The Afghan Hound was not discovered by the western world until the early 1800’s. The breed’s history before that time is somewhat unclear, although it is thought that the Afghan Hound is a descendant of the Saluki, from what at that time was Persia. It is known that Afghans were originally developed for chasing prey in the mountainous regions of its native Afghanistan (and neighboring India and Pakistan). Secondarily, Afghans did double duty as guardians for nomadic tribes and their livestock. However, they were primarily used as coursing hounds, to sight and follow mountain deer, plains antelope, foxes and hares, or whatever other animal prospered in a particular locality. Human hunters who followed behind on horseback would make the kill. Afghan Hounds were also used to bring to bay predators such as wolves, jackals, wild dogs and even snow leopards, and to flush fowl such as quail and partridge. They were prized not only for their great speed, but also for their unparalleled ability to traverse irregular and potentially hazardous terrain with stability and sure-footedness. Afghans developed extreme agility, quickness and stamina, and retain those traits today.
No one knows how old this breed truly is, but today’s Afghan Hounds are descended from a group brought to Scotland from Baluchistan, which today is a part of Pakistan, in the 1920’s. Thereafter, a number of these dogs were exported to the United States. The American Kennel Club opened its Hound Group registry to them in 1926, with the first American-bred Afghan Hound being registered in 1927. The parent club for this breed was not founded until 1937, reorganized in 1938, and then was admitted to AKC membership in 1940 as the Afghan Hound Club of America.
Overall the the Afghan Hound is a healthy dog breed, and has an average life span of 12 to 13 years. This is slightly higher than the median lifespan of purebred dogs (10 to 13 years), but equal to most breeds similar in size. Potential hereditary defects and disorders commonly found, but not necessarily found, in the Maltese are as follows:
- Allergies: Overreaction by the immune system to an allergen, which is any substance capable of inducing a reaction in that particular animal
- Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus): An extremely serious medical condition where a dog’s stomach becomes filled with gas that cannot escape.
- Cancer (Various forms): Defined as any malignant, cellular tumor.
- Cataracts: Refers to any opacity of the lens of the eye. Dogs of either gender can develop cataracts
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Primary disease of heart tissue that is characterized by cardiac enlargement
- Demodicosis Mange
- Hip Dysplasia: Involves abnormal development and/or degeneration of the coxofemoral (hip) joint
- Degenerative Myelopathy: progressively degenerative disease of the spinal cord which causes hind limb weakness and eventual paralysis