Afghan Hound Care and Training

CONGRATULATIONS! You have just become the proud owner of one of the worlds most beautiful and elegant breeds of dog - the Afghan Hound.

It was near Jebel Musa or the Mountains of Moses, on the peninsula called Sinia, between the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba, that the breed known as the Afghan Hound first became a recognized type of dog. This place, long held sacred by Hebrew and Christian alike, was part of ancient Egypt when the Afghan Hound's existence was first mentioned on a papyrus.

The document, which forms the cornerstone of the history of the Afghan Hound, is from the period 3000 TO 4000 BC, and mentions the dog so often that there is little doubt of the afghans existence at this time. According to Major Blackstone, an English authority on the Quities who made the translation, the Afghan called CYNOCEPHALUS, which literally translates as baboon or freely translates as monkey-faced hound. This is the meaning that Major Blackstone ascribes to it, for illustrations of the dog found on the tombs of the time offer convincing proof that even then, the Afghan Hound's head was suggestive of the baboon.

The Afghan Hound was the subject of mention in a valuable document of the times. This is tantamount to saying that he was accepted by royalty and his value as a hunting dog of rare ability was renowned. Development must have progressed systematically under the desert sheiks and although they left no stud books, there can be little doubt of the purity of his line for several thousand years. At first, it probably was a matter of selective breeding, breeding that was as successful as its modern, scientific counterpart.

The tombs on which the Afghan appears are in the Valley of the Nile. So it is inferred that, the hound, arrived in the entourage of a sheik or as a regal present to Memphis. His first appearance at the palace must have occasioned a stir and there is no doubt that an Egyptian princess claimed him as her pet and applied to him the nickname, "MONKEY FACE."

Considering the turbulent history of Egypt and the nature of the Afghan Hound it is not unusual that the archeologists could not find any trace of the dog itself when they unearthed the evidence that it had existed in Egypt and came from the Sinai. He is not a dog that would have prospered in urban surroundings, only the royal and the wealthy in a land such as Egypt could have maintained him.

Just when the breed became established in the hill country of the northern part of Afghanistan may remain a mystery for a long time. The question why no trace of the Hound were found in Arabia or Persia, across which it would have to travel, may never be answered.

The modern history of the Afghan Hound dates from World War I. It arrived in England in the company of returning British army officers and since then has become the rage across the Atlantic. British officers were also responsible for the spread of the Afghan into India, Persia and Arabia. The Afghan is the dog most favoured for hunting Leopard and in coursing gazelle and hare.

While the Egyptian origin of the breed is well founded, there is little doubt that Afghanistan had made the greatest contributions to the development of the breed. Bred in mountainous terrain and living throughout the ages at high elevations where the winters are especially severe, the Afghan Hound has defied any change in its distinguishing characteristics. Its coat is of fine textured, thick, silky hair that stands off the body. The hindquarters, flanks, ribs and forequarters are well covered and the pendulous ears and the four legs are well feathered. The hair on the legs is full on the sides and extends right down to the feet. The Afghan Hound also has a topknot of silky, long hair.

While the tail is set low, the tail carriage is high. The high tail carriage emphasized in Afghanistan as the hounds hunt so much in thickets that it is only by watching the tails that the movement of the dogs is detectable. Another distinguishing point of the Afghan is the assembly of the hip bones. These are considerably higher than on the ordinary dog and set much wider apart. These unique hip bones make it possible for the Afghan to negotiate hilly country and uneven ground with ease and give him a motion like that of a monkey. Built in this manner, he turns easily and gets tremendous power into his leaps.

The Afghan hunts by sight and while he possess great speed, he is not as fast on the flat as other hound varieties. Yet, the Afghan knows no equal as a hurdle racer. Used for countless centuries in a country where leaping over obstacles was even more essential than speed, he has developed this specialty to the ultimate degree. Another heritage he brings to his new abodes in Europe and America is the ability to withstand any temperature - either heat or cold. Summers in Afghanistan are terrifically hot and winters severely cold.

It was about 1926 that the Afghan hound first made its appearance in the United States. At this time the breed did not attain popularity. Since then it has enjoyed a rebirth of interest with many kennels formerly outstanding in other breeds. Gradually the Afghan became known as a splendid all-around dog, besides its ability in the hunting field.

