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|Afghan Hound general features, temperament, health|
Breed: The Afghan Hound is an ancient breed. There is no doubt that it represents one of the branches of the so-called Eastern Sighthounds, who's habitat was once very wide. But since the Europeans first met the Afghan Hounds in Afghanistan, it is this country (rightly or wrongly) considered to be the birthplace of the breed. It should be noted that the closest relatives of the Afghan hound - the Persian Sighthound (Saluki) and Arabian Sighthound (Slugi) - are similar to him in appearance.
Very close to the original type of the Afgan Hound is Banjara (the Indian Sighthound), Kyrgyz Sighthound - Taigan and Central Asian - Tazi. By the way, Afghan hounds in their homeland, as well as the Saluki is called "Tazi", what, in one of the translations from the Persian language, means "quick, someone who runs." On the other hand, there is a version that this name is derived from the ancient city of Ta'izz in Yemen. Or maybe, it is related to another ancient city - Tazi, that is mentioned in the Afghan legend. The Sultan, who ruled from 999 to 1030, dedicated the city to the Afghan Hounds in memory of their assistance in repelling the invasion of the Indians.
The "special" origin of the Sighthounds is reflected in the Muslim religion, in principle, considering dogs as "unclean animals". But Islam originated among nomadic people for whom hunting with the Sighthounds was crucial. Therefore, "Tazi", unlike the other dogs, were considered "clean animals", but with the utilitarian attitude: the old and sick dogs that were unsuitable for hunting were ruthlessly destroyed.
There should be mentioned, that Islam forbids to depict people and animals, so there is no documentary evidence left about the early history of the Afghan Hound. Some researchers, basing on a number of behavioral characteristics of Afghan Hounds, which are not typical for the Sighthounds, suggest that the Afghan Hound was formed by mating Saluki type hounds and the long-haired sheep dogs. In Afghan Hounds, brought directly from their homeland, there is still the desire to run circles around the flock, urging straggled animals like a sheep dog. It is known that in addition to hunting, the mountain Afghan bitches were used for herding the cattle and males - for guarding and protection.
The first Afghan Hounds, that came to Europe more than a hundred years ago, were very different from the modern "western" population of a breed known under the name "Afghan". Diverse aboriginal Afghan Hounds can still be found in Afghanistan and surrounding areas. In the southern and western desert regions the Afghan hounds are shorthair, mostly light-colored, medium-sized, lightweight, similar to the Saluki, with the covering coats slightly developed. In the northern mountainous regions Afghan hounds have more thick, long and soft coats (although the well "dressed" Sighthounds are found in the other places), are darker than the "desert" hounds in color. "Mountain" Sighthounds are relatively small in size, big-boned, square format, with powerful hind limbs, somewhat displaced below the body line and well angulated. (These features allow the dog to maneuver at high speed in the mountains in contrast to the European hounds, adapted exclusively for the races after beast of the fields).
In 1962 the newspaper "Kabul Times" said that the breed is most common in the south-west of Afghanistan - in Kandahar, Griskh and Farah, and is represented by the following main types: Bakhmul - with soft long hair on the ears and body, Luczak - with the short hair and Kalagh - with the long silky hair on their ears and legs. Traditionally, the Afghan Hounds at home were used to hunt the mountain deer, plain antelopes, hares, wolves, jackals, wild dogs and snow leopards. Dogs were usually paired - male and female, sometimes in conjunction with the trained falcons. Afghan Hound successfully raises the quails and partridges, gets marmots and other rodents. Returning to England from the Indo-Afghan war, the British officers carried with them different types of dogs that marked the developing of the breed in the same sense, as we understand it today. Zardin was a prototype of all modern Afghan Hounds.
In 1907, Captain John Barff came to Britain from India and brought a dog named Zardin, who later became famous. Zardin made a splash at the exhibition in India, and then scored 55 more victories! The Queen wished that the dog was presented to her at the Buckingham Palace.
Finally Zardin was bought by the London animal trader, and the dog disappeared without a trace. It is known that Zardin had puppies but without any papers, so in the pedigrees of modern dogs his name is not found. In 1925, the description of Zardin (published in 1906 in the newspaper of the Indian Kennel Club), served as a model for developing the first standard of the Afghan Hound, and in the UK was opened the club of the breed. Standard remained in use until 1947. After that, it was repeatedly revised, but the effect of Zardin is felt in the modern editions of the standard.
