What to Know About Afghan Hounds

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on June 25, 2022
7 min read

Originating in the mountains of Afghanistan, Afghan hounds (also called Tāzīs or Balkh hounds and formerly called Persian Greyhounds) are an ancient, elegant sighthound breed. Tall dogs with striking long coats of silky, pin-straight hair, Afghan hounds are often considered among the most glamorous of all dogs, attracting the attention of celebrities such as painters Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, actor Gary Cooper, and singer Marianne Faithfull. Even Mattel's iconic Barbie has an Afghan hound for a pet — Beauty. 

Their appearance is so unique that an Afghan hound was chosen to be the world's first cloned dog. Researchers thought the Afghan hound's distinctive appearance would make it easy to distinguish a cloned puppy from the natural offspring of the surrogate mother, a golden retriever. The cloned Afghan hound, Snuppy, was born in 2005. Snuppy was dubbed the "most amazing invention of 2005" by Time Magazine.

Like Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, and other sighthounds, Afghan hounds are tall and slender with long, narrow faces and a curved waist. Afghan hounds are most well known for their distinctive coat, which is very long, silky, and fine with a top knot. The fur on their ears and feet is shorter, with a feathered appearance. Afghan hound tails are upright and curl toward their backs. 

Afghan Hound Size

Afghan hounds are medium-large dogs, averaging 25 to 27 inches in height and 50 to 60 pounds in weight. 

Afghan Hound Personality

Afghan hounds have personalities that match their regal appearance — they are dignified and intelligent. Afghan hounds are also extremely loyal to their owners. While they're eager to please, they're exceptionally strong-minded and can be difficult to train

While they have a noble demeanor, Afghan hounds are high-energy dogs that can be very playful, and they typically enjoy being silly with their owners.

Afghan hounds are not low-maintenance dogs and are best for an experienced dog owner. While Afghan hound puppies have short, low-maintenance coats, an adolescent or adult Afghan hound requires a lot of grooming. As sighthounds, Afghan hounds are also high-energy, agile dogs who need a significant amount of physical and mental stimulation.

Afghan Hound Grooming

Afghan hound bathing is a production. An Afghan hound needs to be bathed and groomed twice a week. Dog-friendly shampoo should be worked carefully through the Afghan hound's coat, not scrubbed in. Rinse until the water runs clear, then apply a cream rinse and follow the package directions, and then apply a dog-safe oil-conditioner mixture. You can make this mix at home by mixing half a cup of oil and half a cup of rinse cream in a gallon of water.

Excess water can be patted off with a towel, but their coat shouldn't be rubbed. Many owners let their Afghan hounds drip dry for an hour on towels before using a hairdryer. A standing hairdryer can be a good investment for Afghan hound care, as drying is a long and labor-intensive process. 

When drying your Afghan hound, brush and dry their coat in the direction you'd like it to fall. Always brush Afghan hounds when they are wet and freshly bathed, as brushing dry or dirty fur can damage their coat. Afghan hounds require several hours of brushing every week to keep their hair clean and free of debris, tangles, and mats.

If your Afghan hound's coat gets matted, carefully untangle the mats after bathing and conditioning. A dog who has been de-matted should be bathed and groomed again sometime in the next 48 hours to remove any loose hair and provide extra conditioning to any damaged sections of the coat.

Like other dogs, Afghan hounds need regular nail trims and dental care. Their teeth should be brushed daily with dog-friendly toothpaste. Nails should be trimmed before they touch the ground when walking — if your Afghan hound's nails are clicking when they walk on a hard surface, they're due for a nail trim.

You should give your Afghan hound a tick and flea preventative. Tick and flea preventative products are available in chewables, sprays, topical treatments, powders, and flea prevention collars, both over-the-counter and by prescription. Talk to your vet if you have any questions about how to choose a flea and tick preventative product.

Afghan Hound Exercise

Like all sighthounds, Afghan hounds have a high prey drive and love to run and chase. Daily walks are not enough exercise for this active breed — they need a fenced area to run in as well as long, leashed walks or runs and plenty of active playtime. At least 2 hours of exercise a day is best for an Afghan hound's mental and physical well-being.

