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Honest FAQ for Afghan Hounds

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Afghan Hound

Sighthounds like the Afghan Hound have an unusual temperament. Don't choose a sighthound if you want the sweetness and doting affection of a Golden Retriever, or the loyalty and trainability of a German Shepherd.

What kind of temperament and personality does the Afghan Hound have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Afghan Hound temperament and behavior are:

blazingly fast...yet a couch potato; dignified...yet silly; loving...yet aloof; stubborn...yet sensitive.

I give you my honest opinions about Afghan Hound temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Afghan Hound Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

What were Afghan Hounds used for?

Afghan Hounds were developed as sighthounds  who used their keen vision and long legs to run down gazelles, hares, even leopards, in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan, while the huntsmen followed on horseback. These dogs have very distinctive temperaments, very UNLIKE the kinds of dogs you're probably used to.

What traits would help Afghan Hounds accomplish their work? That's right... independent thinking, keen senses, quick to notice the slightest movement, incredible speed and agility, and powerful drives to chase and grab things that run.

How big are Afghan Hounds? Height and weight?

About 24-28 inches at the shoulder, and 50-60 pounds, which puts them in the LARGE category.

What colors do Afghan Hounds come in?

Lots of beautiful colors – both solids and patterns. For example, black, cream, red, blue, black and tan, black and silver, brindle, even an exotic pattern called "domino."

How much exercise do Afghan Hounds need?

Afghan Hounds need a very specialized form of exercise. They don't care about leashed walks. Instead they need a large fenced yard, preferably open space rather than wooded, where they can gallop at top speed (without bashing into trees) for a few minutes two or three times a day. Then they're content to come inside and snooze quietly on the sofa.

A sighthound who can't stretch his legs and gallop cannot develop proper muscle tone for good physical health. Free galloping is also essential for the breed's psychological and emotional health. Remember, these dogs are speed demons and hunters at heart.

Do Afghan Hounds need a fenced yard?

Yes, preferably with a high (6 to 8 ft) fence, as these dogs are incredible jumpers. See Why a fenced yard? and best and worst fences.

Are Afghan Hounds easy to train?

Haha! No. Afghan Hounds are independent thinkers, somewhat like cats. They're very difficult to train. They have little desire to please, and many individuals aren't even motivated by food treats. They're also physically and emotionally sensitive, so although you do need to correct them for misbehavior, keep it very gentle.

Are Afghan Hounds easy to housebreak?

They're about average to housebreak.

Are Afghan Hounds friendly with people?

With their family, Afghan Hounds are loving in a sort of clownish way. With strangers, they're usually more standoffish and can even be nervous or timid. Afghan Hounds are not aggressive dogs at all.

Are Afghan Hounds good with children?

I don't recommend Afghan Hounds for children younger than about age 10, unless a child is exceptionally gentle. Sensitive sighthounds can be a bit high-strung and defensive around very young children.

Are Afghan Hounds good with other dogs?

Yes, Afghan Hounds are usually fine with other dogs. They might, however, chase dogs who are very small, which could end badly.

Are Afghan Hounds good with cats?

They're usually fine with cats in their own family. But they're sighthounds, which means they have powerful "prey" instincts, i.e. chasing and grabbing living creatures that suddenly run or flutter or move quickly.

How much do Afghan Hounds shed?

Afghan Hounds are average shedders. They shed moderately in the spring and fall, and occasionally a little hair the rest of the year.

Are Afghan Hounds hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

If you're allergic to dog dander, no. If you're allergic to canine saliva, no. Afghan Hounds are not hypoallergenic dogs.

How much grooming do Afghan Hounds need?

If you leave the silky coat long, they need a ton of brushing and combing and you need to keep the hair around their private parts trimmed or clipped short for sanitary toileting. A neglected Afghan Hound is a sorry sight, so be sure you're up to this.

Honestly, I recommend clipping their coat shorter so it stays cleaner, neater, and mat-free.

What's a good training schedule for training Afghan Hound puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Afghan Hounds: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do Afghan Hounds tend to have?

Sighthound PUPPIES are like any other puppy – they're mischievous and bumptious, bouncing on and off the furniture, jumping on people – and chewing destructively if you make the mistake of leaving them alone and loose in the house, instead of properly crated/penned.

Once they're adults, though, sighthounds don't misbehave much. Chasing behaviors are still the most obvious issue. The independence of sighthounds tends to take the form of passive resistance rather than confrontational disobedience. For example, rather than pull wildly on the leash, an Afghan Hound might simply brace his legs and refuse to walk. Here's how to handle general behavior problems.

What health problems might Afghan Hounds have?

Unless your fences are 6-8 feet high, these athletic dogs can jump over, chase something, and end up hit by a car. Unless your vet understands that sighthounds have low body fat, your Afghan Hound may end up being overdosed by medications or anesthetics.

Then there are eye diseases such as severe cataracts, which often lead to blindness. Thyroid disease (low thyroid levels) might need a daily thyroid supplement.

What breeds are similar to the Afghan Hound?

Other sighthounds, like the Saluki or Borzoi. If you would prefer a sighthound that is more active, more responsive, and more trainable than an Afghan Hound, consider a Silken Windhound (developed from crossing Borzois with Whippets) or a Lurcher (developed from crossing Greyhounds with Whippets or Coonhounds or another hunting-type dog).

The most trainable sighthound of all? Whippets.

Where can I buy an Afghan Hound puppy?

From a show breeder is best. Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older Afghan Hound?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new Afghan Hound. Which pages should I read first?

  • Afghan Hound Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Afghan Hound puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training Afghan Hounds, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Afghan Hound puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Afghan Hounds have pros and cons, and female Afghan Hounds have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable Afghan Hound puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible Afghan Hound breeder would ever place one of their Afghan Hound puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best Afghan Hound puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Afghan Hounds?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my Afghan Hound to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Afghan Hound until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Afghan Hound, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about Afghan Hounds that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my free online books.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

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