The vast plains and mountains of Afghanistan are famous the world over for a multitude of different reasons, but few of them make people smile like the Tazi, or Afghan Hound as it’s more commonly known, does.
Its reputation for being the clown of the canine world and making its owners laugh while smothering them in affection is legendary and has made this long-haired, surprisingly agile hound a favorite family pet in every nation on Earth.
Don’t be fooled by its aloof demeanor, as this sweet and gentle dog loves nothing more than playing and chasing anything that takes its fancy. Originally bred to be a sight hound by the nomadic tribes that populated Afghanistan, the Tazi is a dedicated hunter whose instincts belie its elegant appearance.
It might look like it’d be more comfortable stretching out a chez lounge having its every whim catered to, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Afghan Hound is a hard-working hunter whose devotion and loyalty to its owners is absolute.
Getting to know this contradictory dog can be difficult and more than a little frustrating, as it proves the idea that looks can often be deceiving. That’s why we decided to step into the breach and put a definitive guide to the Tazi (or Afghan Hound) together, to separate the truth about the breed from the half-truths and gossip that abound in dog-centric circles.
And sometimes, that truth can be far stranger than fiction. It’s time to brush the fur out of your eyes and meet the hunting hound from the hills of the Pashtuns, the Afghan Hound.
The first time that most people end up becoming hopelessly beguiled by the Afghan Hound is when they see it strut across the floor of a dog show, and their inherent regal majesty immediately strikes a chord somewhere deep in the soul of their new fans.
There’s something mysterious and magical about the way this dog and its owners connect on an almost spiritual level, but before they can make that connection, there are some basic rules that every potential Afghan owner needs to know, and carefully consider before they open the doors of their home to a Tazi and invite it to join their family.
They’ll need to know how long they need to devote to the dog to ensure that it gets the exercise that it needs to be happy and healthy, how much economic provision they’ll need to make in order to look after the newest member of their family and how long it’ll be a part of their life for.
To make sure that those basics were covered before we submerge ourselves, and you in everything that you and everyone else will ever need to know about the Afghan Hound, we thought we’d briefly address, and answer the fundamental aspects of owning a Tazi.
The average lifespan of one of these medium to large dogs is between twelve and sixteen years. It’s a significant commitment to make, but an Afghan will reward it ten times over with its intense loyalty and devotion
Minimum Exercise (per day)
Afghan Hounds need around two hours of exercise a day, and ideally that should include some time when they can be left to run, as this strong, athletic dog was bred for the chase. However, as they have a tendency to chase after anything, and everything that catches their eye, they’ll need an enclosed and secure space in which to run to prevent them “escaping” from their owner’s control.
Afghan Hounds are a long-haired breed, and the length of their fur coat is one of the things that makes them unique in the annals of working dogs.
Minimum Cost Per Month
It isn’t just the dog food bill that a prospective owner has to think about, the cost of pet insurance (which is a necessity as it helps to cover unexpected, and uncomfortably large vet bills) also needs to be added to the monthly tally, which means that caring for an Afghan Hound costs a minimum of one hundred to one hundred and twenty dollars a month.
Afghan Hounds are long, tall slender dogs with an elongated muzzle and a long, shiny fur coat. They can vary in color, with some of the more common being gray, fawn, gold, and red and have unusually large paws that the breed evolved in order to cope with the rugged and mountainous terrain of their country of origin.
Opinion is often split over whether an Afghan Hound is a medium-sized dog or a large breed, as their slender build means that they weigh a lot less than other tall dogs do. That said, they’re more often classified as a large breed, than a medium one.
Both males and females can stand anywhere between twenty-four and twenty-nine inches (sixty to seventy-five centimeters) tall at the shoulder
And thanks to their athletic build, Afghans can weigh anywhere between forty-five and sixty pounds (twenty to twenty-eight kilograms)
Afghan’s are known as the clowns of the canine kingdom, and their often funny and quirky personalities are endlessly entertaining. They’re happy dogs who love the company of their families, but their independent nature can make them seem slightly removed and a little aloof.
They need space to run and be free, and love to spend time outdoors with their owners. Apartments are too small and confined for the dogs who were bred to sprint across the plains and mountains of Afghanistan. Tazis weren’t meant to live in apartments, and shouldn’t be made to.
Good For Novice Owners
Afghan Hounds need a lot of looking after and as they have a strong independent streak, they’re far from being an ideal dog for novice owners. They need a firm hand and are far more suited to an owner who is used to being around and has experience of both large breed and working dogs. They can be difficult and stubborn will almost certainly drive a first-time owner to distraction.
They don’t respond well to negative training methods or being harshly punished and need to be taught and trained with positive reinforcement and rewards.
Tolerates Being Alone
They don’t like to be left on their own for extended periods of time, and while they’re fine to be left on their own at home for a couple of hours at a time, any longer than that and they might start to panic and become fearful. That fear, commonly known as separation anxiety, can manifest itself vocally (meaning that they’ll bark until their owners return) or as destructive behavior that can turn their owner’s homes upside down and inside out.
Tolerates Cold Weather
Their long coats and the fact that they were bred to hunt in the mountains of Afghanistan make them ideal dogs for cold climates. But they’re not outdoor dogs and don’t cope well with living in a kennel or a dog house in a yard. They may be ideally suited to colder climates, but they need to live indoors.
Tolerates Hot Weather
The fur coat that makes a Tazi an ideal cold-weather dog makes it prone to overheating in warmer climates, which means that it doesn’t cope well when the mercury starts to climb toward the top of a thermometer. If it gets too hot, Afghan Hounds need to be kept inside and out of the sun or they could easily succumb to heatstroke.
Affectionate With Family
They are, despite their independent nature, incredibly affectionate with their families. Afghan’s are sweet-natured dogs who loved to be made a fuss of and enjoy cuddling up with their favorite humans.
