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Afghan Hound
Afghan Hound in light cream coat
Other names
  • Tazi
Height Dogs 61–73 cm (24–29 in)
Weight Dogs 20–27 kg (44–60 lb)
Coat Long and fine
  • Fawn
  • Gold
  • Brindle
  • White
  • Red
  • Cream
  • Blue
  • Gray
  • Tricolour
Litter size 6–8 puppies
Life span 13–17 years
Kennel club standards
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Afghan Hound is a Hound distinguished by its thick, fine, silky coat, and a tail with a ring curl at the end. The breed is selectively bred for its unique features in the cold mountains of Afghanistan. Its local name is Tāžī Spay (Pashto: تاژي سپی) or Sag-e Tāzī (Dari: سگ تازی). Other names for this breed are Tāzī, Balkh Hound, Baluchi Hound, Barakzai Hound, Shalgar Hound, Kabul Hound, Galanday Hound or sometimes incorrectly African Hound. As with other sighthounds, they have the ability to run fast and turn well.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the breed as among the most eye-catching of all. The Afghan Hound is an "aloof and dignified aristocrat of sublime beauty." Despite their regal appearance, the Afghan possesses an "endearing streak of silliness and a profound loyalty."[1]

Admired since ancient times for their beauty, the Afghan Hound's distinctive coat has purpose for the breed. Its shag was developed as protection from the harsh montane climate. Their huge paw-pads served as shock absorbers on the rocky terrain.[2]


The Afghan Hound has been identified as a basal breed that predates the emergence of the modern breeds in the 19th century. It is most closely related to the Saluki.[3]

The Afghan Hound depicted on a postage stamp from Afghanistan (1962)

Connections with other types and breeds from the same area may provide clues to the history. A name for a desert coursing Afghan Hound, Tazi (Sag-e-Tazi), suggests a shared ancestry with the very similar Tasy breed from the Caspian Sea area of Russia and Turkmenistan. Other types or breeds of similar appearance are the Taigan from the mountainous Tian Shan region on the Chinese border of Afghanistan, and the Barakzay, or Kurram Valley Hound.[citation needed]

There are at least 13 types known in Afghanistan,[4] and some are being developed (through breeding and record keeping) into modern purebred breeds.[5]

Once out of Afghanistan, the history of the Afghan Hound breed became entwined with that of the very earliest dog shows and the Kennel Club (UK). Various sighthounds were brought to England in the 1800s by army officers returning from British India and were exhibited at dog shows, which were then just becoming popular, under various names, such as Barukzy hounds.[4] They were also called "Persian Greyhounds" by the English, in reference to their own indigenous sighthound.

One dog in particular, Zardin, was brought in 1907 from India by Captain John Barff.[6] Zardin became the early ideal for the breed type still referred to as the Persian Greyhound. Zardin was the basis of the writing for the first breed standard in 1912, but this breeding cycle was stopped by World War I.[4]

Young dog. Many individuals have a black facial mask.
Light cream coated Afghan Hound
Afghan Hound in the ring

Out of the longhaired sighthound types known in Afghanistan, two main strains make up the modern Afghan Hound breed. The first were a group of hounds brought to Scotland from Balochistan by Major and Mrs. G. Bell-Murray and Miss Jean C. Manson in 1920, and they are known as the Bell-Murray strain.[7] These dogs were of the lowland or steppe type and are less heavily coated.

The second strain was a group of dogs from a kennel in Kabul owned by Mrs. Mary Amps, which she shipped to England in 1925. She and her husband came to Kabul after the Afghan war in 1919, and the foundation sire of her kennel (named Ghazni) in Kabul was a dog that closely resembled Zardin. Her Ghazni strain were the more heavily coated mountain type. Most of the Afghans in the United States were developed from the Ghazni strain from England. The first Afghans in Australia were imported from the United States in 1934, also of the Ghazni strain.[8] The French breed club was formed in 1939 (FALAPA). The mountain and steppe strains became mixed into the modern Afghan Hound breed, and a new standard was written in 1948, which is still used today.