This bit of history on your chosen breed has, no doubt, only whet your appetite and therefore, I suggest you try to obtain a copy of THE BOOK OF THE AFGHAN HOUND by Joan McDonald-Brearly. Many of your pups ancestors are found pictured between its' covers. This book is available from - Clark, Irwin and Company, Clarwin House, 791 Saint Clais Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Might I also suggest that you consider joining the Canadian Kennel Club. The membership fee is $75.00 for the first year and includes a monthly subscription to the magazine "Dogs in Canada." The magazine provides information on upcoming shows and trials, Lure Coursing events, new products, helpful hints and many informative articles on dog care and other events.

You have your puppy's health record, make sure you review it. You will note that he/she has been wormed three times: 30 days, 40 days and 50 days. He/she has had their first inoculations and requires an update at approximately 16 weeks. Your veterinarian should do these inoculations.

Another paper you received is your puppy's pedigree or family tree. The letters in front of the dogs name show they are show champions of various countries and the letters after the names show they are champions of various other types of competitions. The short forms mean:

Can - Canadian Show Champion

Am - American Show Champion

Bda - Bermudan Show Champion

C.D. - Companion Dog (Obedience)

C.D.X. - Companion Dog Excellent (Obedience)

FCH - Field Champion (Coursing)

FChX Field Champion Excellent (Coursing)

A crate, something very worth while to purchase, can be the best purchase you make. You require a large crate as this will provide the dog a home for life. Sometimes you can purchase a second hand crate from a pet specialty store or through the newspaper. Whenever you leave the house for periods longer than half an hour, crate the puppy. He can not get in too much trouble and you will still have all your belongings in the same place and condition you left them. Put the dog in its crate at night or when it comes in from play. It soon develops the knowledge that this is his/her place, their very own room. As the dog matures, it may go to its place when it has enough of people or just wants to be alone. If you have children, teach them that when the dog goes to his/her room it doesn't want to be disturbed so they must leave him/her alone. The crate may be the answer to house breaking your puppy. Normally, animals will not soil the area where they sleep and they soon learn to control themselves during the night. You must make sure the crate is large enough for the adult dog and therefore you should partition a section so that it does not choose a far corner as a bathroom. THE CRATE IS NOT A PUNISHMENT BOX!!! The dog must recognize this a s his/her safe area and not a jail.

HOUSEBREAKING - Consistency is the key. Take the puppy out when he/she first wakes up and immediately after eating. When they do the expected function, praise the animal and praise them plentifully. Use the dogs name and say good as the animal does its business. Repeat the word for the action the dog is doing and it will associate the action with the word and may do its business on command later (sure helps at dog shows and those cold mornings). When he/she makes a mistake in the house, DO NOT RUB ITS NOSE IN IT but use your voice and speak with harsh intonations. Do not use the dogs name but say "BAD DOG" or something similar and immediately take him/her outside to the designated area. If your puppy makes a mistake and you do not catch him/her at the time, it does little good to express anger as the pup, like a child will not understand why you are upset. Later as the dog learns the rules of the house, the animal will know what it has done wrong, remember, a puppy like a baby lacks muscle control over its bladder. You can learn to read signals or "DOG TALK." Circling, whining or other little signals will tell you, "I'VE GOT TO GO TO THE BATHROOM." Cut off the drinking water after 1800 hours or so and take him/her out just prior to bedtime. These little hints may help you enjoy a dry, clean floor.

DIET - Your puppy eats an excellent puppy food. You have enough food to last one week. If you can not find a dealer that handles the brand of food in your area you can change the puppy's food to another quality puppy food. I suggest Royal Canin, Eukanuba or Pro Plan. If you do find it necessary to change your puppy's food, do so gradually, over a two week period. Start by putting approximately three quarters of the present food with one quarter of the new food for three or four days. Then increase to fifty-fifty and so on until you are only feeding the new food. Ensure you maintain this schedule to avoid loose stooles or diarrhea, which could lead to dehydration and other problems. The same applies to changing water. The result of an overnight change of food or water can be very messy and or distressful. When traveling, always ensure you bring food and water from home. The young pup will take solace in the familiarity of its nutrition in strange surroundings. As your dog gets older you may not have to worry about changes of food or water but caution is my best advice.

