesthesia and predisposed to allergies.
Since it does not have an undercoat, it is not particularly resistant to the cold; it should therefore be kept indoors or at least sheltered in the cold season. Being from desert areas, heat does not bother him much. Like all greyhounds, it has never developed a subcutaneous layer of fat, so it does not sweat or smell bad.
Caring for his coat is quite demanding, as he is very long and must be combed at least once a day to prevent knotting. And at least two to three times a year it needs a professional haircut. It also needs constant bathing; it is therefore a good idea to use specific cleansers, respectful of its hair type, to avoid skin problems.
As far as its diet is concerned, this dog is not a great eater and does not tend to put on weight. However, it prefers high-quality rations rather than a large quantity of food.