The Afghan Hound can also come with a much more "patterned" coat. This descends from the Bell-Murray's and the Ghazni lines, and is displayed in much lighter feathering of coat, deeper saddle (often actually looking like a saddle) and much shorter hair on the face and neck. It is believed that these particular Afghan Hounds were a product of much hotter parts of the country.[9]

The beauty of Afghan Hound dogs caused them to become highly desirable show dogs and pets, and they are recognised by all of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world. One of the Amps Ghazni, Sirdar, won BIS at Crufts in 1928 and 1930. An Afghan Hound was featured on the cover of Life Magazine, November 26, 1945. Afghan Hounds were the most popular in Australia in the 1970s, and won most of the major shows.[8] An Afghan Hound won Best in Show (BIS) at the 1996 World Dog Show in Budapest.[10] Afghan Hounds were BIS at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1957 and again in 1983.[11] That win also marked the most recent win at Westminster for breeder-owner-handler, Chris Terrell.[12]

The Afghan Hound breed is no longer used for hunting, although it can be seen in the sport of lure coursing.[13]

On August 3, 2005, Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk announced that his team of researchers had become the first team to successfully clone a dog, an Afghan Hound named Snuppy. In 2006 Hwang Woo-Suk was dismissed from his university position for fabricating data in his research. Snuppy, nonetheless, was a genuine clone, and thus the first cloned dog in history.[14]


This Afghan hound is black and brindle; however, the photo shows it with a reddish tinge to the coat, which can occur in a black-coated dog.
A fully coated Afghan Hound

The dogs in this breed occur in many different coat colors. A study that mapped the genes of Afghan Hounds and discussed the effect of genes on coat colour in the breed was published in the Journal of Heredity in 2010.[15]

The Afghan Hound is tall, standing in height 61–74 cm (24–29 in) and weighing 20–27 kg (44–60 lb). The coat may be any colour, but white markings, particularly on the head, are discouraged; many individuals have a black facial mask. A specimen may have facial hair that looks like a Fu Manchu mustache, sometimes called "mandarins". Some Afghan Hounds are almost white, but parti-color hounds (white with islands of red or black) are penalized in the AKC standard, but not by the FCI.

Their long, fine-textured coat requires considerable care and grooming. The long topknot and the shorter-haired saddle on the back of the dog are distinctive features of the Afghan Hound coat. The high hipbones and unique small ring on the end of the tail are also characteristics of the breed.

The temperament of the typical Afghan Hound can be aloof and dignified, but happy and clownish when playing. This breed, as is the case with many sighthounds, has a high prey drive and may not get along with small animals. The Afghan Hound can be a successful competitor in dog agility trials as well as an intuitive therapy dog and companion. Genomic studies have pointed to the Afghan Hound as one of the oldest of dog breeds.[16]

The breed has a reputation among dog trainers of having a relatively slow "obedience intelligence"; Stanley Coren, in his book The Intelligence of Dogs, ranked the breed last among 138 breeds mentioned in ability to understand and obey commands, requiring more than 80 repetitions to understand a new command and obeying on the first command less than 25% of the time. Coren noted that Afghan Hounds were consistently ranked among the least obedient dog breeds among all of the trainers he consulted, with a majority (121 out of 199) ranking the Afghan Hound in the lowest ten breeds out of 133 listed.[17]

Although seldom used today for hunting in Europe and America, where they are popular, Afghan Hounds are frequent participants in lure coursing events and are also popular in the sport of conformation showing.


Afghan Hound dark coat

The Khalag Tazi is a variety of the Afghan Hound introduced to Europe in 1920, when an Indian Army officer, Major G Bell-Murray, brought some animals back from Afghanistan.[18] "Tazi" is a current and ancient name for hunting dogs of the sighthound type in Western Asia. It has been used to denote the Saluki, Afghan, Taigan, Persian Greyhound, greyhound types of hound.



Bakhmull (also Bakhmull Tazi or Tazi Bakhmull, also called the Aboriginal Afghan Hound) is a long-haired variety of sighthound. It has been bred mostly in Russia and claimed to represent an Afghan Hound aboriginal to Afghanistan. In Pashto the word bakhmull means "velvet", applied in reference to the dog's silky coat, which is rather abundant and long on the whole body, except the "saddle" (middle to lower back), front parts of all four legs, and the muzzle. Its color is always fawn, ivory, or white, with a darker "saddle", thus it produces an impression of a (yellowish) dog whose coat color matches the khaki sandstone and limestone of the Hindu Kush mountain landscape and deserts. The following colors are not permissible: red, red with white spots, black, and black with white spots.