Afghan Hound Training

Afghan hound intelligence is hotly debated due to their difficulty to train, but most Afghan owners will tell you that their dogs are smart as a whip and stubborn as a mule. Afghan hounds are strong-willed and require consistent firm-but-fair training. Keep in mind, though, that no amount of training will override an Afghan hound's strong prey drive, so it's important to have your Afghan hound leashed or in a fenced area at all times. 

Afghan Hound Medical Care

Like all dog breeds, Afghan hounds need regular veterinary care. Afghan hounds should visit the vet every 3 to 4 weeks as puppies and annually after 1 year of age. 

Like all dogs, Afghan hounds need standard core vaccines, and some will need noncore vaccines. Your vet may give noncore vaccines if your dog has a higher exposure risk. Talk to your vet to decide if your Afghan hound needs any noncore vaccines.

Core vaccines include: 

Noncore vaccines include:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Borrelia burgdorferi/Lyme disease
  • Leptospira bacteria

You should give your Afghan Hound a heartworm prevention medication regularly. Heartworms are a potentially deadly parasitic infection that's spread through mosquito bites. Puppies are typically started on a heartworm preventative by 8 weeks of age. Heartworm preventatives are prescription medications that come in oral or topical forms. Your vet can help you choose which prescription is right for your Afghan hound.

Afghan hounds are prone to several conditions affecting deep-chested dogs or large dogs, including:

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus
Deep-chested dogs like Afghan hounds are susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), a complication of bloat. When these dogs get bloated, their stomach can rotate inside their body, cutting off circulation to the stomach. This is an emergency situation that is fatal if not treated quickly.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Drooling
  • Retching without vomiting
  • Signs of distress, such as excessive panting, lip-licking, or restlessness

Be alert, as symptoms can be mild and mistaken for indigestion. 

Factors that may increase the risk of bloat include:

  • Feeding only one meal a day
  • Eating rapidly
  • Being underweight
  • A family history of bloat


Typically caused by inflammation or shrinkage of the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism is a condition where your Afghan hound's thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones. Symptoms include:

If you suspect hypothyroidism in your Afghan hound, your veterinarian can make a diagnosis with a blood test. 

Hypothyroidism is treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone given in pill form. This medication will need to be given for the rest of your dog's life.

Hereditary Necrotizing Myelopathy

Hereditary necrotizing myelopathy (ENM) is a degenerative disease that affects the spinal cord. ENM results in paralysis and death, and unfortunately, there's currently no treatment or cure. Early signs such as shuffling and loss of coordination can typically be seen between three and 12 months old.


Panosteitis is a painful inflammatory musculoskeletal disorder that most often occurs in young dogs between five and 18 months old. Symptoms include:

While there's no cure for panosteitis, most cases resolve on their own. Your veterinarian will help you manage your Afghan hound's symptoms and may recommend starting your dog on a pain medication such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) as well as a specialized diet.

Due to their low body fat, sighthounds like Afghan hounds can be sensitive to anesthesia and need an experienced veterinarian for surgical procedures. 

Afghan Hounds Are Allergy-Friendly. Even though Afghan hounds have a long coat, they cause fewer allergy symptoms than many other breeds and can be a good choice for people who have allergic reactions to dogs.

Afghan Hounds Are Fast and Agile Hunters. As sighthounds, Afghan hounds have been bred for speed and agility and have a high prey drive. They can be difficult dogs to control, so walking an Afghan hound off-leash is not recommended. Additionally, they can jump a considerable height, so they need to be kept in a high-fenced area for recreation. Due to their instinct to chase prey, they aren't a good fit for houses with small animals such as rabbits or guinea pigs.

Afghan Hounds Are Loyal. Loyalty is one of the most reported features of an Afghan hound temperament. They form close, affectionate bonds with their owners. While this can be a desirable trait for a house dog, it can make it very difficult for an Afghan hound if they need to be rehomed for any reason. Consider whether or not you're likely to be able to take care of an Afghan hound for their entire life before choosing this breed.

Afghan hounds are an ancient breed that pre-dates written history — legend even says that this breed represented dogs on Noah’s Ark. 

Like most sighthounds, Afghan hounds likely orginated in Central Asia or the Middle East. Afghan hounds were imported to England by soldiers at the turn of the 20th century. 

Britian took interest in the Afghan hounds’ distinctive appearance — one hound, Zardin, was even invited to Buckingham Palace by Queen Alexandra — and Afghan hounds were imported in greater numbers after World War I.