FEEDING - Your pet eats four times a day and as she/he gets older, reduce to one or two meals a day. The feeding schedule is built around your schedule but also provide the opportunity for the puppy to have at least four hours between meals. One cup of dry food mixed with a quarter of a small can of moist food in the morning and evening will prove to be sufficient for your growing pup. The other two meals could consist of a few dog biscuits, carrots and some pabulum (rice is best). Keep your puppy nicely rounded but not overweight. Remember, they grow rapidly and nutritional needs change as the puppy grows. The use of vitamins and other supplements with a quality dog food may reduce the nutritional value or nullify the benefits of the vitamins in the dog food. This does not mean that the veterinarian can not prescribe certain vitamins to ensure a strong healthy pup. Feeding people food usually only shortens the life of your pet. Dog food is developed to ensure the nutritional needs of your pet. People food is prepared by whim and has nothing to do with nutritional value in many cases When your dog reaches a year or year and one half in age, he/she requires a change in food. The growing process slows and he/she requires less protein and fat. Change your pet over to an adult dog food after one year of age or advice from your veterinarian. You may now feed once or twice a day and normally two - three cups of dry food per day will prove sufficient. The method of feeding depends on your dog. Some dogs will eat everything in their bowl immediately or pick at the food as the mood hits. By giving meals at a certain time of day the animal gets into a routine that is very upsetting if you miss "FEEDING TIME." The other method of feeding is "free choice." This method allows you to set out food for the day and allow the dog to eat when it wishes. The method of feeding depends on the dog, you must select which is best for him/her and you.

A word of caution: because the Afghan is a deep-chested dog with a high tuck of stomach, it is always a good idea to soak their meal in a bit of water a few minutes before feeding. This helps begin the breakdown of the food and lessens the change of bloat. Do not allow your dog to exercise vigorously before or immediately after eating. Allow at least one hour after eating before any type of vigorous exercise and do not let the dog drink large quantities of water. Ice water is a definite no-no, even on hot days. Remember these points and follow a plan that proves best for you and your friend. Remember that a pups needs are different from those of your adult dog.

Something that is very useful is a SNOOD. This is a tube that slips over the dogs' head when he/she eat and prevents the ears from dangling in the dinner bowl. This way your dog can grow those long feathered ears you've admired on other adult Afghan Hounds. A snood is easily made from the leg of a mans sock or if you're handy with a crochet hook you make a rectangle of double crochet and fold it in half to make the tube, sew together and presto, instant snood. You can also take a rectangular piece of material and stitch it across several times with elastic thread and then stitch it together. If you get your dog familiar with the snood from the start he/she will raise their head to help with the fitting of the snood prior to eating.

GROOMING TOOLS - You will need the following items:

nail clippers
a pin brush
a slicker brush
a comb with medium and coarse spacing between the teeth
a pair of pointed barbers scissors
a pair of rounded barbers scissors
a few spray bottles
a grooming table
a grooming arm
a hair dryer (1500 Watt or professional)

GROOMING PROCEDURE - The basic types of grooming include show, puppy and emergency. Emergency grooming is necessary to remove mattes that could damage the coat and cause the dog harm. Puppy grooming stimulates the coat to grow and removes dead puppy coat from the adult coat. Show grooming includes pre-bath conditioning, shampooing, rinsing, conditioning, rinsing, after bath conditioning, drying, brushing and combing. Show grooming may take up to six hours per dog, depending on coat density, texture and condition, puppy grooming should take no more than half an hour at a time as the pup becomes restless and emergency grooming depends on the reason for grooming. Never brush the Afghan coat when it's dry or dirty. This leads to breakage of hair and static electricity.