Since the 1980s, the centre of Bakhmull breeding has been Russia, beginning in Moscow, then spreading to various other places in the CIS. The foundation stock was brought to Russia in the 1970s by military men returning from Afghanistan. Natalia Gherasiova (a breeder, of the Blue Dale el Bark Bakhmull kennel, and dog show judge) established the National Bakhmull Club,[19] affiliated with the Russian Federation for Hunting Dogs (RFOS) and Russian Kynological Federation (RKF). A breed standard was first published in 1985, and a shared RFOS–RKF revision was produced in 1997.[20]

Bakhmulls hunt solo and in couples. Although its coat is long, it does not require much grooming. Paws are well protected from injuries by "feathering" (thick additional paw fur). Its long, velvety coat and its stamina makes more suitable than many breeds for harsh weather. The breed standard calls for "aristocratic gait and a beautiful head with gazelle-like ... eyes". The eyes should be large, brown, slanting upwards, and of almond shape, with rims outlined black. Black coloration is required on the nose and lips for both white and fawn bakhmulls. The dog's height should be between 68–73 centimetres (27–29 in), 65–70 centimetres (26–28 in) for bitches. The height at the withers is 3–4 centimetres (1.2–1.6 in) higher than at the croup.

Closely related breeds

The Saluki is a breed with ancient origins (though its establishment as a standardised breed was primarily carried out in the United Kingdom and Germany) and is the most closely related to the Afghan Hound[3] out of modern and internationally accepted breeds. The Sloughi, with a name of the same derivation, is primarily of North African stock and is a separate breed.



In various surveys conducted within the UK, Afghan Hounds were shown to have an average lifespan of about 12 years,[21] similar to other breeds of their size. In the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the most common causes of death were cancer (31%), old age (20%), cardiac (10.5%), and urologic (5%). Those that died of old age had a median lifespan of 12 years, with 12% living to at least 14.[22]

Health concerns

Major health issues are allergies, cancer, and hip dysplasia (not typical of bakhmulls). Sensitivity to anesthesia is an issue the Afghan Hound shares with the rest of the sighthound group, as sighthounds have relatively low levels of body fat. Afghan Hounds are also among the dog breeds most likely to develop chylothorax, a rare condition which causes the thoracic ducts to leak, allowing large quantities of chyle fluid to enter the dog's chest cavity.[23][24] This condition commonly results in a lung-lobe torsion (in which the dog's lung twists within the chest cavity, requiring emergency surgery), due to the breed's typically deep, "barrel"-shaped chest. If not corrected through surgery, chylothorax can ultimately cause fibrosing pleuritis, or a hardening of the organs, due to scar tissue forming around the organs to protect them from the chyle fluid. Chylothorax is often fatal.[25]

Among other health problems are laryngeal paralysis, dilated cardiomyopathy (twice as common in males as females), and dermatological issues such as testosterone-responsive dermatosis of male dogs (often seen in castrated males), nasal depigmentation (also known as Dudley nose), and skin tumours. Afghans are also prone to Central diabetes insipidus (CDI), hypothyroidism and tricholemmoma, a rare condition which mainly affects older dogs in the Middle Ages.[26] Ocular conditions that can occur include medial canthal pocket syndrome (breed predisposition due to shape of head), corneal dystrophy, cataract and generalized progressive retinal atrophy (GPRA). Afghan myelopathy (causing pelvic limb ataxia) is sometimes reported.[26]

In popular culture

The Chicago Picasso, 1967, by Pablo Picasso, represents the head of an Afghan Hound

Pablo Picasso said that his 1967 statue located in Chicago's Daley Plaza represented the head of an Afghan Hound named Kabul. [27]

The Afghan hound has been represented in multiple animated feature films and TV shows, including Universal Pictures' Balto (Sylvie), Disney's Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (Ruby) and Hasbro Studios's Pound Puppies (Twiggy). An Afghan hound also appeared in the movies One Hundred and One Dalmatians, 101 Dalmatians, 102 Dalmatians, and 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure. Other examples include Prince Amir of Kinjan from What-a-Mess, Persia from Road Rovers, Burt from Foofur, and Brainy Barker from Krypto the Superdog. Malory Archer in the show Archer also had an Afghan hound named Duchess at some point in her childhood.