As they love to play, Afghan Hounds tend to be pretty good with children, but they don’t always react well to the boisterous and often over-exuberant behavior of youngsters who aren’t used to the company of dogs. They’re better suited to families with older children, who will give them the space to be alone when they need it.
Afghan’s aren’t a dominant breed and don’t need to be the alpha or lead animal in any pack and aren’t territorial, and as such rarely, if ever show any aggression toward other dogs. In other words, they actually enjoy the company of other canines.
Friendly Toward Strangers
As devoted as they are to their families, and despite the fact that they are generally gentle, friendly dogs, Afghan’s can be temperamental when confronted with people that they don’t know. As long as they’re properly socialized when they’re young, and introduced to people, adult dogs should be fine with strangers, but if they’re not, dealing with strangers can be a problematic issue for Tazi’s as they get older.
Health & Grooming
While they’re generally healthy dogs, Afghan Hounds can, like all breeds, be susceptible to certain genetic and breed-specific health conditions which we’ll discuss a little further on. But before we do, we thought we’d address a few of the dog-centric concerns that a lot of owners have, namely shedding, grooming and the Afghans drooling potential.
Like most long-haired breeds, Afghan Hounds don’t shed a lot. They have a single coat and don’t leave a lot of fur in their wake, so they don’t need to be constantly followed around with a vacuum cleaner.
Even though they don’t shed a lot, their long coats must be constantly groomed to keep them healthy and shiny. Many Afghan owners tend to use professional dog groomers’ services as looking after an Afghan Hound’s coat can be a full-time job.
It isn’t all bad news though, as Afghan’s aren’t droolers. Their long muzzles tend to ensure that their spittle stays where it should, inside their mouths, and apart from the odd, expectant pool of drool that might appear in the moments before their dinner bowl hits the floor, they won’t and don’t drool.
While they’re a generally healthy breed, Afghan’s can be prone to allergies, the symptoms of which will be the same as they are in people, sneezing, coughing, and excessive scratching, and if a dog does begin to exhibit those symptoms, a veterinary consultation should establish whether or not it is an allergic reaction, and what the allergy might be.
Common Health Problems
Afghans are susceptible to several health issues, including hip dysplasia (a malformation of the hip joint that can lead to arthritis and chronic pain), cataracts, and cancer.
Potential For Weight Gain
Afghans don’t usually put on excessive weight if they’re exercised properly, but if they do, those extra pounds can cause joint and cardiac problems. Obesity isn’t something that owners need to keep an eye on with Tazi’s, but if it does become a problem, it needs to be dealt with quickly and efficiently with a carefully controlled and monitored diet.
All dogs benefit from being socialized and trained from an early age, and the independent and stubborn Afghan will almost certainly be better behaved and happier if it knows the boundaries and limitations that any owner sets for him. And that’s why it’s important to enroll an Afghan in obedience and socialization classes as early as possible.
Easy To Train
Afghans are notoriously independent dogs, and because of this facet of their personality, it can take a long time to train them. They respond well to positive, reward-based training so as long as an owner stays the course, they’ll eventually reap the rewards of their hard work.
Contrary to popular opinion, Afghan Hounds aren’t the dumbest dogs in the world. they’re bright, clever dogs, but their independent nature makes them difficult to train, leading to the widely, and wrongly held idea that the breed is “dumb”.
Potential To Bite
They’re not, by nature, aggressive dogs and even though they can be wary of strangers, as long as they’re properly socialized when they’re young, biting isn’t a behavioral issue that any Afghan owner needs to worry about.
Tendency To Bark Or Howl
Afghans are generally quiet, non-vocal dogs but will bark if they’re left alone for too long or a stranger comes knocking at the door.
The Afghan Hound has seen the history of humanity unfold and shape itself, as the breed is widely thought to be one of the oldest in the world. While it’s impossible to definitively age the breed, it is thought to have been used as a hunting dog in its native Afghanistan for thousands of years.
Even though the Tazi has raced across the plains and climbed through the mountains of its homeland for millennia, it didn’t actually reach Western shores until it first arrived in England in nineteen twenty-five, and from there made its way to America.
Officially recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in nineteen twenty-six, the Afghan Hound is now primarily kept as a family and show dog and has left its days as a working hound in the past. But just because it doesn’t have to earn its keep as a hunter anymore, it doesn’t mean that it can’t hunt, it can, and if given the chance, an Afghan Hound will pursue its prey until it catches it.
Afghans, like all pedigree breeds, aren’t exactly the most affordable dogs in the world. Depending on the bloodline of the parent dogs and the reputation of the breeder selling the puppy, an Afghan Hound can cost anywhere between one thousand and two thousand five hundred dollars.
As we said, these dogs aren’t exactly cheap, and buying one will drain your bank balance in a heartbeat.
But it doesn’t have to, and as there is a far more affordable way to give a deserving Tazi a loving home. While they don’t usually end up in the care of shelters, there are dedicated Afghan Hound rescue organizations that are always looking for people to adopt the dogs that have been signed over to them. So before you go shopping for an Afghan, give them a call as your new best friend could be waiting for you to meet him.
And as we always say, it isn’t just the rescue dog that will be eternally grateful to you if you make that call, your bank balance will be too, as it’s always more affordable to adopt a dog than it is to shop for a dog.
- Afghan Hounds aren’t just the undisputed stars of the dog show scene, they’re also stars of the silver screen and have appeared in One Hundred And One Dalmatians, Balto and Lady and The Tramp II: Scamps Adventure.
- In two thousand and five, a Korean scientist called Hwang Woo-Suk successfully cloned a dog. And that dog that he and his team of researchers managed to clone was an Afghan Hound called Snuppy.