BATH PREPARATIONS - Using a spray nozzle attached to your tap/shower will prove most effective when bathing the Afghan. The use of a raised tub will make the bathing process easier on you and allow eye contact with the dog. The procedure should be a fun experience for the dog as it is a life long task. Ensure that everything is within reach and you do not have to leave the dog alone. The first time a pup is bathed will be a frightening experience and you must ensure that you do everything in your power to soothe the dog and keep it relaxed. Do not loose your temper, think about your first visit to the dentist or barber and how you felt. Your pup feels very much as you did, it's a new experience. Shampoo can be a special dog shampoo or a people shampoo. Never put the shampoo directly on the coat. Jardine's Secret has proven very effective for our dogs. It cleans well and rinses out easily. Mix the shampoo in a bucket or four liter container. One half inch in the bottom of the container usually suffices. Fill with water and stir simultaneously. Coat density, length and amount of dirt will determine the quantity of containers required. The same goes for the conditioner. Premix the conditioner and have it ready for use. One container should suffice. I recommend the COAT HANDLER or JARDINE'S SECRET CONDITIONER. Before bathing, have three or four large absorbent towels handy for the dog and at least one for you. Dip cotton balls into mineral or olive oil and put them in your dogs ears to prevent water from entering the ear canal. The night before the bath or at least two hours prior to the bath, spray the coat with a mixture of JEAN PIERRE HERI CREME OIL and water. This product is from France. Now that everything is ready it's time to bath the dog.

BATHING - Run the water so that the water is not too cold or too hot. Place the dog in the center of the tub and thoroughly wet him/her down from head to tail. At this time a little obedience training comes in handy. The command "TURN" and "DON'T SHAKE" are very useful. This way the dog and not the entire bathroom get a bath. At this time you may wish to take out small objects that have tangled in the coat as they come out easier when the hair is wet and pliable. Apply the shampoo and work it in with downward strokes. Rubbing or scrubbing may only encourage tangles and mattes. Once the dog is completely shampooed, it's time to rinse. A little device between the tap and shower head allows you to turn off the water flow without having to readjust the temperature, thus avoiding possible scalding of the dog. Ensure you rinse ALL the soap from the coat so that the hair squeaks when you gently pull downward between your fingers to remove the excess water from the coat. When rinsing, start at the head and work downwards and back toward the rear feet. When the water runs clear (no soap suds) you are ready to condition the coat. If the dog is still dirty after the first application of shampoo repeat as necessary to remove all the dirt.

Apply the conditioner in the same manner as the shampoo, head to tail. Let the conditioner stay in the coat for at least three minutes, five is better. Now rinse out the conditioner completely and remove all the excess water you can. Remember downward strokes without crumpling the coat are best. If you wish to deep condition the coat (between shows) you may leave a light mixture of conditioner and water in the coat. This procedure helps repair split ends and oil loss and adds life to limp dull hair. If you are using the COAT HANDLER CONDITIONER you do not need to rinse out the water/conditioner mixture. This helps condition the hair and cuts back on your water bill. The last step before removing the dog from the tub is to spray the dog all over with a mixture of THE STUFF and water. For males pay particular attention to the under belly and inside rear legs. This mixture is very slippery if allowed to fall on stone, tile or other smooth surfaces so it's better to spray the dog inside the tub.

You are now ready to remove the dog from the tub and carry on to the next step. Wrap a large absorbent towel around the dog and lift him/her out of the tub and place him/her on another towel or carpet on the floor. Blot dry the areas with long coat and rub on areas with no coat (muzzle, saddle). Do not rub the dog dry as this will only lead to mattes and knots in this wonderful coat. Remove the cotton balls from the ears and throw them in the garbage. Allow the dog to drip dry for an hour or so. Ensure there is enough heat so that the animal does not get uncomfortable. Think of the temperature of the house when you step from the shower or bath. You may wish to put the dog in a crate to ensure your furniture and house stay dry. Put a few large absorbent towels in the crate to catch the excess water. Next clean up the bath area and prepare to dry the dog. As for the bath, have everything ready before starting and within easy reach.

DRYING - Place the dog on a grooming table or another large, flat, raised surface. The table height should be just above waist height and the table covered with an easily cleaned, non-slip surface. If you choose to use a grooming arm, place the dogs head through the loop and tighten it so that it is secure but not too tight. Some grooming arms have extensions that allow you to hold the haunches in an upright position thus not allowing the dog to sit or lay when you attempt to groom the rear end. If you wish to groom the dog while it is laying down then place the dog on its side and push the hair up and commence to dry from the bottom (the feet) up, layering as you go. Once the one side is done you have the dog turn over and do the other side and when both sides are finished the dog is misted with a coat grooming product and brushed through to add sheen. While the dog is laying on its side you may wish to cut the toe nails, clean the teeth and check the ears. Toe nails should be tipped a minimum of once every two weeks in order to keep them short. Teeth should be cleaned at least once a week with a dog tooth cleaning product, NOT PEOPLE TOOTHPASTE.