In the 1941 novel Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf uses an Afghan hound named Sohrab to represent aspects of one of the book's human characters.[28]

The Afghan Hound features prominently in the avant-garde music video of popular French band M83's, "Set in Stone (M83 Remix)".[29]

An Afghan Hound was also featured on the cover of the 1967 (45 rpm) single "Have Some More Tea/Victor Henry's Cool Book" by British psychedelic rock band The Smoke.

See also


  1. ^ "Afghan Hound - Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  2. ^ "Afghan Hound - Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  3. ^ a b Parker, Heidi G.; et al. (2004). "Genetic structure of the purebred domestic dog". Science. 304 (5674): 1160–1164, p. 1161 and fig. 2. Bibcode:2004Sci...304.1160P. doi:10.1126/science.1097406. PMID 15155949. S2CID 43772173.
  4. ^ a b c "Historie afgánského chrta" [History of the Afghan Hound] (in Czech). Archived from the original on March 4, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
  5. ^ "List of Rare Sighthounds". May 18, 2000. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
  6. ^ "Afghan Hound Art and Antics". Afghan Hound Times.
  7. ^ "History | The Afghan Hound Association". Archived from the original on 2014-07-23.
  8. ^ a b Haymann, Franck (5 May 2006). "Afghan Hound, From The Streets Of Kabul To The Main Rings Of The World". Chien. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008.
  9. ^ Niblock, Margaret (1980). The Afghan hound : a definitive study. Arco Pub. ISBN 0668049340.
  10. ^ "Facts About Afghan Hounds". Doglime. March 5, 2019.
  11. ^ "Best In Show Winners". The Westminster Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 2007-12-25. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
  12. ^ "CJ: Best in show at Westminster and a dream four decades in the making". 17 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Afghan Hound Lure Coursing". Archived from the original on 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-09-24.
  14. ^ Palca, Joe (August 3, 2005). "Meet Snuppy, the World's First Cloned Dog". NPR. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
  15. ^ "Afghan Coat Color Genetics" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-06-04.
  16. ^ Savolainen, P.; et al. (2002). "Genetic Evidence for an East Asian Origin of Domestic Dogs". Science. 298 (5598): 1610–1613. Bibcode:2002Sci...298.1610S. doi:10.1126/science.1073906. PMID 12446907. S2CID 32583311.
  17. ^ Stanley Coren (July 15, 2009). "Canine Intelligence—Breed Does Matter". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  18. ^ "Afghan Controversy: What is the correct type?"; Afghan Hound Times Archived July 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Бакхмуль - Афганская Аборигенная Борзая". (in Russian). Retrieved 18 September 2017.[self-published source]
  20. ^ "Бакхмуль - Афганская Аборигенная Борзая". Russian Federation for Hunting Dogs / Russian Kynological Federation – via
  21. ^ "How Long Will Your Dog Live".
  22. ^ Evans, Katy M.; Adams, Vicki J.; Sampson, Jeff (August 2008). "Extended results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for Afghan Hounds" (PDF). The Kennel Club and the Animal Health Trust. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 April 2015.
  23. ^ Fossum, T.W.; Birchard, S.J.; Jacobs, R.M. (1986). "Chylothorax in 34 dogs". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 188 (11): 1315–1318. PMID 3721989.
  24. ^ "Afghan Hound". Aubrey Animal Medical Center. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016.
  25. ^ Laudermilch, Eileen (1996). ""Chylo….What?" Chylothorax in the Afghan Hound". Afghan Hound Review. No. Sept/Oct.
  26. ^ a b Gough, Thomas (2008). Breed predispositions to disease in dogs and cats. Oxford, UK: Wiley. pp. 11–12. ISBN 9780470690802. OCLC 232611746.
  27. ^ Coren, Stanley. "Muse and mascot: the artist's life-long love affair with his canine companions". Modern Dog. Archived from the original.
  28. ^ The Philosophy of Virginia Woolf: A Philosophical Reading of the Mature Novels By A. O. Frank Published by Akademiai Kiado, 2001 ISBN 963-05-7850-6, 978-963-05-7850-9 165 pages, pg. 151
  29. ^ Lessner, Matthew (2010). "Fires of Rome - Set In Stone (M83 Remix)". Run Productions. Archived from the original on April 18, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2012.

Further reading