10 Elegant Facts About the Afghan Hound
These silky hounds are bound to turn some heads. Learn more about these elegant dogs.
1. THEY'RE ONE OF THE MOST ANCIENT DOG BREEDS.
This dog breed is so old, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it originated. Legend has it that the Afghan hound was the dog rescued on Noah’s Ark. More likely, the dogs came over into Afghanistan with Alexander the Great’s army. (There are rock carvings showing the distinct-looking dogs in caves in Afghanistan to support this theory.) Many experts point to the saluki as the ancestor of the Afghan hound due to their closeness in appearance; both have been referred to as the Persian greyhound.
2. THEY WERE USED TO HUNT.
These graceful dogs might look like they were bred for a life of luxury, but originally they were used to aid hunters in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan. Once on the chase, the dogs cornered animals (such as leopards) and kept them at bay until their owners could catch up. These clever dogs are capable of hunting and thinking independently, which means they need very little direction out in the field.
3. THEY’RE AS FAST AS RACEHORSES.
The average Afghan hound can reach speeds of up to 40 mph. For comparison, that’s about as fast as a purebred racehorse. The fastest horse in the world can only reach 43.97 miles per hour.
4. IT’S ALL IN THE HIPS.
The Afghan hound is not only quick, but also incredibly agile and able to turn on a dime. Their unusual hip placement—they are higher and wider apart compared to other breeds'—allows them to make quick turns and maneuver around the uneven terrain of the Afghani mountains.
5. THEY’RE SIGHTHOUNDS.
The Afghan hound is a member of a group of slender dogs known as sighthounds. This group includes the greyhound, whippet, borzoi, and saluki. As the name suggests, they have great vision. These dogs have dolichocephalic heads, which gives them a field of vision of 270 degrees.
6. THEIR SILKY COAT DOES MORE THAN LOOK STYLISH.
The most distinctive feature of the Afghan is its long, flowing fur. The silky mane certainly looks regal, but it has a more important function: The fur keeps the dog warm even in the harsh Afghani climate.
7. PICASSO WAS INSPIRED BY HIS.
Picasso's love of dogs is well-known. In the artist’s lifetime, he kept all sorts of breeds, from terriers to poodles. He was especially close with a dachshund named Lump, but his other favorite was his Afghan hound, Kabul. Kabul appeared in many of his paintings with his wife, Jacqueline, and his statue Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center) is inspired by Jacqueline, but features the long nose of his Afghan hound.
8. BE GENTLE WITH THEM.
Afghan hounds are a sturdy breed and generally don’t have many health concerns; on average, they live to the ripe old age of 14 years. That said, they have a very low threshold for pain and will whimper at even the slightest injury. Keep that in mind while cutting your Afghan’s nails.
9. ALWAYS KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON THEM.
Afghans are sighthounds, and that means they like to run. Like other dogs in their class, if they see something they want, they will take off after it. It’s important to keep Afghan hounds in fenced-in areas or on a tight leash. It’s not uncommon for the dogs to run across the street without looking both ways.
10. THEY SMELL.
Afghan hounds are also sometimes referred to as “the scented hound.” The dogs have scent glands in their cheeks that emit a pleasant, musky odor.