Breed Spotlight – Afghan Hound

The aristocratic and elegant Afghan Hound is an ancient breed. So ancient in fact that some professionals hold that the Afghan is the oldest of the purebred dogs. This beautiful canine’s exact place and time of origin is lost in pre-history, but the breed is thought to have originated somewhere in the lands of India, Pakistan or Afghganistan.

The Afghan belongs to the hound group known as sighthounds, meaning they rely on their vision to spot prey and then take advantage of their explosive speed to hunt it down. For this reason, the breed was the long favored hunting companion of tribal chieftains, royalty and the aristocratic class who resided in the mountainous kingdoms of Asia.

Afghans were introduced to Europe via English officers from the British Empire in the last 1800’s, and the dogs quickly became favorites of the British gentry. The breed was first registered with the AKC in 1927 but really didn’t become popular until the 1930’s.

Perhaps the most famous Afghan was a dog named Kabul, who belonged to Pablo Picasso. A sculpture of Kabul resides in Chicago’s Daley Plaza as a monument to the artist’s love for his dog. But what really cemented the Afghan’s popularity was Beauty, a “dog” belonging to Mattel toy company’s Barbie doll. Barbie and Beauty captivated the hearts of many American girls and secured the Afghan hound a permanent place in American homes.

These beautiful and elegant dogs are not for everyone, as they are naturally aloof and extremely intelligent. They also require plenty of room to exercise and run. But for the right owner, they are faithful and loyal companions. 

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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