If your dog is standing during the drying and brushing process then start at the feet and work your way up. The heat setting on the dryer should not be more than 30 degrees Celsius. High heat will shrivel the hair and remove the protective oils from the coat and skin. Never put the dryer any closer than ten centimeters from the skin and avoid blowing directly into the eye and ear cavities. If you have a dark dog and have trouble seeing under the dog, a light table can be purchased or made. This will shine fluorescent light up and allow you to see what you are doing. A professional stand or cage dryer frees up both hands and allows you to layer while you brush. A normal people hand hair dryer will do but is not designed to withstand the prolonged usage (1 - 2 hours). Direct the air flow at the area you are drying and brush downward. Again, start at the bottom and work up. This way you will be removing mattes and knots as you encounter them and removing them with the least amount of resistance. If you start at the top you will drag the brush/comb all the way through the coat and cause larger mattes and increase hair breakage. Keep your wrist locked, DO NOT SNAP YOUR WRIST AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STROKE. This breaks off the hair at the bottom and your wonderful mountain type coat will look like a desert coat (bald pasterns). If you find the hair is drying faster than you are brushing, mist the area you are working on. NEVER BRUSH THE COAT DRY.

Once you have finished brushing and drying the coat use a Greyhound comb and remove all the small hair balls in the coat. Again ensure the coat is damp while doing this to reduce hair loss. Remember we all have fun trying to dry those Afghan feet. If your dog dances when you attempt to dry its feet, put one foot on your shoulder and lift upward to ensure that he/she doesn't just remove it and work on the foot that is on the table. This is supposed to be an enjoyable time for the dog, take the time and have the patience to make it so. We all loose our composure at one time or another. THINK OF YOUR FRIEND, THE DOG.

SHEDDING - Although the Afghan is a single coated dog and does not shed like double-coated breeds (their hair compares to human hair) and may break and fall out. Split ends are a problem and proper hair care will reduce them. At approximately nine months of age the puppy starts to loose its puppy coat/wool. Simultaneously the adult silky coat is growing in and both types of hair entangle and create the dreaded matte. During this period examine the puppy and brush it daily to avoid creating apples under the arms and behind the ears. You'll find afghan hair on couches, your best suit and all your visitors but with proper hair care the amount of loose hair is controllable, depending on how many dogs you have in the house.

MATTING - Should you happen to find a mat in the dogs coat, don't panic. You may be able to pull it apart with your fingers or split it with scissors or another special tool. Spray THE STUFF into the mat, work it in with your fingers and let it sit for at least ten minutes. Attempt to pull it apart with your fingers and brush out the area. If this doesn't work then use a pair of scissors or a detangling tool or mat splitter and use a sawing motion from the skin outward and downwards. NEVER, NEVER CUT THE MAT OUT OF THE COAT. This leaves a hole in the wonderful coat and you should have purchased a Saluki. Promptly remove twigs, leaves and any other foreign objects from the dogs coat to avoid mats.

EXERCISE - As a small pup let the dog play at its own pace. See that it does not run up and down too many stairs as it is hard on the developing shoulders. Never let the young dog jump off the grooming table and if you are a jogger, do not take him/her along until he/she is at least eight months old. Do take your pal for walks but gradually lengthen the distance as he/she gets older. One of our dogs did marathons with us. Be a playmate and play ball or another game but remember not to play games that the dog will win as he/she thinks that they are the master and you are under them in the pack pecking order. You must always be the pack leader or Alpha. The Afghan is a sighthound and can see far greater distances than humans. One must be able to restrain the dog from chasing after distant objects. A large, fenced yard is a good place for the dog to run in and the fence must be high enough to prevent this great escape artist from springing over.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF THE AFGHAN HOUND AND MAY YOUR FRIEND BRING YOU AS MUCH JOY AND LOVE AS OURS HAVE FOR US.

NACHTMUSIK AFGHANS
ED & JOHANNA GRANGER
3803 Carp Road
Carp, Ontario
K0A 1L0
TEL: (613) 839-0514
email - afghaned@sympatico.ca