General Features: The Afghan Hound is an elegant dog with a noble head, quite large in size (up to 75 cm), with dark, almond-shaped eyes, silky coat, with his tail curved in the form of a ring on the end. Along the neck and back there must be a "saddle" - one of the main features of the breed. The hair on the "saddle" is short, taut, tight. Typically, a saddle is darker in color. The head of Afghan Hound is not very narrow, with the prominent occipital protuberance. Nose is big, black. Hanging ears are long, well-feathered. The tail does not have much hair and the texture of the hair on the tail is different - longer and coarser. Strong, long, muscular neck gives this dog a proud look. Chest is deep, fairly broad front, but not barrel shaped. A strong back, high withers, strong loin, hind limbs with a well angulated, strong muscles of the body allow the Afghan Hound to develop a great speed (up to 50 km per hour) while chasing the beast. Hunting in the mountains developed in the the Afghan Hound the ability to maneuver while maintaining speed.
Afghan Hounds are fully developing relatively late, well preserving a good shape till the old age. Keeping this in mind, it is recommended to train their hunting skills at the age of at least a year. In Afghanistan this dogs are brought up so that they easily catch up with the victim without killing it, but keeping it until the hunter will reach the place. The Afghan hounds on hunting have an amazing durability and ability to recuperate. Character of this breed is independent. The Afghan Hound is quite reserved with everybody, but very affectionate and devoted to his master.
Temperament: The nature of the Afghan Hound as well as his looks, have changed dramatically during the period of show selection. In the past he was a hunter, and quite angry. And it is known that the first British Afghan Hounds were quite aggressive. Up to the 50th in the same litter there could be seen aggressive and cowardly - aggressive dogs. To end this, breeders have become very careful with the nature of dogs: from the breeding were automatically excluded the unmanageable Afghan Hounds with a sharp temper. The modern Afghan Hounds have become more friendly and calm, they are tolerant with the other dogs, they allow people to touch them and brush them. The Afghan Hound is protecting only his own territory - a place at the exhibition, the house where he lives and the yard. Any unwanted guests will be warned by the growling or low barking, Afghan may even attack and bite the person, but he will not pursue him if he leaves the "properties". Despite his impressive size, the Afghan Hound is a silent and quiet dog, he is practically not noticeable in the house.
Afghan Hound give an impression of a cold and unsociable creature. Indeed, he is very reserved with strangers, not paying attention to them. Like all Eastern Sighthounds, the Afghan Hound always values his independence. Outwardly, even with the owner he is not too emotional, though strongly attached to him, and during the long separation from the master he becomes "lost".
The Afghan Hound is intelligent, observant, he has an excellent memory, he is able to learn a lot. But to make the Afghan Hound to obey is quite difficult. Afghan Hounds grow slowly, becoming mentally an adult only to six - seven years. It is noticed that they are more willing to obey to the children than to adults. Afghan Hound is getting used easily to life in the city or in the countryside, he loves to stretch out comfortably on cushions and must live with the owner, because if he will be constantly kept in the yard, he will loose his luxurious look.
Afghan can not stand being alone, for the normal development and well-being he needs a society of people and animals. On walks with the Afghan Hound the owner should always remember about his love for freedom and hunting instinct: he will use any chance to chase domestic and wild animals. Keen eyesight allows the Afghan Hound to monitor moving objects at a great distance, he sees a flying bird or a plane in the sky. On the run Afghan does not lower his head, as it does, for example, the Greyhound. It is rather typical situation where the Afghan running does not seem to hear the cries of his owner, and up until he reaches the intended target, he is deaf to all appeals. But after "winning" the dog slowly comes back.
Cars on the road are very dangerous for Afghan, because he is not afraid of rushing him masses. The sense of smell and memory for odors in Afghan are very well developed: he may recognize familiar people and dogs over the years. It seems that the sounds are not playing an important role in the life of Afghan Hound, but for the vibrations he is reacting very sensitively. Afghan, being guided by familiar smells and objects, is perfectly oriented. No matter how long he was running, he never forgets where is his master or his house. Therefore, for the "lost" Afghan it is better to wait at the spot where he had gone, or at home.
Health problems: Generally the Afghan Hounds are very healthy dogs. But it should be noted that, like most of a Sighthounds, they are very sensitive to the anesthesia. Also some Afghan Hounds are prone to the allergies.